Mind Shift: The Idea That WILL Change Everything

A small Freud looking into the ear of a larger Freud

Freud on FreudI know you’re not supposed to give away the ending before telling the story, but in this case, I think it’s all right. This post is an extract from Marcus Anthony’s book, The Great Mind Shift, and it ends the with  this statement.

If I am to answer the question “What will change everything?”, I would answer that the coming great mind shift will dramatically change life, science, education and business. The historical and scientific evidence points to the fact that consciousness is not merely a product of the brain and is entangled with people, nature and cosmos. The shift is inevitable. The next question then becomes, “Are you ready?”

Anthony is another voice confronting the limitations of empirical science and announcing a paradigm shift from “brain” to “mind.” In this excerpt, he warns against a science that would turn men into machines, because it is the only language they understand. Another case of  “if it’s all you see, then it’s all  you’ll get.”

Like Siegel and Goleman in the previous posts, Anthony points to a science that recognizes consciousness and mind.

Tom Z

The Idea That WILL Change Everything

Some time ago I picked up a copy of John Brockman’s This Will Change Everything: Ideas That Will Shape the Future. The volume contains a collection of short essays by more than one hundred influential scientific and philosophical minds, including Daniel Dennett, Paul Davies, Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Freeman Dyson, and Rupert Sheldrake. Each of these people was asked the following question:

“What will change everything? What game-changing scientific ideas and developments do you expect to live to see?”GMS-cover-basic-176x242

Naturally, respondents brought forward a wide range of subject matters including synthetic biology, robotics, the benefits and dangers of artificial intelligence, quantum computing and the discovery of alien life.

But what interested me during my reading was getting a sense of what these one hundred brightest minds thought about the nature of consciousness; and in particular about the extended mind and related ideas like telepathy, remote viewing and so on. For me this was a good opportunity to gauge how open mainstream science is to what I call “the great mind shift” – the time when the non-local nature of mind will become mainstream in science and psychology.

The answer is that the vast majority of writers in This Will Change Everything do not mention the subject of the extended mind; and those that did framed the issue in a paradigmatically bounded way, dismissing it with contempt.

In his essay entitled “A Change in Who we Are,” Paul Zachary Myers, associate professor of biology at the University of Minnesota, writes that one major shift:

… is coming from neuroscience. Mind is clearly a product of the brain, and the old notions of souls and spirits are looking increasingly ludicrous. Yet these are nearly universal ideas, all tangled up in people’s rationalisations and ultimate reward or punishment and in their concept of self.

The great irony here is that the belief that the brain produces mind is an unexamined presupposition of modern neuroscience, and has no direct evidence (although there is a clear correlation between brain states and both perception and behaviour).

Zachary Myers goes on to write:

This will be our coming challenge: to accommodate a new view of ourselves in the universe that isn’t encumbered by falsehoods and trivialising myths. That’s going to be our biggest challenge: a change in who we are.

Zachary Myers’ statement represents a further irony because entanglement (spooky connections at a distance in quantum physics) and the extended mind threaten modern biology’s founding presupposition of the mechanistic nature of life; which I predict in time will be shown to have both mythic and “false” elements. The mechanistic paradigm – the idea that the universe is hung together like a great machine and all life is essentially mechanical – is an invisible narrative which underpins much of modern science and especially neuroscience. It is the verification of the entanglement of mind and nature that will most certainly challenge our notions of who we think we are.

The restrictive thinking displayed in This Will Change Everything suggests that current mainstream science tends to acknowledge the concept of entangled minds only where machines mediate the process. Of the few scientists willing to discuss ESP in the book, all invoke the necessity of a machine interface as an explanatory mechanism. Kenneth W. Ford, for example, believes that we will soon be able to read signals from brains—but only with machines. Ford writes:

We can probably safely assume that the needed device would have to be located close to the brain being read… We could let Mind Reader, Inc, make and market it.

Such thinking appears to be driven by what I call a “money and machines” mentality, and is suggestive of the way that science has become embedded within – and restricted by – the commercialisation of science and education.

Similarly, Freeman Dyson, in an essay entitled “Radiotelepathy,” sees telepathy operating via mechanical means, assisted by microwave signals penetrating the flesh of the brain and detected by a mechanical device outside. Freeman writes:

A society bonded by radiotelepathy would experience human life in a totally new way… We will feel in our own flesh the community of life to which we belong. I cannot help hoping that the sharing of our brains with our fellow creatures will make us better stewards of our planet.

Such an argument, in yet a further irony, has long been posited by mystics, philosophers, and thinkers with a spiritual bent. Only they see such a connected mind as being a natural, innate expression of human intelligence. No machines required.

