A Podcast on Human Consciousness!

Hear from experts in neuroscience, philosophy and related fields discuss the human mind and consciousness.

In this episode, I had the honor of speaking with Dr. Albert Garcia-Romeu, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins and a Guest Researcher at the National Institute on Drug Abuse Intramural Neuroimaging Research Branch, where he studies the effects of psychedelic drugs in humans, with a focus on psilocybin as an aid in the treatment of addiction. We discussed his work with psilocybin, what it means to be addicted, and what insight his work has given him into the mystery of consciousness. So, please enjoy this episode, with Dr. Garcia-Romeu.

We discussed:

  1. You did some work in treating addiction to tobacco with the aid of psilocybin. Can you tell us a little about that study? Matt Johnson
  2. How do you think psilocybin actually worked in creating those amazing results?
    1. What is the key to breaking an addiction? 
    2. Ego dissolution; mystical
    3. Other psyches and addiction: ibogaine/opioids?
    4. Cognitive behavioral therapy; Counselling; 3 months
  3. Does psilocybin help with addictions of all kinds? Alcohol? Gambling? Etc.?
  4. Can you tell us about dosing psilocybin for treatment of addiction?
    1. Is it just a pill the patient takes, or is there more to it? See above
  5. What other long-term effects did you notice in your patients? Spirituality? Mystical effects? Other changes?
    1. Any relationship between dose and mystical effects? Challenging experiences and dose, i.e. a bad trip?
    2. Any comment on the relationship between the mystical experience and one’s consciousness?
  6. How is psilocybin metabolized in the human body? Did you administer doses based on body weight?
    1. [how do these measurements relate to a single mushroom?]
  7. What about other psychedelics, such as LSD, Ayahuasca? You’ve recently published some papers on Kratom? “Kratom” — how do you pronounce that one (krat-um)? Do these also help with addiction?
  8. What insights do psychedelics give, through altered states of consciousness, into their underlying neurobiological mechanisms?
    1. What are the neurobiological mechanisms of consciousness?
  9. Let’s step out into the philosophical aspect of consciousness, given your insights into non-ordinary states of consciousness. 
    1. What are your thoughts on trying to answer the Hard Question of Consciousness — why the phenomenal experience of, say, seeing a red apple?
    2. Is consciousness a function of the brain, of our hardware? 
    3. Mind/body duality?
  10. What else? What haven’t I asked? Center for Psych and Consciousness Johns Hopkins; 
  11. What’s next for you, what are you excited about?
    1. Hopkinspsychedelic.org
      1. Unlimited Sciences collaboration; real world psilocybin use; 3,000 enrolled;

In this episode, I had the honor of speaking with Dr. Dennis McKenna, an ethnopharmacologist, research pharmacognosist, lecturer and author. He’s also the founder of the McKenna Academy and a board member at the Heffter Research Institute. We talked about psychedelics and consciousness.

So, let’s hear what Dennis McKenna has to say about human consciousness, including psychedelics’ role in our evolution.

We discussed: ethnopharmacologist, pharmacologist

  1. Start with a discussion of consciousness. Mind/Brain duality. Universal consciousness. The hard question. What is consciousness, in your opinion?
    1. The reality hallucination; brain creates reality
    2. Default mode network as a filter
    3. A fundamental property of nature?
  2. In that context, what is a non-ordinary state of consciousness, like that which results from a psychedelic experience?
    1. Disrupt neural gating (DMN); opens up what we have suppressed
    2. Reset DMN, brain
    3. When you say that plants and fungi can expand our consciousness, what do you mean by that?
    4. Set and Setting; medicine; dose
  3. What role did the plants play in the evolution of human consciousness?
    1. Can we deliberately change and evolve our consciousness (individual, collective)? With plants/fungi, something else?
    2. Stoned Ape Theory
      1. Neural plasticity
      2. Epigenetics
    3. Synesthesia as a basis of language; triggered by psilocybe cubensis
    4. Language basis of consciousness, cognition
    5. Share/transmit information/knowledge through time
    6. 2001 Space Odyssey, Monolith
  4. We’re at the doorstep of a global transformation in human consciousness, yes? (Please explain)
    1. When somebody says ‘higher consciousness’, what does that mean?
  5. Any thoughts on neural correlates of consciousness? Under non-ordinary states of consciousness?
  6. Teonanacatl – flesh of the gods
    1. Book: American Holocaust 
  7. What are your thoughts on reality…what is real versus perceived? 
  8. What didn’t I ask? 
    1. Immersed in symbiotic relationship with the plants/fungi
    2. Tools to help us discover what we already know
    3. Cognitive partners
  9. What’s next from you? What are you excited about?
    1. McKenna Academy – psychedelic university
    2. A place for learning, integrating, exploring these ideas
    3. Help people learn how to think, not WHAT to think
    4. Achieve their own consciousness
    5. Remind people to remember to be astonished, experience wonder (nature)

