Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Big science mags as mouthpieces for the materialist lobby


A propos Bill Dembski having to defend himself against a silly attack in top science mag Nature, a lawyer friend suggests taking a look at Nature‘s mission statement:

First, to serve scientists through prompt publication of significant advances in any branch of science, and to provide a forum for the reporting and discussion of news and issues concerning science. Second, to ensure that the results of science are rapidly disseminated to the public throughout the world, in a fashion that conveys their significance for knowledge, culture and daily life.

He wisely observes,

To report advances and serve scientists means not to report setbacks, or the exposure of fallacies in widely-held theories that would tend to put mainstream science in a bad light.

The press and public operate under the impression that Nature and Science magazines report any significant developments in science, whether positive or negative, and that both serve the public; but both publications are very up-front that they only report advances and successes because they exist to serve scientists.

Where I come from, we call that a lobby.

No, we don’t react with unilateral disbelief, but we do salt everything we hear from such sources with a healthy dose of skepticism. The little lambs of affirmation are, of course, duly shocked by our liberties, and they must be allowed to remain so.

By the way, here are some of my recent posts at the Post-Darwinist and the Mindful Hack:

On the Dover case, a science journal prefers alternative reality (it’s easier to live in)

How to talk to religious people and other evil morons

What your textbook dollars pay for – free advertising for materialism

By the way, I have been updating my post on Stuart Pivar’s struggles to get his non-Darwinian evolution theory heard. It gets pretty funny at times.

Yes, in The Spiritual BrainMario Beauregard and I do talk about near death experiences. And so?

Another man whose brain was mostly water found leading normal life … is this becoming a fad or what?

