Neuroscience Researcher and Laurentian University professor, Dr. Michael Persinger, demonstrates telepathy under laboratory conditions.
Claims of telepathy, ESP and other psi phenomena are a mainstay of popular culture but taboo in neuroscience research circles. Fortunately, Dr. Michael Persinger of Canada’s Laurentian University has never been afraid to venture where other researchers fear to go. In the 1980’s Persinger made headlines with his “God Helmet”, a device that stimulates temporal lobes with a weak magnetic field in order to produce religious states.
Now, Persinger has discovered the same type of brain stimulation can create metal states conducive to human telepathy. “What we have found is that if you place two different people at a distance and put a circular magnetic field around both, and you make sure they are connected to the same computer so they get the same stimulation, then if you flash a light in one person’s eye the person in the other room receiving just the magnetic field will show changes in their brain as if they saw the flash of light. We think that’s tremendous because it may be the first macro demonstration of a quantum connection, or so-called quantum entanglement. If true, then there’s another way of potential communication that may have physical applications, for example, in space travel.”
While Persinger’s experiments could prove groundbreaking, he remains doubtful about his controversial findings reaching his colleagues, “I think the critical thing about science is to be open-minded. It’s really important to realize that the true subject matter of science is the pursuit of the unknown. Sadly scientists have become extraordinarily group-oriented. Our most typical critics are not are mystic believer types. They are scientists who have a narrow vision of what the world is like.”
Alex Tsakiris: Welcome to Skeptiko where we explore controversial science with leading researchers, thinkers, and their critics. I’m your host, Alex Tsakiris, and before we get started with today’s interview, and a very fascinating interview it is with Dr. Michael Persinger, I’m going to take a minute and invite you to connect – connect with this show, Skeptiko, and with me personally.
In the last few months as I had a chance to talk to more and more researchers and dig into all the science surrounding human consciousness and spirituality and where science is leading us, I felt a stronger and stronger need to connect with you and to create a community, if you will, of like-minded people. So in the last week or so I’ve tried to take some steps in that direction.
I’ve finally gotten on Facebook and Twitter and I’m going to try and post there more regularly. But I’m going to invite you to join me. To follow me and to allow me to follow you and see if we can create a community, if you will, of like-minded people who are interested in following the data wherever it leads, as I say. So you’ll find all the links on the Skeptiko Web site for following me and please connect up and I’ll do the same.
But for right now, let’s move into this interview that I have with Dr. Michael Persinger. And quite a fascinating interview it is. I really, really admire the courage that the maverick scientist has, and that’s where Dr. Michael Persinger is. You know, he gets it from both sides. He really is a materialist and very much a mind equals brain guy.
That’s not where I see the data leading but it’s certainly where he sees the data leading, and he really approaches it from a “let’s get down and prove it, here’s the research.” He doesn’t shy away from that. He doesn’t throw extraordinary claims, extraordinary proof kind of bullcrap. He just says, “Hey, here’s what I’m finding, here’s what I think, here’s the way I think things are showing themselves.” I find that very refreshing.
But he also gets it on the other side because while he is very much of a materialist and a neuroscience guy, he also has some surprising data when it comes to telepathy, that you’ll hear about, where he says he’s basically proven it in his lab and can replicate this quantum entanglement communication thing that you’ve heard about maybe on this show and certainly a lot of other places. So very, very interesting. In my mind it’s what makes Skeptiko so exciting for me and makes it hopefully interesting for you to be able to hear from these researchers who we really, really don’t hear enough from. So stay with me for Michael Persinger.
I’m joined today by Dr. Michael Persinger, an internationally renowned cognizant neuroscience researcher and professor at Laurentian University in Canada. He’s probably most famous, and many of you I’m sure have seen him on TV or especially in a YouTube video with his God Helmet, a device that he has used experimentally to demonstrate that electromagnetic disturbances in the brain maybe the source of mystical and spiritual experiences. So, Dr. Persinger, thank you very much for joining me today on Skeptkio.
Dr. Michael Persinger: You’re quite welcome.
Alex Tsakiris: And let me start by as I kind of stuttered through that introduction, is there anything that I may be didn’t quite get right there in describing, I guess, the research that most people associate with you, and that is with the God Helmet and the electromagnetic stimulation of the brain to create mystical experiences.