In this episode, I had the honor of speaking with Dr. Donald D. Hoffman, who is a professor of cognitive science at the University of California, Irvine. His writing has appeared in Scientific American and Edge, and his work has been featured in the Atlantic, Wired, and Quanta. He resides in Irvine, California. Be sure to check out his latest book, The Case Against Reality, available just about everywhere.

So, what is real…and how does that help answer the Hard Question of Consciousness?

We discussed: 

  1. There is a false assumption out there that you take head on: ‘That we see reality as it is.”
    1. You think that’s wrong? What is real, then?
    2. Simulations/equations
    3. What about two people perceiving the same thing?
    4. Your letter exchange with Dr. Crick and The-thing-in-itself versus the-idea-of-the-thing: does this get to the heart of answering the hard question?
    5. How big of a gap is there between perception of reality and reality? Is that knowable?
  2. What is a conscious agent? [Something that perceives, decides, and acts — what does that mean?]
    1. Do spacetime and physics arise from the dynamics of conscious agents?
    2. Is reality a network of conscious agents, with consciousness a fundamental property in the universe?
  3. What do physicists say about this idea?
  4. You mention some interesting findings with split brain studies. 
    1. What interested you about those studies, and how did that play a part in developing your theories?
    2. The one consciousness split into two consciousnesses, but the two then act as a single conscious agent, right?
      1. Do you and I act as a single conscious agent? Do we all combine into one universal consciousness?
  5. Is perception the result of the brain building models/schema? Do these models then create phenomenal experiences (consciousness)?
    1. There is a quantum basis to this, too, correct? Measurement/observation, entanglement? 
    2. Is has to do with information (i.e. Hawking)?
  6. We re-construct what we perceive, in our brains?
    1. 3D cube in circles. Necker Cube.
    2. This is driven by evolution? 
    3. Not perceiving the world accurately gives an advantage? 
  7. The good old Hard Question: that gap in between the physical brain and our phenomenal experiences (qualia).
    1. Does your Interface Theory of Perception (ITP) explain this gap? How?
    2. How does this explain “something it is like to be a bat”?
  8. How does your theory do with non-ordinary states of consciousness, like dreams, psychedelics, etc.?
  9. Your analogy: Computer desktop as a representation of reality.
    1. We see an icon on the desktop that represents a document or email. That’s our reality, that this graphic icon is our document. But, there are software engineers and graphic designers creating a thing-as-it-is reality behind that. What are those designers and coders analogous to, in reality?
  10. What didn’t I ask?
    1. Distinction between living and non-living things.
    2. What about the transition between living and not living?
  11. What’s next from you? What are you excited about?

In this episode, I had the honor of speaking with Dr. Sam Ko, owner of Reset Ketamine. We discussed his insight into consciousness while working with Ketamine and his East-meets-West approach to healing. This is also the first episode that is also published on my other podcast, The Stoned Ape Reports, which covers healing with psychedelic medicines. So, please enjoy this episode with Dr. Sam Ko.

We discussed:

  1. Tell us about your practice, so, first, tell us about your practice, Reset Ketamine. Treatment resistant depression, PTSD, eastern-western approach to medicine
  2. Ketamine is used to help treat suicidal ideation and prevent suicide, correct?
  3. You mention that ketamine infusion treatment produces a dissociative experience known as a, “ketamine-induced non-ordinary state of consciousness.” Can you explain what that is? Eli Kope, Out of Body Experience
  4. Have you had patients who experience a near death experience in treatment? Dr. Marshialle real NDEs and stories about them; compared reports to 15,000 reports from DMT, Ketamine, other substances; 
    1. How is ketamine’s effect on the brain and consciousness different from other psychedelic medicines?
  5. Treatments allow one to access the unconscious part of the mind — memories, emotions, stories. What do you think is going on there which allows this experience to occur? Freud’s iceberg
  6. Ketamine blocks the default mode network. What happens to one’s experience of consciousness when this occurs? Similar to deep meditators
    1. Ego? Pollan’s book
  7. How does that relate specifically to one’s consciousness?
  8. How has your work with Ketamine shaped your idea of human consciousness?
    1. Physical, mental, spiritual concentric circles?
    2. Universal consciousness; connectedness
    3. Carl Jung: dreams access universal consciousness
    4. Bio-psycho-social medicine + spiritual
  9. Can you share a couple stories of outcomes from ketamine treatments?
  10. You mention that the spiritual part of us can get injured: what does that mean?
  11. Anything else you want to share regarding consciousness? Healing with Ketamine? Other ‘plant medicines’? Your practice?