Why only the cheatin’ hearts of your fellow humans can really deceive you

I gave a link for the TMS research in the previous post, here it is again: http://www.nderf.org/vonlommel_skeptic_response.htm I draw the inference from the fact that memory is being amplified instead of silenced when the physical portion of the brain is being inhibited by TMS. It is a common sense inference of the empirical evidence that only makes sense in light of the theistic philosophy. Memory is a crucial part of any thinking consciousness. Finding amplifcation of memory upon inhibition of the brain satifies two mysteries. #1 It tells us that memory is stored in the "spiritual" consciouness and #2 it tells us that consciousness is in actuallity spiritually based since memory is a vital and crucial integrated part of a consciousness. bornagain77
Matteo: "If physics takes care of the whole show in every important detail, then consciousness is not even implied as a byproduct. It’s not needed, it’s not a cause, so why the heck does it even bother to exist?" Darwinists certainly do not have an adequate explanation for evolution, but some form of "evolutionary" process has clearly taken place. I feel there is what appears to be a reasonable adaptive rational for the evolution of consciousness. This is that it may be the best way (or maybe the only way) to enable animals to deal with and survive in a complex external environment that sometimes behaves unpredictably, even in reaction to the organism's own actions. The most cost/effective way or the only way to accomplish this may be to have an even primitively self-aware system that contains and builds internal models of the environment. At the same time, this does not pretend to explain consciousness, just some aspects of it. Just why these came about in animal evolution. Human consciousness is an entire fundamental advance over that of animals, but retains some common features. How to find an explanatory frame that accommodates both this and human spiritual nature some aspects of which were explicated by bornagain77? One way is to postulate that Spirit has utilized the physical human animal as the vehicle for a new form of spiritual manifestation in the world. magnan
A great post, bornagain77. I am familiar with much of the evidence you describe and agree with your interpretation. However, I was not aware of the TMS research you describe. Could you give a link? Also, could you explain how you make this inference?: " Vivid memory recall, upon inhibition of a portion of brain where memory is being communicated from consciousness, is exactly what one would expect to find if consciousness is ultimately self-sufficient of brain function and spiritually-based." magnan
Matteo: "As far as I’m concerned, even if the Darwinists had a decent explanation of material evolution (which they don’t), their notion that material evolution has led to consciousness is entirely out to lunch. This alone would disqualify their grand materialist creation story." It's interesting to note that there are two accounts of creation in the Bible: the first establishes humankinds' continuity with the animal world; the second establishes the nature of our personhood as a direct gift from God (He breathed into the clay.). PaV
Dang! Link should have been: http://tinyurl.com/2swg75 Matteo
The whole idea of a material basis for mind has always seemed radically incoherent to me. To the degree to which we can say, "see, here is a physical explanation for everything that goes on in a human being, consciousness is not a separate category of causation beyond the physical--it is exactly to that degree that we have made the case that a human being shouldn't be conscious! If physics takes care of the whole show in every important detail, then consciousness is not even implied as a byproduct. It's not needed, it's not a cause, so why the heck does it even bother to exist? Or to put it another way: Does a doorbell need to be conscious to operate properly? How about a calculator? How about a computer? If no, then how in the world does thinking of the brain as a physiological computer explain consciousness as some sort of "emergent property?" If computers don't need consciousness in any way, shape, or form to do what they do, then how does what amounts to a more elaborate computer generate a wholly unnecessary and superfluous consciousness? Consciousness is an axiom, not a conclusion. It is at the start of chains of inference, not at the end. One of the most purely empirical data points we have is that we, each of us, are conscious. The idea of materialism, particles and laws is derived, and not immediately empirical (it took centuries of conscious observation and inference to come up with the materialist idea, it takes a moment to "sense" our own consciousness). It seems odd to try to explain a cause (consciousness) in terms of its effects (the ideas of materialism, particles, and laws). In fact, it is ass-backwards. As far as I'm concerned, even if the Darwinists had a decent explanation of material evolution (which they don't), their notion that material evolution has led to consciousness is entirely out to lunch. This alone would disqualify their grand materialist creation story. On another topic, it looks like some of the Darwinists are getting into a form of censorship re:Behe. In a brave blow for free enquiry, they're hiding his books: http://tinyurl.com/create.php Matteo
