217. DR. GARY MARCUS SANDBAGGED BY NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE SCIENCE QUESTIONS

#2
You didn't seem to sandbag Marcus with the NDE questions, but you didn't present the evidence I sought either. This episode is the first I've heard of your podcast. Greyson's Handbook seems a good reference. I share Marcus' skepticism of Cartesian dualism, and ruling out brain function during a NDE seems very difficult, but consciousness generally is mysterious. The obvious problem with studying NDEs scientifically is the difficulty of preparing and repeating experiments. We can't deliberately induce a state of near death, particularly brain death, in order to measure subjective experience in this state, but someone routinely dealing with people in the state could establish protocols, like distinctive sounds produced at well defined times following apparent brain death, and interrogate patients recovering from the state. I suppose these experiments have been done under controlled conditions?
 
#3
You didn't seem to sandbag Marcus with the NDE questions, but you didn't present the evidence I sought either. This episode is the first I've heard of your podcast. Greyson's Handbook seems a good reference. I share Marcus' skepticism of Cartesian dualism, and ruling out brain function during a NDE seems very difficult, but consciousness generally is mysterious. The obvious problem with studying NDEs scientifically is the difficulty of preparing and repeating experiments. We can't deliberately induce a state of near death, particularly brain death, in order to measure subjective experience in this state, but someone routinely dealing with people in the state could establish protocols, like distinctive sounds produced at well defined times following apparent brain death, and interrogate patients recovering from the state. I suppose these experiments have been done under controlled conditions?
not even close:
Dr. Michael Shermer on Near-Death Experience Science |379 - Skeptiko
 
#4
Dr. Marcus' leads in with these critical path thesis statements:
I don't doubt that there is a phenomena that needs to be explained.
I don't see a lot of room for any alternative [Brain⊆Mind] which does not have something to do with [consciousness being constrained solely to] the physiology of the brain [Mind≡Brain].
Note - a LOT of ambiguity in these statements so as to appear non-declarative. These are 'abstract fodder' and disclosure of subject history statements, and are not claims resulting from actual study. They are not statements which would pass peer review because of this ambiguity and lack of backing. But his meaning inside them is illuminated in the rest of his interview. He is both making a final claim to conclusiveness, and also is making the claim that he does not have to back up his first claim.
Problem Formulation (What a scientific lab would do on Monday at 10 am Piloting Session)
Null Construct: [Mind≡Brain] - Mind and Brain are identical and constrained only to that identity
Necessary Construct: [Brain⊆Mind] - Brain is a subset of Mind (Note this is not 'Dualism' so it cannot be shot down as a 'claim', rather this is a necessary scientific construct)​
Defining Constraint - 'Mind' is undefined to a Wittgenstein standard at present, and cannot act as the basis for a scientific hypothesis​
Objective: Develop a sound Wittgenstein definition of what is Mind​
Plurality under Ockham's Razor therefore, exists. Two valid 'working hypotheses' or constructs are at play. Embargo of research around the necessary construct serves to weaken epistemological support for the null construct, and the null construct can no longer be exposed to falsification. This is a condition of Popper non-science.
The key critical element here is that 'Mind' does not bear a definition - so one is not able to construct a scientific hypothesis called [Mind≡Brain]. The only way in which one can call such a hypothesis 'science' is to establish a form of pseudoscience called an Einfach Mechanism. In other words, just declare it to be exclusively correct because you prefer it. Thereafter enforce it through pluralistic ignorance and an embargo of any competing idea (especially any construct which could serve to falsify the einfach construct).

Einfach Mechanism – an idea which is not yet mature under the tests of valid hypothesis, yet is installed as the null hypothesis or best explanation regardless. An explanation, theory or idea which sounds scientific, yet resolves a contention through bypassing the scientific method, then moreover is installed as truth thereafter solely by means of pluralistic ignorance around the idea itself. Pseudo-theory which is not fully tested at its inception, nor is ever held to account thereafter.
An idea which is not vetted by the rigor of falsification, predictive consilience nor mathematical derivation, rather is simply considered such a strong, or Occam’s Razor (sic) stemming-from-simplicity idea that the issue is closed as finished science or philosophy from its proposition and acceptance onward. A pseudo-theory of false hypothesis which is granted status as the default null hypothesis or as posing the ‘best explanation’, without having to pass the rigors with which its competing alternatives are burdened.
The Einfach mechanism is often accompanied by social rejection of competing and necessary alternative hypotheses, which are forbidden study. Moreover, the Einfach hypothesis must be regarded by the scientific community as ‘true’ until proved otherwise. An einfach mechanism may or may not be existentially true.

If an idea is not even mature enough to qualify as a scientific hypothesis, it also cannot be installed as truth, no matter how 'likely' you regard it to be. If Dr. Marcus were to pursue it as a one 'working hypothesis', then that would be ethically acceptable - however he is instead enforcing truth.

Moreover, embargo of the necessary alternative [Brain⊆Mind], simply because it can in one observation, serve to falsify one's favored einfach truth, is not science - it is cartel activity and fear-based oppression of thought.

