In this episode, I had the honor of speaking with Mark Gober, himself the host of a podcast about consciousness. Mark is a Board member at the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS), Partner at Sherpa Technology Group in Silicon Valley, former New York investment banker and now also an author and podcast host. His book, An End to Upside Down Thinking, shines the light on a different way of understanding consciousness.
We had a great conversation and covered consciousness as a fundamental property, psi phenomena, and more. Please enjoy this episode with Mark Gober.
Questions we discussed:
First, tell us a little bit about your book, “An End to Upside Down Thinking.” [I think from the subtitle, we can get an idea of your position on consciousness, but please give us an overview.]
What is the central idea here that will rock the scientific world?
You’ve gotten some pretty impressive endorsements. Any from hard scientists such as physicists, neuroscientists, etc.?
If not, why do you think that is?
What about your ideas could or should change the way we treat each other?
What is consciousness?
How does this explain things like:
Near death experiences (NDEs)
Other psi phenomena
Your position is that consciousness is fundamental, that is creates all material reality, yes?
Can you explain how that works, or expand on the idea for us?
What role, if any, does the brain, the body, neurons, etc. play in our consciousness? A filter.
My ‘identity’ is my consciousness, not my body. Does that mean my consciousness existed outside the timeline of my earthly life, before and after?
What kind of power do I have then, with my consciousness? Can I intentionally change my reality?
How do consciousnesses (say yours and mine or that of the non-physical and mine) interact?
What’s next for you after this book?
What breakthroughs do you see coming in the next 5-15 years with our understanding of consciousness?
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 welcome back previous guest, Riccardo Manzotti, along with his friend and co-author, Tim Parks. We discussed their new book, Dialogues on Consciousness, in which the two discuss the nature of consciousness.
TIM PARKS, novelist, essayist and translator, is the author of nineteen works of fiction, including Europa, shortlisted for the Booker. He is a regular contributor to both The New York Review of Books and The London Review of Books. He lives in Italy, where he teaches literature and translation studies at IULM in Milan
RICCARDO MANZOTTI is a philosopher, psychologist, and robotics engineer who has written more than 50 scientific papers and several books, among them The Spread Mind: Why Consciousness and the World Are One. A former Fulbright Visiting Scholar at MIT, he is now visiting professor at UAEU University (Emirates).
We had a great conversation. Please enjoy this episode with Dr. Riccardo Manzotti and author Tim Parks.
Please tell us about these dialogues between you two. How did they come about? Tim, you want to start us off with that?
Tim, I’m curious about your curiosity with consciousness. Where did that come from?
Riccardo, any new revelations in the book for you, anything that builds on the Spread Mind, beyond it?
Okay, let’s start off like your book. What is consciousness?
You use the term “internalist”, whereas I’m used to terms like “physicalist” or “materialist”. Is there a difference?
You can’t deduce “mind” from looking at neurons. What does that tell you/us?
Is mind within the skull? What about memories and information? How exactly are memories stored and recalled?
If the mind is not internal, how do changes in the physical/internal brain affect consciousness? What is the connector between internal brain and external mind?
Red/white square experiment…
It’s fascinating to essentially eavesdrop on your conversation in this book. Over the years that you two had these conversations, did either of you experience a change in how you understand consciousness?
What do you two agree on, and where do you disagree with each other?
I’d like to ask you about “The Now.” Dreams, hallucinations, even thoughts in my mind, are made up of experiences I’ve already had. But don’t I experience those in my consciousness right now? Even if the sun shined eight minutes ago, aren’t I experiencing it, phenomenally, right here, right now?
Sensory events are not simultaneous, right? Light hits my eyes before sound enters my ears. My brain puts the model together, combines the consciousnesses of multiple properties of an object (say, a train). Then, I experience the train in my now. Isn’t that “the now” of all of my phenomenal experiences? No? There is no “now”?
The body facilitates, or selects, the objects and their connected experiences. What is different in this selection/facilitation process during altered states of consciousness, such as dreams or psychedelics or meditation?
Somebody asked you, Tim, about the properties of objects floating “through the air” to the brain. That sounds too literal of a way to describe this. But let me put it another way. I hear about the brain being like a radio receiver, and the transmitted signal is a greater, universal consciousness that we tune in to. The brain as a receiver sounds compatible with Spread Mind. Is it? Anything there? Do objects “transmit” their properties via a universal consciousness medium? Is there a source?
So, what is the ego? What is one’s self?
