Friday, June 28, 2013

Human Potential: Ashley Melidosian

IAC Blog’s Nelson Abreu interviewed Ashley Melidosian, a consciousness educator and researcher based in Miami with International Academy of Consciousness, with an academic background in education.  Ashley Melidosian is visiting Los Angeles with two courses related to optimizing our evolution as a consciousness. The courses will also be webcast live for our friends around the world.

Tell us a little about how you got started and why you decided to volunteer with IAC

I’m an instructor and volunteer with IAC since 2004. I learned about IAC through a friend’s mother who was attending training courses in New York. The rational approach and some of the potential implications struck a chord.  What I liked best about IAC was that it did not just perceive non-physical things or just analyze at the surface, but dared to go deeper and encouraged others to do the same and make profound changes through their own process without depending on others, including IAC instructors.

When did your interest develop? How did your family and social circle react?

To some extent, I’ve always been interested in this area.  Even in high school, in Long Island, when I was more focused on theater, I would notice that there was a lot more to it than the physical processes.  For instance, in theater, in “becoming a character,” I would notice that there were energy processes.  I also started to perceive non-physical consciousness (“spirits”) and told my friends about it.  Many of my friends understood me and a few where quite open to it, it did not create a lot of tension.  However, when I started prioritizing it, beyond the surface level, when I started doing research, writing papers, giving lectures, they became less comfortable with the subject around me.  At a picnic with family or friends, this was not a subject they would feel at ease discussing, for example.

What subjects have you researched at IAC?

Over the years, I have been studying parapsychic signals, existential inversion and human potential. Parapsychic signals (psychic signals or energetic signs) are a type of energetic sensation we can perceive as a physical reaction that correlates to the multidimensional reality around us.  It could be a sensation on your ear. You may realize, over time, through patterns, that it correlates to an evolved non-physical presence.  Another sensation might correlate to impending trouble.  For a while, it was difficult for me to make sense of these sensations. I started recording these in codes into a database at work as they occurred, and through analysis, I was able to reach some interesting conclusions which I presented at a conference in Portugal and that were published in the Journal of Conscientiology (issue 42).

This weekend, you will be in Los Angeles, teaching two courses. Tell us a little about them.

The first one, which has a pre-requisite (CDP Module 4), is Existential Inversion.  Existential Inversion is a strategy that can be used during one’s physical life time to optimize evolutionary performance.  It helps one prioritize goals, values, actions from a young age, according to the priorities planned even before birth, when one had more lucidity about evolution.  We can lose some of these insights upon being born, but the strategy assists young people to re-calibrate themselves, especially given the pressures to conform, to please social expectations. It is a strategy we can use in this lifetime or that we can prepare to utilize in the next one.

By overcoming these pressures, we can direct ourselves toward more fulfilling and transformative lives, achieve what we planned in terms of personal growth and making a difference in the world.  I had the opportunity to meet the progenitor of this strategy and the pioneer of conscientiology, Dr Waldo Vieira, and to study with a group in Brazil that specializes on this subject about 8 years ago.  Then, I continued my own investigation to study the pressures in countries around the world, in particular, my own culture in the USA, to make it relevant to a more universal audience.

Each country has its own pressures, but in the USA, I sense there is a lot of emphasis on “be the best,” “go as big as you can,” “make a big name for yourself.” Unfortunately, this seldom translates into being as fulfilled or evolved as you can.  Rising to the top in a field could be part of our plan, but it could be an escape from our evolutionarily authentic path.  There is a lot of pressure for women to marry and have kids, here and around the world, and again, this could be part of one’s plan, but not necessarily and there are certainly pros and cons to be considered with maturity, especially in a multi-existential context.

As for the course on Human Potential (no pre-requisite), with all these “voices” in society telling you how to act and what to do, it can be difficult to be authentic to know who we are, what we can bring to the table, what is important to you, what new ideas and creations you want to bring forth, how you can use your talents to be multidimensionally resourceful for your growth and for the benefit of fellow beings.  We can use the best of our multidimensional, multi-existential past, our innate ideas, our innate talents, and be more aware of our environment and opportunities to fulfill our potential as a consciousness in evolution this life time.   

Human potential can be studied in terms of the best we can be in terms of internal potential: the development of our talent, our abilities, our capabilities. It can also be understood as relating our internal resources to external conditions, leveraging both to direct our life to help the most people, in the deepest or most advanced way, maturing the most we can, identifiying and overcoming weaknesses that hold us back, developing the most awareness.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ockham’s razor VS Chatton’s anti-razor

Guest writer Dr. Massimiliano Sassoli de Bianchi, an independent researcher and IAC member, discusses the Ockham's Razor principle and its lesser-known complement: Chatton's anti-razor.  Ockham's Razor encourages the thinker to select the simplest explanation.  Why utilize a model with 9 bodies, when 4 vehicles of manifestation of the consciousness are sufficient to explicate phenomena like out-of-body experience and cosmic consciousness? Ockham is often evoked by those who have not had sufficient multidimensional experiences to support their reductionist views: renowned poltergeist expert Dr William Roll noted that children were present in all cases he studied.  Applying Ockham's Razor (no more than necessary), he proposed that the children caused these phenomena, rather than non-corporeal beings (super psi theory). Dr Roll disregarded other evidence like poltergeists without the presence of children, out-of-body experiences with recovery of veridical information from the "departed," mediumship research and more.  Indeed, we must guard against models that introduce a multiplicity of variables for no apparent reason but also against discarding evidence (no less than necessary). Reductionists that insist the brain is sufficient to explain consciousness also call upon Ockham's Razor, but what is cut out of the picture with this simpler model? Is a simpler model always correct? 

