Mod+ New research reveals surprising connection between environmental sensitivity and psychic phenomena |

#1
New research reveals surprising connection between environmental sensitivity and psychic phenomena |286|
by Alex Tsakiris | Sep 10 | Consciousness Science

Recognized expert in ‘Sick Building Syndrome’, Mike Jawer has discovered a potential link between environmental sensitivity and psychic phenomena.
Photo by Terror on Tape

Join Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Michael Jawer, author of The Spiritual Anatomy of Emotion about his research on environmental hazards and its connection to psychic experiences.
 
#2
http://www.skeptiko.com/connection-between-environmental-sensitivity-psychic-phenomena/

Mike Jawer: ... And I do believe that emotion, the more that I look at it. Emotion seems to be a gateway into what we consider the paranormal.
Emotions are the "gateway" through which psychic perceptions get through the brain. The brain filters consciousness and analytical thinking uses a different set of networks in the brain than does empathic thinking - psychic perceptions come through to consciousness through the empathic networks. This is why psychic perceptions often seem more like sensory perceptions (empathy = feeling = sensations = sense perceptions sight, smell, etc.) than verbal thinking. That is why meditation helps in psychic development, it quiets the analytical mind and allows a person to become more aware of other types of mental activity, and some forms of meditation (metta / brahma vhiaras) are particularly good at cultivating empathic thinking. It is why people who are unbalanced in overly analytical thinking can't conceive that paranormal phenomena can be true and why they are often callous(*).

Yes.

A lot of our social problems might be due to the fact that empathic thinking and analytical thinking are mutually exclusive.
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/252241.php

Brain Can't Empathize And Analyze At Same Time, New Study

Scientists have discovered that the brain circuits we engage when we think about social matters, such as considering other people's views, or moral issues, inhibit the circuits that we use when we think about inanimate, analytical things, such as working on a physics problem or making sure the numbers add up when we balance our budget. And they say, the same happens the other way around: the analytic brain network inhibits the social network.

Perhaps the study, led by researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, in the US, and reported early online on 27 October in the journal NeuroImage, explains why some business leaders sometimes overlook the public relations consequences of their cost-cutting exercises.
Materialism and capitalism (and scientism) cultivate analytical thinking while de-emphasizing empathic thinking. However Christianity emphasizes empathic thinking so it might hold a solution to the problems caused by materialism.

What is the connection if any between scientific materialism and the kind of materialistic consumerism that is so prevalent in our society. Is there a link or is it just in name only?
There are several connections. Part of the problem is that due to the structure of the brain, the brain cannot engage in analytical thinking and empathic thinking at the same time. When people are fooled into adopting the scientific materialist world view and its dependence on reductionist logic, it rewires their brain via neuroplasticity and makes the brain unbalanced with an excessive capacity for analytical thinking and a stunted capacity for empathic thinking. This makes people callous and prevents them from seeing the hard problem of consciousness. which hinders belief in our spiritual nature. This callousness is the cause of many of the problems in the world today and the lack of belief in spirituality turns us into consumerists because we become focused on measures of success in this earthly life: material objects that represent wealth and power. Widespread belief in the life review, reincarnation, and the lower levels in the afterlife might cause an improvement in behavior. But even if you are born into a religious family and believe in God and the afterlife, those beliefs don't protect you from the effects of unbalanced analytical thinking. You will still be callous and you won't really comprehend the implications of spiritual beliefs. Examples of this include Calvinism and the historical wealth and abuses of the Papacy. Therefore, proving materialism false beyond any pseudo-skeptical doubt won't solve the whole problem. The problem is not entirely due to scientific materialism it is due in part to Scientism (over dependence on analytical thinking) which would persist even if materialism were proven false beyond any pseudo-skeptical doubt. The solution to this is not to give up analytical thinking but to develop our ability to engange in empathic thinking so that it balances our capacity for analytical thinking.

There is also the problem of dehumanization:
Yes, materialism and capitalism are both dehumanizing. This is a problem because dehumanization leads to atrocities and crimes against humanity.