bornagain77: Excuse me for not reading the entirety of your post (it is a bit on the long side,eh?). But as to consciousness being physically based or not, I can only tell you that twice in my life I've had what would probably be called a "vision". But, neither one really involved God directly. In the first, I heard a voice speaking to me. But, having said that, I think they were just, for a lack of anything better to describe it, a "vision". Let me also add this: I think they were both brought about by the devil, and not by God. Anyway, what I saw in the first instance was something that was happening live---but directly behind me. When I stopped having the "vision", I turned around and saw exactly what I had been "seeing" during the vision. In the second instance, it was something that happened about twenty-five seconds before it actually happened. Since neither "vision" was anything that I feel came from God, I don't mind talking about them. However, if you've never had such an experience---and I suspect from conversations I've had that most people haven't---it's very hard to describe. I can only say that, for example, I "saw," in the same exact way as we normally "see", something that was delayed by the twenty, or so, seconds that passed while I was having the "vision". Obviously, this isn't science; but I can assure you, from personal experience, that while our normal experience of what we term "consciousness" is normally mediated by our physical bodies, we nevertheless don't need those bodies to be able to see. It's just our normal, everyday experience of life. I wonder if Plato, in writing the "Parable of the Cave", didn't have such an experience. PaV
How the consciousness relates to the body has two prevailing schools of thought challenging each other for the right to be called the truth. The first school of thought is Theistic in its philosophy; consciousness is a independent and separable entity from the brain. This school of thought implies it is possible to live beyond the of our brains. The second school of thought is Materialistic in its philosophy; consciousness is an dependent and inseparable product of the brain. This school of thought implies we die when the brain dies. Knowledge has recently come to light, establishing the first school of thought as the truth. Neuro-physiological (brain/body) research is now being performed, using a new scientific tool, trans-cranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). This tool allows scientists to study the brain non-invasively. TMS can excite or inhibit normal electrical activity in specific parts of the brain, depending on the amount of energy administered by TMS. This tool allows scientists to pinpoint what is happening in different regions of the brain (functional mapping of the brain). TMS is wide-ranging in its usefulness; allowing the study of brain/muscle connections, the five senses, language, the patho-physiology of brain disorders, as well as mood disorders, such as depression. TMS may even prove to be useful for therapy for such brain disorders. TMS also allows the study of how memories are stored. The ability of TMS for inhibiting (turning off) specific portions of the brain is the very ability which reveals things that are very illuminating to the topic we are investigating. That is it reveals if the consciousness and the brain are actually separate entities. When the electromagnetic activity of a specific portion of the brain is inhibited by the higher energies of TMS, it impairs the functioning of the particular portion of the body associated with the particular portion of the brain being inhibited. For example; when the visual cortex (a portion of the brain) is inhibited by higher energies of TMS, the person undergoing the procedure will temporarily become blind while it is inhibited. One notable exception to this "becoming impaired rule" is a person's memory. When the elusive "memory" portion of the brain is inhibited, a person will have a vivid flashback of a past part of their life. This very odd "amplification" of a memory indicates this fact; memories are stored in the “spiritual” consciousness independent of the brain. All of the bodies other physical functions which have physical connections in the brain are impaired when their corresponding portion of the brain loses its ability for normal electromagnetic activity. One would very well expect memories to be irretrievable from the brain if they were physically stored. Yet memories are vividly brought forth into consciousness when their corresponding locations in the brain are temporarily inhibited. This indicates that memories are somehow stored on a non-physical basis, separate from the brain in the "spiritual" consciousness. Memory happens to be a crucially integrated part of any thinking consciousness. This is true, whether or not consciousness is physically or spiritually-based. Where memory is actually located is a sure sign of where the consciousness is actually located. It provides a compelling clue as to whether consciousness is physically or spiritually-based. Vivid memory recall, upon inhibition of a portion of brain where memory is being communicated from consciousness, is exactly what one would expect to find if consciousness is ultimately self-sufficient of brain function and spiritually-based. The opposite result, a ening of memories, is what one would expect to find if consciousness is ultimately physically-based. According to this insight, a large portion, if not all, of the one quadrillion synapses that have developed in the brain as we became s, are primarily developed as pathways for information to be transmitted to, and memories to be transmitted from, our consciousness. The synapses of the brain are not, in and of themselves, our primary source for memories. Indeed, decades of extensive research by brilliant, Nobel prize-winning, minds have failed to reveal where memory is