What’s happening when I have a thought? How does that relate to objects? And what about creativity or inspiration?
Do I have any control at all over my thoughts, my actions, my desires?
Are you two still having these conversations? Is there more to come for us fans of consciousness? What other topics are you exploring?
Looking to the future of our understanding of consciousness, what are you two excited for, what breakthroughs or discoveries or advancements?
In this episode, I had the honor of speaking with cardiologist Dr. Pim van Lommel. For more than twenty years Dr. van Lommel has studied near-death experiences (NDEs) in patients who survived a cardiac arrest. In 2001, he and his fellow researchers published a study on Near Death Experiences in the renowned medical journal The Lancet. He, then wrote the bestseller Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience in 2007.
We had a great conversation and covered Enhanced Consciousness, NDEs and more. Please enjoy this episode with Dr. Pim van Lommel.
Questions we discussed:
You are known for your extensive work with NDEs; however, your book is titled, Consciousness Beyond Life. It’s a book about consciousness. So, if it’s okay with you, let’s start there.
Medical Doctors generally see consciousness as either on or off. In your first experience with NDE’s in 1969, you saw consciousness differently, as more than just that waking consciousness. Is that correct? Can you expand on that for us?
So, the idea — that NDEs lead you to — is that there is a special state of consciousness, an enhanced consciousness?
And this is technically, medically impossible during cardiac arrest, but observed/reported.
What is the difference between normal, waking consciousness and enhanced consciousness? [no time, no space, non-local].
Are there other ways to access enhanced consciousness, such as Psychedelics?
Speaking of psychedelics, you mention DMT a few times in your book, as having a role in consciousness. What role in consciousness do you think DMT plays?
You sought to answer the question, “What is the biological basis of consciousness?” Within that question, though, is a pretty significant assumption — that there is a biological basis — which you point out, has never actually been proven…we all just kind of ran with it. So, how do you answer that question today?
You say that the brain facilitates consciousness, it does not produce or create it.
So, then, what is consciousness and where does it come from, then?
When/how does consciousness bind to the brain? Mind-brain binding?
When does that happen in a new human life?
Is Quantum Mechanics the ‘missing link’ between the brain and consciousness? Might we find a particle, the conscioutron? Gravity?
You have an analogy of the brain being like a radio – a relay station – tuning into the Consciousness channel, with waking consciousness being a single channel and enhanced consciousness being all channels at once. Can you expand on that a little?
Aldous Huxley, and his book, Doors of Perception, describes the brain as a filter for a cosmic Consciousness, Universal knowledge. Is there any correlation there to your idea of the brain’s tuning into consciousness?
“The content of an NDE suggests that consciousness may be nonlocal.” What is a nonlocal consciousness?
In quantum physics, you mention, that everything is connected. Is it that way for our consciousnesses? Is that endless consciousness?
DNA is the ‘mobile phone number’ of consciousness, or IP address?
Does non-local consciousness enable connections between minds?
Collective consciousness is unlimited, and connects each individual with everything else, past, future, everything. Is there a way to access this greater Collective consciousness?
What about the living and the dead, can they be connected?
In your view, then, what is death, then, a simple change in consciousness?
Would it be possible to bind, or affix non-local Consciousness to a new brain? Perhaps, a mechanical brain? DNA
I think you reference this in your book…but you are familiar with the study on brain activity in rats…just before cardiac arrest…the burst of activity, with George Mashour and others.
What do you make of this activity as it relates to you ideas of non-local consciousness? Is that a sign of consciousness releasing and re-binding to the body, before and after the NDE?
Since writing the book, have you seen any new information or recent discovery out there that is causing you to either second-guess or reaffirm your ideas on consciousness?
What breakthroughs do you see coming in the study of consciousness and NDEs?
What else, what haven’t I asked you, in the context of consciousness? What’s next from you?
In this episode, I had the honor of speaking with Dr. Berit Brogaard. We discussed science and consciousness, brain waves and neural correlates of consciousness, and her work with synesthesia and savant syndrome. Dr. Berit “Brit” Brogaard is a Professor of Philosophy and the Director of the Brogaard Lab at the University of Miami. Her areas of research include philosophy of perception, philosophy of emotions, and philosophy of language. She is the author of several books, including Transient Truths and The Superhuman Mind.
We had a great conversation and covered topics ranging from philosophy to hard science, all in the context of mind-brain duality. Please enjoy this episode with Dr. Berit Brogaard.