Materialism is dehumanizing - What could be more dehumanizing than reducing a person to a machine operating according to deterministic consequences of the properties of atoms and physical laws.
http://www.discovery.org/a/6301
By reducing humanity to their biological makeup, these Darwinian-inspired biological determinists contributed to the dehumanization process.
...
Human intent became irrelevant in interpreting human documents. Dehumanization thus spiraled even further downward, as all human values were construed as socially constructed.
...
Human rights are meaningless is a world of determinism or social (or individual) constructivism.​

Capitalism is dehumanizing - The problem of dehumanization is not unique to capitalism but capitalism does lead to dehumanization. If you ever worked for a corporation, you probably saw that workers are treated like objects and manipulated to improve profits by improving efficiency. For example, there is a common practice in the retail industry to treat workers like pieces of equipment to be turned on and off as needed by having them on call (which prevents them from finding a second job) but only calling them in to work if they are needed. And assembly lines treat workers as if they were cogs in a machine.

Corporate jargon reflects this dehumanization:
http://scholarsandrogues.com/2010/1...ployment-the-dehumanizing-toll-of-efficiency/
For example, ever heard any of these terms: “outsource,” “downsize,” “lay off,” “let go,” “headcount reduction,” “terminate,” “reduction in force”? These are all cleaner, emotionally sanitized ways of talking about firing a worker or group of workers. And when I say “firing,” that’s a slightly easier way of talking about taking away a worker’s ability to provide food and shelter, education and health care for him or herself and the spouses, parents and children who perhaps rely on that job for the basic necessities of life. When we go through an ROF, that’s considerably easier to think about than potentially putting an innocent child on the street, isn’t it? Even worse, we talk about “the last ROF round,” a linguistic structure that makes turfings not only sound natural, but routine. Like the seasons, or the cycles of the moon, or the start of a new school year or quarterly reports.​



Dehumanization leads to atrocities
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3915417/pdf/nihms-547993.pdf

Dehumanized Perception: A Psychological Means to Facilitate Atrocities, Torture, and Genocide?

Dehumanized perception, a failure to spontaneously consider the mind of another person, may be
a psychological mechanism facilitating inhumane acts like torture. Social cognition – considering
someone’s mind – recognizes the other as a human being subject to moral treatment. Social
neuroscience has reliably shown that participants normally activate a social-cognition neural
network to pictures and thoughts of other people; our previous work shows that parts of this
network uniquely fail to engage for traditionally dehumanized targets (homeless persons or drug
addicts; see Harris & Fiske, 2009, for review). This suggests participants may not consider these
dehumanized groups’ minds. Study 1 demonstrates that participants do fail to spontaneously think
about the contents of these targets’ minds when imagining a day in their life, and rate them
differently on a number of human-perception dimensions. Study 2 shows that these humanperception
dimension ratings correlate with activation in brain regions beyond the social-cognition
network, including areas implicated in disgust, attention, and cognitive control. These results
suggest that disengaging social cognition affects a number of other brain processes and hints at
some of the complex psychological mechanisms potentially involved in atrocities against
humanity.
More evidence of the link between scientific materialism and consumerism comes from the fact that people tend to give up consumerism when they give up scientific materialism and become spiritual.
There is a phenomenon that occurs when people get spiritual, they also frequently give up the materialistic consumption based life style. Often it is because they choose to take a cut in income in order to live a more spiritual life. It was a common theme of talks given by members at the Zen center I used to go to ... how someone who had a well paid career said they decided to give it up and live at the Zen center so they could spend time meditating and living a life conducive to meditation. I used to think they were nuts....until I retired earlier than most people do because I didn't like the rat race and now I don't mind spending much less money than my peers because I have the time and freedom to pursue my interests in spirituality.

Another link is that the tools of science are used to make us materialistic.
...
http://lifehacker.com/how-stores-manipulate-your-senses-so-you-spend-more-mon-475987594

How Stores Manipulate Your Senses So You Spend More Money
...

