Author: David Christopher Lane and Joseph Polanik Publisher: The NEURAL SURFER Publication date: June 1997
E-mail David Christopher Lane directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
I want to go back to the home base now.
JOSEPH P. WRITES: Well, David, if your hypothesis about OBEs is that they are caused solely by neurological phenomena, then please state how you have tested this hypothesis --- if indeed you have. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Joseph, I clearly don't know if OBE's are "solely" caused by neurology. That is why I have raised this issue up repeatedly: pretext vs. context, pre-rational vs. trans-rational. What I can point out, however, are some interesting features which suggest a more materialistic or cultural interpretation (watch my wording, Joseph). We have noted that NDE experiences tend to reflect cultural filters: Sikhs see Nanak, not the Virgin Mary; Christians see Jesus not Frederick Nietzsche; Eckists see Rebazar, not David Lane Moreover, we have also noted that NDE's and OBE's appear to have certain "trans"-cultural elements: seeing light, feelings of leaving the body, tunnel, and hearing sounds, etc. These "core" features can be explained (if we so desire) in several ways, depending upon our theories: 1. Brain-induced (see the arguments of Ronald Siegel, Susan Blackmore, and Michael Shermer) 2. Trans-neurological (see the arguments of Ken Wilber, Moody, Ring, Sabom, and others) 3. CONFUSION (a combination of translative elements--the brain, the culture, etc.--and transformative elements--higher state of consiousness, astral plane--interfacing..... --------- Yet, we know that in the history of medicine and science that what was once perceived as a "trans-neurological" phenomena turned out to have--on closer inspection--a basis within the brain itself (from "possession" to "headaches" to "how muscles work" to "vision" to "hearing" etc.) At this stage, Joseph, I see the materialist argument as being much more persuasive on these grounds, but that does not mean that I "know" that OBE's or NDE's are "solely" (your words, perhaps?) brain induced. I am quite open to the possibility that NDE's and OBE's indicate something "trans-neurological." But wasn't that why we started this thread? Five digit test? JOSEPH P. writes: Now, admitting that neither the pro nor con of an issue can be proven is not a bad place to start. I have already indicated my belief that neither position can be proven except to the satisfaction of its advocates. How about you, David? Are you willing to admit that there is no proof of Soul's non-existence? DAVID LANE REPLIES: No proof of Soul's non-existence? As you surely know, Joe, this is not how any theory proceeds. As is often stated in critical thinking books, you can't prove a negative. We could simply take your statement and say the following (and be just as accurate): "Are you willing to admit that there is no proof of Christ's non-existence?" Hmm, let's try another: "Are you willing to admit that there is no proof of Elvis NOT living on Venus?" ------ In order to prove a negative (which is by the way nearly impossible), we would have to--as in the case of Elvis--search every nook and cranny of Venus.... and we could still be proven wrong. Why? Elvis lives underground? ------ No, Joseph, once you postulate something non-physical you can use ANY-thing to justify or legitimize your claims. That is why, when a neurologist says, "hey vision is caused by the visual cortex in the brain," he can "demonstrate" his claim. Or, if i said, "I know that the brain and its functions alters waking consciousness" I can at the very least demonstrate it (to more than just myself). How? I hit the dude with a big heavy bat right on his noggin. This does not EXCLUDE non-physical theories, as such, but at the very least presents compelling evidence FOR a physical explanation. Those who make the claim that the "Soul" exists need, like their neurological counterparts, to present the evidence for such. In the history of science, quite frankly, I have been much more impressed with the quality and quantity of evidence presented for a neurological view versus an astral or spiritual view. This does not mean that neurology is the "Sole" cause (we simply don't know that on an ontological level), but it also does not mean that Soul or anything you postulate non-physically thereby exists. That's a false argument and one which completely misleads. Again, back to square one: I can present lots of neurological evidence for my states of consciousness (even OBE's--try taking Ketamine, for instance) which indicates that the brain is key. [Remember I didn't say "solely".] Okay, now cough up the evidence which shows that OBE's are trans-neurological or that Soul exists. Let us compare, let us weigh them, let us scrutinize them.... But here's my bias: We should explore the psychic realms with as much skepticism as we do neurology. Which also means this: we doubt and we doubt and we doubt whatever theories arises until we SEE the results. ----------------- JOSEPH P. WRITES: discussed below). When David Lane responded on a.r.e. to Dan Caldwell's emailed questions with an article that referred to OBEs, he proposed the "5 or 6 digit number test" which he has now backed away from by admitting that he would not accept the results of such a test because any results could be due to chance. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Joe, this is completely wrong on your part and quite misleading. I have said all along that I would be quite impressed if somebody could read the five digits. That's a GREAT start (mark my words, bro). Naturally, as Dan pointed out, we would want to do follow-up. But geez we haven't even gotten out of the starting gate (nobody has given me a right number yet) and you are misconstruing my argument. Yes, I would be stoked to see somebody get it right, even once! Then, I would take that as a great lead and something which requires follow-up. We do the same with any "hit" in science, from new medicines, to cloning, to new antibiotics. We take the "hit" and we proceed further. We don't stop the tests and say, "Hey, winner! Let's quit. The paranormal has been proven." What you fail to realize is that I would be stoked to see even one hit and I would love to further verify that it couldn't happen by chance. I am looking for positive results! I haven't gotten one yet.... and Babaji has shown up for cokes yet either (I even cleaned my house for him!). No, Joe, don't misconstrue my arguments. One hit would be a great start (not a conclusion, as I pointed out before). -------- JOSEPH P. WRITES: Whatever his current theory is, he has made no attempt to state its specifics nor propose a scientific test of it. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Current theory on what? Go back to the genealogy of this argument, I proposed a test for those who CLAIMED to be able to astrally "read" physical offices and homes (remember Glen?). Okay, so I set up the five digit test for OBE's (a very common one that has a long history going back to the SR days) precisely for THOSE who make that type of claim (not for those who don't, bro). It seems fairly obvious to me that everything I do is modulated by my body/brain and the physical environment in which it is housed. But, hey, I could be wrong. That is why I am looking for some fudging evidence for your "soul" hypothesis that would be as impressive as Crick's: you are the brain idea. I am open, I am game. That's why i meditate, bro. ------- Don't shortcircuit the test.... We haven't even gotten one hit yet! ------ JOSEPH P. WRITES: Instead of discussing the reports of OBEs as relevant to understanding the structure of the human being (Soul occupying a body vs biological machine) or other issues (Raphael having raised the issue of the existence/nonexistence of the afterlife in connection with the abortion debate), David Lane instead turns to ridicule. He mentions a case where someone supposedly saw a tortilla during an NDE and cases where people say the being of Light as Elvis. This is an attempt to use an emoto-rational argument because it suggests that those who believe that OBEs are evidence for the existence of Soul are as foolish as someone who believes that God is Cosmic Bread. DAVID LANE REPLIES: No, Joseph, that is not what I was trying to convey. Rather, I was simply pointing out the obvious: NDE'rs visions tend to reflect personal and cultural history and therefore by THEMSELVES do not necessarily indicate (ontologically or otherwise) their imputed reality. Simply put, my vision of Elvis in a NDE does not thereby prove that Elvis (as such) still lives. It suggests rather (strongly, I would add) that I am somehow "imputing" or "projecting" or "even unconsciously dredging up" (maybe without any will or power on my own, like a dream) the perceived image. That is why, I would argue, Radhasoamis see their own initiating guru and not Fubbi, or why ECkists see Yaubl Sacabi and not Shiv Brat Lal. This has come to us not via skeptics and their research but rather DIRECTLY from the phenomenological accounts of the NDE'ers. So, here is one form of the argument from a materialist perspective: If the visions are cultural/biographical, perhaps the "core" elements of the NDE are physical/structural: reflecting the brain and not necessarily Sahans-dal-kanwal. Joe, I really don't know for sure (that is why I often call myself a mystical agnostic materialist), but I can tell you that I find the neurological/cultural argument much more persuasive. But, geez, I could be wrong..... Anybody get those five digits right, yet? Please do present your evidence for a trans-neurological interpretation. I have read scores of books in this area (from Ring to Sabom to Moody to Siegel to Grof to Blackmore), and I wouldn't might looking through your "evidence" for soul. I will compare it, however, with what I see as evidence from Crick or