In this episode, I had the honor of speaking with Dr. James Glattfelder. Dr. Glattfelder is a physicist turned quant, turned complexity scientist, with a pinch of data science and a philosophical bent. He has a Ph D in Complex Systems from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and is interested in fundamental theories and real-world complexity.   We discussed quantum physics and consciousness, the concept of reality, panpsychism and more. Please enjoy this episode with Dr. James Glattfelder.

Could there be a quantum mechanical element to human consciousness? If so, could that allow a collective intelligence/consciousness in humans, like we see in termites? Could it save the plant? Is the fundamental element/property of consciousness be information?

We discussed: 

  1. Some, like Depak Chopra and others, some that I’ve interviewed, use “quantum physics” as an answer to what consciousness is, or how it binds to the brain. With your knowledge of both consciousness and quantum physics, do you see a possible connection there? How would that work?
  2. Panpsychism, Integrated Information Theory: consciousness is everywhere; Freeman Dyson; Max Planck
  3. The laws of physics: quantum (super small), general relativity (huge), classical (everyday life-sized): They’re not all compatible with each other. How might consciousness fit in there, if at all? [David Bohm’s Implicate Order theory, quantum potential, hidden waves, enfolding/unfolding]
  4. Self organization and complexity; Stephen Wolfram – simple rules; teleological force of universe
  5. Time is an illusion, doesn’t really exist; anthropic principle;
  6. Eastern traditions; Hinduism (lei-la); Buddhism; Shamanism; Christ Bache (high-dose LSD sessions, LSD and the Mind of the Universe)
  7. What role could non-locality, quantum entanglement play? 
    1. The interconnectedness of everything: Can this explain “cosmic consciousness” or other phenomena of expanded consciousness? Information entity, space and time not relevant
    2. The collective intelligence of ants, for example?
  8. So, what is real, then? Reality is actively constructed by the brain?
    1. Are hallucinations just as real as…reality?
    2. Emmanuel Kant – what is real, space and time
    3. Information is the most fundamental thing
    4. “Neuroscience, consciousness and spirituality” book
    5. Living in a simulation
  9. In that context, what is “self”, then?
    1. Default state, default mode network
  10. Can we even ask, what is consciousness?
    1. Does consciousness arise from the human brain-computer?
    2. Centered in my universe; panpsychism; field of consciousness; birth/death; 
  11. Is time real? How does time relate to consciousness?
  12. Other loose concepts:
    1. Something else I hear a lot of, is that everything is energy. What does quantum physics say about that?
    2. We create reality (quantum/buddhism)
    3. Each observer has their own universe; the observer effect
    4. Looking for reality in the mind is going the wrong way
  13. What didn’t I ask?
    1. Intelligence; why are we destroying the biosphere; termites – function as a collective organism; why aren’t humans becoming more ‘collective’? Find consciousness within ourselves. 
  14. What’s next from you? Digital transformation in financial interaction; blockchain; good blueprint for creating collective intelligence; decentralized ledgers; eventually come back and reflect on these topics in a book in normal;

In this episode, I had the honor of speaking with Dr Jill Bolte Taylor. Dr. Taylor is a Harvard-trained and published neuroanatomist who experienced a severe hemorrhage in the left hemisphere of her brain in 1996. It took eight years to completely recover all of her physical function and thinking ability. She is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey. We discussed left-brain, right-brain and what that means for our understanding of consciousness. Please enjoy this episode with Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor.

Stroke of Insight

Signs of a Stroke (CDC.gov)

We discussed:

  1. You became a neuroanatomist for personal reasons — your brother? 
    1. Can you tell us what a neuroanatomist is, what you study?
  2. I’m sure most people listening know your story, but could I trouble you to give us a recap of your stroke experience?
  3. As a neuroanatomist, what do (and did) you know about the roles of the two hemispheres of the brain?
    1. What did you learn about them as a result of your personal experience?
    2. During your stroke and during recovery — and today — how did you experience your consciousness?
      1. “At one with the universe”? Loss of left brain, amazing being, life!
    3. You still live right-brain/left-brain, and friends can tell which one just walked in the room? Can you control this? [now you eat squash? Can’t see that happening for me]
  4. What is your opinion on consciousness and the brain? Is consciousness created by brain matter? Something else?
    1. How did your experience help form that opinion? 
    2. Ego? L/R?
    3. Consciousness is numerous programs running all at the same time?
      1. Consciousness in the cells of our body…expand on that?
    4. Two hemispheres, two consciousnesses?
      1. What happens when they recombine?
      2. [Right mind/brain: no time, now, creative, out-of-the-box]
      3. [Left mind/brain: sequences right brain experience in time; inner voice; self/ego; patterns & predictions; literal]
    5. You describe your body as a portal for the ‘energy’ that you are? That you’re just visiting?
      1. Is that “real” or a perception of your right brain?
      2. What do you mean, that we are ‘energy beings’?
  5. How has this experience helped you to help others?
    1. “I believe the more time we spend running the deep inner peace circuitry of our right brain, then the more peace we will project into the world, and ultimately the more peace we will have on the planet.” I assume we can learn that from you in the book? Any teasers you’d like to share?
      1. Whine time? Listen to left-brain chatter. Observe and dismiss it.
      2. Other mechanisms are in the book, things to divert away from the negative activities of the left brain.
    2. Not subject matter of this podcast, but your advice in loved-ones working with those who’d suffered similar strokes is great info, very warm and important
  6. What’s next from you? New book next year (April 2021) on the practical use of this information.
  7. Anything else you want to share?

In this episode, I had the honor of speaking with Dr. Chris Niebauer. Dr. Niebauer the the author of No Self, No Problem: How Neuropsychology Is Catching Up to Buddhism. He earned his Ph.D. in cognitive neuropsychology at the University of Toledo, with a focus on the differences between the left and right sides of the human brain. He is currently a professor at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, where he teaches courses on consciousness, mindfulness, left- and right-brain differences, and artificial intelligence.  We discussed mind versus consciousness and the link to Eastern philosophy. Please enjoy this episode with Dr. Chris Niebauer.

No Self, No Problem: How Neuropsychology Is Catching Up to Buddhism

We discussed: 

  1. What is consciousness? Is it neurological, within the brain? The morphic field? What do you think?
  2. Asking the right questions about consciousness?
    1. Daniel Dennett
  3. How is consciousness different from mind? 
    1. A selfish question: Consciousness and Taoism…what is the connection, how is one’s consciousness part of Taoism?
      1. Right brain yin, left brain yang?
  4. You studied split brains as part of your doctoral work. What can the split brains tell us about our existence?
    1. How do the two sides differ?
    2. There are two radically different types of consciousness resulting from the left versus the right brain?
    3. Is there an ethical consideration, then, with two separate consciousnesses?
  5. What about our combined left-right brain? Your book has several ways the two sides work together — language, visual, beliefs, etc. What implications do these hold for our consciousness and our egos?
  6. Where did this “mind” originate from?
    1. How does knowing this help us go beyond it?
  7.  What is the nature of the self and how does the mind create this?
    1. The self, or ego, is an illusion?
    2. Is that voice in our heads our self/ego?
  8. No Self, No Problem: How Neuropsychology Is Catching Up to Buddhism: How does the Buddha’s teachings fit so well with modern neuroscience? Observe the mind! You can change or train the inner thoughts.
  9. You refer to intuition as “another valid form of consciousness.” What do you mean by that? What is intuition?
    1. And creativity? Where do creative ideas come from?
  10. How is mind related to AI, but consciousness isn’t?
  11. Other thoughts?
  12. What’s coming in the study of consciousness that excites you?
  13. What will you be studying or writing about in the near future? Book coming next summer — consciousness and mind.

“Learn to use the mind, or the mind will use you.”

A Quick and Easy Exercise he recommends: One conscious breath. Breath in, slowly breath out. For a moment, you’re not your thoughts — here & now.

Check out Dr. Niebauer’s YouTube channel

In this episode, I had the honor of speaking with Dr. John Webber. Dr. Webber is a practicing Psychiatrist whose patients have experienced past-life regression and near-death experiences. He is also the author of The Red Chair, the story of John and his patient, Judy, who discovered past lives and a connection with spirituality, which led them to the healing they had previously thought impossible. We discussed near-death experiences and other psi phenomena as they relate to consciousness Please enjoy this episode with Dr. John Webber.

Questions we discussed: 

  1. Son-in-law medium
  2. Past lives
  3. Psychic phenomenon
  4. Reincarnation
  5. Consciousness precedes matter, universal consciousness, source of physical being
  6. Brain is the filter, narrow bandwidth
  7. Near death experiences (NDE)
  8. Psychedelics
  9. Hypnosis, past life regressions
  10. What kind of shift happened in your mind when presented with this evidence?
  11. Between lives state
  12. Many lives many masters Brian Weiss
  13. What is reality?

In this episode, I had the honor of speaking with Dr. Andrew Gallimore.  Dr. Gallimore is a neurobiologist, chemist, and pharmacologist, with a focus on the relationship between psychedelic drugs, the brain, and consciousness as they relate to the structure of reality. He is currently based at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology in Japan. We discussed his Alien Information Theory and more. Please enjoy this episode with Dr. Andrew Gallimore.

Questions we discussed: 

  1. Alien Information Theory: what is that?
  2. What sparked your curiosity, what excited you about DMT and reality?
  3. What is the relationship between DMT, the brain and consciousness?
  4. What is reality? I hear people, after a psychedelic experience, ask, “Was that real?”
  5. Does consciousness originate from the brain, or from outside the brain?
    1. From a fundamental code?
    2. The brain constructs our subjective experiences?
    3. The brain evolved to represent the informational structure of any world that appears [to its] consciousness?
      1. Alien DMT reality…what is that?
      2. DMT is an ancestral neuromodulator…again, what does that mean?
      3. Practicality: What insight does DMT provide into reality?
      4. We’re playing in a cosmic game?
      5. How does DMT work in the brain?
      6. How does it affect consciousness?
  6. With DMT, we can become interdimensional “citizens” in hyperspace. What does that mean? How does that work?
  7. What’s next from you?
  8. What breakthroughs do you see coming in understanding consciousness?
  9. What outcomes can we expect from Alien Information Theory?
  10. What else?
  11. Paper with Rick Strassman to use anesthesia to extend the DMT experience

In this episode, I had the honor of speaking with Philosopher Tom Clark. Tom hosts Naturalism.Org, one of the Web’s most comprehensive resources on worldview naturalism, its implications and applications. He is also a research associate at the Institute for Behavioral Health at Brandeis University, working on solutions to drug addiction and other behavioral disorders. We had a great conversation about the subjective versus objective experiences of consciousness, neural correlates of consciousness, death, and more. Please enjoy this episode with Philosopher Tom Clark.

Read more from Naturalism.og on the subjects we discussed:

Consciousness: https://naturalism.org/philosophy/consciousness
Death: https://naturalism.org/philosophy/death

Questions we discussed: 

  1. The empirical “nature” of naturalism must present some challenges when describing phenomenal, non-observable experiences of consciousness. 
  2. Why don’t we start with your thoughts on consciousness, what’s your understanding of consciousness? Is that possible to do?
  3. Your analogy to fish: Something it is like to be a hooked fish. The point is we can’t observe pain, like we can observe a physical wound that causes private (conscious) pain. Right?
  4. You describe a notion of privacy constraint on consciousness, that an experience is held private, not for the public to observe. How does that play into the understanding of consciousness? We can’t objectify consciousness?
  5. Do you think we will find “neural and functional correlates of consciousness”?
    1. Metzinger The Ego Tunnel, Being Nobody — promising theory of consciousness; Minimal Phenomenal Experience (MPE); 
    2. More reading: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03064/full
  6. So, what causes qualia, phenomenal experiences? Is that even a relevant question at this point?
  7. Thoughts on Panpsychism?
    1. You see promise in IIT (Dr. Tononi and Koch)? Do you think their attempts to measure consciousness (even in an apple) will be successful?
  8. Illusionism, Keith Frankish
  9. Let’s take a stab at death. Please share your thoughts on death and consciousness.
  10. What else, what haven’t I asked you?
  11. Andy Clark, Predictive Coding; Stan Harris’ meditation app
  12. Will you be exploring any other areas of consciousness soon? Representational content
  13. Any breakthroughs coming, possibly, that excite you? Correlates of consciousness; Anil Seth