In the Spirit of Collegial Inquiry...

updated: 13 Apr 98

Altered States and Psi Phenomena

Part Two

CML:   Okay, folks. Before things get out of hand, I'd like to remind our participants that from the point of view of anyone who's had an OBE, it is NOT a matter of belief, but of personal experience. As I've pointed out previously in this forum, there in principle exist classes of experience which are not jointly observable, and therefore not "scientifically replicable". Nevertheless, if subjected to prolonged, unnbiased testing in a cognitive laboratory, certain people can prove, beyond any shadow of statistical doubt, that certain objective byproducts of their nonreplicable subjective experiences exceed normal causality. I happen to be one of those people, and I'm far from alone. Anyone who doubts it should look up the Stanford Cognitive Sciences (CSL) Laboratory, the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) lab, or any of a number of immaculate, peer-reviewed research organizations that can produce enough methodologically pristine data to make a monkey out of the crustiest skeptic.

JCC:   Over the years I have conversed with several people who have described extraordinary personal experiences. Such happenings are not entirely beyond my own experiences, which are of course closer at hand. Rather, my doubts concern the significance attributed to such anomalous occurrences. We are all human animals and subject to our own confabulation, motivations, subjectivity, and suggestibility ... and all that presuming good faith. Remote viewing, or prosaically, excellent insight? Not for me to say whether Gudjieff, Nostradamus, Simon Magus, and their peers were supremely gifted or charlatans ... not mutually exclusive categories, really. In my youth, I'd leap on the bandwagon and ride on until too many contradictions and doubts accumulated, dispelling initial enthusiasm.

There's US$1 million waiting in the bank, courtesy of the Amazing Randi for certain people, then! A worthy grant for certain people to continue productive research! Who wouldn't want to see those funds collected for a phenomenal breakthrough? I would personally be thrilled and honored to receive 6% as a finder's fee {smile}

CML:   Come on now, Julia. Randi's offer is a game among con men. Randi, himself an ex-charlatan, is a man on a very specific mission: unmasking stage performers who claim that their "psychic abilities" are genuine. If his motivations go beyond this, then he's either a dunce or a con man yet. How do we know this? Because he has placed unwarranted constraints on what he will accept as "proof" of psi effects...namely, that they be experimentally replicable at his own personal convenience. That's not a general a priori criterion; in fact, when it comes to strongly nondeterministic phenomena, it's not even realistic. If Randi were being intellectually honest, he'd have paid off a long time ago.

JCC:   I have taken the liberty of placing a link about this on the webpage, under "Food for Thought." Judge for yourself in the matter. I think that one million is a reasonable grant for verifying discoveries in this area. There is some risk on the other side, granted.

CML:   Once again, the proof already exists. I'm going to follow this response with another that contains a URL for the CSL at Stanford. There's a paper or two there that you ought to read. (I'll check out your Randi link, but with all due respect, I doubt I'll see anything new. The crusty old devil hasn't changed his tune since the last Ice Age.)

Julia is entitled to decide for herself what she will or will not believe. Like everyone else, she'll do what she has to do in any case. But when it comes to the field of parapsychology, belief is increasingly beside the point, and Julia's respect for science compels her to tread lightly.

JCC:   Always has been beside the point, in that science is ostensibly that which frees humanity from dependence upon belief, from accepting assertions upon faith in authority, without options.

CML:   Personally, I prefer logic and mathematics to belief. That's why, although I'd certainly *like* people to believe me when I say that I have the logical skeleton of a TOE, it's a disposable luxury. The fact is, I can prove what I say...prove it, that is, to anyone with a sufficiently advanced understanding of mathematical logic and formal metaphysics. For those of you who didn't know it, papers on the CTMU "TOE" have been published regularly in a peer-reviewed journal - that of the Mega Society - for around a decade now, and no one, including several PhD's in mathematics and philosophy, has ever put a dent in it (and you'd better believe it wasn't for lack of effort).