Parapsychologist Dean Radin has often employed the term “the psi taboo” to describe the way that most mainstream scientists and philosophers reject all notions of psi phenomena, including the extended mind – regardless of what evidence is put before them. The psi taboo seemingly makes many mainstream thinkers reluctant to be associated with ideas which support the hypothesis that consciousness has non-local properties.

Throughout his essay, “Slippery Expectations,” Corey S. Powell rates the likelihood of certain groundbreaking developments happening in his lifetime (he was sixty-two years old at the time of writing). Powell gives “the end of oil” a ninety-five percent probability. The discovery of dark matter is rated ninety percent likely. He also believes that there is an eighty percent chance that he will live to see genetically engineered children.

But what of telepathy? Once again, the key for this thinker is whether there are machines involved. Powell gives a full seventy percent chance that synthetic telepathy, mediated via “rudimentary brain prostheses and brain-machine interfaces,” will be a reality within the next thirty years. He writes:

Transmitting specific, conscious thoughts would require elaborate physical implants to make sure the signals go to exactly the right place—but such implants could soon become common anyway, as people merge their brains with computer data networks.

It is interesting to compare these estimates of Powell’s to some other controversial domains of science to which he refers. He writes that the development of “conscious machines” is fifty percent likely while he is still alive. Communication with other universes is given a ten percent chance, and there is even a five percent chance of the development of an anti-gravity device.

What, then, are the odds of the verification of actual human ESP? According to Powell there is currently:

… nary a shred of evidence to support the idea—unless you count reports of dogs who know when their owners are about to return home and people who can “feel” when someone is looking at them… Everything I know about science and human objectivity says there’s nothing to find here.

While Powell does concede that this is the one discovery that really would change everything, he then goes on to give the chances of its verification in his lifetime as being precisely half of one percent.

Given that several meta-analyses of studies into telepathy and other of psi-related phenomena have delivered significant results against chance in the millions and even billions to one, it is reasonable to query why Powell feels the need to give the odds of its verification as being a full fifty times less than the chance of the development of an anti-gravity device. (Indeed Dean Radin has recently provided a summary of the most useful evidence from peer-reviewed research here).

The mechanism for the existence of gravity is not currently understood, much less that for an anti-gravity device. Further, no human being has ever experienced an anti-gravity device, nor does anti-gravity inform a legitimate experience for contemporary human beings. Compare this to the widespread belief in and experience of psi-related phenomena.

Further, we can note Powell’s assessment that the development of machine consciousness is five hundred times more likely than the chance of concrete evidence for telepathy emerging. This is despite the fact that the emergence of consciousness from brains remains a mystery, and that there is currently no adequate explanation (mechanism) which might explain how a non-conscious, mechanical system might become conscious. Why, then, is Powell five hundred times more confident of the development of the artificial replication of mind in his lifetime than he is of the confirmation of telepathy?

Clearly, Powell’s attitudes toward these three concepts reveals a mindset which is not “rational” in the literal sense of the word.

Perhaps the most revealing statement made by Powell is his admission that “everything I know about science and human objectivity says there’s nothing to find here.” Beyond the likelihood that Powell simply has not read the literature on the subject, his ignorance indicates that he has simply never gone to the inner spaces, nor explored the ways of knowing that make mystical insights and the connectedness of minds understood at a personal level. For it is in inner, meditative, and mindful experience that direct insight into the extended mind is commonly experienced.

This Will Change Everything is a fascinating read; but sometimes it because of what is missing, rather than because of the thinking contained within its pages. The book provides confirmation that much thinking is inevitably constrained by social, cultural and paradigmatic boundaries.

If I am to answer the question “What will change everything?”, I would answer that the coming great mind shift will dramatically change life, science, education and business. The historical and scientific evidence points to the fact that consciousness is not merely a product of the brain and is entangled with people, nature and cosmos. The shift is inevitable. The next question then becomes, “Are you ready?”

Marcus T Anthony, PhD, is Director of MindFutures. He refers to himself as a futurist, intuitive and life alignment coach. He is the author of Discover Your Soul Template and his website iswww.marcustanthony.com.

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/onefromrome/228705707/sizes/n/


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3 Responses

  1. As always, an excellent post, Tom. I think the key idea here is that the researchers giving psi and the “extended mind” paradigm such short shrift have simply never explored it personally. They are like travel agents giving a one-star rating to not just a resort, but an entire continent, to which they have never been, and refuse to read the travel experiences of others who have actually been there.

    1. Hi Carol. Good to hear from you. Hope all is well. It’s also good to see your Web site up and running again. I’ll be visiting and catching up. All the best, Tom

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