Outside the (brain) box

In my videoblog Have you been here before?, I comment that if past lives found during regression are exactly what they seem to be, then science needs a rethink. It may be helpful to explain this point further, also expanding points I made in my last blog, Where do you think?

According to orthodox scientific principles, the “mind”, “thought” and “consciousness” are simply electrochemical processes operating in the brain and cannot exist without it. The same, of course, goes for memories; they are stored in the brain’s cells (somehow, somewhere) and when the brain dies those memories cease to exist. Memories of past lives are therefore impossible unless they are stored outside the brain and can survive its death.

We therefore need to look at an alternative to the orthodox position, which is that consciousness and memories operate outside and through the brain rather than being generated by it. This “transpersonal” approach accepts that the mind is not limited by time or space and opens up the possibility of paranormal (or psychic) phenomena rejected by conventional science – life after death, reincarnation, telepathy, precognition (seeing into the future) and so on.

None of these phenomena have been “proved” for various reasons – one of which, as I commented in my last blog, is that sceptics can always come up with another explanation for any paranormal event, although these arguments can often be so far-fetched that the paranormal explanation would be by far the simplest. But there is certainly strong evidence for the paranormal – evidence that would be considered proof in any “orthodox” branch of science (with high levels of statistical significance).

A detailed commentary on this evidence would be enough to fill a fairly thick book, and even a cut-down version isn’t going to fit into a single blog post. So I intend to devote my next few posts to briefly covering evidence for:

  • reincarnation
  • survival of death
  • near death experiences and out-of-the-body experiences
  • extrasensory perception (ESP) – telepathy and precognition.

This may be a tall order, but I’ll have a go!

I’ll end this post by giving you my own position on psychic phenomena. One of the few ideas that I remember from my psychology degree is the difference between an “attitude” and a “belief”. An attitude has the following three components:

  • Cognitive – what one knows about the subject

  • Affective – what one feels about it; and

  • Behavioural – how one behaves in relation to it.

A belief, on the other hand, lacks the cognitive component.

I try to avoid beliefs and only hold attitudes, based on knowledge. My extensive reading on parapsychology (the semi-respectable modern word for psychical research), dating back over forty years, together with some limited personal experience, is enough to satisfy me personally that psychic phenomena exist in some form. But I am neither a “believer” nor a “sceptic” – I try to look at the evidence objectively. Unfortunately, most writers on the subject take one position or another, so when you’re reading about the paranormal you need to watch out for the writer’s prejudices and allow for them. I hope I don’t have any.

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