Nelson Abreu
IAC Blog

Ockham's razor VS Chatton's anti-razor

Massimiliano Sassoli de Bianchi, PhD


There is an interesting sign on the wall of every IAC office, which says the following: Don't believe in anything, not even what you hear here at the IAC. Experiment. Have your own experiences. This healthy advice can be understood in many different ways: for instance, as an expression of the fact that IAC is not interested in promoting brainwashing, proselytizing, or other methods of manipulative persuasion, but only a genuine participative and cooperative form of research. Also, it can be understood as an expression of the fact that consciousness research is primarily self-research, i.e., a typology of research which needs to be conducted primarily in first person, although, of course, it doesn’t exclude second and third person methods.

IAC’s remarkable sign also points to another important aspect of research in general: its empirical foundation. Indeed, there are no doubts that all we know about reality, inner and outer, is derived from our experiences and experiments, which form our primary data. This, however, should not lead us to erroneously believe that there would be a fundamental distinction between facts and theories, i.e., between our empirical data and the explanations and interpretations we attach to these data.

It is important to realize that, in the same way that our theories cannot be totally disassociated from our experiences (and experiments) to which they relate, our experiences too are never “naked and crude facts,” but can only acquire a specific meaning in relation to the theories of those who experiment them and communicate them.

This important observation that facts are, in ultimate analysis, statements full of theory, is well known among philosophers of science and certainly acknowledged by many scientists (although to different degrees). For instance, Albert Einstein once pointed out to Werner Heisenberg that whether we can observe something or not depends on the theory which we use, in the sense that it is the theory which decides what we can actually observe. By this, Einstein did not only mean that our theories, like maps of a territory, are telling us where and how we can experiment its different portions, but also that when we do experiment something, we may not really “see” what we are actually experimenting, because of the cognitive filters imposed by our theories and worldviews.

Let me explain this point by mentioning one of the most famous “failed” experiments in the history of modern physics: the one carried out in 1887 by Albert Michelson and Edward Morley, as an attempt to test the properties of so-called luminiferous aether, a medium which was assumed to entirely fill empty space, and through which light waves were assumed to propagate. As is well-known, their experiment failed to detect an aether wind, which was expected to be observed considering the planet’s orbital motion. Therefore, the two scientists concluded that the aetheric substance was dragged by the movement of the Earth, which explained the absence of a detectable aether wind.

Now, what Michelson and Morley actually failed to observe is not the relative velocity of the aether, with respect to planet Earth, but the fact that the speed of light is actually a constant independent of the observer motion. This observation, however, would only have been possible if they were able to reinterpret their experiment in the light of a more advanced explanation, i.e., of a more advanced theory of physical reality, like for instance the theory of special relativity, which was soon to be developed by Einstein. So, our experiences, our experiments, our observations, are all theory-laden processes! As Mark Twain used to say, for whoever has only a hammer sooner or later everything else will seem like a nail.

According to the above, we can now realize that when we read the IAC sign, we are not only invited to not  believe in anything, and to have our own experiences, but also, implicitly, to have our own theories, i.e., our own critical explanations. Otherwise, we may simply fail to appreciate the full content of our experiences!

Let me remind that science is a human activity (based on experience) whose purpose is to understand reality through the construction of theories (called scientific), able to explain it. Scientific theories evolve according to a method of a critical nature: the so-called scientific method, which contemplates both practical and logicical-rational tests. Therefore, it acts like a filter that theories have to pass through to be able to evolve into more advanced relative truths, whose validity remains, of course, always temporary. This means that one key element of scientific research is the creation (by educated guesses) of new explanations, i.e., of new theories, and another key element is the testing of these theories, through critical thinking and practical experimentation.

I will not enter here in the rather involved discussion of the reasons of the many criteria that are used today  (at least in principle) to evaluate the reliability of a scientific theory, i.e., how good a theory is as an explanation. Let me just quote, without further comment, the following important ones: explanatory power, falsifiability (both rational and experimental), objectivity (i.e., ability to generate intersubjective consensus), internal coherence, compatibility with all known experiments, and openness to criticism.

Sometimes the so-called Ockham’s razor principle is also mentioned as a scientific criterion (particularly, I would say, in Hollywood films!). This principle is usually formulated as “entities must not be multiplied without necessity” (Entia non sunt multiplicanda sine necessitate), and it has received many different names, like: simplicity principle, law of parsimony, and economy principle. Strictly speaking, it shouldn’t be considered as an unquestionable criterion, as it cannot, and should not, always be applied. Rather, it should always be applied cum grano salis!

Let me provide an important example, also taken from the history of physics. In 1930, theoretical physicist Wolfgang Pauli hypothesized the existence of a new subtle and elusive microscopic entity to explain beta decay. Indeed, according to the available experimental data, beta decay processes were in apparent contradiction with the laws of energy conservation and angular momentum conservation. So, not to give up these important laws, Pauli decided that it was necessary to presuppose the existence of a neutral entity, which was created during the beta decay process, and whose energy and angular momentum would allow to make ends meet.