Dr. Michael Persinger: No, that was very succinctly stated. I mean, effectively what we’ve been doing all these years is to try to understand the brain basis to all experiences. The basic assumption is that all experiences are generated by brain activity, determined in large part by the structure of the brain.
Alex Tsakiris: That point that you just made, is you started with the idea, the materialistic notion that all conscious experience originates with the brain. I think what’s fascinating, if we’re going to dive right into this and make the most effective use of your time, is what do you think about some of the research that seems to be pointing in a different direction?
We could look at the research of folks who have just concentrated on the spiritual experience like a colleague of yours in Canada, Dr. Mario Beauregard or we could look at Dr. Andrew Newberg, or Davidson at the University of Wisconsin, who have all looked at various kinds of spiritual experience and maybe seem to be leaning towards another direction. And that’s that perhaps the neurocorrelates that we see firing one that they may not just be in the right temporal lobes but also that they may point to a kind of different nature of consciousness. I know that’s a lot to kind of bite off, but I’m sure this is stuff that you think about, talk about, and write about all the time. So just jump right in.
Dr. Michael Persinger: Our research starts on the basic premise that all experience is generated by brain activity. Now, the critical thing is that all experience means your experience of love, or memories, or having a mystical experience, must be associated with specific patterns of brain activity. That brain activity in large part is determined by the brain structure. Many of these things, because structure dictates function, may be relatively unique to the human being itself.
Now, although that’s our assumption, the most powerful tool of science is the experiment. So if we want to understand these experiences and how they are generated by brain activity, we have to reproduce them in the laboratory. So the basic approach then was, okay, if people have mystical experiences and they’re associated with brain activity then if we imitate them in the laboratory and we understand the physical conditions that produce them, we should be able to 1) understand the areas of the brain and the patterns of activity responsible for these experiences, and 2) we should be able to control them.
And if they’re a natural phenomena, and we think that mystical experiences, including the God experience, the God belief, are natural phenomena, we should be able to reproduce them easily if we have the correct parameters in the laboratory, control them and understand how they may be manipulated by others with less honorable goals.
Alex Tsakiris: Here’s what intrigues me. You’ve really pioneered this work and I think you have some very interesting comments that I’ve seen in previous interviews about what it’s been like to be a pioneer, the old adage of you know, the pioneer cause he has arrows not just in the front but in the back as well. And I think you’ve experienced a little bit of that just in terms of delving into an area that touches on so many hot buttons on both sides, either believers or non-believers.
Maybe you’d like to comment about that. But in particular, comment about that within the framework of where some of the research into what’s being called “neurotheology” is going. I threw out the spiritual brain, Mario Beauregard, Andrew Newberg at the University of Pennsylvania, Davidson at Wisconsin, you know, folks who are also looking at the spiritual experience and maybe coming to a slightly different conclusion than you are about the relationship between the brain and the neurocorrelates and that spiritual experience.
Dr. Michael Persinger: Well, in terms of trying to understand the neural basis to these powerful experiences that determine the history of human behavior, I mean, don’t forget more people have been killed in wars under the auspices of who’s god is correct, either directly or indirectly than most plagues. So this is a powerful phenomena that may be intrinsic to the nature of the human brain. It may have had a adaptive function over the years. For example, we know that people who believe in God and have God experiences have reduced death anxiety, which may allow them to be more productive.
The whole concept of the immortality is implicitly tied to this experience and the belief in immortality actually reduces anxiety about death and sometimes can make individuals more adaptive to their environment. But ultimately, all of this has to be related to the brain function and there may be different approaches. For example, some of my colleagues have said that there is a non-physical component that’s very difficult to understand because in the history of science those phenomena which were considered to be non-physical ultimately we did find a physical basis. And that when we found the physical basis then we understood it.
If you talk about a phenomena as being sort of ephemeral and non-testable and something beyond measurement, then effectively it’s an empty hypothesis and you never will be able to test it.
To answer your question about people’s approaches, I think it’s really important to have a versatile approach and have people have different ideas, have open ideas, but ultimately the end point must be measurement and reproduction in the laboratory. For example, some of the stuff by Beauregard with the MRI studies, what he really did was look at memories. He asked the people to remember their experiences and found patterns of activity that were basically typical of a memory.
