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More “reality” inside our heads than outside?

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From Forbes:

The Cosmos Inside Your Head: Neuroscientist David Eagleman Tells The Story Of The Brain On PBS

Like many forty-something scientists working in labs today, Dr. David Eagleman remembers watching Carl Sagan on television as a kid and feeling his imagination expand. Each week on Cosmos (1980), Sagan provided context for our place in the universe, giving the unfathomably enormous cosmos a door of accessibility. For Eagleman, walking through that door was the beginning of a lifelong project to do for the brain what Sagan did for the universe.

Book coming as well. The universe is in Sagan’s debt, presumably.

Some who watch will struggle with an inescapable conclusion: the “you” at the center of your personal universe is inseparable from the wetware in your head. There’s nothing in the “world out there” that comes to us without interpretation by the brain. And the level of complexity involved in interpreting what we think of as the simplest matters, like distinguishing between colors and estimating distances, is difficult to grasp. In some cases, as Eagleman shows, what’s in our head constitutes more of “reality” than what exists outside us.

Lots of people would like that to be true, so he won’t lack for an audience.

“We’re studying sensory expansion, the integration of technology with the brain,” explains Eagleman, “and we’re much farther along than most people realize. Finally we are at a point where we don’t have to wait for Mother Nature. We can now define our trajectory for the future.” More.

Advice: Chill, and wait for the old bird to catch up. 😉

Here’s the series.

Also, Eagleman faces off against Raymond Tallis, who tells him,

… we are not stand-alone brains. We are part of community of minds, a human world, that is remote in many respects from what can be observed in brains. Even if that community ultimately originated from brains, this was the work of trillions of brains over hundreds of thousands of years: individual, present-day brains are merely the entrance ticket to the drama of social life, not the drama itself.

For more from Eagleman, see also: Is the brain a pasta maker or a radio receiver for thoughts?

and

Baylor College of Medicine “rock star” neuroscientist David Eagleman knows evolutionary psychology is true. Raises a question: Yes, if the world inside one’s brain constitutes more of reality than what is outside us, just about anything can be “true,” including the caveman tales of evolutionary psychology and the exploded theories of much social science.

So how to keep science from getting lost in the neuronal buzz … or does it matter anyway?

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Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose

2 Replies to “More “reality” inside our heads than outside?

  1. 1
    bornagain says:

    As to being ‘real’ perhaps it is good to reflect on what constitutes ‘real’ for us.

    For something to be ‘real’ to us personally we first have to be aware of it. In other words, if there is no conscious awareness of something then there can be nothing ‘real’ for us to perceive in the first place. i.e. Consciousness is a perquisite for something to be ‘real’ for us.

    “No, I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”
    Max Planck (1858–1947), the originator of quantum theory, The Observer, London, January 25, 1931

    “Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else.”
    (Schroedinger, Erwin. 1984. “General Scientific and Popular Papers,” in Collected Papers, Vol. 4. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences. Friedr. Vieweg & Sohn, Braunschweig/Wiesbaden. p. 334.)

    “In any philosophy of reality that is not ultimately self-defeating or internally contradictory, mind – unlabeled as anything else, matter or spiritual – must be primary. What is “matter” and what is “conceptual” and what is “spiritual” can only be organized from mind. Mind controls what is perceived, how it is perceived, and how those perceptions are labeled and organized. Mind must be postulated as the unobserved observer, the uncaused cause simply to avoid a self-negating, self-conflicting worldview. It is the necessary postulate of all necessary postulates, because nothing else can come first. To say anything else comes first requires mind to consider and argue that case and then believe it to be true, demonstrating that without mind, you could not believe that mind is not primary in the first place.”
    – William J. Murray

    The dilemma for atheists is that they claim, with no empirical support for the claim, that material is ‘real’ and that consciousness is an illusion.

    “We have so much confidence in our materialist assumptions (which are assumptions, not facts) that something like free will is denied in principle. Maybe it doesn’t exist, but I don’t really know that. Either way, it doesn’t matter because if free will and consciousness are just an illusion, they are the most seamless illusions ever created. Film maker James Cameron wishes he had special effects that good.”
    Matthew D. Lieberman – neuroscientist – materialist – UCLA professor

    This is, to put it nicely, backwards as to how ‘realness’ is assessed by us personally.

