30 Oct 2009

Hedonism and the Good Life Machine

Hedonism has a bad press. The pursuit of pleasure is still seen as falling short of the pinnacle of human development. If you feel good then you're probably doing something bad; and if you feel like crap then it's probably good for you. This could be thought of as the eternal play of yin and yang, or the masochistic philosophy of a moralising miserable sod. But let's set aside gods and sods and focus on our experience. If we seek pleasure and avoid pain then there is a sense in which pleasure is good and pain is bad. A good life is thus a life of pleasure.

11 Aug 2009

Brain Images of Belief and Disbelief

A pioneering study using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to look at which regions of the brain are activated when deciding on statements that are true or false. The subjects were given a set of questions that were obviously either true (belief), false (disbelief) or undecidable (uncertainty). Although higher cognitive functions are involved in establishing the truth-value of a proposition, the actual acceptance of that proposition as either true or false is also intimately linked to more primitive areas involved in more emotional responses. A person's beliefs may well be an aesthetic response rather than a rational one.

Functional Neuroimaging of Belief, Disbelief and Uncertainty, by Sam Harris, Sameer A Sheth, and Mark S. Cohen, Annals of Neurology, 2008 [pdf].

18 Jun 2009

Are NDEs signs of imminent death or not?

"Features of "near-death experience" in relation to whether or not patients were near death" by J. E. Owens, E. W. Cook and I. Stevenson, The Lancet, vol 336.

This paper was written in 1990, so is not particularly new, however, as it seems widely available on the internet it is worth a summary of its findings. The increase in documented reports of near-death experiences has prompted an increase in scientific research. However, the obvious religious consequences of such glimpses into death means that it is often difficult to rely entirely on personal reports and it would be useful to have physiological and neurological data to gain insights into what is really going on.

For the moment, we are stuck with three competing views of the near-death experience: what the authors have called the transcendental, the physiological and the psychological. The distinction between the latter two seems to be a matter of which specialist is conducting the research, but for the purposes of this study they are important in that they distinguish between those people who were clinically close to death from those who merely thought they were dead or dying but who, from a medical standpoint, were actually not in any such danger.

Although this paper does not look at out of body experiences, there are many similarities between OBEs and NDEs and it is therefore important to find out if they are indeed the same phenomenon that manifests under different conditions.

From the medical data the 58 subjects were divided into two groups, with 30 patients deemed to have not been near death and the remaining 28 being in danger of dying. The research then looked at a number of experiences that characterise reports of NDEs. The most significant difference between the 'near-death' group and the other group was in the reports of lights and of enhanced cognitive functions, such as mental clarity, memory, speed of thought. The seemingly archetypal 'tunnel' experience was not significantly different between the two groups but was significantly skewed towards those who had also experienced a strong light.

Other experiences, such as that of being outside one's body (an OBE), memory flash-backs, a belief that one is dead or dying and the range of emotional responses were not significantly different between the two groups. Thus, the perception of one's own imminent death may be enough to trigger a NDE, even if the physiological data makes this unlikely. However, the depth of the NDE in terms of bright lights, enhanced mental functions, a tunnel and the overall positive experience did discriminate between those who were really close to death from those who were not.

In light of this the authors admit that on its own this study could not come out in favour of any of the three major interpretations of near-death experiences. Indeed, they seemed most puzzled by the enhanced cognitive abilities of those who should most probably have been experiencing some impairment in brain functioning.

Features of "near-death experience" in relation to whether or not patients were near death

17 Jun 2009

The International Association for Near-Death Studies 2009 Conference

Plans are under way for a mid-October IANDS conference in San Diego, California. Speakers interested in presenting must email a proposal to IANDS no later than July 3, 2009. The theme of the conference is “Transformed in the Light: Helping Humanity through Enhanced Abilities Following NDEs.” Tentative dates are October 16-17, 2009.