That’s quite different than direct stimulation of the brain and producing the experience, so although we can have different approaches, and I think that’s really important for science to be open-minded and to basically exclude no one. The ultimate measure is going to be 1) can you reproduce it in the laboratory and 2) can you actually product the same phenomena by experimental techniques? And that’s the powerful tool to demonstrate you have a causal connection.
Alex Tsakiris: Right, and we can jump into that causal connection because there’s a couple of points. Let me back up. I’m not as totally familiar with Beauregard’s work although I did remember that he did FMRIs while these nuns were in this peak spiritual state, so I think he did have that…
Dr. Michael Persinger: Actually they were remembering the peak spiritual stage.
Alex Tsakiris: Okay, well Newberg certainly did at the University of Pennsylvania…
Dr. Michael Persinger: Newberg did. And Newberg found completely different patterns which were really similar to what we find when we measure the electroencephalographic activity of individuals having mystical experiences and basically is the same area that we focus upon when we stimulate it with the weak electromagnetic fields generated by the God Helmet. So again, the critical thing is the instructions you give to your subjects in large part will influence different patterns of the brain and that’s why that precision is so important in understanding the neural basis to the God experience.
Alex Tsakiris: You know, let’s move into I think probably the most challenging research given what you’ve just said, and that’s the research that’s been done in near-death experience. We can point to just a whole bunch of people, but Peter Fenwick is someone who’s been on the show and Raymond Moody, of course, has been on the show, although I don’t think he’s as active in the field.
What do you make of the rather substantial amount of evidence that has come back that suggests that in some way that we don’t totally understand, there is this continuation of consciousness after a period when there is no EEG and no EKG for a number of patients that have been verified clinically in a hospital setting by the people we normally trust to kind of gather that kind of information.
Dr. Michael Persinger: Well, first of all, the electroencephalogram or brain waves simply measures a very, very small component. It’s in the microvolt range. It’s about a thousandth times smaller than the actual steady state potential of the brain itself which can last for several minutes to half an hour under sort of deprived conditions. The EEG also reflects only the cortex. It doesn’t tell you very much at all what’s going on deep within the cortex. So when you have these near-death experiences and flat EEGs, that just tells you what the cortex is doing. It doesn’t tell you necessarily the integrity or the activity taking place deep within the brain.
Alex Tsakiris: Right, but…
Dr. Michael Persinger: The second feature…
Alex Tsakiris: Go ahead. I was just going to say, I was just going to interject here. But I’ve heard that argument before from materialists and I just – I don’t get it. I mean, at this point we have tens and tens of thousands of EEGs and we know how your EEG is supposed to look when you’ve having the kind of experience that these people describe. And it certainly never looks flat. I mean, we don’t have any record of that in any that I’m aware of, where anyone has done an EEG of a live person and say, oh, it’s flat and then they say yeah, but I had this incredible experience. How do you kind of connect those two?
Dr. Michael Persinger: Well I certainly can. And I think the reason is we’re looking at the fact that out of body experiences, which is what you’re talking about in near-death experiences in large part, the idea that you’re detached from your body and you’re somewhere else. It is not due to a homogeneous source. For example, a near-death experience after a flat EEG is quite different, for example, when someone is wide awake or in an altered state and experiencing an out of body experience. In that case, the activity is very, very clear and very, very systematic. You usually get certain kinds of alphoid activity which is in the order of a low frequency over the right parietal region.
Mind you, the same thing can be done by stimulating, as reported in Nature a few years ago. The right parietal region, you can actually get a feeling of being detached or being somewhere else. The so-called mental bipolaria of being two places at once. So when people are awake and the experience takes place that’s quite different than when people have been in a medical situation where they’re considered to be dead and then the EEG returns to normal and they report what they think they’ve experienced.
Alex Tsakiris: I’m still not getting that. I mean, my understanding is that all our understanding of this tool we have, called an EEG, suggests that this other kind of very ephemeral thing that we’re trying to get our arms around called consciousness, that there’s some correlation between the way we measure the two. And I just can’t accept the idea unless maybe you can point me to the research where I can find that. Where people are saying, “yes, you can have this complex conscious experience and we would not be able to measure it with an EEG.” I just don’t see where anyone has demonstrated…
Dr. Michael Persinger: Well, I agree with you, I agree with you. Yeah, I agree with you totally. If there’s an experience there’s going to be brain activity. And if you can articulate the experience, that is, at the time the person’s having the experience, measure the EEG, particularly quantitative EEG, there are very specific patterns over very specific regions of the brain that relate to that kind of experience. That’s well known in the quantity EEG literature. So when someone says, “I have an experience, ” be it mystical or whatever, you can actually measure the brain, which we’ve done on many occasions and see very specific signatures taking place.