stored in the brain. Though Alzheimer’s and other disorders affect the brain’s overall ability to recover memories, this is only an indication that the overall ability of the brain to recover memory from the consciousness has been affected, and does not in any way conclusively establish that memory is actually stored in the brain. In other compelling evidence, many children who have had hemispherectomies (half their brains removed due to life threatening epileptic conditions) at Johns Hopkins Medical Center, are in high school; and one, a college student, is on the dean’s list. The families of these children can barely believe the transformation; and not so long ago, neurologists and neuro-surgeons found it hard to believe as well. What is surprising for these people is that they are having their overriding materialistic view of brain correlation to consciousness overturned. In other words; since, it is presumed by Materialism that the brain is the primary generator of consciousness; then, it is totally expected for a person having half their brain removed to be severely affected when it comes to memory and personality. This is clearly a contradiction between the Materialistic and Theistic philosophies. According to Materialistic dogma, memory and personality should be affected, just as badly, or at least somewhat as badly, as any of the other parts of the body, by removal of half the brain. Yet, as a team of neuro-surgeons that have done extensive research on the after effects of hemispherectomy at John Hopkins Medical Center comment: "We are awed by the apparent retention of the child’s memory after removal of half of the brain, either half; and by the retention of the child's personality and sense of humor." Though a patients physical capacities are impaired, just as they were expected to be immediately following surgery; and have to have time to be "rewired" to the consciousness in the brain, the memory and personality of the patient comes out unscathed in the aftermath of such radical surgery. This is exactly the result one would expect, if the consciousness is ultimately independent of brain function and is spiritually-based. This is totally contrary to the results one would expect if the consciousness were actually physically-based, as the materialistic theory had presumed. In further comment from the neuro-surgeons in the John Hopkins study: "Despite removal of one hemisphere, the intellect of all but one of the children seems either unchanged or improved. Intellect was only affected in the one child who had remained in a coma, vigil-like state, attributable to peri-operative complications." This is stunning proof of consciousness being independent of brain function. The only child not to have normal or improved intellect is the child who remained in a coma due to complications during surgery. It is also heartening to find that many of the patients regain full use, or almost full use, of their bodies after a varying period of recuperation in which the brain is “rewired” to the consciousness. II Corinthians 5:1 For we know that if our earthly house, this tent (Our Body), is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. In other developments, Dr. Olaf Blanke recently described in the peer-reviewed science journal "Nature" a patient who had "out of body experiences (OBE)”, when the electrical activity of the gyrus-angularis portion of the brain was inhibited by higher energy TMS. Though some materialists try to twist this into some type of natural explanation for spiritual experiences, by saying the portion of the brain is being stimulated, it is actually a prime example clearly indicating consciousness is independent of the brain; for the portion of the brain is in fact, being inhibited, instead of stimulated ! This patient, Dr. Olaf Blanke described, should be grateful that consciousness is independent of the brain. If consciousness were truly dependent on the brain for its survival, as materialist insist, then the patient would have most likely died; at least while that particular portion of the brain was being inhibited. Obviously, that portion of the brain which was inhibited in the patient, is the very seat of the brain's consciousness. Yet, more evidence for the independence of consciousness is found in Dr. Pim van Lommels' study of sixty-two of his cardiac patients who had near experiences (NDE’s). NDE's are the phenomena of someone being physically for a short time; yet, when they are revived, they report they were in their spiritual bodies, outside of their physical bodies and taken to another dimension. Dr. Lommel's research found no weakness in the Theistic presumption of a spiritually independent consciousness. He and his colleagues published their research in the peer-reviewed journal (Lancet, Dec. 2001). Not only did their research not find any weaknesses in the Theistic presumption; their findings severely weakened or ruled out all Materialistic presumptions that had been put forth such as anoxia in the brain, release of endomorphines, NMDA receptor blockage or medications given. Their findings also ruled out suspected psychological explanations as well; such as a coping mechanism brought on by the fear of imminent or fore-knowledge of NDE. They even had a patient in the NDE study who identified the exact nurse who took his dentures while he was in cardiac arrest. This is something only someone who was conscious of the operating room, even though he was physically , could have seen the nurse doing (Many NDE report floating above their bodies, observing the operating room from the ceiling, before going to another dimension). In other similar studies, cases in which was