The survival of consciousness: Junk science or visionary inspiration

Anyone who dabbles or dives into the research of paranormal phenomena understands the impact that finding hard evidence of life after death can have, not only to the paranormal community, but to life on this planet in general.  For better or worse it would have a profound effect on our concept of existence.  It may alter or support some theological perspectives and even ding the hard shell of a few Atheists. However, much to the detriment of the after-life supporters there have been zero discoveries that have put us any closer to a conclusive answer on the elusive subject.

Purveyors of this fascinating concept often quote (but rarely understand) the fundamental principles maintained by the law of conservation of energy. The most popular quote is “Energy can neither be created, nor destroyed, but transforms from one form to another.” Ironically, one consequence of this “law” is that no system without an external energy supply can deliver an unlimited amount of energy to its surroundings. A paradox that some believe fails to support the very claim this “law quote” is used to endorse.  We can not exist without a source of energy. From the point of conception our biological structure is “jump started” into life from our direct connection to another living being (our mother). When our bodies maintain a stable foundation and can supply the needed energy on their own we are separated (born) and continue to live until the energy source (our bodies) deteriorates and ultimately dies, thus ending the life process.

Spiritualists maintain that our life begins with the creation of a “vehicle” (our body) to house a separate consciousness that existed before our conception and will exist after we die. Of course this goes against the fundamental principles of the conservation of energy law, since the “soul” would have no direct energy source prior to conception or following death. If it did, what would be the purpose of introducing a second, age limited energy supply (our bodies) capable of deterioration? To me, there are significant holes in this logic.

Recently I came across an article (shown below) entitled: “Scientists Claim That Quantum Theory Proves Consciousness Moves To Another Universe At Death.”  It was an intriguing title for sure, although it contained a significant error. You see a “Theory” will never “Prove” a concept since a theory is unproven itself. Regardless I thought it might be an interesting read.

The article speaks about the work of scientist Dr. Robert Lanza and quotes the “beliefs” of many scientists (key word there) including that of Dr. Stuart Hameroff and British physicist Sir Roger Penrose.  Since I do not accept someone credibility purely based upon their title, I decided to conduct some research of my own. One of the interesting things I found was a book written in 2002 by Dr. Penrose called “The Emperors New Mind”.  The premise of the book is that human consciousness is not simply a product of complex algorithms but rather a process that can not be measured by the current scientific model. Many of the arguments he makes in support of his claims are purely philosophical in nature and unfortunately most of his conclusions are based on his own observations (hardly conclusive science), Those observations are then used to reason out larger principles.

His references to actual scientific experimentation are scarce. An online review of his work seemed to say it best:

Even when he does make an appeal to actual experimentation, he often comes to bizarre conclusions. For example, an experiment wherein an electrode is placed into a person’s brain which causes them to not be aware that their skin was touched when the electrode is activated within a quarter of a second after someone touched them leads Penrose to conclude that the effect of the electrode is traveling backwards in time.” – Bizarre and unfounded.

The lack of scientific methodology is indeed disheartening since Penrose is a tremendously respected, award winning scientist in the world of physics. Unfortunately those accolades do not by default make his “opinions” correct, especially in a field of research that has little solid surface to stand on.

My investigation into the work of the other scientists quoted in this article produced similar results (in-fact several of them work together). It seems the position of all these brilliant men is to refute the claims of those researchers in artificial intelligence and cognitive neuroscience who claim that the mind is a product of algorithmic processes. They feel that human consciousness is far more diverse than a set of mathematical calculations. Which is fine of course, but as seen in this article, the problem remains that they simply skipped all the fantastic reality there is to modern physics, and substituted speculation to arrive at an end result that is in support of their belief…. not good science.

In my opinion, articles such as this one are dangerous. To those who simply read and fail to research, the large amount of PhD’s referenced in this text presents a facade of credibility. Let me state very clearly for everyone’s benefit: An acclaimed group of physicists “belief” in an unproven and un-testable concept does not increase the concepts plausibility. Do your own research. Question everything.

Note: Beware of blogs making scientific claims that only site Wikipedia and other blogs as their source of information.

Here is the article I promised:

Scientists Claim That Quantum Theory Proves Consciousness Moves To Another Universe At Death

A book titled “Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness Are the Keys to Understanding the Nature of the Universe“ has stirred up the Internet, because it contained a notion that life does not end when the body dies, and it can last forever. The author of this publication, scientist Dr. Robert Lanza who was voted the 3rd most important scientist alive by the NY Times, has no doubts that this is possible.

Beyond time and space

Lanza is an expert in regenerative medicine and scientific director of Advanced Cell Technology Company. Before he has been known for his extensive research which dealt with stem cells, he was also famous for several successful experiments on cloning endangered animal species.

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