One cannot excuse the above activity through the apologetic of parsimony. We do not know enough yet to declare a 'parsimony', because both constructs are highly stacked with critical unexplained miracles.
 
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#5
You didn't seem to sandbag Marcus with the NDE questions, but you didn't present the evidence I sought either. This episode is the first I've heard of your podcast. Greyson's Handbook seems a good reference. I share Marcus' skepticism of Cartesian dualism, and ruling out brain function during a NDE seems very difficult, but consciousness generally is mysterious. The obvious problem with studying NDEs scientifically is the difficulty of preparing and repeating experiments. We can't deliberately induce a state of near death, particularly brain death, in order to measure subjective experience in this state, but someone routinely dealing with people in the state could establish protocols, like distinctive sounds produced at well defined times following apparent brain death, and interrogate patients recovering from the state. I suppose these experiments have been done under controlled conditions?
Welcome to this forum Martin!

As I am sure you aware, this podcast is not even close to being the first relating to Near Death Experiences - this podcast needs to be taken in conjunction with a lot of material that went before.

There is a scientific study in which people who had NDE's were compared with others who did not to determine which knew more about the resuscitation procedure used on them. It turns out that those who reported an NDE could describe the scene far more accurately than the others.

This backs up a lot of 'anecdotal' reports about people remembering all kinds of quirky stuff from their resuscitation. For example one patient reported how one doctor seemed to flap his elbows in an odd way rather than pointing to things. It turned out that one of the doctors used as way of keeping his gloved hands as sterile as possible. Another patient knew where his false teeth had been stowed, and told a nurse afterwards, in order to recover his teeth!

The standard theory explains this by suggesting (as Gary did) that some residual consciousness continues in the brain during NDE when the blood is kept circulating mechanically. Now the trouble with that is:

a) Most NDEers view their resuscitation from a vantage point somewhere near the ceiling! Imagine what view a patient would have of this procedure assuming his brain and eyes were functioning - it would be roughly the view you might have of a dental procedure being performed on you.

b) Other studies have demonstrated that NDE's are particularly well remembered, whereas other people may have hallucinations while struggling with brain damage (stroke etc.) but remember little of this after they recover. I remember talking to the doctor (BTW, my field is not medicine, nor am I religious) about my father who had suffered a series of strokes. One of the things he said, was that if he recovered (sadly he did not), he would almost certainly not remember much if anything of what had happened. Thus these suggestions don't make much sense when put into the context of the rest of medicine.

c) Some NDE's have a paranormal component. For example longer NDEs move on from the medical scene to a spiritual arena where they talk to deceased friends and family. In a few cases, they learn new information - such as the fact that a distant relative has died.

I could go on and on, but I would urge you to listen to the podcast with Sam Parnia plus some of the other shows on this subject, or to read one of the books by Eben Alexander, a neuroscientist who had a long and complex NDE (though I don't think his heart stopped) which completely changed his view from a position something like that Gary expounded.

David
 
#6
Shermer expresses my assumptions here, but I would have answered his question regarding a mechanism for the "seen from the ceiling" experience described in some NDEs. People with these experiences could somehow telepathically aggregate sense impressions of many other people in the room. The still functioning brain (or whatever immaterial basis for consciousness may exist) of the nearly dead person aggregates the sensations. Since the person's brain (or whatever) can only make sense of all of this sensory data in terms of its "two eyes in the front of my head" schema, it constructs a point of view from which the entire room is visible, from the ceiling.

That's not a scientific theory of any sort and doesn't purport to account for the telepathy or why telepathy would occur during a NDE. It's only an answer to the question. The mechanism for a "from the ceiling" perspective could be many pairs of eyes spread across the room and seeing it from many different perspectives. A mechanism for telepathy is easily contrived, and I suppose we'll have artificial telepathy soon enough even if brains don't naturally communicate this way.
 
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#8
I was wondering, are you referring to some existing experiments, or are you proposing some new ideas of your own for this supposed "artificial telepathy"?
"Artificial telepathy" refers to radio communication between devices implanted in the brain or nervous system. A cochlear implant (artificial ear) seems like half of this sort of communication device, but a remote signal stimulates the implant rather than a speaker signaling sound surrounding the listener.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochlear_implant

More primitive communication (like Morse code) could come first. By "thinking", I generate neurological signals detected by a neural implant in my brain. A neural implant in your brain receives these signals (filtered by other information technology) and stimulates your neurons, creating some sort of subjective sensation. We learn to communicate this way somehow.

The idea has been around for a while. Here's an article from 2008.

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/27162401/...-developing-synthetic-telepathy/#.XSdJ1OhKhEY'

Edmond Dewan demonstrated a Morse code "transmitter" controlled by EEG signals (not even requiring a neural implant) in 1967.

http://cnslab.ss.uci.edu/speechattention/index.html
 
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#10
Shermer asked for a mechanism that could account for someone seeing a room "from the ceiling" during an NDE. I suggest a possible mechanism if you accept the possibility of the nearly dead person somehow communicating (telepathically) with other people in the room during the experience. Shermer suggested that only "disembodied, immaterial soul with immaterial 'eyes'" (which he wouldn't accept as a proper mechanism) could account for it. I'm suggesting that a more "materialistic" account is possible, though electromagnetic waves aren't necessarily "matter".