When you walk into almost any store, you're immediately overloaded with sights, sounds, smells, and various things to touch. This barrage on your senses are hand-picked for one goal: to make you spend more. Here's what's going on...
...
How Stores Tap Into Your Sense of Sight to Get You to Spend More
...
Why Touching Products Makes You Want to Buy Them
...
Why the Perfect Scent Makes You More Willing to Spend Money
...
How the Right Song Makes Expensive Products Look Better
...

The food industry is a good example of how our economic system is dysfunctional. The grocery stores are as bad a drug pushers because of they way the stores are organized to make money off of unhealthy foods. There is an obesity epidemic, people are dying, and the food industry deserves a lot of blame for pushing junk. Bad nutrition science deserves a lot of the blame too. I'm not saying you shouldn't be able to buy junk food, just that it shouldn't be in your face at the checkout lines and in special displays in the front of the store or advertised everywhere. I don't mean the government should pass new laws, (every new law is a new opportunity for the government to kill someone) just that people should find ways to make a living that don't harm other people. Materialism, lacking recognition of the afterlife, doesn't really help to justify this kind of ethic and Darwinism is easily appropriated to justify selfishness.

But capitalism doesn't have to be selfish. And eliminating scientific materialism would not be a complete solution to the world's problems. Too much analytical thinking would still be a problem in modern society even if no one believed in materialism. You see this in parapsychologists who doubt the afterlife. Part of the solution is to develop empathic thinking. Capitalism seems to be the best economic system given the failings of humanity, and if humanity were less selfish, capitalism would work even better.
There is a family owned chain of grocery stores in the area where I live. Last summer they were in the news because the employees went on strike. They went on strike not for higher wages or benefits, but because they wanted to force out a cousin of the family who had taken over control of the company. The previous CEO, a different cousin, had run the company to provide the lowest prices for customers in the area, and the highest wages grocery store workers too. He did this by putting stores in areas where the rents were a little lower and they didn't redecorate as often as the competition. I shop there even though it is the farthest of the three stores near where I live. I bought a bicycle so I could continue to shop there after I got rid of my car. The prices are lowest, and I found out during the strike when I had to shop elsewhere that they have the best trained and most helpful, most polite staff. The new CEO wanted to change things and the first thing he did was to distribute a large one-time dividend to stock holders (family members). The employees were eventually successful and the previous cousin, CEO, was reinstated. I think what this shows is that the owners of companies can have a choice for what their goals are. One goal is to extract as much money as you can from the corporation and from customers, and as much labor as you can from employees, another goal is to create a business to provide a service to customers, jobs for workers, and a sufficient profit for yourself. If more people were more spiritual, maybe more corporations would operate on the latter principle. I don't know what the philosophical basis for running the grocery chain that way was, but I do know what it wasn't. It wasn't Darwinism.

(*) https://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/skeptical_fallacies
This may be the reason for an observation about skeptics made by the well known skeptic and sometime government consultant Ray Hyman:
As a whole, parapsychologists are nice, honest people, while the critics are cynical, nasty people.
http://www.tricksterbook.com/ArticlesOnline/CSICOPoverview.htm
 
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#3
Alex's question at the end of the podcast:

What do you make of Mike Jawer's basic thesis that some of us are "thin" or "thick" boundary people, and that that may be an indicator of how open we are to extended consciousness experiences?
 
#4
What do you make of Mike Jawer's basic thesis that some of us are "thin" or "thick" boundary people, and that that may be an indicator of how open we are to extended consciousness experiences?

I'm not quite sure that I've fully understood what Mike is saying here, and so before I can make intelligent comment, I need to check out his web site at http://www.emotiongateway.com/. I'll come back when I've finished investigating.

As regards your new Web site layout, Alex, I'm pleased with the way you've categorised the podcasts and the way that the categories are displayed on every page no matter where you are on the site. That's a cracking idea and will help me categorise my downloaded episodes.

