We all know we have it, when we think, when we dream, when we savor tastes and aromas, when we hear a great symphony, when we fall in love, and it is surely the most intimate, the most sapient, the most personal part of ourselves. Yet no one can really claim to have understood and explained it completely.
There’s no doubt it’s associated with the brain in some way but the
nature of that association is far from clear. In particular how do
these three pounds of material stuff inside our skulls allow us to
To them it seems self-evident that physical processes within the stuff of the brain produce consciousness rather in the way that a generator produces electricity - i.e. consciousness is an “epiphenomenon” of brain activity.
And they see it as equally
obvious that there cannot be such things as conscious survival of
death or out-of-body experiences since both consciousness and
experience are confined to the brain and must die when the brain
In that case when the TV set is destroyed - dead - the signal still continues.
Nothing in the present state of knowledge of neuroscience rules this revolutionary possibility out. True, if you damage certain areas of the brain certain areas of consciousness are compromised, but this does not prove that those areas of the brain generate the relevant areas of consciousness.
you were to damage certain areas of your TV set the picture would
deteriorate or vanish but the TV signal would remain intact.
For hundreds of years it was obvious and self-evident to the greatest human minds that the sun moved around the earth - one need only look to the sky, they said, to see the truth of this proposition.
Indeed those who maintained the revolutionary view that
the earth moved around the sun faced the Inquisition and death by
burning at the stake. Yet as it turned out the revolutionaries were
right and orthodoxy was terribly, ridiculously wrong.
New discoveries may force materialist science to rescind this theory in favor of something more like the TV analogy in which the brain comes to be understood as a transceiver rather than as a generator of consciousness and in which consciousness is recognized as fundamentally “non-local” in nature - perhaps even as one of the basic driving forces of the universe.
At the very least
we should withhold judgment on this “hard problem” until more
evidence is in and view with suspicion those who hold dogmatic and
ideological views about the nature of consciousness.
At the same time our society seeks to police and
control a wide range of other “altered” states of consciousness on
the basis of the unproven proposition that consciousness is
generated by the brain.
This extraordinary imposition on adult cognitive liberty is
justified by the idea that our brain activity, disturbed by drugs,
will adversely impact our behavior towards others. Yet anyone who
pauses to think seriously for even a moment must realize that we
already have adequate laws that govern adverse behavior towards
others and that the real purpose of the “war on drugs” must
therefore be to bear down on consciousness itself.
It declared that its drug policy would be based on scientific evidence yet in 2009 it sacked Professor David Nutt, Chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, for stating the simple statistical fact that cannabis is less dangerous (in terms of measured “harms”) than tobacco and alcohol and that ecstasy is less dangerous than horse-riding.
Clearly what was at play here were ideological issues of great importance to the powers that be.
And this is an ideology that sticks stubbornly in place regardless of changes in the complexion of the government of the day.
present Conservative-Liberal coalition remains just as adamant in
its enforcement of the so-called war on drugs as its Labour
predecessor, and continues in the name of this “war” to pour public
money - our money - into large, armed, drug-enforcement
bureaucracies which are entitled to break down our doors at dead of
night, invade our homes, ruin our reputations and put us behind
In this connection it is interesting to note that our society has no objection to altering consciousness per se.
On the contrary many consciousness-altering drugs, such as Prozac, Seroxat, Ritalin and alcohol, are either massively over-prescribed or freely available today, and make huge fortunes for their manufacturers, but remain entirely legal despite causing obvious harms.
Could this be because
such legal drugs do not alter consciousness in ways that threaten
the monopolistic dominance of the alert problem-solving state of
consciousness, while a good number of illegal drugs, such as
cannabis, LSD, DMT and psilocybin, do?
If it turns out that the brain is not a generator but a transceiver of consciousness then we must consider some little-known scientific research that points to a seemingly outlandish possibility, namely that a particular category of illegal drugs, the hallucinogens such as LSD, DMT and psilocybin, may alter the receiver wavelength of the brain and allow us to gain contact with intelligent non-material entities, “light beings”, “spirits”, “machine elves” (as Terence McKenna called them) - perhaps even the inhabitants of other dimensions.
This possibility is regarded as plain fact by shamans in hunter-gatherer societies who for thousands of years have made use of visionary plants and fungi to enter and interact with what they construe as the “spirit world”.
Intriguingly it was also specifically envisaged by Dr Rick Strassman, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of New Mexico, following his ground-breaking research with human volunteers and DMT carried out in the 1990’s - a project that produced findings with shattering implications for our understanding of the nature of reality.
further information on Strassman’s revolutionary work see
DMT - The Spirit Molecule.
- The Talk that Gave TED
from GrahamHancock Website
of the 2013 TED controversy
My talk, "The War on Consciousness", was presented at the TEDx Whitechapel event in London on 12 January 2013 and posted to the TEDx YouTube channel on 13 February 2013.
A month later, on 14 March 2013, TED deleted the talk from the TEDx YouTube channel (below video), where it had accumulated more than 132,000 views, and relegated it to an obscure section of its website surrounded by prejudicial statements intended to bias viewers against it from the start and ensure no harm was done to the "TED brand".
But TED's decision effectively to act as a censor in the very real war on consciousness that is underway in our society has backfired.
Although the possibility for the original 132,000 viewers to share the URL has been cut short, the issue has sparked an internet furore that continues to grow and grow and my talk has been independently uploaded to dozens of YouTube sites - for example, here under the slogan "information is viral; it wants to be free".
Other sites at which the talk has been made available by such guerrilla action (and at which lively comments - for and against - are being posted) include:
Rupert Sheldrake and I challenged TED to come out in the open and debate the issues raised by their talks live, face to face in front of a global audience, rather than hidden away in a corner of TED's choosing.
Here is the statement that I made on the TED Blog:
Since TED have retracted and struck out all their justifications for the original deletion of my talk from the TEDx Youtube channel and since they have published my rebuttal, and done the same re Rupert Sheldrake's talk, I agree with Rupert on a new post he has made on this page.
There are no more specific points surrounding TED's misguided decision that he and I need to answer. Nor is it possible to make much progress through short responses to nebulous questions like,
But I now make this one further post, simply to add my voice to Rupert's and to put on record that I, too, would be happy to take part in a public debate with a scientist who disagrees with the issues I raise in my talk.
My only condition is that it be conducted fairly, with equal time for both sides to present their arguments, and with an impartial moderator, agreed by both parties.
Therefore I join Rupert in asking Chris Anderson to invite a scientist from TED's Scientific Board or TED's Brain Trust to have a real debate with me about my talk, or if none will agree to take part, to do so himself.
This challenge to TED to debate was posted on the TED Blog 21 March 2013 and has since been followed by hundreds of further comments (making the original post hard to find unless one has the specific link).
But it is still there and many more people have since added their voices to this call for a free, fair and open face-to-face debate.
Subsequent developments include this series of open letters on the TED controversy written by Deepak Chopra and others, and a reply to Deepak Chopra's first open letter from Chris Anderson, Curator of TED: