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?
There is a false assumption out there that you take head on: ‘That we see reality as it is.”
You think that’s wrong? What is real, then?
What about two people perceiving the same thing?
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?
How big of a gap is there between perception of reality and reality? Is that knowable?
What is a conscious agent? [Something that perceives, decides, and acts — what does that mean?]
Do spacetime and physics arise from the dynamics of conscious agents?
Is reality a network of conscious agents, with consciousness a fundamental property in the universe?
What do physicists say about this idea?
You mention some interesting findings with split brain studies.
What interested you about those studies, and how did that play a part in developing your theories?
The one consciousness split into two consciousnesses, but the two then act as a single conscious agent, right?
Do you and I act as a single conscious agent? Do we all combine into one universal consciousness?
Is perception the result of the brain building models/schema? Do these models then create phenomenal experiences (consciousness)?
There is a quantum basis to this, too, correct? Measurement/observation, entanglement?
Is has to do with information (i.e. Hawking)?
We re-construct what we perceive, in our brains?
3D cube in circles. Necker Cube.
This is driven by evolution?
Not perceiving the world accurately gives an advantage?
The good old Hard Question: that gap in between the physical brain and our phenomenal experiences (qualia).
Does your Interface Theory of Perception (ITP) explain this gap? How?
How does this explain “something it is like to be a bat”?
How does your theory do with non-ordinary states of consciousness, like dreams, psychedelics, etc.?
Your analogy: Computer desktop as a representation of reality.
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?
What didn’t I ask?
Distinction between living and non-living things.
What about the transition between living and not living?
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?
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?
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]
Self organization and complexity; Stephen Wolfram – simple rules; teleological force of universe
Time is an illusion, doesn’t really exist; anthropic principle;
What role could non-locality, quantum entanglement play?
The interconnectedness of everything: Can this explain “cosmic consciousness” or other phenomena of expanded consciousness? Information entity, space and time not relevant
The collective intelligence of ants, for example?
So, what is real, then? Reality is actively constructed by the brain?
Are hallucinations just as real as…reality?
Emmanuel Kant – what is real, space and time
Information is the most fundamental thing
“Neuroscience, consciousness and spirituality” book
Living in a simulation
In that context, what is “self”, then?
Default state, default mode network
Can we even ask, what is consciousness?
Does consciousness arise from the human brain-computer?
Centered in my universe; panpsychism; field of consciousness; birth/death;
Is time real? How does time relate to consciousness?
Other loose concepts:
Something else I hear a lot of, is that everything is energy. What does quantum physics say about that?
We create reality (quantum/buddhism)
Each observer has their own universe; the observer effect
Looking for reality in the mind is going the wrong way
What didn’t I ask?
Intelligence; why are we destroying the biosphere; termites – function as a collective organism; why aren’t humans becoming more ‘collective’? Find consciousness within ourselves.
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 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:
The empirical “nature” of naturalism must present some challenges when describing phenomenal, non-observable experiences of consciousness.
Why don’t we start with your thoughts on consciousness, what’s your understanding of consciousness? Is that possible to do?
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?
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?
Do you think we will find “neural and functional correlates of consciousness”?
Metzinger The Ego Tunnel, Being Nobody — promising theory of consciousness; Minimal Phenomenal Experience (MPE);
In this episode, I interviewed Dr. Debra Diamond, a former Wall Street money manager, CNBC commentator and host of a CNN radio program who left a high profile job to pursue a life of spirituality and purpose. She is a graduate of the Holistic Studies Institute of New York, has completed mediumship training at the Arthur Findlay College in the UK and trained at the Carl Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland. She is a writer, artist, thinker, and psychic and provides a unique perspective on human consciousness.
We discussed the survival of consciousness, universal consciousness, and more. Please enjoy this episode with Dr. Debra Diamond.
So, you left a high profile life to pursue a life of purpose and spirituality. What was the catalyst for that change?
What is a hospice “Death Doula”? Others?