This entity was later on called the neutrino by the Italian physicist Enrico Fermi, but because of its very weak interaction with ordinary matter, it could only be (directly) experimentally detected decades after Pauli’s bold hypothesis, thus confirming that this phantom-like entity was a very real entity, and not just the result of a “cognitive illusion.” 

So, Pauli was right in apparently disregarding Ockham’s razor principle, and in positing a brand new entity, even though it was impossible at his time to have a direct evidence of its true existence. If I say “apparently” it is because Ockham’s razor only affirms that the multiplication of entities should not occur “without necessity,” that is, without enough reason or experience. Here, however, we were exactly in that situation where reason and experience precisely suggested the need to do so.

Another way to look at this is to say that Pauli, when he made his assumption, was more guided by so-called Chatton’s anti-razor principle than by Ockham’s razor principle. For those who do not know him, Walter of Chatton was a theologian and philosopher who intensively disputed William Ockham, precisely on questions related to the convenience of rejecting or accepting additional entities in our explanations. In a nutshell, if on one hand Ockham warned us by saying “no more than is necessary,” Chatton, on the other hand, counterbalanced Ockham’s warning by adding “no less than is necessary.”

It is important to observe, however, that Ockham’s razor and Chatton’s anti-razor are not so different after all: the first, in a sense, expresses negatively what the second expresses in positive terms, and together they just make fully manifest the irreducible tension between simplicity and complexity, in our investigation of reality.

Now, if we compare the conventional materialistic paradigm (MP) – which considers that the human consciousness is just a by-product of the physical brain’s activity – with the consciential paradigm (CP) – which instead considers that the human consciousness is also a consequence of the activity of more subtle entities, like the psychosoma and the mentalsoma – it is quite clear that a different position was taken in their formulation, as it regards the convenience of being guided more by Ockham’s warning or by Chatton’s one.

Similarly to Pauli in his analysis of beta decay, IAC consciousness researchers  and all those researchers who today adopt a similar viewpoint have judged it is necessary, seeing the quality of the data accumulated by countless investigators in lucid out-of-body experiences (OBE) and allied phenomena to hypothesize the existence of more subtle vehicles of manifestation, in addition to our denser physical body. In other terms, they have judged it necessary to assume that the consciousness is a multi-vehicular entity, manifesting in multiple existential dimensions.

On the other hand, conventional consciousness researchers have so far considered that all these non-ordinary phenomena, like OBE, are just the result of specific activities of the brain, when perturbed in some way, i.e., that they are essentially hallucinatory in character.

So, for consciousness researchers who adopt the MP, all the accent is on the first element of Ockham-Chatton (razor-anti-razor) binomial: a single vehicle is assumed to be sufficient to explain all the observed first person experiences, also those related to altered (expanded) states of consciousness. Conversely, for consciousness researchers adopting the CP, the accent is more on the second element of the binomial: the complexity and articulations of our sensorial and para-sensorial data are assumed not to be conveniently explained if we reduce the human being to a mono-vehicular entity.

Of course, which one of these two perspectives is the more advanced one, researchers can only decide on their own, by accepting to produce high quality first-person experiences and then guess on their own what would be the best explanation to account for their content: the mono-vehicular hallucinatory one, of the MP, or the multi-vehicular non-hallucinatory one of the CP (or a possible third explanation, which has not yet been considered).

What is, however, important to realize when conducting this kind of theoretical-practical investigation, is that a conventional (mono-materialistic) consciousness researcher and an unconventional (multi-materialistic) one, even when they have the same experience, say a lucid OBE in a given layer of the energetic dimension, they will not in general “see” the same thing, in the same way as Michelson and Morley did not “see” the same thing that Einstein saw, when analyzing the same data.

This, I believe, is a crucial point to understand. If we adopt the MP, it is clear that “lucid OBEs” can only be understood as “vivid hallucinations.” In other terms, the MP forces us to only see an “absence of reality” in these experiences, in the same way as Michelson and Morley “Galilean preconceptions” forced them to only see an “absence of aether wind” in their measurements. On the other hand, from the perspective of the CP, this “absence of reality” can also be understood as the “presence of a different – non-ordinary – reality”, in the same way as Einstein, from the perspective of his more advanced relativity theory, was able to understand that the “absence of aether wind” was just the sign of the “presence of an observer-independent invariant speed.”

Here, of course, I’m suggesting that the CP is a more advanced explanation than the MP. This is also because the CP includes the MP, so that inside its framework there is enough place for both hallucinatory phenomena and genuine OBEs, revealing new objective layers of our multidimensional reality. Also, if we accept, even if only hypothetically, that an OBE can reveal us objective entities and existential dimensions, then of course we can consider the possibility of investing some of our time to acquire the necessary tools to explore them, and take seriously the information we can gather during these explorations. This is something which is very difficult, if not impossible, to do, if we a priori consider that the so-called extraphysical dimensions that we can experience during an OBE are just an imaginative fabrication of our physical brains.

For a deepening regarding scientific criteria: Talking about reality

For a deepening regarding Ockham and Chatton’s complementary perspectives: Smaling, A. (2005) “The Chatton-Ockham strategy; an alternative to the simplicity principle.” In: D. Aerts, B. D. Hooghe & N. Nicole (eds.) Worldviews, science and us. Redemarcating knowledge and its social and ethical implications. New Jersey, London, Singapore, etc.: World Scientific, 38-58.

Massimiliano Sassoli de Bianchi received the Ph.D. in physics from the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, in 1995. His research activities are focused on the foundations of physics, quantum theory, and consciousness. He has published numerous research articles in international journals, both in physics and the study of consciousness. He is a life member of the American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers, as well as a full member of the Society for Scientific Exploration and the International Academy of Consciousness. He is currently the director of the Laboratorio di Autoricerca di Base, and the editor of the journal AutoRicerca. For more information:

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

IAC London participant reviews Consciousness Development Program (Modules 1 and 2)

Over the past two weekends, I have completed modules 1 and 2 of the IAC’s Consciousness Development Programme (CDP).
Module 1 provided me with all the core information that would be required to progress to modules 2, 3 and 4.

Module 2 was a very practical class, where I achieved my first psychic experience and also a partial disconnection of the psychosoma.

(Continue here


Click here for additional testimonials

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Psychology & "Paranormal" Phenomena

Conventional psychology has typically shunned perceptions and experiences that do not neatly fit into its paradigm. Phenomena such as clairaudience, seeing 'ghosts', feeling or sensing presences are typically labeled as auditory, visual, and tactile hallucinations, respectively. Intuitions may be regarded as delusions while out-of-body experiences may be considered a type of dissociation. With such off-putting labels and the stigma that often comes with them, many who have had these kinds of experiences have kept them private in order to avoid ridicule, ostracization, or even persecution and hospitalization. But although such paranormal, parapsychological, spiritual or exceptional human experiences (EHE’s) may be suggestive of pathology according to the current scientific paradigm, psychology does not necessarily consider them to be disorders per se, especially when such experiences can be life enhancing.

Psychology is governed by the rules of conventional science which ultimately rest upon the assumption of materialism. That is, if a phenomenon cannot somehow be physically measured or quantified, science considers it too subjective or hearsay and not worthy of study. One of the primary tools used to diagnose pathology in psychology is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders IV, or DSM-IV. Although this text contains collections of symptoms that are characteristic of various pathological disorders, these alone are generally not sufficient to warrant a diagnosis. Symptoms would also have to cause either clinically significant distress or impairment with one’s social, occupational, or other important area(s) of functioning. For instance, if one was having out-of-body experiences while continually able to take care of oneself, maintain employment, and continue usual socialization with family members and friends, then a conclusive diagnosis could not be made and one could even be considered normal. Unfortunately, conventional psychology completely overlooks the fact that parapsychological experiences can better one’s life.

Those who have had paranormal experiences have reported an improvement their lives in a multitude of ways. Returning to the example of out-of-body experiences, a single experience alone can show one that death is not the end of existence, thereby shedding one’s fear of death. Among other things, it can help one see the interconnectivity of life, improve one’s ethics and sense of altruism, increase one’s understanding of both physical and non-physical reality, etc. As a result, the individual will be apt to feel happier and more fulfilled in life which may positively impact others. Notwithstanding these benefits, it is not until such experiences are more openly accepted, discussed and more comprehensively studied by the greater population that a paradigm shift will occur within the mainstream scientific community.

By questioning the current scientific paradigm, we can expose its flaws and ultimately improve upon it. It will eventually become outdated and be replaced by a more encompassing paradigm, one that includes parapsychological phenomena. Paranormal experiences will thus be shown to be quite normal and beneficial in many ways and the quality of people's lives will greatly improve. A revolution in science will breed an evolution in psychology. It is up to us to pave the way for this to occur by developing ourselves to have more experiences, by questioning the status quo, by more openly talking about our experiences and by educating ourselves through the wealth of information that already exists (but is disregarded) on these subjects.

by IAC New York's Jack Grabon
Originally published in the IAC New York Fall 2009 eBulletin

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Take advantage of consciential laboratory sessions @ IAC Centers

Consciential Laboratories

Enjoy the energies (holothosene) of your nearest IAC center by reserving the classroom (lab) for your personal consciential experiments
Pre-Requisite: Consciousness Development Program - Module 2
Projective Techniques (PT) Laboratory

Projective Techniques

To improve technique and control, this lab optimizes the installation of an interdimensional energetic field, which aids in successful projections through the use of will. The participant will have control of the lab environment in the following ways: temperature and illumination, selection of reading materials relating to OBE techniques, a choice of lying down or relaxing in a recliner. More than 20 OBE techniques will be available giving you the flexibility of choosing the one that best suits you at that moment. 

The phenomenon of the lucid projection is an irreplaceable tool for the evolution of the consciousness, since it allows us to experience, directly, the many dimensions, the holosoma, and your multiexistential nature.

Duration of the Lab: 1 hr. 45 min 

3 hours of Waking Physical Immobility (3WPI) Laboratory

A technique of self-control in which we, comfortably seated in a reclining armchair, remain immobile for 3 hours. The idea is not to move our body during the entire period. The main benefits of this process of physical immobility are:
• Improvement of our concentration
• Increase of our energetic perceptions and psychic abilities
• Development of the control over our bodies
• Overcoming anxiety
• Understanding our thosenes and mental processes better
• Increase in self-knowledge
This is a self-confrontation technique, and a challenge, which helps us to develop confidence, control and greater focus.