This page at the International Association for Near-Death Studies also has links to their past conferences, going back to 1993, with audio recordings available for purchase and download.

If you wish to attend the conference and want to keep up to date with the confirmed dates then you can subscribe to the IANDS free email newsletter.

International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS)

The International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) is the only membership organization in the world devoted exclusively to providing information about near-death and related experiences to experiencers, researchers, educators, health care providers, and the interested public.

IANDS’ purpose is to promote responsible, multi-disciplinary exploration of near-death and similar experiences, their effects on people’s lives, and their implications for beliefs about life, death, and human purpose. Where scholarship does not indicate a reasonably clear position on the origin or interpretation of these experiences, we remain impartial and open to the presentation of varying points of view; however, while all personal beliefs will be respected, IANDS is under no obligation to consider them all equally supportable. Whatever the viewpoint, IANDS never supports proselytizing.

IANDS provides information and support to caregivers and experiencers of NDEs. There is a network of support groups across the USA and worldwide, as well as a wealth of information on their website.

Out of Body Experience Research Foundation - OBERF

The Out of Body Experience Research Foundation is part of a triad of websites that is designed to collect information on all aspects of consciousness. The main website is www.nderf.org which studies near-death experiences (NDE). The next website is www.adcrf.org which studies after-death communication (ADC). OBERF studies all other aspects of consciousness that are not an NDE or ADC.

OBERF includes articles on research about out of body experiences as well as techniques to induce OBEs. The largest part of the website is devoted to the forum and the sharing of out of body experiences. There are also links to further reading and related websites.

16 Jun 2009

At Death's Door

The image here is a poster for a new film called "At Death's Door" (Mati Suri).

What do you see in the image?

When Richard Wiseman posted this picture on Twitter he claims to have had a 'strange reaction', in that few people could initially flip between the two images - most could only see the one. He then copied a few more similar images and somehow this rather spoils the experiment as people are then trained into being able to see the optical illusion.

"At Death's Door" is a film about a woman's near death experience (NDE). Unfortunately, the film sits squarely inside the horror genre so that the NDE is frightening, leaving the woman depressed and disconsolate. There may be an element of moral retribution here for her attempted suicide. On the advice of a friend, she goes to recuperate in a sanatorium only to find it haunted with spirits. The only way she can save herself is to die again.

I have to admit a certain distaste for most horror films. They are simulations of fear without any instructive elements about how to deal with one's own horrors. I would guess most of us have had nightmares at some point in our lives. There are simple and effective ways to resolve such nightmares, leading to some catharsis or revelation. To indulge in ersatz nightmares is to leave oneself open and largely defenceless against the real thing. The film's 'second death' does, however, have a certain psychodramatic truth to it. I haven't seen the film as yet, and trailers are notorious for misrepresenting a film's true intentions, but will look out for it on DVD.

Going back to the NDEs, research on near death experiences has shown that very very few people have negative experiences - something like just 1% - so that the very premiss of the film is flawed. The process of dying may be painful or terrifying depending on circumstances (such as having an accident) but death itself, or that intermediate state of near-death, is neither painful nor frightening and most people come out of the experience shorn of any fear they may have had about their mortality.

3 Jun 2009

Test Your Psychic Skills With Twitter Experiment

Richard Wiseman describes himself on his Twitter Bio as "Psychologist, author and magician." He is also a professor at the University of Hertfordshire and this week, in collaboration with New Scientist, he is conducting an experiment into remote viewing using Twitter as a communication medium.

The idea is that every day this week at 3pm Professor Wiseman will travel to a secret location in the UK and he wants people to try and remote view where he is. He will later post five images online, one of which is the real location, and again see whether the collective wisdom of the participants can sense the true location.

There is still time to participate; even if you're not in the UK that shouldn't affect your psychic abilities.

Wiseman is following in the footsteps of the American and Russian secret services who invested significant resources on psychic spying techniques including remote viewing. But unlike the CIA's Stargate Project, Wiseman is looking for collective effects rather than individually gifted remote viewers. We shall soon see what the results are.