If I have a small reservation, it's the seeming lack of explanation of the difference between numbered and unnumbered entries. As time goes on, presumably there will be more textual material and maybe the site could do with having a distinct pot in which to place those materials, and/or maybe some more obvious way of flagging them. It could maybe be as simple as following these entries with something like |Editorial| instead of |episode number|?
 
#5
What do you make of Mike Jawer's basic thesis that some of us are "thin" or "thick" boundary people, and that that may be an indicator of how open we are to extended consciousness experiences?
http://www.skeptiko.com/connection-between-environmental-sensitivity-psychic-phenomena/
It’s this idea that all of us are somewhere on a spectrum of thick versus thin boundaries. It talks about how people differ as far as their connection with other people and the environment. Some people are, and you can just tell if you’ve been with them for a while, they’re kind of thick boundary people. They don’t really reach out as thoroughly as other people. They seem pretty rigid or armored and very decisive in saying this or that; using ‘or’ rather than ‘and’. Then on the other side of the spectrum you have people who you can tell after a few minutes, they’re very flexible, they seem to be empathetic, they seem to be sensitive… and whatever the opposite of armored is. These are the people who have a tendency for psychic experiences.

I don't agree that only extroverts are psychic (connection with people, reaching out).
Possibly people who have a connection with the environment are more likely to be psychic.
Armored, rigid, decicive in beliefs, inflexible: sounds a lot like pseudo-skeptics so I would agree with these traits are not likely to correlate with psychic ability.
Empathetic, sensitive people are more likely to be psychic, almost by definition, so I don't think this is new information, everyone already knew this.

Research I am aware of from Ganzfeld experiments indicates that creative, artistic people tend to be more psychic. People with an emotional attachment to each other are more likely to have a psychic connection with each other, and meditation increases psychic ability, and some forms of meditation (metta / brahma viharas) are particularly good at cultivating empathic thinking.

Training can help a person to develop their psychic abilities so I think it is fair to say that social environment can also play a big role. If a child is raised in a permissive environment their psychic abilities may be allowed to flower, if a child is discouraged from believing in psychic phenomena or is discouraged from discussing psychic experiences they may repress any abilities they have.

Considering what I wrote in my previous post above, I think a better way to describe the difference is that people who are deficient in empathic thinking are not likely to be psychic. Analytical thinking doesn't prevent a person from being psychic, you can be good at analytical thinking and good at empathic thinking and be psychic. It is only when someone is unbalanced an only capable of analytic thinking that they will not be open to psychic abilities. However there are a lot people like that. There is a certain spiritual logic to this, if psychic abilities come from our spiritual nature, if they are a gift intended for a spiritual purpose, you would expect that only people who would used them for the benefit of others would have them - so you would expect that only empathic people would have them.
 
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#6
A: Too much black & white thinking. Amateur. Self-deception is strong in this one.

If the air is sick then ionize it already, we all need some excitement from time to time :)

I have a question:
Do you guys think his daughter was messing with him? Seems most plausible, assuming the story was true in the first place.
 
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#7
My hunch is that there may be something to this concept of thick/thin boundaries. It certainly fits with the filter hypothesis, because the brain must filter out a lot of information, including peripheral reactions to environmental issues as well as psychic signals. Moreover, it is more or less accepted that the brain does filter out a lot of conventional information.

I think I have a fairly thick boundary, and my interest in ψ is perhaps more analytical than many.

I was somewhat disappointed that he didn't have rather more information on his website.

David
 
#9
What do you make of Mike Jawer's basic thesis that some of us are "thin" or "thick" boundary people, and that that may be an indicator of how open we are to extended consciousness experiences?

Well, I've now visited his site, and in particular read a couple of extracts from his book. I've also downloaded the Kindle sampler of the book (The Kindle version, I must say, seems rather expensive at £22.79 or $34.81).