Questions we explored:
You come at this with a varied background – from philosophy to neuroscience. Maybe we can start with your overview of what consciousness is and how it works. I saw part of your interview with Deepak Chopra and you touched on panpsychism. Is that part of your view (definition of) on consciousness?
What makes you think Science WILL explain it?
What about dualism? Physicalism?
Survival after physical death?
Neural Correlates of Consciousness/Brain Waves:
What’s happening in our brain when we have thoughts and/or phenomenal experiences?
How do these relate to brain waves? Delta, Alpha, Beta, Theta, Gamma, etc. Maybe first tell us what those brain waves are?
Altered states of consciousness, meditation?
How do these brain waves affect neurons? Microtubules?
How does this relate to phenomenal consciousness? Can you correlate brain activity with ‘something it is like’-ness?
Are you able to separate (mathematical) components of these brain waves in such a way that you can observe ‘consciousness’?
Does this relate to memory and schema — groups of neurons firing together to form a memory?
I think about Giulio Tanoni’s Integrated Information Theory (IIT) research when we discuss brain waves. What are your thoughts on their work with IIT and brain waves? Christof Koch mentioned in our interview that they might be able to measure the consciousness of a stone one day. Thoughts on that?
What has your work shown you about mind-brain duality (or alternately, physicalism)?
You believe that science will be able to explain consciousness? How/why?
What have you observed in your laboratories regarding consciousness and traumatic brain injuries (TBI)?
You study Synesthesia and savant syndrome, among other things. What has that taught you about consciousness?
What is happening in the brain with a synesthete?
Does this provide insight into the neural correlates of consciousness?
Anything else you’d like to share, anything that I missed?
What will you be working on in the near future?
Do you see any breakthroughs coming in our understanding of phenomenal consciousness?
In this episode, I had the honor of speaking with Dr. Riccardo Manzotti. We discussed his explanation of consciousness, which he terms The Spread Mind. With a background in Electrical Engineering, Robotics, and Computer Science, Dr. Manzotti was a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the Department of Linguistic and Philosophy, MIT and is currently an Associate Professor in Theoretical Philosophy, IULM University, Milan and a Google Scholar.
We had a great conversation and covered The Spread Mind and mind-object identity, as well as virtual reality and physicalism. Please enjoy this episode with Dr. Riccardo Manzotti.
Your can order his book through Amazon. Also, check out his cartoons!
We covered the following questions:
Please give us an overview of The Spread Mind theory.
How did you come up with this theory, what inspired this? Computer scientist
Phenomenal experience is a property of the object?
Sounds like the Buddhist notion of becoming one with that which you love. Any connection to Buddhism?
The mind is larger than the body of the observer?
What is the mechanism that connects our brains to this consciousness?
Mind-object versus mind-body: Consciousness not connected to neural activity. Please explain the difference (if you haven’t already).
What if you and I are experiencing the consciousness from the same object. Is that “spread object”? Is there any possibility of our personal ‘consciousness’ crossing over, sharing, combining?
If we are the external objects, how can you explain that we may see reality in different ways? How does your theory address the issue of subjectivity and privacy of experience?
If consciousness is not neural, how do changes in the brain end up affecting consciousness? How does your theory connect with neuroscience? What about brain injury, split brain, sleep, altered states, etc.?
Does the apple experience me, the object being me — flipping the frame of reference? Does it work both ways, like gravity?
Is this panpsychism? Illusionism?
You mention that Spread Mind is part of Naturalism: nothing supernatural exists. Is that right? So you are a physicalist? But you claim consciousness is not in the brain and thus that we are not our bodies, how can both things be true?
A very popular alternative theory about consciousness is Tononi’s integrated information theory (IIT) and other computationalist approaches. Why is your theory different? What’s the connection with information?
What are the bigger ramifications of this theory
If this turns out to be true, how can we use this information?
Are there spiritual components?
What else are you working on? What’s in your future?
What big breakthroughs in understanding consciousness do you see coming in the next 10-20 years?
In this episode, I had the honor of speaking with Dr. Katrin Preller, a Visiting Assistant Professor at Yale Medical School and a team member at the Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics at the University of Zurich, where she received her PhD in Psychology and Neuroscience. Her research interests are centered around the neuropharmacology of emotional and cognitive processes such as social cognition in health and psychiatric illnesses, as well as (pharmacological) neuroimaging analysis methodology, including studies with psilocybin and LSD.