The results of the remote viewing experiment on Twitter have now been published... well, sort of. Wiseman hasn't, as yet, posted any proper data but just his conclusions: "... the study didn’t support the existence of remote viewing, and suggested that those who believe in the paranormal are good at finding illusory correspondences between their thoughts and a target."

Unsurprising, perhaps, and even when analysing the sub-group that claimed psychic abilities he found no evidence of this. You can read the short report and the comments at Wiseman's blog.

31 May 2009

Biopulsar Reflexograph Biofeedback Imaging System

"The Biopulsar-Reflexograph is a biomedical measuring device, based on Eastern and Western alternative energy and medical science. The presentation of the body reflex-zones that are read by the hand sensor are displayed in different formats: dynamic biofeedback graphs of different organs in real time, dynamic total body aura, the organ aura, the chakra activity, etc."

OK, but what is actually being measured? Cutting through some of the technical jargon, the philosophy page is the most revealing.

"It is known from reflexology therapy that certain parts of the hand have an energetic link to the organs of the body. According to ancient Eastern healing science, the individual zones on the hand are connected not only with the body organs and the consciousness, but also with colour and the subtle energy centres. [...] Neural therapy also works through the reflex zones of the skin.

In applied kinesiology, the interactions of the consciousness and the activity of the organ are analyzed, as well. [...] Certain emotions and thoughts resonate with certain parts of the brain, which are interconnected with various organs. This is confirmed by the studies of Dr. Gerd Ryke Hamer (see his book, The New Medicine), who explored the connections of emotional conflicts with brain and organ tumours, and other diseases through computer tomography. [...]

The philosophy and technical concept (indirect meridian measurements through reflex zones as well as the colour presentation and numerical values) are unique to the Biopulsar."

OK, so the Biopulsar is an "indirect meridian" measuring device. This requires a lot of theoretical links to justify the significance of the output. One thing is a direct CT or fMRI scan, quite another to assume the same level of energetic details can be achieved by placing one's hands on an electrical contact board.

I'm skeptical, but if anybody has used this system then would be good to have some feedback. A system for direct measurements may still be far too expensive for most individuals or therapists - even though the Biopulsar website itself has no indication of its price.

The Mind and Life Institute

The Mind & Life Institute is an independent, not-for-profit organization devoted to establishing a mutually respectful working collaboration and research partnerships between modern science and Buddhism – two of the world's most fruitful traditions for understanding the nature of reality and promoting human well-being.

The Mind and Life Institute believes that in order for the dialogue between meditation and science to have a durable contribution to humanity, collaborative research programs must be conducted in first rate Western scientific laboratories and the results of those studies be published in prominent peer-review scientific journals. Thus far collaborative research has been focused on collecting data from highly trained meditative adepts using fMRI, EEG and MEG neuroimaging techniques and other psychological, neurological, and immunological measures. Most importantly, these meditative adepts are not only "subjects", in the classical sense. Instead, they are true collaborators, helping to design the scientific research protocols, and participating in analysis and publications.

Mind and Life Institute on Buddhism and Modern Science

This is a short article entitled "The Importance of the Encounter with Buddhism for Modern Science" by Francisco J. Varela and published at the Mind & Life Institute. The main points are that Buddhist practices and philosophy are having a profound effect on the assumptions and direction of some modern sciences, especially in the realms of consciousness and epistemology. Below are some of my own thoughts on the points discussed in Varela's article.

Of the Eastern religions, Buddhism has had the highest level of penetration in the West outside of immigrant populations. However, I think that the esoteric practices of Hinduism and Taoism have much in common with Buddhism and all three traditions should be looked at together. Having said that, let's see what the Mind & Life Institute has to say.