Duration of the Lab: 3 hr. 30 min 

Vibrational State (VS) Laboratory

In agreement with the consciential model, this laboratory was prepared to provide you with ideal conditions to try, experiment and achieve the vibrational state (VS). The most important aspect of this laboratory is the energy. The VS, as a technique of energetic self-defense, gives us the opportunity of reaching mature self-discernment.

The benefits of the VS are numerous, including:
• Holosomatic health
• Energetic prophylaxis
• Mitigation of energetic blocks
• Energetic flexibility
• De-intrusion

During the laboratory, you may attempt the installation of the vibrational state as many times as possible, or maintain the VS and increase intensity throughout the entire period or a combination of both techniques.

Duration of the Lab: 1 hr. 45 min

The International Academy of Consciousness (IAC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and education organization. It studies the consciousness (soul, spirit, essence), placing special emphasis on the out-of-body experience, control over bioenergy or vital energies, and other multidimensional manifestations. All information presented by the IAC is based on scientific principles and on years of research and experience.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

He truly believes he is dead (but he is not)

There are many accounts of people who undergo biological death (deactivation of the soma or desoma) but who believe they are still physically alive (post-mortem psychosis).  Such observations stem from phenomena like clairvoyance or the out-of-body experience that may allow us to observe a larger, multidimensional reality.  However, few have ever heard of someone who is still physically alive but who is absolutely convinced that he is not (a sort of faux-mortem psychosis).  This article, submitted by friend of the blog Preston Parrish (Connecticut, USA) describes one such case of this curious but unfortunate pathology known as Cotard's syndrome.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Nobel laureate's interest in psi leads to conference rejection

In case you wonder why few scientists have the courage to publicly entertain non-conventional ideas about consciousness, why an editor of a major journal once told the Princeton PEAR laboratory they would consider publishing their research if a paper was transmitted to the editors telepathically, this news item on the Times High Education (UK) may be of interest to you: the mere interest in psi phenomena is grounds for disqualification from certain conferences - even if you are a Nobel prize winner. 

- IAC Blog Team

An extraordinary spat has broken out after a Nobel prizewinning physicist was "uninvited" from a forthcoming conference because of his interest in the paranormal.

Details of the conference in August for experts in quantum mechanics sounded idyllic. Participants were due to discuss "de Broglie-Bohm theory and beyond" in the Towler Institute, which is housed in a 16th-century monastery in the Tuscan Alps owned by Mike Towler, Royal Society research fellow at Cambridge University's Cavendish Laboratory.

Last week, any veneer of serenity was shattered. Conference organiser Antony Valentini, research associate in the Theoretical Physics Group at Imperial College London, wrote to three participants to say their invitations had been withdrawn.

The physicist and science writer David Peat, biographer of David Bohm (co-founder of de Broglie-Bohm theory), was considered tainted because of his books on "Jungian synchronicity" and "connections between Native American thought and modern physics".

Brian Josephson, head of the Mind-Matter Unification Project at Cambridge, was rejected on the grounds that "one of his principal research interests is the paranormal".

Professor Josephson, who shared the 1973 Nobel Prize for Physics for his work on superconductivity, has long been one of the discipline's more colourful figures.

In 2001, he attracted derision from some of his peers when he discussed telepathy in his contribution to a booklet issued to celebrate the centenary of the Nobel prizes.

Recent developments in quantum theory, theories of information and computation "may lead to an explanation of processes still not understood within conventional science such as telepathy, an area where Britain is at the forefront of research", he wrote.

Continue reading this Matthew Reisz article in Times Higher Education (UK)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Between science and prejudice. Two articles on scientism.

Continuing our theme of critique of the materialistic, reductionist bias, we call our readers' attention to a recent Huffington Post piece reflecting on TED's censorship of psi researchers.  The debate has been largely framed as an international struggle against pseudo-science, but the article concludes: 
The real nexus of the TED controversy therefore lies not between "science" and "pseudoscience." It lies between skepticism and scientism; i.e., scientific fundamentalism. Skepticism is necessary and healthy for science. Fundamentalism is neither. 
- Dave Pruett, former NASA researcher; computational scientist; emeritus professor of mathematics,
James Madison University; author, Reason and Wonder
Also in our inbox, another article addressing scientism, in particular in regards to near-death experience, a type of projection of the consciousness (out-of-body experience) that has been opening more and more independent minds to consciousness beyond the brain, but has also generated much disdain from entrenched reductionists. Thanks go to G.S. of the International Association of Near-Death Studies and IAC New York for the reading suggestion from the journal Fronteirs of Human Neuroscience by Enrico Facco1,2* and Christian Agrillo3
  • 1Department of Neurosciences, University of Padova, Padova, Italy
  • 2Italian Center of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, Torino, Italy
  • 3Department of General Psychology, University of Padova, Padova, Italy