extracted at the time of the NDE did not support the anoxia or hypercarbia theories. It is also established that the administered to the patients, such as painkillers, appeared to inhibit and confuse rather than cause the NDE. The combination of all data from recent and retrospective research provides a large amount of evidence, which can no longer be ignored or explained away. The fact that clear, lucid experiences were reported during a time when the brain was proven to be devoid of activity (Aminoff et al., 1988, Clute and Levy 1990, de Vries et al., 1998), does not sit easily with the current scientific belief system of materialism. In another fascinating study (Kenneth Ring and Sharon Cooper, 1997) of thirty-one blind people who had a NDE, twenty-four of the blind people reported that they could see while they were out of their physical bodies. Many of them had been blind since birth. Likewise, many deaf people reported they were able to hear while they were having a NDE. So, in answer to the question: "Is consciousness a physically or spiritually-based phenomena?"; we can, with the assurance of scientific integrity backing us up, reply that consciousness is indeed a spiritual phenomena capable of living independently of the brain, once the brain ceases to function. Dr. Lommel illustrates in his paper that the real purpose of the brain is as a mediator of the physical world to the spiritual consciousness. He compares the brain to such things as a television, radio and cell phone, to illustrate the point. The point he is trying to make clear is this; the brain is not the end point of information. It is "only" a conveyor of information to and from the true end point, our spiritually-based consciousness which is independent of the physical brain and able to live past the of our brains. Genesis 2:7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. It is clear from these recent developments, the materialistic philosophy will only severely impede further scientific progress in this very promising area. Instead of scientists investigating how the consciousness interacts with the material brain, and making important discoveries of how the spiritual realm actually interacts with the material realm, scientists will be forced into blind goose chases trying to explain how consciousness arises from a purely materialistic basis. The hard evidence makes it clear that the presumptions of Materialism have been proven to be false at both the level of the universe's foundational reality and at the level of consciousness in human beings. Whereas the Theistic presumptions of the universe’s creation from a transcendent Creator, and of the consciousness’s ability to live completely separate from the brain, are both strongly supported by the hard evidences that have been brought forth by recent discoveries in science. Now, having established that Materialism has an extremely shaky foundation to begin with if indeed it can be found to have any foundation at all; let us take a hard look at a one of the more famously documented Near Experiences. The NDE of Pam Reynolds. This is the account of that NDE. A team in Phoenix specializes in an extreme form of neurosurgery called hypothermic cardiac arrest that has been created to allow operation on aneurysms deep in the brain. A 35-year-old woman undertook this surgery. Her eyes were taped shut to prevent them from drying out. They put electrodes in the auditory section of the brainstem and put molded speakers in her ears which played a constant beep, a setup designed to gauge responsiveness in the brainstem. These speakers prevented her from hearing anything in the room besides the beeps. They cooled her body to 60 degrees, which lowered her metabolic rate enough so that the surgeons could operate for a long time deep in the brain. They then rerouted her from a femoral artery into a heart-pump, though they had to switch legs because the first vessel was too small, thereby prolonging the surgery. When the EEG was flat and the brainstem stopped responding, she was by most standard medical criteria . flowed out into the heart-pump and back into the body. Next they shut off the pump and tilted the table up so that all the drained out of her brain. Only then was it safe to open her skull to clip off the aneurysm. The time of anesthetization in this procedure is about 90 minutes. The woman reported leaving her body and hearing a D-natural buzzing sound. She watched the surgery and was puzzled by what appeared to be an electric toothbrush which one member of the team was using on her head. She also reported hearing the woman doctor say, "These vessels are too small. We can't use them for the pump." At that point, she got distracted, saw the light, went through a tunnel, saw a deceased grandmother and a few other deceased relatives who told her she had to go back. As she was coming out of the surgery, she had a cardiac arrest and they had to shock her twice to get her back. When the procedure was all over, she described to the neurosurgeon everything she saw, including the strange electric toothbrush and the box that it came in with several different attachable heads. It turned out she had accurately described a Midas Rex saw, which is used only for this procedure, and which makes a buzzing sound. So, with this case we have an example of someone who was visually and auditorally isolated, had a flat EEG, and should not have been able to think, and yet she commented that she had never thought so clearly in her life. The paragraph below is a quote of the same event from an anonymous writer in a NDE newsgroup: Such is the case of Pam Reynolds who is quite well known in the NDE