The first major impact of Buddhism on science is in the study of consciousness and the range of human abilities. What is normal? What are the limits of human experience? How do we distinguish reality from illusion and delusion? Western science has often been accused of being so objective as to have ignored subjective experiences. For example, the main branch of psychology studied at university during the 20th century has been behaviourism; mainly because both inputs and outputs are measurable and thereby people's actual subjective experiences that happen in the middle of the process can be ignored and then deduced from the data. I think, however, that the global village is a recent phenomenon and that we still have a wide range of educational and philosophical traditions around the world. Just as modern science was born in Europe and is now a worldwide enterprise, so Buddhism, or at least the esoteric practices of Buddhism, may have been born in India but there is no reason why it should not become a universal tool for exploring consciousness. That is why I also mentioned Hinduism and Taoism: shorn of their religious shells, they are at an experiential level talking the same language.

The scientific focus on data, empiricism and objectivity has discarded a lot of ideas that were based on superstition or just plain wrong. By doing so it has also come to appreciate that there are aspects of the human experience that remain baffling and mysterious. Into the scene steps the accumulated data of centuries of experimentation on human consciousness from the subjective point of view. Experiences such as lucid dreaming, religious visions, altered states of mind, out of body experiences all once seemed like pathologies. Yet now, with the help of medical physics on the one hand and the knowledge of expert meditators on the other, these exoteric and esoteric scientists are discovering common ground.

This is a major step forward in human knowledge. We may soon reach a point where the inner and outer scientists share a common philosophical framework. As an aside, this may also herald the end of fideist religions. Mystical traditions do exist in the Near Eastern monotheisms but they have usually been marginalised, if not driven wholly underground. The fundamental problem for dogmatic religions is that human consciousness may throw up unorthodox experiences. The esoteric traditions such as Buddhism have accepted this and their focus has been not so much on dogma but on seeing how far human experiences can go. Yes, a theoretical framework has grown up around these experiences but it is periodically updated to reflect any new discoveries. What is the ultimate reality we can experience? This quest is as scientific as the search for the ultimate physical reality. At some point, a truly universal theory of everything will have to account for both phenomena.

This leads to the second influence of Buddhism, which is in the sphere of epistemology: the philosophy of knowledge. How do we know what we know? What is reality really like? Varela spends less time discussing epistemology as this seems to lean more towards the philosophy of science than to experiencing new levels of consciousness. The main influence here has been on physics and its innumerable problems that have arisen ever since the birth of quantum mechanics. Non-local phenomena and a vacuum that is both empty and yet brimming with potential all have parallels in Buddhist philosophy. The newtonian ideas of cause and effect still have domains in which they apply, but at the most fundamental level quantum effect mock any notion of strict causality. My problem here is that trying to wed Buddhism with theoretical physics may backfire if at some point in the future there is another scientific revolution and a new higher order is discovered. This may be unfounded, but although such philosophical cross-fertilization has proved useful to both sides I still think that the most fertile ground is with the neurosciences and biophysics.

30 May 2009

Research in belief in God

Researchers at the University of Oxford will spend £1.9 million investigating why people believe in God. Academics have been given a grant to try to find out whether belief in a deity is a matter of nature or nurture.

They will not attempt to solve the question of whether God exists but they will examine evidence to try to prove whether belief in God conferred an evolutionary advantage to mankind. They will also consider the possibility that faith developed as a byproduct of other human characteristics, such as sociability.

Researchers at the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion and the Centre for Anthropology and Mind in Oxford will use the cognitive science disciplines to develop “a scientific approach to why we believe in God and other issues around the nature and origin of religious belief”.

Justin Barrett, a psychologist who has been quoted in support of arguments by both the atheist Richard Dawkins and his critic, Alister Mc-Grath, a Christian theologian, said: “We are interested in exploring exactly in what sense belief in God is natural. We think there is more on the nature side than a lot of people suppose.”