He says:

My contention in this book is that feelings are not merely manifestations of various brain states, but that they also exist in their own right as the product of interaction between raw sensation on the one hand and mental activity on the other. Put another way, we must first be sentient (capable of sensory perception) before we can be conscious (self-aware). As we will see, the premier component of consciousness is feeling—not, as you might guess, thinking. Feeling preceded thought in our evolution, and it continues to underscore most everything we ponder, chew on, react to, learn, extrapolate, and pontificate on. To be conscious requires that you notice, first and foremost, what you’re feeling. And what you’re feeling has much to do with the body, of which the brain is a part. A major part, to be sure—in many respects the lead actor—but a part, nonetheless, of the bodily troupe.
First there was feeling, then thought evolved from it. It's an interesting idea, but I do wonder how "physicality" comes into it. Such of his ontology as I've read doesn't seem to deal with the origin of the apparent physicality that is associated with feeling/emotion. He's very sympathetic to the existence of psi and suitably sceptical about promissory materialism; I feel he's sincere and above all else open-minded, trying to bridge the gap between the conventional paradigm and one that can make a place for psi and spirituality. I'm humming and hawing about whether to buy his book and find out more, but that price is a bit of a barrier.

I'd say my boundaries are on the thick side: I can't say I have any psi abilities though have had a few spontaneous spiritual experiences. I do have environmental sensitivities, however, so maybe there's something to what he says about this, but I have my doubts as to whether it's definitive. I think there's an approach to the mysterious which is led by analytical thought: I suppose someone like Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg or Schroedinger might be an exemplar. In the end, I suspect that analytical thought is itself a kind of feeling and many understandings have arisen in dreams, from nowhere during quiet moments of reflection, or as a result of making a casual observation, and so on.
 
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#10
I really enjoyed listening to this interview!
I definitely think that there is something to the boundary idea. But from the interview I wasn't really sure that I really grasped what Michael Jawer meant when he explained the differences between thick and thin. So I listened to this interview with Marc Micozzi (the co-author of the book) where he explains the concept a bit more:
I also went to the website and read some more and took this test: http://www.youremotionaltype.com/boundaries/quiz.html (I'm a thin boundary type according to the test). I'll come back to write some more about how this fits with my personal experiences, but I thought I'd just share those links first...
 
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#11
When I was a kid they occasionally showed "the three stooges" on TV. Whenever they performed one of their "antics" (which involved someone falling or getting physical), my stomach would lurch. I couldn't understand why people thought it funny and laughed. All I got was a stomach ache. For a long time I thought there was something wrong with me. I think I have thin boundaries. I've also had psi experiences (OBE's, precognitive dreams, etc.) though no environmental sensitivities that I know of. On the other hand, I've chosen to live in a very small town and right next to nature.
 
#12
I'll give one example of how I think my thin boundary is effecting me:
I started to suffer from allergies as a young adult. The first time I noticed an allergic reaction was in the military service when a second lieutenant was shouting to me that I should have my face down in the grass. After that evening I was allergic to certain kinds of newly cut grass. Then each year I found myself reacting to more allergens. For about sex or seven years I got a new allergy every year. Cats, dust, certain old books (some kind of mold perhaps?), down, swimming pools (chlorine?), pollen (and probably some that I can't recall right now). Sometimes the reaction was quite powerful like when a cat licked me in the face and I got bloated eyes, but usually the reaction was distinct but not too strong (like runny nose and itching in mouth and eyes).

Four years ago (after about 14 years of allergic reactions) I talked to a colleague of mine about my cat allergy, and she told me about this book that she had bought, describing different principles that different animals express. She said that the gift of the cat is to love oneself and that cat allergy/phobia can have to do with difficulties to love oneself. I thought that this sounded kind of dopey (although I am deeply impressed by the integrity expressed by most cats I have encountered). But since I had heard that you tread paths in the brain so that thought patterns that are often used get easier to think and thought patterns rarely used get harder and harder to think, I thought that I would have nothing to lose working on my self esteem. So I started doing that. I tried to focus on things that I was proud of about myself, and started to give credit to myself when I did something for my own sake (I kind of lived with the idea that my actions could only be worth something if they were good to someone else, and that caring for myself would be egoistic and bad...).
About a month after I started this training, we received a kitten. When this cat came to our home I not only stopped being allergic to cats, but all my allergies seemed to disappear. Since then I do from time to time get the symptoms of the allergies I had (in rare occasions when in contact with some allergen, but most often without any such contact). The big differences now is that it always seem to happen just when I'm about to do something that I don't want to (stamping down on my integrity) and that I then can go away to be alone and breath deeply while affirming myself with the result that the "allergic" reaction vanishes within a minute or two. So now I consider my (nowadays almost entirely psycho-somatic) allergies to be a resource, since it seems to be my body's way of providing guidance towards a more sustainable way of living.