I'm a convinced mortal myself. I doubt that my consciousness can survive the death of my brain, but since I don't really understand consciousness, I'm open to exotic explanations that involve more than hand waving and reciting "quantum" like a mantra.
 
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#12
what do you think of the biological robot meaningless universe thing? do you care about anything more than is biologically necessary?
Why is the universe more meaningful if my soul is immortal or "not robotic"? My natural purpose involves the flourishing of my kin, and I also have tribal/ideological purposes. The latter are not biologically necessary and may even be counter to my biological purposes, but they don't require an immortal soul.
 
#15
Meaning - the idea that life, love, space, time, energy, consciousness and the universe in which such reside, are not truncated by a null set. That each extends into a realm of succession, regardless of the detect-ability of such succession, which falsifies the notion of a null set of reference.

A null-truncated love, space, time, energy, consciousness and the universe is a set without relative meaning, reference nor definition. Human pretense that this null-truncated closed domain exists as such, but also bears 'meaning', is also meaningless; it is not real, but rather is a forgery/masturbation.

The presence of real meaning, is the exhilaration which stems from realizing that nihilism has been falsified. The excitement in fathoming that not only is our mere existence already absurd well beyond the nihilist's standard, but that the roller coaster ride is about to get even more absurd. Absurdity is the standard, and not the null-truncated exception - and suggests the tantalizing prospect, that love is its interwoven fabric. This bears a conviction which nihilist masturbation can never offer, despite claims to the contrary.

The absence of real meaning (nihilism) takes the form of a religious denial (pseudo-scientific claim) that violates Neti Neti...

II. Neti’s Razor (horizontal)

/philosophy : existentialism : boundary condition/ : one cannot produce evidence from a finite deterministic domain, sufficient to derive a conclusion that nothing aside from that domain therefore exists.

The principle which serves to cut secular nihilism as a form of belief, distinct from all other forms of atheism as either philosophy or belief. From the Sanskrit idiom, Neti Neti (not this, not that). Therefore, you are wholly unqualified to instruct me that this realm is the only realm which exists, and efforts to do so constitute a religious activity. So, nihilism fails the test of epistemology and consequently falls into a metaphysical belief domain, as opposed to a scientific one. More precisely, we are restricted in our ability to deduce that there is no such thing as an outside intelligence, nor that our domain is the sole domain which exists, nor that it is not influenced by any outside agency. These relate to the structure of theory which comprises: element, model and proof accordingly.

1. A comprehensively deterministic system, cannot introduce an element solely in and of its inner workings, which is innately nondeterministic. Free Will Intelligence must arrive from the outside of a comprehensively deterministic system.

2. A comprehensively deterministic system, cannot serve as the substrate solely in and of its inner workings, for a Gedankenerfahrung model which completely describes or predicts its function. That is, such a system on its own, is wholly unable to deductively identify the presence of non-deterministic sets or influences.

3. A terminally or inceptionally truncated and/or finite and comprehensively deterministic system, cannot introduce a proof solely by means in and of its inner workings, which excludes the possibility of all other systems or sets.
Meaning therefore, is when one realizes that nihilism is not only something one cannot conclude from our perspective/circumstance, but moreover that it has also been falsified. It is the hope, philosophy, joy and evidence that there is somethnig more than simply this gilded temporary prison.
 
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#16
I'm not promoting nihilism, determinism or atheism, and my life is not a gilded, temporary prison. I suppose it is temporary, but I see no conflict between mortality and meaning. I can be convinced otherwise, but flowery language doesn't convince me.
 
#17
I'm not promoting nihilism, determinism or atheism, and my life is not a gilded, temporary prison. I suppose it is temporary, but I see no conflict between mortality and meaning. I can be convinced otherwise, but flowery language doesn't convince me.
You said you 'did not understand real meaning' and wanted an example. So I described it and gave an example from my perspective - (the only way in which your question could be answered by the way, because meaning is always personal). This was not meant to imply where you were. - nor was it meant to convince you of anything.

You did not ask 'convince me that real meaning exists'. So shitting all over my personal description and experience of meaning might make you feel all smart, but it does not hint to me that you are all that interested in what it is in the first place. Your response to a personal experience was a rhetorical argument (arguing to win an argument)??

Nihilism is the objection to and demand for proof of 'real meaning' btw... so you are contending the nihilist's position. If you are doing so, per hoc aditum or devil's advocate then say so - and don't get all defensive about it thereafter, or no one is going to believe you.
 
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#18
I didn't shit all over anything either and haven't said anything about being all smart.

I did not say "don't understand real meaning". I said "don't understand 'real' meaning" in response to a specific reference to "'real' meaning" (with the quotes). My life has meaning without assuming immortality, as I've already said, so I'm asserting nihilism at all.
 
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