He compared believers to three-year-olds who “assume that other people know almost everything there is to be known”. Dr Barrett, who is a Christian, is the editor of the Journal of Cognition and Cultureand author of the book Why Would Anyone Believe in God? He said that the childish tendency to believe in the omniscience of others was pared down by experience as people grew up. But this tendency, necessary to allow human beings to socialise and cooperate with each other in a productive way, continued when it came to belief in God.

“It usually does continue into adult life,” he said. “It is easy, it is intuitive, it is natural. It fits our default assumptions about things.”

Dr Barrett said: “The next step therefore is to look at some of the detailed questions – which religious beliefs are most common and most natural for the human mind to grasp?” The most exciting questions were in areas such as the different responses to polytheism and monotheism, for example, and relationships between religion and evolutionary biology.

He and his colleague Roger Trigg will be investigating whether religion is a part of the selection process that has helped humans survive or merely a byproduct of evolution.

The three-year study is being funded by a £1.9 million grant to the Ian Ramsey Centre from the John Templeton Foundation, which supports research into religion, science and spirituality. There will be seminars and workshops, while £800,000 will go towards a small grant competition, with 41 grants for different projects.

Professor Trigg, a senior research Fellow at Oxford and author of Religion in Public Life: Must Faith be Privatised?, said: “Religion has played an important role in public life over the past few years and the debate about the origin of religion, and how it fits into the human mind, has intensified. This study will not prove or disprove any aspect of religion.” (Times Online)


I will keep track of this research and will post more. If you have any news then please leave a comment. One word of caution; the research is another Templeton funded project. The Templeton Foundation has a lot of money and is unashamedly Christian in outlook. Look closely and one of the goals is to see how "natural" belief in God is. In the theologian's mind if it can be shown to be natural then it is very close to being true. Trying to prop up metaphysical beliefs, rather than investigating spiritual mental states is not, in my opinion, a huge step forward.

29 May 2009

Born to Believe – Review and Response

A New Scientist article, Born believers: how your brain creates God, takes us through some recent research with children that suggests belief in supernatural beings is somehow hard-wired into the human brain. The starting point is the rather unsurprising statistics that many people turn to religion in times of hardship. The afterlife may seem positively luxurious compared to being down and out.

Religious ideas are common to all cultures: like language and music, they seem to be part of what it is to be human. Until recently, science has largely shied away from asking why. "It's not that religion is not important," says Paul Bloom, a psychologist at Yale University, "it's that the taboo nature of the topic has meant there has been little progress."

This is, indeed, good to see. However, I suspect we're also going to be entering a phase where the direction of research may also be contaminated with religious ideology and it is also good to know who says what.

As anthropologist Scott Atran of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor points out, the benefits of holding such unfounded beliefs are questionable, in terms of evolutionary progress. "I don't think the idea makes much sense, given the kinds of things you find in religion," he says. A belief in life after death, for example, is hardly compatible with surviving in the here-and-now and propagating your genes. Moreover, if there are adaptive advantages of religion, they do not explain its origin, but simply how it spread.

This is precisely my feeling on the matter. The shared delusion that may result in social cohesion can also lead that whole society to an early grave. Such dead-end cults would be difficult to find historically but we get an inkling of them in some of the contemporary suicide cults. A belief in afterlife has to also have some good excuse to live this one out fully first.

"Children the world over have a strong natural receptivity to believing in gods because of the way their minds work, and this early developing receptivity continues to anchor our intuitive thinking throughout life," says anthropologist Justin Barrett of the University of Oxford.

One thing the article fails to mention is that Justin Barrett is not only an anthropologist but also one of the founders of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Religion and Science. Barrett is described in the New York Times as a "prominent member of the by-product camp" and "an observant Christian who believes in “an all-knowing, all-powerful, perfectly good God who brought the universe into being,” [and] “that the purpose for people is to love God and love each other.” He considers that “Christian theology teaches that people were crafted by God to be in a loving relationship with him and other people, Why wouldn’t God, then, design us in such a way as to find belief in divinity quite natural?” What did I say about investigating both the research and the researcher?