Can you share a couple examples of your experiences as a death doula, as it pertains to your understanding of consciousness?
You’ve studied those who came through near death experiences with extraordinary skills, powers, changes. What did that teach you about human consciousness?
You also mentioned that they come back a little heavier (gassed up) in the physical:consciousness ratio. Are you able to communicate to other through consciousness?
After the body dies, you say that “our ego dissolves and our consciousness emerges and carries on in an expansive environment not dependent on the physical body.” How does that work? What do you mean by the ego dissolving and consciousness emerging?
What is the ego?
You can see consciousness travel to new realms from a dying body. What are these other “realms” and “frequencies” that you have access to?
So, once consciousness has left the body, it goes to the universal consciousness? What is the universal consciousness?
You can tap into it?
Can those without your skills/talents (like me, for example) tap into that universal consciousness?
Does consciousness have an eternal existence? Before/after the physical body?
What is this time on earth in this physical existence, then?
What’s your take on altered states of consciousness (dreams, psychedelics, etc.)?
Correlation to brain activity?
You have unique insight into consciousness. Outside of your work, have you contemplated, philosophically, scientifically, NEURO-scientifically, what consciousness is and how it works? How do you define/describe consciousness? How do you think it works? Dualism? Physicalism?
Is consciousness the soul?
What else do you want to share in the context of consciousness?
What’s next for you, after this new book? Intuition
In this episode, I have the honor of speaking with two experts, a father-daughter team working on Artificial Intelligence and Artificial Psychology. Dr. Jim Crowder is a Systems Fellow at Colorado Engineering, where his projects include Research, Development and Deployment of Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Intelligence and Machine Learning systems and applications. He’s also the creator of the famous Maxwell AI bot. Dr. Shelli Friess completed her doctorate at Argosy University in Counselor Education and Supervision and is a faculty member at Walden University’s School of Counseling and Human Services. Her research interests include artificial intelligence, counselor development and wellness, trauma, and vicarious trauma.
We had a great conversation and covered AI, Artificial Psychology, Artificial Consciousness, ethics and morals, and much more… Please enjoy this episode with with Dr. Crowder and Dr. Friess.
Questions we covered:
So, you’re a Father-Daughter team, pairing work in Artificial Intelligence and Psychology. Tell me more about how you two came to work together. It’s pretty unique.
Are you the first team to pair these two disciplines together?
Dr. Crowder, can you tell us about Maxwell? What’s Maxwell up to today?
Artificial Intelligence & Artificial Psychology: tell us a little about the two concepts and how they relate to each other?
How do they relate to consciousness, in your opinion? [AI:Brain, AP:Mind?]
Do you each have different views of what human consciousness is?
Where does ‘self-awareness’ come in?
You mention that we won’t be able to ‘achieve people’ but that we’ll get close. What is that line between the two?
You mention the Artificial Cognitive Neural Framework, with a artificial cognition, artificial prefrontal cortex and memory. You also mention modelling. How does this tie together to create this ‘psychology’?
How do you go about mimicking the brain’s architecture?
Is there a difference between recreating a physical brain and recreating a psychology/consciousness?
And again, what about ‘consciousness’?
Reacting to failure? What about the emotional piece? Dr. Friess, you mention emotion and AI. What are your thoughts on that?
In Consciousness, phenomenal experience, or qualia, is central to the ‘hard question’ of consciousness. Emotions seem to be central to the sensation of experience. How does that play into your work? Ramifications to consciousness, self-awareness, psychology?
Will robots need therapists?
You mention being able to ‘trust’ an AI. What do you mean by that?
What are the ethical considerations of building a psychological, even conscious, intelligence?
What will you two be working on in the future?
What breakthroughs do you see over the horizon in your fields?