community. She was having surgery performed to remove an aneurysm from her brain. Her body was cooled to below 60 degrees F. and all of the was drained from her body. Her EEG and brain stem response showed no activity, the definition of brain in many states. During all of this, she reported rising from her body and seeing the operation performed below her. She also reported contact with "The Light" and many of her deceased relatives in heaven. Remember, she had no brain activity whatsoever. Even hallucinations register brain activity. It is interesting that upon recovering she recounted accurately many details of her operation, including conversations heard and a description of the surgical instruments. It has been postulated by a NDE skeptic, that Pam overheard the sounds in the room and generated a "mental map" of things around her. What the skeptic failed to acknowledge though is that instruments were inserted into Pam's ears that generated clicks to measure brain stem response. Her brain stem response throughout the surgery was inactive. If conversations were heard, her brain stem response should have registered them. According to Pam, she was present, above her body, viewing the whole surgical operation; her consciousness, memory, personality; her whole individuality intact. She proved this with an accurate, detailed description of the instruments, conversation, and procedures used during the surgery. At the same time, science, using scientific monitoring instruments, was proving that her body was . No brain response, no heart response, no response of any kind. Obviously, the brain, nor any other organ of the body, was needed to sustain her life, and this account is just one example of the that exist in NDE literature. The two following sites are very helpful http://www.nderf.org/vonlommel_skeptic_response.htm http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=BE96F947-E7F2-99DF-3EA94A4C4EE87581&sc=I100322 bornagain77
Well, if Pivar is onto something, PZ Myers (the Prophet of the Pharyngula) may need to provide a special relevation to anyone who supports him. As I mentioned at Post-Darwinist, I have sent a copy of the book to a non-pharyngulite biologist (aware of evo issues) for review. I have since acquired several more copies and will gladly send them on to other non-pharyngulite biologists, provided they undertake to post a review to the Post-Darwinist. Contact me at oleary@sympatico.ca, and convince me that you are not a follower of the Pharyngulite Prophet. Say what you think proper, as far as I am concerned. I just think Pivar*, like everyone else, deserves a town bully-free environment, whatever the outcome for his theory. - d. *Note: I really do not care what you think about intelligent design. Pivar is not an ID guy. He first came across my radar when he said, as a friend of the late S.J. Gould, that he knew that Gould never really supported Darwinism. Having read several of Gould's works, I surmised that that was true. Needless to say, Pivar came in for plenty of abuse from Darwinists, but he appears to be none the worse for that. O'Leary
Here's a criticism (really a slam) by PZ Myers regarding Pivars' book: "What seems to be new in the book is a set of experiments, of sorts. Pivar's model of development has long been that we achieve the diversity of organismal form by starting with a torus, and that fluid movements and distortions of the toroid form lead to the more elaborate forms at the end of development. The donut is the unifying principle underlying everything (hmmm, makes one wonder if there is a tie-in to the new Simpsons movie). So what he's done in this work is make some flexible plastic toroidal tubes filled with fluid and flexed them and twisted them, and taken some pictures. These balloons of fluid, as you might guess, buckle and wrinkle in predictable ways — ways that, in Pivar's interpretation, leap to be represented as morphogenetic events. A tube that is bent, for instance, makes a series of wrinkles with an even distribution that look, very vaguely, like maybe you could pretend they are segments. So he does pretend. At length." There's an article in this weeks' "New Scientist" magazine about the transcendental number, e; as in, e^lnx=x. It turns out that mathematicians are hot on the trail of whence this number arises. This letter, e, known as an exponential, seems to have an object---a singular object---which they're calling the "pseudo-exponential", and which is the very source of exponentiation itself. In the article they mention Euler's famous formula in which the number 0 and 1, and the transcental numbers e, i (the square root of -1) and pi are combined: (e^iπ)+1=0; [obviously e^iπ=-1]. e seems to lie at the very heart of mathematics. Well, it turns out that the "object" corresponding to exponentiation is a TORUS! Yes, it's a torus in the mathematical sense---meaning that it's constructed in more than three dimensions; nonetheless, it has the properties of a torus. Maybe Pivars is really onto something here. PaV
For what it is worth, I strongly recommend reading mainly the medical al literature on these types of subjects. Lots of personal agendas tend to cloud popular literature - as is true in any field. I included that YouTube link because it provides a handy point form introduction to the topic, but I hope all will note my cautions too. - d. O'Leary
Did anybody happen to watch the NDE clip about the little girl? The link is at Mindful Hack. Holy wow! It's so nice to watch stuff like that without having to debunk and/or discredit it to protect my fragile faith in darwinism/materialism. shaner74

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