Children do seem to have an innate common-sense dualism between things with minds and inanimate objects. The dualism extends to being able to conceive of minds as separate from their bodies. The common experience of having fantasy friends is one consequence of this. But some of the research seems to contradict this in that it found that children were prone to ascribe meaning and intention to natural physical phenomena – it rains so as to help plants grow, the sun shines because it keeps us warm, and so on. I'm not sure if the researchers looked deeply enough if this was a consequence of the way children's stories are written in that very often animate and inanimate objects are characters with intentions and purposes. Whatever the source of these ideas they do seem to be deeply embedded, with it being a very short step from believing in imaginary friends or disembodied minds to gods and an afterlife.

[...] religion is an inescapable artefact of the wiring in our brain, says Bloom. "All humans possess the brain circuitry and that never goes away." Olivera Petrovich adds that even adults who describe themselves as atheists and agnostics are prone to supernatural thinking.

Seeing patterns where none exist may well be an attribute of the brain but extending that to the supernatural sphere is not an obvious progression. The last piece of research quoted showed that people under stress or feeling a loss of control would be more prone to seeing patterns in random data. The results are interpreted as showing that people under stress are more likely to seek solace in meaning, even if that meaning is purely imaginary. Hence the link with the original observation that religious belief seems to increase when times are difficult.

The final message is that, whether belief says anything about the object of belief, religion is not going to be going away any time soon. Religious faith is the path of least resistance when the world around us seems to be descending into chaos. In contrast, disbelief requires more effort.

It is also interesting that this article prompted an editorial in the same edition. The editor shows a certain resignation in research showing that irrationality may well be the natural human state and that scientific understanding has not only been hard won but may also be more fragile than many of us would hope.

Beliefs and Opinions: A Thought Experiment

One of the many rhetorical devices used by the faithful is the argument that science is also just a belief system. It is unfortunate that the word 'belief' has two distinct meanings that are easily confused if one is not careful. Here I propose a thought experiment to prise out how psychologically and emotionally different they are. It would, indeed, be better if one were to use different words, such as faith and opinion, to delineate their separate natures - but that would destroy the religious rhetoric.

Let's assume you have a religious faith, whatever it might be. Your faith is in a particular set of doctrines and probably a particular deity. From the point of view of a believer, the beliefs are obvious, self-evident truths. Now, is it possible to have two faiths simultaneously?

Is it possible to be, for example, a Roman Catholic and a Zen Buddhist at the same time? Is it possible to be a Jehovah's Witness and a Hassidic Jew at the same time? Is it possible to hold two distinct and different religious beliefs simultaneously?

The beliefs have to be distinct in that any fusion between two belief systems is a form of syncretism and thereby results in a third belief system that is different from its two original components. Many cults have developed as tributaries from one main source, but they still regard themselves as different with a distinct set of beliefs.

I propose that it is not possible to hold two different religious beliefs simultaneously. It is just not possible to have the emtional certainty in two conflicting beliefs, such as in an eternal heaven and hell and in rebirth, at the same time.

Now, let us add to our thought experiment some simple scientific 'beliefs'. "I believe the sun will rise tomorrow." That is not a particularly controversial belief but perfectly scientific. Is it possible to hold such a 'belief' and at the same time hold on to one's religious faith? There are innumerable scientific propositions about our universe that are indisputable. There are also many scientific propositions that are still hypotheses waiting for verification or falsification. By phrasing every scientific proposition in the future tense gives them all the status of hypotheses waiting for personal testing.

This is not the place to delve more deeply into the philosophy of science; remember, this is a psychological thought experiment. The point here is that the religious believer thinks that by labelling scientific propositions as 'belief' he is according them equal status to the doctrines of his religious belief. But they are not the same thing - they are two different states of mind. That is why it is perfectly possible to be a religious believer and a scientist at the same time. The vast majority of science does not even impinge on religious doctrines. When it does, then the individual has a dilemma.