If certain illnesses can function as some kind of guidance away from destructive patterns towards more constructive ones. Then it would make pedagogical sense that we get the guidance that we are more likely able to respond to. And the same could be said about psi-phenomena.
 
#13
I really enjoyed the format of this interview including the section at the end! I liked to hear some of the personal details exchanged about the author's experiences and how he developed and integrated them into his world view.

I think I am also in the same boat as Alex being someone who has come from a relatively "thick boundary" background without any over-the-top type awakening experience, but my boundaries have been thinned out through the rational and intellectual exploration of the data and contemplation of philosophical ideas.

Another way to think of thick or thin boundary mindsets is to consider them to be highly structured or not so highly structured. Structure is created through proportioned alternations of boundaries and spaces (which are mental constructs). A strong mental structure is resilient to non-rational information. Weaker or more fluid mental structure provides openings for non-rational information to enter. Practices and experiences that are boundary dissolving open the door for non-rational information to enter. Creativity and innovation requires a balanced measure of structured thought and boundary dissolution. In our left-brain logical wordy hierarchical society, structure (or thick boundaries) is emphasized making true creativity and innovation (as well as psychic sensitivity) somewhat rare - especially within established institutions.

I like how Jawer points out that e-motion is a type of motion and that this may be somehow fundamental to reality. In the latest revision of my model of reality, the three fundamental building block concepts of reality are Spirit, Logos, and Void (or Abyss). Logos is the proportioned alternation of boundaries and spaces. Void is the non-sense or lack of proportioned boundaries and spaces. And Spirit (or existence or consciousness) is change or motion through the Logos and Void. E-motion is movement is Spirit.
 
#14
http://www.skeptiko.com/connection-between-environmental-sensitivity-psychic-phenomena/

Mike Jawer: ... And I do believe that emotion, the more that I look at it. Emotion seems to be a gateway into what we consider the paranormal.
Emotions are the "gateway" through which psychic perceptions get through the brain. The brain filters consciousness and analytical thinking uses a different set of networks in the brain than does empathic thinking - psychic perceptions come through to consciousness through the empathic networks. This is why psychic perceptions often seem more like sensory perceptions (empathy = feeling = sensations = sense perceptions sight, smell, etc.) than verbal thinking. That is why meditation helps in psychic development, it quiets the analytical mind and allows a person to become more aware of other types of mental activity, and some forms of meditation (metta / brahma vhiaras) are particularly good at cultivating empathic thinking. It is why people who are unbalanced in overly analytical thinking can't conceive that paranormal phenomena can be true and why they are often callous(*).

Yes.

A lot of our social problems might be due to the fact that empathic thinking and analytical thinking are mutually exclusive.
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/252241.php

Brain Can't Empathize And Analyze At Same Time, New Study

Scientists have discovered that the brain circuits we engage when we think about social matters, such as considering other people's views, or moral issues, inhibit the circuits that we use when we think about inanimate, analytical things, such as working on a physics problem or making sure the numbers add up when we balance our budget. And they say, the same happens the other way around: the analytic brain network inhibits the social network.

Perhaps the study, led by researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, in the US, and reported early online on 27 October in the journal NeuroImage, explains why some business leaders sometimes overlook the public relations consequences of their cost-cutting exercises.​
...
I think this is why some people have such a problem with belief in God. They think they should have an intellectual connection with God when what is more available is an emotional connection. They are searching for God in the wrong place, their mind, instead of their heart.
 
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