We had a great conversation and covered neuropharmacology and LSD, altered states of consciousness and even a little philosophy. Please enjoy this episode with with Dr. Katrin Preller.
Why the interest in LSD, psilocybin and altered states of consciousness? What do the Swiss know about LSD anyway? 🙂 Loved your joke about mountains, chocolate…LSD.
Most of what I read covers your studies with LSD and some psilocybin. What about other psychedelics?
You found that LSD alters directed connectivity within CSTC pathways* in humans. Can you explain what that means and what significance it has?
* LSD reduced connections between regions of the brain that govern cognitive processes while simultaneously increasing connectivity in brain networks associated with sensory functions.
Thalamus is the door of perception?
5-HT/2A receptors — can you explain, in a layperson’s terms, what is happening at these receptors normally, and then how LSD affects them, and propagates to other brain functions/experiences — sensory, psychologically, etc.?
Subjects assigned ‘meaning’ with LSD (music). Can you expand on that and what it…means?
In the general study of phenomenal consciousness, there is the concept of qualia — what seeing red feels like. It’s Chalmers’ hard question. So, does LSD’s effects on the serotonin receptors provide insight into these phenomenal experiences? Seems like it might. If we can watch those experiences — self awareness/reporting of those experiences — change (like that wolf image), doesn’t that shed light on phenomenal consciousness?
What, if anything, have your studies on LSD/psilocybin and altered states of consciousness taught you about what human consciousness is, how it works?
What are the direct effects of LSD on human consciousness?
What role does the CSTC loop play in consciousness? Mental disorders?
One article quotes you as saying that LSD reduces the borders between the experience of our own self and others, and thereby affects social interactions. Can you expand on that notion?
It seems that many users of psychedelics report back feeling connected to other, to the universe, to nature, etc. Is that what’s going on here?
There’s not ACTUAL connectedness. It’s a feeling of being connected, internally, right?
What insight, or opinions, do you have on ego or ‘self’?
What are you working on now, or what’s next for you?
What, if any, breakthroughs in your field of study do you see coming in the future?
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”.
This episode is a little different from what you’ve come to expect. I recently covered the Arizona Psychedelics Conference here in my home state of Arizona, hoping to learn from the insight gained by those who work in the healing world of psychedelic therapies. I had a chance to sit down with three incredible people who work in the field and get their ideas on human consciousness, based on their personal experiences and those with their patients and clients.
The first segment is with Kyle Buller, the co-founder of Psychedelics Today. Kyle has a BA in Transpersonal Psychology from Burlington College where he studied the healing potential of non-ordinary states of consciousness by exploring shamanism, plant medicine, Holotropic Breathwork, and psychedelic psychotherapy. We discussed his own Near Death Experience and what he learned about his own consciousness. You can learn more about his practice at www.settingsunwellness.com.
Transpersonal breathwork, Stan and Christina Groff
Vehicle to reach non-ordinary state of consciousness
Transpersonal layers, non-waking consciousness
NDE, and Kyle’s Experience
Access to new information; new view of the world; map of how the world worked
What is consciousness? Spirit? Body.
What does it mean to be alive?
Is the body a manifestation of a higher consciousness?
Non-ordinary states of consciousness, altered states of consciousness
The body is a receiver of consciousness, like a TV
Mind-body spirit connection; body experience produces emotions, mind changes
Cryptography of the human psyche
The second segment (at 48:50) is with Veronika Gold, co-founder, therapist, and consultant at Polaris Insight Center, San Francisco based clinic providing Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy We also had a great conversation on her clinic’s therapies, which are important to me, as a survivor of my son’s suicide, and she also shared her insight into human consciousness.
Ketamine, suicide and my story
Czech Republic, Revolution, Russian Invasion
Transpersonal Conference, Stan Grof
Holotropic breathwork and non-ordinary states of consciousness
Realization Process, Judith Blackstone
Non-ordinary versus Altered States of Consciousness
Ketamine’s insight into out-of-body or NDE
The third segment…isn’t here…I fat finger deleted it after the interview. So awful, because my conversation with Dr. Sam Ko was amazing. Dr. Ko is is a Board Certified Emergency Physician and founder of Reset Ketamine (www.resetketamine.com) in Palm Springs, CA. We really got into consciousness, layers of consciousness from the brain to human consciousness to universal consciousness. He really got me thinking and shed new light on my own perception of consciousness. I sure hope I can get back and re-do that interview.
So, please enjoy my conversation with Kyle Buller, followed by my interview with Veronika Gold.