Science exists to refute dogmas; nevertheless, dogmas may be introduced when undemonstrated scientific axioms lead us to reject facts incompatible with them. Several studies have proposed psychobiological interpretations of near-death experiences (NDEs), claiming that NDEs are a mere byproduct of brain functions gone awry; however, relevant facts incompatible with the ruling physicalist and reductionist stance have been often neglected. The awkward transcendent look of NDEs has deep epistemological implications, which call for: (a) keeping a rigorously neutral position, neither accepting nor refusing anything a priori; and (b) distinguishing facts from speculations and fallacies. Most available psychobiological interpretations remain so far speculations to be demonstrated, while brain disorders and/or drug administration in critical patients yield a well-known delirium in intensive care and anesthesia, the phenomenology of which is different from NDEs. Facts can be only true or false, never paranormal. In this sense, they cannot be refused a priori even when they appear implausible with respect to our current knowledge: any other stance implies the risk of turning knowledge into dogma and the adopted paradigm into a sort of theology.
Keywords: body-mind problem, consciousness, NDEs, out of body experience, scientific reductionism
Complete article available at the site of the US National Library of Medicine - National Institutes of Health
Front Hum Neurosci. 2012; 6: 209.
Published online 2012 July 18. doi:  10.3389/fnhum.2012.00209

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Podcast: Quantum Mystery Demystified with Dr. Massimiliano Sassoli deBianchi

Those familiar with the consciential paradigm know it posits that consciousness manifests in multiple levels and is not limited to the space-time we perceive in "normal" experiences. The materialistic, reductionist paradigm is challenged by experiences and experiments based on psi phenomena like projections of the consciousness (out-of-body experience).  

In this second IAC podcast, Dr. Massimiliano Sassoli de Bianchi discusses an innovative approach and interpretation of the "odd" observations of nanoscale reality. The physicist and "paraphysicist," editor of the Italian-language journal AutoRicerca and author of the new book Observer Effect: The Quantum Mystery Demystified explains that quantum physics may reveal that the microscopic quantum entities that are detected in physics laboratories also cannot be fully described within our four-dimensional space-time theater. 


Massimiliano's work is available on his website, including publications in mainstream physics journals, but also IAC's Journal of Conscientiology, and upcoming entries in ICRL's Journal of Non-Locality and SSE's Journal of Scientific Exploration.  His thought-provoking JofC publications have included:

Trailer for the new book The Observer Effect

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Ask IAC: (3) Isn't the OBE caused by the brain? (Part 3) Question from a New Jersey high-school student

Part 3 of 3: Examining the question itself and the assumptions

Science does not prove. It refutes, with a margin for error. 

A man stuck in a prison with no interaction with the outside, cannot prove that the world outside of it does not exist.  The video game character, if it were aware, would not be able to prove that there is an animating force (the player) and a larger reality outside of his virtual sub-reality.  Science cannot prove that the materialistic paradigm is accurate, but it may refute it as discussed in Part 2. Science can only provide evidence that will lead scientists to conclude that there is a more likely account of reality.  Science also cannot prove the reality of "paranormal" abilities (psi, parapsychism, psychical phenomena, consciential phenomena, or as Dean Radin calls it the supernormal), but it certainly has been unable to refute them. Scientists can only gather evidence that can refute test or null hypotheses: the OBE as a veridical phenomenon stands, materialism is crumbling. If evidence is deemed significant enough, one can say, with certain risk of being incorrect (Type I Error), that there is enough data to suggest that a null hypothesis is refuted.  One can never say, that the opposite has been proven.  It is possible to not have enough evidence to reject a false null hypothesis (Type II Error).  These basic premises of science are missed by many people, including journalists, many academics and professional scoffers who call themselves skeptics, especially when such logical fallacies support their biases.

John Cleese said it best (or at least the funniest) - Youtube

Scientific experiments usually elucidate possible relationships between variables.  Potential causes are interpreted from the data and by attempting to eliminate confounding variables, but causation is not directly shown, unless a plausible process can be directly observed.  The model to understand that observation is itself a creation of consciousness and it is subject to refutation by a superior model.  For example, we can observe an effect we call gravity, but we are far from fully understanding it, though there are different theories that attempt to model it.  We can observe electrical activity in the brain of a person that eats a strawberry, but the activity is not the experience of taste and we cannot even say it causes that experience - the electrical activity is a correlate.  Therefore, science will never prove whether out-of-body experiences are objective (veridical) or whether they are caused by the brain; whether reality is limited to matter-energy or whether there is something else (namely, consciousness). However, we can make leading-edge, relative truth, temporary conclusions based on intelligent, scientific refutation. 

Beyond the reductionist paradigm

The materialistic, reductionist, physicalist, Newtonian-Cartesian paradigm presupposes (a priori) that the consciousness (here meant as the self) and all its attributes and manifestations like thought, will, and emotion are creations of the brain, which in turn is a result of biological evolution, itself a result of natural selection of random mutations in DNA, the biological blueprint for life which is said to have developed quite by chance. The physician and NDE researcher Pim van Lommel discussed this in a brilliant reply to criticism by a professional debunker.  

The consciential paradigm, in contract, posits the opposite hypothesis: consciousness is not matter-energy, however, it is an increasingly intelligent, evolving, complexifying, organizing, ordering, anti-entropic, syntropic, living entity that drives biological evolution.  I have called this conscientiomotor evolution in the past.  It is a bit of a revival of some ideas by one of the earliest evolutionary theorists, Lamark.  This consciential neo-Lamarkianism sees the folly of looking for the Knight Rider in the re-run inside your TV, looking for Tim Berners Lee or Steve Jobs inside your smart phone, or trying to understand pain by looking at an fMRI image.  The concept of the brain as a transceiver of consciousness arises and a multidimensional space-time as eventual theaters for its manifestations. 