In this episode, I have the honor of speaking with Dr. Susan Blackmore, who is a psychologist, lecturer and writer researching consciousness, memes, and anomalous experiences. She is a Visiting Professor at the University of Plymouth, as well as a TED Talk lecturer, blogger for the Guardian, and often appears on radio and television. Her book, The Meme Machine (1999) has been translated into 16 other languages; more recent books include Conversations on Consciousness (2005), Zen and the Art of Consciousness (2011), Seeing Myself: The new science of out-of-body experiences (2017) and a textbook Consciousness: An Introduction (3rd Ed 2018).
We had a great conversation and covered out of body experiences, mind-body duality — or more accurately, monism, and more. Please enjoy this episode with Dr. Susan Blackmore.
Questions we discussed:
So, where do you stand on consciousness? What is it?
What is happening in the brain? How do you explain these experiences?
What implications do these have on our understanding of consciousness?
Her advice: Enjoy the experience!
In an article in Psychology Today, you discuss the notion of being conscious only when you’re aware of your consciousness, like the light in the fridge. Are we only conscious when we’re aware of our consciousness? [sleep]
If not, what are we in those moments?
Does brain activity change? Any other insights into this idea?
Any relation to ‘altered states of consciousness’, i.e. is it a spectrum or some other direct relation?
What else, what haven’t I asked you?
What’s in your future, what else will you be studying or publishing?
New book on Memes to follow the 1999 publication, “The Meme Machine”.
In this episode, I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Cassandra Vieten, who is the President of the Institute of Noetic Sciences and a scientist at the Mind-Body Medicine Research Group at California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute. Dr. Vieten is a licensed clinical psychologist and has been with IONS since 2001, previously serving as its Executive Director of Research.
We had a great conversation and covered consciousness, interconnectedness, spirituality and much more. Please enjoy this episode with Dr. Cassandra Vieten.
What are your views/definition of consciousness? Universal consciousness? Mind-body, the binding problem. Survival. Etc.?
Is Consciousness a primary component of the universe, along with matter and energy?
I saw your video from your talk on the Science of Interconnectedness.
Your team has conducted experiments on interconnectedness with some pretty incredible results? (Examples?)
What criticism have you received about the experiments? Have they been independently repeated?
Is ‘interconnectedness’ a shared consciousness? What are the hypotheses about how this works, physically, if that’s even a legitimate question.
You mention that the body itself is interconnected (cells). How? Is that a level of consciousness? Is that an extension of that what connects us to each other?
A focus of yours is spirituality in psychological treatment, correct? How, if at all, does that tie into consciousness? Is there an overlap or connection between consciousness and spirituality?
In your research into spirituality, including meditation and other practices, what have you discovered about consciousness?
What role does consciousness have in psychological healing, in the practice of a psychologist?
I’ve spoken to a few people who study the effects of psychedelics on the brain. Often, those who experience psychedelics describe something like this interconnectedness. Have you looked into that at all? Any insight? Spirituality?
What are the eventual, or hopeful, practical uses that might come from your studies, both in consciousness and psychology?
Are we already experiencing those benefits, without knowing the reason? How are people using these abilities now, while not even realizing it?
What are the hot studies going on at IONS, what else is coming? Pixar, VR
What should we look for from your future work? Ions discovery lab; [link to it]; ions-x (moon shot); help ppl who are working toward positive change (climate, prison) and equip them with tools for transforming worldviews;
What breakthroughs do you see coming, that really excite you?
This week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Theoretical Quantum Physicist, and Quantum Activist, Dr. Amit Goswami. Dr. Goswami is a retired full professor from the University of Oregon’s Department of Physics where he served from 1968 to 1997. He is a pioneer of the new paradigm of science called “science within consciousness,” an idea he developed in his seminal book, The SelfAware Universe. Dr. Goswami has written many other popular books based on his research on quantum physics and consciousness, including ,his latest book, The Everything Answer Book, in which his basic premise is that quantum physics is the key to understanding consciousness, life, death, God, psychology, and the meaning of life. In short, quantum physics is indeed the theory of everything.
It was an insightful discussion, so please enjoy my conversation with Dr. Amit Goswami.
Get his latest book on Amazon:
First of all, please give us a little background on your studies and theories, especially as it relates to consciousness.
I like to ask this of my guests: how do you define consciousness?
You describe a ‘quantum consciousness’. Are you describing a causal relationship, an underlying physical explanation, of consciousness?
Can consciousness be measured? Are there strange, quantum effects from conducting these measurements?
You mention the need to integrate science and spirituality. How do you integrate those two, and how does quantum physics come in there?
In your view, consciousness exists outside of the brain. Can you expand on that a bit?
You mention scientific evidence of the survival of consciousness after death. Can you provide some examples?
What is the notion you mention of ‘evolution of the mind’?
Is that something we can play an active part in, individually? Can we change/modify/exercise/expand our own consciousness?
You include the ‘meaning of life’ in your book. How is the meaning of life tied to consciousness, or is it?
You mention that ‘Materialism is like an epidemic disease that has to be healed. And quantum science can be part of the healing.’ How can quantum science, quantum physics, be part of that healing? How does that work, exactly?
Given the quantum nature of consciousness, where do you stand on panpsychism? Do you think all living things are conscious? How about a rock?
What about Cosmic Consciousness, the idea that there’s a larger, ubiquitous consciousness that can be tapped into?
Please tell us how creativity plays a role in what you describe as a ‘discontinuous creative insight’. It sounds as if you’re talking about freeing consciousness from the constructs of the mind/ego?
As quantum theory expands to include ‘field theory’ as opposed to particle theory, how does that play into your ideas of quantum physics and consciousness?
I know that this conversation has been focused, obviously, on Consciousness. Before we leave, I’d like to give you an opportunity to discuss any other topic. I know your book covers, well, literally, ‘Everything.’ Is there anything else you’d like to bring up? Quantum activism? Anything?
This week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Jacob Lucas, and our topic was Buddhism and the rebirth of consciousness. Mr. Lucas is an AHRC-funded PhD candidate at the University of Exeter and jointly supervised at the University of Bristol, Buddhist Studies, where he is researching arguments in support of the traditional Buddhist account of rebirth to see whether these are accessible to non-Buddhists who are engaging with practices like mindfulness in broadly secular contexts.
We discussed how consciousness moves from one entity to another, the concept of ‘self’ in Buddhist traditions, making ships appear, and even got a little into dreaming and consciousness.
It was a great conversation and included some of these highlights:
The mind witnessing the awareness of the world around you
A Buddhist, multi-life perspective on consciousness
Clearing out old assumptions on the existence of consciousness after the body dies
Mind/body, Mind/World, and a cup of tea
Pow! There’s a ship!
Three explanations within Buddhism of how consciousness moves from one ‘body’ to another
Is there a self? What is consciousness without Self?
Consciousness after death, and knowledge and memories
This week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Leonid Perlovskly. Dr. Perlovsky is a Visiting Scholar at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and is a Principal Research Physicist and Technical Advisor at The Air Force Research Laboratory at Hanscom AFB.
Our topic was Music and Consciousness, but I’d say it ended up being more about Music, PHYSICS, and Consciousness, covering a wide range of topics from Beauty and the Pursuit fo Knowledge, to the fundamental laws of consciousness to unrequited love. It was a great conversation.
In this episode, we discussed:
How music aided the evolution of human consciousness
How music helped synthesize the conscious and unconscious mind
How music can help one further explore his/her own consciousness
Understanding of own knowledge…that is what consciousness is
The goal of science is to explain the mechanism of the brain in order to explain consciousness
The Unity of Knowledge
Beauty, our Instinct for Knowledge, Meaning, ,and our purpose in life and how music aids this
Music (and Comedy?) facilitates acquiring of knowledge by helping humans overcome cognitive dissonance. The Fox and the Grapes.
“Perlovsky’s” Fundamental Laws of the Mind
Can we describe and measure the Mind with mathematical models in a lab?