JCC:   OK, I confess eagerness to see some of these papers made available on the Internet. I've never yet held a copy of Noesis but have certainly heard good report of the Editor. {smile}

CML:   Because the whole TOE quest has been bungled time and time again in the course of history, belief naturally gravitates toward skepticism in the TOE context. But that's fine, because in the final analysis, belief has nothing whatsoever to do with it. Math and logic, on the other hand, have everything to do with it, and if one hasn't done his or her homework in these areas, one must defer to those who have.

JCC:   Of course, and I may feel much more in accord when I've read more "of it" than I have "about it", fair enough. But is there not a conflict in appealing to the authority of Academia when favorable while disparaging Academia when it's stodgy about embracing concepts challenging to its collective wisdom? There is some consolation in seeing that radical concepts sometimes find vindication over the years, all the more solidly when it does come. And I sense that advances toward truth (small "t") do withstand the gauntlet.

CML:   Now, hold on a second. Are you saying that I "appealed to the authority of Academia" by citing research that happens to have been conducted at various universities? Academia, considered as a mindless bureaucracy, can be sharply and easily distinguished from specific pieces of research conducted under its auspices. In fact, the single-mindedness with which academic bureaucrats hog research funds makes it virtually inevitable that academia will host a certain number of valuable projects. What I actually "appealed" to was the "authority" of certain individual psychologists and statisticians. Don't get all specious on me here!

JCC:   Just seeking better exposition of "Academia". There is truth to what you have written in your article concerning the antagonism between the academic system and expression of genius. I would like to believe that the constellation of Academia is evolving away from its origins in the medieval Islamic and Christian seminaries. There is another side however, that of the balance of adequate peer review, conservative as it tends to be by nature.

In a sense the point is that the upward progress of knowledge has been advanced by cautious progress at the edges, maybe a bit in the fashion of Holland's reclamation. The scientific method, doubtless imperfect and tedious, has served tolerably well. Giant leaps may be for the Teslas; the lesser lights might arrive there too in time, by small steps. The world has ample room for both the conservative and the speculative, without bending one to the rules of the other.

CML:   Funny you should mention "peer review". This term connotes a few bad assumptions. For one thing, geniuses generally don't have any peers ... especially in academia. For another, because the term "peer" is defined with respect to specific academic fields, it would seem to be inapplicable to interdisciplinary insight. For yet another, peer review is the very process during which a great deal of original work gets - now how do I put this delicately? - bald-assedly ripped off by people whose positions in the system allow them to get away with it. And last but not least, some of us, despite having enough ability to send many academics running in tears to their mommies, do not ourselves qualify as "peers" in the academic context, and thus cannot expect a fair shake from academia. Taken together, these facts imply that the venerable process of peer review, for all of its benefits within academia per se, is a miserable, stinking failure with respect to insight originating outside the loop.

My web site will indeed contain CTMU material, but only as I convince myself that I've covered my intellectual property rights. To understand what I mean, consider the following pair of facts.

1. Under US proprietary law, only patents, trademarks and literary (etc.) copyrights are covered. Mathematics, being regarded as "the universal property of all mankind", is explicitly exempted. Once a mathematical theory hits the Internet, it is freely downloadable, and in the minds of self-interested academics, freely attributable as well.

2. When it comes to the proper allocation of credit for scholastic insight, academia is "self-policing". I.e., from the viewpoint of anyone outside the academic loop, the fox (academia) is guarding the henhouse (Truth, with a large T). Unfortunately, this particular fox is notoriously inattentive to the complaints of smaller animals.

These facts form a syllogism culminating in
3. Anyone not favorably connected in academia who publishes an original mathematical theory of any real importance on the Net needs his head examined, preferably by a mineralogist.

That's why I usually justify my statements locally, as I give them. If you require more, you have three choices:
(a) be patient;
(b) put me in touch with qualified academics willing to sign off on whatever I show them (i.e., promise proper attribution in writing); or
(c) provide me with a physical address and cover my publication and mailing costs to obtain back copies of Noesis, in which a lot of CTMU material has already been published.