The consciouness is unlikely to be proven as a result of physical reality, since all we know about physical reality is understood in our microcosm, as famously advanced by Hungarian philosopher Ervin László and others.  Our surround, whether material or beyond, and consciousness give sense to one another and affect one another.  Ultimately, as suggested by IAC president Wagner Alegretti and others, we might eventually conclude that our apparently "external reality" is a creation of consciousness, laws of physics and all, evolving, changing as we do.  As my good friend from Psyleron/SSE/ICRL Adam Curry has coined it, physical reality, including the marvelous brain, may be a sort of technology of consciousness.  So, rather than asking the so-called "hard problem" of "how does the brain produce consciousness," we might ask how does the consciousness communicate with the brain?  IAC, lead by Alegretti and Trivellato's research, is pursuing exactly this question. Stay tuned!

Reducing consciousness to what exactly?

The reductionist paradigm also presupposes that a non-material source of consciousness is preposterous, because everything around us seems so solid: why evoke entities that cannot be physically posited? One hundred years of quantum physics have, however, refuted the "billiard ball" idea of reality, which stubbornly remains the way most still regard the world around them. In his latest book, The Observer Effect, physicist and "para-physicist" Dr. Massimiliano Sassoli de' Bianchi makes the case that Reality is not limited to our perceived space-time and that at the nano-scale it is constantly manifesting and vanishing from our limited sub-reality, based on decades of peer-reviewed, theoretical quantum physics research, now accessible to lay and technical audiences. So, if even the foundations of physics, which "look more like concepts than objects," are not likely to be limited to Euclidean space, which includes the body and its brain, why insist that consciousness cannot also exist beyond our limited, perceived material reality. 

The Observer Effect by Massimiliano Sassoli de Bianchi

We will not spend much time discussing the fashionable effort to utilize quantum physics to explain consciousness, beyond a useful analogy, or a potential mechanism for its expression in physical reality. As IAC researcher Wagner Alegretti often points out, reducing consciousness to energy is essentially reducing it to matter, since matter and energy are two forms of the same concept. Suffice to say, for now, that quantum physics, while not explaining consciousness, certainly presents such challenging anomalies that make consciousness beyond the brain (or even beyond our perceived space-time) seem not as shocking by comparison to measurable quantities that seem to randomly appear out of thin air and just as easily vanish or to affect one another in ways that defy classical limits.

Psychical phenomena, too, present challenges to scientific prejudices. For instance, individuals whose presence may enhance or inhibit psi abilities in others; experiments whereby a control group of animals or plants also appears to benefit from bioenergy exteriorization to the experimental group, thereby masking the difference in the two groups; the challenge of apparent retrocausality, whereby information can be interpreted as flowing from probable future events (though this is not necessarily the most plausible interpretation); the variability in performance in psi against the expectation of strict replicability; apparent "travel" of information across vast distances.  All of these are anomalies, physical and psi, because they are viewed through limited, outdated perspectives.  We will find they are quite reasonable and normal as we uncover more suitable models of reality for both the nanoscale and consciousness-related phenomena.

 Carl Sagan interprets the fable Flatland

Nelson Abreu is an educator at International Academy of Consciousness based in Los Angeles. He is a contributing author of Filters and Reflections: Perspectives on Reality (ICRL Press, 2009).  His research has encompassed consciousness and biological evolution, consciousness and physics/engineering, out-of-body experience, subtle energy and psychometry.

Part 1
Part 2 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Ask IAC: (2) Isn't the OBE caused by the brain? (Part 2) Question from a New Jersey high-school student

Part 2 of 3: Evidence suggestive that consciousness is not generated by the brain

IAC researchers are among a growing minority of scientists that posit that the out-of-body experience is not an illusory creation of the brain. We conclude that the projection of the consciousness, as it is called in the neo-science projectiology, is at least as veridical an experience as our normal waking state.  How do we reach this conclusion, you may ask? 

In addition to a steadily growing body of evidence for the self not being limited to the brain (scientific studies on telepathy, near-death experience, out-of-body experience, remote perception, mediums, and other phenomena), the ultimate evidence stems from the accumulation of personal experience that refute the prevalent scientific assumptions.  To discover why consciousness is not created by the brain, one must have experiences that demonstrate this. For instance: successfully observing remote physical information or events that are unlikely to be available to our senses or to be guessed; meeting other individuals during out-of-body experiences and having unlikely matching details in the subsequent written records, prior to any discussions between them; obtaining uncanny information from someone who no longer has a brain (someone who has undergone biological death) that can be verified, such as the location of a certain unknown object or confirmation of certain private, detailed information known only by a relative or friend. 

IAC researchers have accumulated more than enough such experiences themselves, augmented by those of their colleagues and students, as well as the aforementioned evidence to conclude that the materialistic paradigm is flawed.  An increasing number of very intelligent, scientific minds from medicine, engineering, biology, physics and other respected fields are reaching this conclusion, joining several Nobel laureates and other historic scientists with the same inclination. Well-known examples of contemporary academics who started out skeptical of non-material accounts of consciousness, but were later persuaded by evidence include Robert Jahn (Princeton University, dean emeritus of Engineering), physicians Michael Sabom, Pim van Lommel and Sam Parnia (IANDS), psychiatrist Jim Tucker (University of Virginia), Dean Radin (former engineer at the famed Bell Labatories). IAC challenges anyone with intellectual honesty to examine the objective evidence and to seek such personal evidence, as well.