Churchland as well. --------------------- JOSEPH P. WRITES: David, you are distorting my argument. i indicated that we must take the reports and look for common features because the evidential value of OBEs lies in their transformative character not in the idiosyncratic elements of the imagery of this case or that. In other words, what's important in these cases is whether the belief system of the person was changed with regard to beliefs like Soul's existence or Survival after the death of the body, not the imagery a given individual experienced. Bread is a potent symbol of nurturance. If the woman who "thought God was Cosmic Bread" because "she saw a huge whole wheat flour tortilla in the middle of the light" came to think of herself as a 'Crumb' of the Cosmic Bread Loaf. This is very similar to images of Soul as a 'Spark of the Divine Fire' or 'Droplet from the Celestial Ocean'. A sensible person would be hard pressed to see this as anything but an idiosyncratic expression of a profound sense of being related to something greater than oneself. Or, maybe not. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Yes, Joe, I am all for compiling phenomenological reports of OBE's and NDE's. I commend the effort to do so and I find such books fascinating (like Monroe's or Lilly's, for example). But phenomenology as such does not address critical issues (that, of course, is not its job). What I was trying to point out by the Cosmic Bread story, or by Elvis, or the Radiant Bike, is that such visionary phenomena often reflects the personal or cultural nuances of the experiencer and do not, as such, indicate the "trans-rational" features alleged in the experience. Look, let me put this more simply: This waking state is modulated by certain chemical-electrical signals within my brain; my very typing is physically orchestrated. We can even test this theory. "Hey Lane, no more typing for you" A J.R. bodyguard then proceeds to break my hands....... Oops, I can't type anymore...... or at least not the same way. What happened? Astral influence? No, something quite mundane: cracked bones...... So now we allege that other states are NOT physical, but rather reflect some trans-neurological potential. Okay, then show the evidence for THAT. If we argue that such evidence CANNOT be physically presented (a point that I have long argued--see those letters to Dick), then we opt for a meta-science or a meta-physical methodology to invoke that mandalic data.... See my Enchanted Land for such an argument, or any series of articles I wrote in the 1980s. Read Wilber's Eye to Eye..... I am all for it. But, lest you forget how this debate started, there are those on this group who claim (not I) that they can astrally read PHYSICAL signs, numbers, pictures, and names. The five digit test was proposed precisely FOR THEM (not me). I have long argued that OBE's and NDE's reflect a different state (neurological or otherwise) which is, for the most part, not an accurate reflection of this physical world. The neurologist within me will say it is a different neural symphony, reflecting a forgotten brain state or an uptapped one (see Timoth's Ferris' interesting argument for this). The mystic within me will say it is a different state of consciousness altogether, reflecting an entirely different realm of being (see Ramana Maharshi, or Ken Wilber, or Shiv Dayal Singh for this). The agnostic within me will say, "Fuck, I don't have a clue. This place is really strange..... What is light anyways?" ------ Okay, but these three views of mine are NOT the view of those who claim to be able to see astrally "physical" numbers and the like. The five digit test, limited as it is, is designed for THEM. Not to buttress my three views (remember I am CON-fused), but rather to upset it..... You see, I am most skeptical of myself.... even if you don't believe it. Yes, OBE's and NDE's may have nothing to do with reading five digits (my view), but that doesn't mean I should ignore those who claim that they can do such things.... Let's find out. I am still waiting..... Also, don't forget that I took Babaji to task because the claim was that he was still in a PHYSICAL Body....... Okay, if that's the claim (empirically based as it is), let's test it. ----- JOSEPH P. WRITES: This is a fairly accurate description of the method of inquiry used by phenomenologist. And it is the same method which I proposed that we use to analyze the evidentiary value of OBEs, NDEs and the like. However, as soon as I made this proposal, David Lane jumps ship and harps about the content of the experiences reported by the lady who saw God as Cosmic Bread. This hypocrisy is nothing but opportunism masquerading as science. But Skeptics are good at that. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Jumping ship? Hypocrisy? Masquerading? Joe, I simply pointed out the readily apparent: One can have an NDE vision of practically ANY-thing, including the Stay Puft Marshmallow guy (Bill Couch?). Thus the vision itself does not necessarily reveal the "reality" of the state, but rather its amazing plasticity, not dissimilar to dreams. The "core" experience may also be part and parcel of our brain structure, as Blackmore and Siegel indicate. For instance, look at the 6 major archetypes of hallucinations via drugs, as Siegel and others point out. They are almost exactly the same type of descriptions given in the literature of Sant Mat for the inner regions: from lattice screens to whirling tunnels. Now, I am not saying that NDE's are "solely" neurological (that was your spin on my argument), but only that the "trans-neurological" features need to be buttressed by some evidence more impressive than "Hey, I saw Elvis and he was offering me a Cheese on Rye if I came through the tunnel." The common core, of course, among all NDE's is that they came back to tell us about it. What do each of them have in common? A brain. Okay, I am game. Give me some evidence or theories on why NDE's or OBE's are trans-neurological. I have already given my argument for it back in the 1980s (see Dick's letters). I have a problem with my earlier theories, however. They tend to ignore a huge body of evidence which contravenes them: neurology 101. If you wish for me to give you the neurological argument in part, I would be happy to do so. signed: a mystical agnostic materialist or I am confused by seeing the FAT Elvis in the Light; it was not a pretty sight, seeing his pants that tight....... ------------------------------ JOSEPH P. WRITES: Maybe, Maybe not. David didn't say. But now it appears that even if a person guessed all 5 digits of a 5 digit number correctly David would not consider that sufficient to reject his initial or null hypothesis that there would be no evidence of psi at work. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Joe, you seem to be either ignoring or skipping over what I am saying. Yes, I would be impressed if somebody got the five digit number right. Then I would take that as an interesting lead and we could do follow-up tests. If Psi exists, then I don't see why further testing will make it disappear. The same holds for any new discovery in medicine; let's follow it up. JOSEPH P. WRITES: This reminds me of those who cheat at 20 questions by secretly varying the target answer as the game is played while keeping it consistent with all previous questions. This is bad faith. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Bad faith? Nope, it is the opposite, bro. If I think a new headache medicine really does work, I would want MORE tests of it (not LESS). Why? Because that way we could see its powerful utility. If we do get a "hit" on the five digit number (we haven't yet, bro, but I am open), then we could follow that up with further tests. Not, as you assume, to dis-COUNT the paranormal, but rather to make certain that chance is not operating. We do this in medicine all the time. Why should the paranormal have "lower" standards? JOSEPH P. WRITES: And that is one major reason why you are proceeding in bad faith. Whether you are consciously pretending not to remember what you should have learned in your research methodology classes, or whether you are proceeding in a Sartrean state of unconscious self-deception is beside the point. The point is that fudging evidence is not the place to start a scientific experiment. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Joseph, I proposed this simple test to start the ball rolling. Yes, we can make our tests much more sophisticated later on, but geez I would like to see a beginning, a start. This is not "bad faith"; this is, rather, an opening, a place to start. What you fail to recognize is that NOBODY has even passed this simple test, yet, on this newsgroup. In medicine you often start with very small tests and then if the results look promising (there seems to be some point or some hope), you can then move on to bigger arenas. As it stands, we are just yapping about methodology when the real juice would be if somebody got the number right..... Then we could talk about making our tests more sophisticated. JOSEPH P. WRITES: Among the clarifications needed are the details of the test, the number of people to be involved, the number of guesses each participant will supply and so on. But the most important clarifications involve the nature of the null hypothesis to be tested, the statistical measures to be applied, the criteria for rejecting the null hypothesis and the nature of the hypothesis to replace it if the null hypothesis is rejected. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Yes, Joseph, but don't forget the genealogy of this debate. I simply responded to those who claimed to be able to "astrally" read physical signs or words or numbers. I said, "Okay, read the five digit number on my wall." I wasn't setting out a research program. I am all for it, Joe. Do it. I will even take part in your study. But in the meantime, one pertinent fact remains: Nobody has read the five digits off my wall. JOSEPH P. WRITES: Will you then admit that the results are due to veridical OBE perception? I don't think so. And that's a second major reason why you are operating in bad faith. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Why are you so certain in your (bad?) faith that I would not accept Positive results of Psi? You are dead wrong, again, bro. I most certainly would accept Positive results. For instance, just to show you my "open" mindedness, last night I looked for any evidence which would buttress YOUR position (not mine). I actually found an interesting tidbit that helps the paranormal argument. Read HOW TO THINK ABOUT WEIRD THINGS. There is a section on Ganzfield experiments that seems to indicate a new test that shows Positive results for PSI. It is, by the way, written by skeptics. Bad faith in Dave? Yes, but I don't mind. JOSEPH WRITES: If we have taken every reasonable precaution to rule out cheating, a guessing game experiment can potentially tell us *that* there is a psi factor at work, but it can't tell us which one. In the case we are talking about a guessing game experiment can not distinguish between results due to veridical OBE perception and results due to clairvoyance (remote viewing of the target number) and/or telepathy (remotely reading the thoughts of the one writing the number on the wall). DAVID LANE REPLIES: Yes, I am looking forward to Positive results..... Why wouldn't I? As I said to you before, I don't mind being wrong; indeed, it would be groovy. Let me ask you, now, would it be as equally groovy for you to discover: NO SOUL? NO PSI? Who has the vested interest? The one who is happy to be wrong (and means it); or the one who resists being wrong (because he would be bummed out by the implications: no psi, no soul)? Ponder it, bro. JOSEPH P. WRITES: Since you have prostituted yourself (er, ... I mean prostrated yourself) before the almightly slogan of Ockham's razor so often, it is ludicrous for you to expect us to believe you wouldn't apply it here to select, from among the hypotheses available to replace the null hypothesis, the one that makes the fewest assumptions. When faced with the need to do so in similar circumstances, Dr. Stephen LaBerge felt that it was simpler to assume that veridical Lucid Dream perception was due to clairvoyance or telepathy than to assume that the Lucid Dream was a type of OBE and that he had detected veridical OBE perception. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Prostituting my self to Occam's Razor? That's a nice compliment. Yes, I would be most happy to find that there are indeed veridical OBE's..... But before I sell my "soul" to silliness or to used car dealers or to Fubbi or to Rebazar, I would like some fudging evidence that is compelling..... Oops, nobody has read my five digits, yet, but I am hopeful..... Thinking about alternative hypotheses means that we will not succumb to wishful thinking...... Let the Psychic World and its claims show good cause and good evidence.... That is, the more evidence we find, the more testing will be to its benefit. JOSEPH P. WRITES: So, I suspect that, in the event that you were forced to reject the null hypothesis, you would opt to do as LaBerge did. This thread got started discussing OBEs, not clairvoyance, and you have often said that you proposed 'the 5 digit test' because others claimed to have OBE in which they traveled in the physical. Since there is no way that such a test could be used to detect veridical OBE perception, you are proceeding in bad faith even to suggests its use for a purpose to which it isn't well suited. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Huh? Come again? This is silly. Look, you were the very guy telling me that we should take the phenomenological reports of NDErs' and OBErs' seriously. Okay, there are those who claim that they can read numbers/names/pictures while astral travelling (that's their claim, Joe---not mine). So, I said, okay, I am game. Here's five digits on my wall. Read them..... Fair enough, since they are the ones who made that claim. I am game. Yet, nobody has done it, not even close. So I am proceeding in bad faith just because I took what some on this group claimed they could do and trying a simple test to see if they can do it? Instead of giving me ANY evidence, Joe, you have twisted and turned this way and that..... While all along, I am saying: Babaji show up. OBErs' read the five digits. I am still open. Are you still "open" to rejecting your soul hypothesis, Joe? Really? Would you think it was "groovy" to be wrong? Or would you be bummed out, with no soul, no psi? Let me repeat: I would be stoked to be wrong; I would love to apologize to Rebazar and Babaji. But, I have this awful tendency: I would rather let Reality be what it is versus what I "wish" for it to be.......
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I want to go back to the home base now.