    Moreover, in confirmation of the Theistic worldview which holds consciousness to be primary and matter to be derivative, we find that, as would be expected in the Theistic worldview, that Near Death Experiences are perceived by the experiencers as being ‘more real than real’.

    In the following study, researchers who had a bias against NDEs being real, set out to prove that they were merely hallucinations by setting up a questionnaire that would prove that the memories of NDEs were merely hallucinatory in nature. They did not expect the results they got:

    ‘Afterlife’ feels ‘even more real than real,’ researcher says – Wed April 10, 2013
    Excerpt: “If you use this questionnaire … if the memory is real, it’s richer, and if the memory is recent, it’s richer,” he said.
    The coma scientists weren’t expecting what the tests revealed.
    “To our surprise, NDEs were much richer than any imagined event or any real event of these coma survivors,” Laureys reported.
    The memories of these experiences beat all other memories, hands down, for their vivid sense of reality. “The difference was so vast,” he said with a sense of astonishment.
    Even if the patient had the experience a long time ago, its memory was as rich “as though it was yesterday,” Laureys said.
    http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/09/.....periences/

    Memories of Near Death Experiences (NDEs): More Real Than Reality? – Mar. 27, 2013
    Excerpt: University of Liège researchers have demonstrated that the physiological mechanisms triggered during NDE lead to a more vivid perception not only of imagined events in the history of an individual but also of real events which have taken place in their lives!,,,
    ,,,researchers,, have looked into the memories of NDE with the hypothesis that if the memories of NDE were pure products of the imagination, their phenomenological characteristics (e.g., sensorial, self referential, emotional, etc. details) should be closer to those of imagined memories. Conversely, if the NDE are experienced in a way similar to that of reality, their characteristics would be closer to the memories of real events.
    The researchers compared the responses provided by three groups of patients, each of which had survived (in a different manner) a coma, and a group of healthy volunteers. They studied the memories of NDE and the memories of real events and imagined events with the help of a questionnaire which evaluated the phenomenological characteristics of the memories. The results were surprising. From the perspective being studied, not only were the NDEs not similar to the memories of imagined events, but the phenomenological characteristics inherent to the memories of real events (e.g. memories of sensorial details) are even more numerous in the memories of NDE than in the memories of real events.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....190359.htm

    Here are a few testimonies to that ‘more real than real’ effect:

    A Doctor’s Near Death Experience Inspires a New Life – video
    Quote: “It’s not like a dream. It’s like the world we are living in is a dream and it’s kind of like waking up from that.”
    Dr. Magrisso
    http://www.nbcchicago.com/on-a.....31791.html

    Medical Miracles – Dr. Mary Neal’s Near Death Experience – video (More real than real 37:49 minute mark)
    https://youtu.be/WCNjmWP2JjU?t=2269

    “More real than anything I’ve experienced since. When I came back of course I had 34 operations, and was in the hospital for 13 months. That was real but heaven is more real than that. The emotions and the feelings. The reality of being with people who had preceded me in death.”
    – Don Piper – “90 Minutes in Heaven,” 10 Years Later – video (2:54 minute mark)
    https://youtu.be/3LyZoNlKnMM?t=173

    Dr. Eben Alexander Says It’s Time for Brain Science to Graduate From Kindergarten – 10/24/2013
    Excerpt: To take the approach of, “Oh it had to be a hallucination of the brain” is just crazy. The simplistic idea that NDEs (Near Death Experiences) are a trick of a dying brain is similar to taking a piece of cardboard out of a pizza delivery box, rolling it down a hill and then claiming that it’s an identical event as rolling a beautiful Ferrari down a hill. They are not the same at all. The problem is the pure materialist scientists can be so closed-minded about it.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....51093.html

  2. 2
    Robert Byers says:

    I have seen Eaglemen’s youtube stuff and like some it. he gets closer, i think , to some accurate conclusions YET misses the big point.
    The mind is just a memory machine.
    NO we don’t make reality in our ‘brains”.
    Reality comes to us BUT is edited by the memory in minor ways.
    eaglemen gets it wrong in missing what he’s paid, and a rock star(another one) scientist.
    it shows careless analysis by these small circles etc etc.
    the bible says we tare souls. The mind is not our soul and is just a machine. I say a memory machine.
    We don’t interpretate senses but only our memory edits it a little.
    We still get the facts from reality. its outside us after all.
    Hope to watch the show however.

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