JCC:   That's entirely reasonable, and I will then opt for (a) practice of patience, probably my strongest suit nowadays. I salute you for opening an exciting thread of discussion and look forward to the continued exposition and development of your work. I'm open to including more links on our webpage to ensure balanced presentation. Can any of you recommend a worthy site on OBEs and such?

CML:   The URL of the Laboratories for Fundamental Research is ... It contains a link for the Cognitive Sciences Laboratory, at Of particular interest are links to papers by the UC-Davis statistician Jessica Utts ( These papers, along with many other links and pieces of information, should bring you up-to-date on the eveidence for psi, as well as the cats-and-dogs tenor of the psi debate.

CW:   Chris mentioned the Monroe Institute's website which is probably the most useful. The URL is

By the way, if you want to hear about the horrors of peer review look for Becker's The Body Electric (not in print) or Koestler's The Case of the Midwife Toad (don't know if its in print).

JCC:   I shall then be adding links supplied by Chris and Cal to the "Food for Thought" section of our webpage. These should offer some interesting reading, even if I can no longer count web-surfing as legitimate out-of-body experience. {smile} It has seemed to be thus on a few occasions!

CML:   Julia's right about the merits of creativity and personal fulfillment, and I'm confident that she has ample familiarity with both. I'm equally confident that she knows better than to confuse believability with demonstrability. She's too intelligent to make that mistake.

WRW:   Yes, soon mere belief can become worship and the entire point of the experience. I am someone from the "bible belt" and was raised in a protestant denomination. I question so many things and do so at the risk of being labeled a "heathen". I know that I am not, in my understanding. It just appears that the vehicle used to comprehend anything paranormal has been reduced to such a mundane level. Worship must come with acceptance or so it appears. Given this, I can see how that OBE could become another cult worship and soon it would be governed by certain man made rules with a priesthood and a hierarchy and so forth.

CML:   Good points. However, let's not miss the *key* point: the distinction between confabulation and reality depends on how we define "reality". Maybe mystics define it "too broadly". Then again, maybe scientists define it too narrowly. One thing, however, is for sure: we can't just perch on the fence, having the cake of intense subjective experience and eating the preemptive constraints of conventional science too. And don't let your youthful disappointments with stage performers turn you away from modern statistical research on psi. It's worth a look.

JCC:   Perhaps it comes down to questions of admissible methodology. My experiences can be regarded as subjective, associated with changes in serotonin levels or whatever (my speculation, only). Whether cause, effect, or neither, I don't know. A therapist's use of the Netherton technique produced (or induced) really neat anecdotal material. Not much there, actually, to examine objectively. We are then outside the bounds of science, which, yes, are "narrow". Mysticism does not have such bounds... one {can} draw some distinctions between subjective and objective happenings, it would seem, at least for present level of knowledge. My youthful tendencies have been to commit to belief systems all to readily, in many things not to good advantage. Probably no one else has acted thus. {smile} So, I changed horses quite often in midstream before learning to swim and asking what I was doing in this river in the first place!

CML:   Well spoken, for the most part. However, I'd like to draw attention to your phrase "for present level of knowledge". Whose level of knowledge are we talking about? The fact is that the distinction between subjective and objective reality already lags far behind even mainstream science itself. The two main theories of physics on the large and small scales, relativity and quantum mechanics, suffer from numerous paradoxes which cannot be resolved as long as this distinction stands in its current benighted form. The CTMU changes all that. The only problem is that academia, being chock full of smug, self-satisfied little specialists used to being patted on the back for penetrating tunnel vision, contains very few people even remotely capable of dilating their mental apertures enough to accommodate a revision. That's why we have a "crisis in physics", not to mention philosophy, psychology, and every other deep science you can name. In other words, although the average scientist clings to it like a barnacle, the distinction on which you're relying is inadequate to the issue we're discussing.

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