I am becoming convinced that religious belief is an emotional state of mind, somewhat like being in love. Try telling someone that the love they have for their partner is a delusion! What kind of reaction would you get? Try also telling someone who is not in love that their "non-love" is actually in reality a form of love! What reaction would you get then? This aspect of belief needs some research but would be interesting to see who would have the bravery to fund it.

For the religious believer, trying to call scientific propositions beliefs is the sign of self defence. Imagine someone told you that your partner had been unfaithful to you. The reactions are myriad, from disbelief to outright divorce. The emotional turmoil is very real but love is not so easy to turn off, even in the face of evidence that it isn't reciprocated.

These last thoughts require another article. For now, it suffices to say that religious faith is an altogether different state of mind to opinions held about scientific theories - our language should reflect this difference rather than obscure it.

Also published at Asylum Joy.

17 Mar 2009

NSA Harasses Law Abiding Americans Using Remote Neural Monitoring (RNM) Reading List

How The NSA Harasses Thousands Of Law Abiding Americans Daily By The Usage Of Remote Neural Monitoring (RNM)
John St. Clair Akwei
NSA, Ft. Meade, MD, USA

You can read about the case and the accusations here. What I wanted to list here are the references at the end. The page also has an interesting excerpt from trufax.org.

The Body Electric

Electromagnetism and the Foundrrtion of Life, by Robert Becker, M.D.
p. 265/313/318. Monitoringeuroelectric information in the brain. E-M wave E.S.B.

Cross Currents, by Robert Becker, M.D.

p. 70, p. 78, p. 105/210/216/220/242/299/303 E-M ESB. Simulating auditory hallucinations. p. 274, "Remote computer tampering using the RF emissions from the logic board."

Currents of Death by Paul Brodeur

p. 27/93. Driving brain electrical activity with external E-M, Magnetophosphenes, Delgado.

The Zapping of America by Paul Brodeur

DoD E-M ESB Research, simulating auditory hallucinations.

Of Mice, Men and Molecules, by John H. Heller. 1963.

p. 110, Bioelectricity. probing the brain with E-M waves.

The 3-Pound Universe, by Judith Hooper

p. 29/132/137. CIA EEG research. EEG's for surveillance.

In the Palaces or Memory, by George Johnson

E-M emissions from the brain,the brain as an open electromagnetic circuit.

The Puzzle Palace, by James Bamford

Signals intelligence, most advanced computers in the early Sixties

The U.S. Intelligence Community - Glossary terms at National Security Archives:

Radiation intelligence - information from unintentionally emanated electromagnetic energy, excluding radioactive sources.

The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate," by John Marks

p. 327. Electrical or radio stimulation to the brain, CIA R&D in bioelectrics.

Secret Agenda, by Jim Hougan

National Security cult groups.

Crines of the Intelligence Commununity. by Morton Halperin

Surreptitious entries; intelligence agents running operations against government workers

War in the Age of Intelligent Machines

NSA computer supremacy, complete control of information

Alternate Computers, by Time-Life Books

Molecule Computers

The Mind, by Richard Restak, M.D.

p. 258, EEG Systems Inc., decoding brain E-M emanations, tracking thoughts on a computer.

MedTech, by Lawrence Gallon

Triggering events in the brain" direct to auditory cortex signals.

Cyborg, by D.S. Halacy, Jr. (1965)

Brain-to-computer link research contracts given out by the U.S. Govemment

Psychiatry and the C.I.A.: Victims of Mind Control by Harvey M. Weinstein. M.D.

Dr. Cameron, psychic driving. ultraconceptual communications.

Journey Into Madness: Ihe True Story of Secret CIA Mind Control and Medical Abuse, by Gordon Thomas

p. 127/276/116, 168-69. Intelligence R & D. Delgado. Psychic driving with radio telemetry.

Mind Manipulators, by Alan Scheflin and Edward M. Opton

MKULTRA brain research for information gathering

The Brain Changers, by Maya Pines.

p. 19. Listening to brain E-M emissions.

Magnetic Stimulation in Clinical Neuropsysiology by Sudhansu Chokroverty

Magneto-Phosphenes. Images direct to the visual cortex.

The Mind of Man by Nigel Calder

U.S. Intelligence brain research

Neuroelectric Society Conference - 1971

Audio direct to the brain with e-m waves, two waf remote EEG.

Brain Control by Elliot S. Valenstein

ESB control of individuals

Towards Century 21 by C.S. Wallia

p. 21. Brain Stimulation for direct to brain communication.

Mind Wars by Ron McRae, associate of Jack Anderson

p 62/106/136. Research into brain-to-brain electronic communications, remote neural e-m detection.

Mind Tools by Rudy Rucker

Brain tapping, communication with varying biomagnetic fields. p. 82

U.S. News and World Report 1/2/84

p. 88. e-m wave brain stimulation. Intelligence community high tech.

Ear Magazine article on extremely low frequency radio emissions in the natural environment, radio emissions from the human body.
City Paper article on FCC and NSA "complete radio spectrum" listening posts. 1/17/92.
Frontiers in Science - 1958 - by Edward Hutchings, Jr.

p. 48

Beyond Biofeedback - 1977 - by Elmer and Alyce Green

p. 118

The Body Quantum by Fred Alan Wolf
Cloning - A Biologist Reports by Robert Gilmore McKinnell

Ethical review of cloning humans.

Hoover's FBI by former agent William Turner

p. 280. Routines of electronic surveillance work.

July 20, 2019 by Arthur C. Clarke

Lida, Neurophonics, Brain/Computer Link

MegaBrain by Michael Hutchison

p. 107/108/117/120/123. Brain stimulation with e-m waves. CIA research and information control.

The Cult of Information by Theodore Rosnak - 1986

NSA Directive #145. Personal Files in Computers. Computer automated telephone tapping

The Body Shop

1968 implantation of an electrode array on the visual cortex for video direct to the brain and other 1960s research into electronically triggering phosphenes in the brain, thus bypassing the eyes.

Evoked Potentials by David Regan

Decoding neuroelectric information in the brain

14 Jan 2009

Attitudes to Death and a Person's Beliefs

I am conscious of not having posted for a while and on my trawls around the net just came across these two articles about attitudes to death and religious beliefs.

Understanding Death Through Religion

Studies of Death and Religion

Both are introductory, and the writer seems to be a graduate student so published these on the net as essays she probably wrote for her course. The first of the two is particularly useful as right at the bottom of the page are some references to research and literature.

It is often assumed that one of the reasons for the emergence of religions and religious beliefs is that they aim to answer ultimate questions of existence, origins, life and death. After a casual read, this view may have to be looked at more carefully as the data so far seems to be conflicting. Although religious belief seems to lower the anxiety associated with thoughts of one's own demise, this also seems to depend on what kind of beliefs one holds. Those who hold apocalyptic visions of brimstone and fire or the threat of eternal damnation seem less comforted by such beliefs - not exactly surprising given the possibility of eternal hell.

I think a lot more research is needed, especially looking more closely at people's experiences and overall philosophy rather than tagging everyone with a religious (or non-religious) label. I suspect experiences may be more important than which denomination one belongs to. For example, people with near-death experiences or other altered states seem likely to be less fearful of death. I myself have had some close experiences with death and found it to be a state of calm equipoise without fear - a kind of base consciousness often described in Buddhist literature. Only when the rational mind kicked in did I start to wonder what was going on - still not fearful, just puzzled. Dare I say, I have no great fear of dying. If it ends up being a transition to something else, then that transition need not be unpleasant - if it is the final full-stop at the end of the book then we can close the covers without fear.
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