Nelson Abreu is an educator at International Academy of Consciousness based in Los Angeles. He is a contributing author of Filters and Reflections: Perspectives on Reality (ICRL Press, 2009).  His research has encompassed consciousness and biological evolution, consciousness and physics/engineering, out-of-body experience, subtle energy and psychometry.

Part 1
Part 3

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

World Environment Day: We've got (the other) Green on our Minds

We invite our readers to join us in commemorating UN's World Environment Day and to learn about some of our eco-initiatives at our Campus and how our work relates to the development of more ecological minds.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Ask IAC: (1) Isn't the OBE caused by the brain? (Part 1) Question from a New Jersey high-school student

Thank you for your pertinent question! The quick answer is a resolute no. What follows is a three-part long answer, which may be more than you bargained for, but that I hope you and our other readers will find stimulating. In part 1, we will argue that this purported evidence for the OBE being caused by the brain is unfounded. In part 2, we will examine the evidence for consciousness not being produced by the brain.
In part 3, we will examine the very idea of "proving" and end up musing about the very opposite possibility: that the brain, in fact, all of reality - physical and beyond - may be produced by consciousness, at the very least, an inseparable facet of consciousness.

Part 1 - The "evidence" is wanting

From time to time, scientists perform interesting experiments or come across phenomena that appear to be related to the out-of-body experience.  Card-carrying skeptics rush to the scene and the sensationalist media conclude, in quite an illogical and biased way, that there is proof that the out-of-body experience is caused by the brain.  Apart from tautologies and confounding correlations for causation, there is yet a single piece of evidence that the brain causes anything at all. It remains the unquestionable assumption for most, because what else could it be? It is understandable, as there is no other explanation available with the limited perspective of physical technology and senses.  The "cartesian prison" many find themselves in will lead very intelligent people to circular statements like "people who experience near-death experience cannot have a completely non-functioning brain, they are not clinically dead, otherwise how could they perceive anything at all?" The genius Richard Feynman once described a lucid out-of-body experience he had in a floatation tank as the most vivid hallucination ever - because there is no way it could have been real, right?

What is some of this purported "evidence" that the OBE is illusory?  Perhaps the most famous report is by Swiss neuroscientist Olaf Blanke who accidentally triggered OBE-like experiences in an epileptic patient when electromagnetically stimulating her right angular gyrus. In a posterior article, Blanke interpreted neurophysiological differences in projectors as “abnormalities” but they just as well could have been evolutionary outliers.  In a BBC interview, Dr Blanke states that certain people "suffer" from OBE's.  The only suffering is caused by not having access to information about the OBE and not being able to talk openly about it because for fear of being stigmatized by the materialistic worldview prevalent in most (but not all) cultures. 

Even if those particular subjects had pathological deformities, it does not mean that all projectors do. Dr. Blanke concedes that perfectly healthy individuals do experience OBE's.  Let us recall that people can train to project intentionally without drugs, brain lesions, anoxia (lack of oxygen in the brain) or any sort of trauma. Also, just because the patient felt sensations akin to those in some OBE's, she was not necessarily having an OBE. For instance, when certain areas of the brain are stimulated, a person may perceive smells or tastes - which does not suggest that all smell and taste and the things we smell and taste do not exist.

In a 2002 BBC World Service radio debate with IAC president Wagner Alegretti, Dr. Blanke also conceded that his laboratorial observations do not falsify the OBE as an objective phenomenon. In other words, Dr. Blanke actually demonstrated a higher degree of neutrality than many. He is simply reporting the facts. The hasty interpretation is done and distributed by others.  Journalism, which is supposed to question things, failed miserably in this task, with some exceptions, such as Slate Magazine.

Wagner Alegretti discusses the theory of the psychosoma ("astral body")
as an objective body and his exchange with Olaf Blanke on the BBC World Service
You can read about two other studies that received international attention, but that fall well short of proving the OBE is an oneiric phenomenon in a previous post: Out of Body Experience - Commentary on Science Friday Feature.

Consciousness-centric paradigms point out that even though extraordinary experiences can be triggered by electromagnetic pulses, stress (i.e. drowning victim), physical trauma (i.e. head injury), and chemicals, they are also produced spontaneously or by will.  Detected neural activity that is characteristic of such altered states is not necessarily the cause: it is just as logically plausible that it is a concomitant effect. In other words, just because the OBE may be triggered by a physical stimulus, it does not make it illusory. To say otherwise would be a logical fallacy that any exempt person - even without a basic course in philosophy, statistics or psychology will recognize. Ad hominem attacks, scoffing dismissal, and such faulty or manipulative logic (sophism) are typical of so-called 'skeptics' who hold on to their materialist beliefs or metaphysical biases. It sounds sophisticated to shoot down other people's work from an armchair. Very few of these scoffer-skeptics are also lucid projectors, for instance. Most of the time, it is not unlike someone who's never even gone snorkeling to ridicule some discovery from the depths of the ocean by Jacques Cousteau.

Nelson Abreu is an educator at International Academy of Consciousness based in Los Angeles. He is a contributing author of Filters and Reflections: Perspectives on Reality (ICRL Press, 2009).  His research has encompassed consciousness and biological evolution, consciousness and physics/engineering, out-of-body experience, subtle energy and psychometry.

Part 2
Part 3