Even with those that are so-called psychic experiences we tested Shawn Haribands, who is a very reliable individual for sort of guessing and feeling people’s memories. When he’s doing that, there’s very specific patterns that take place over his right parietal temporal lobe. The number of those that take place is directly related to how accurate he is in how many of these statements he makes. So you can relate quantitative EEG or brain activity to very specific experiences.
Alex Tsakiris: I mean, I think that’s a whole fascinating area and I’d love to kind of jump in there, but I don’t want to quite yet leave this near-death experience because I want to understand fully what you’re saying. So my understanding in reading the near-death experience research is we have some pretty – a handful, dozens, on the order of dozens or maybe a hundred, of very well documented cases where we do have EEG and EKG records of folks who have had cardiac arrests and during that whole process, then we’re also able to verify that they had some kind of experience when they were resuscitated and they have some kind of conscious experience that seems to correlate time wise to the time when we had no EEG from them, so I’m just wondering what you make of that.
Dr. Michael Persinger: Well, like I’ve said, if you’re talking about having out of body experiences in a waking person, there are very specific patterns over the right parietal temporal lobe that are measured reliably. This has been known for at least 30 or 40 years. Now, the near-death experiences which are also out of body experiences but usually occur in specific settings, for example, like in a hospital or fatigue or following a crisis or a trauma, yes EEG can change remarkably and sometimes be flat-lined for a protracted period. When the person wakes up and the EEG becomes normal, they report these interesting experiences.
Those experiences in large part reflect the areas of the brain that were activated during that time and many of the patterns of near-death experiences are very specific, very reliable. That’s why they show up across all humans in all cultures, of changes within the vasculature, that is the blood vessel activity or blood flow, in the areas that are most vulnerable. That’s why first you get the tunnel effect and the moving through the tunnel and then of course the out of body detachment. Then you may get memories and you may have the invariably the sense of presence of a deceased entity or a cultural icon, for example, it could be a religious icon. These are very predictable patterns if you know the part of the brain that is slowly becoming over-active because it’s in a failure state.
Alex Tsakiris: But wait a minute. I’m still not making the connection. No EEG, conscious experience. How can that be?
Dr. Michael Persinger: Well, first of all, during the flat EEG, okay the person’s not saying anything. They’re in a state that’s not – they’re making not any state. When they come out of the flat EEG and they begin to talk, they talk about experiences. Now it’s important to realize that the EEG is measuring only the cortex, which is the outer 2-3, 3-5 millimeters of the brain. It’s a tool that’s only measuring 1,000 potentials, all those fluctuations, but when you flat-line, there’s still tremendous potential. The DC potentials are there. It’s like a pool. If you have a pool that’s 100 meters deep and only the top one meter is fluctuating, if you flatten out the fluctuating and make it nice and flat, that doesn’t mean that the 100 meters has gone away. It’s just not moving anymore.
And so the measurement will look like it’s flat, but there’s still potential difference. That’s a very important technical aspect of EEG work that most people don’t realize.
The second feature is that the electrical ability or electrical storage of memory is about 30 minutes. So every – right now as you and I are chatting, our brains are going to store this information in electrical form for about 30 minutes before it’s ultimately transformed into the small microstructures, the synapses that allow us long-term memory.
Now that information is being stored deep within the brain. It’s not in the cortex at all and you can’t even see it from an EEG. For example, the areas of the brain we call the hippocampus that store memory, you can’t even see the activity from a EEG. You have to actually put electrodes deep into the brain in order to see that activity. So there’s a common misconception that a flat EEG means no brain activity. In actual fact, it simply tells you a kind of activity is no longer common.
Alex Tsakiris: So that’s interesting. So you would speculate that that’s what’s happening in these near-death experiences, at least the ones that we can verify where there is no EEG measurable. You suspect that there is the same kind of conscious experience that they report going on but it’s at some level deep inside the brain that we just can’t measure. Is that correct?
Dr. Michael Persinger: Well, that would be very close. In fact, when the person wakes up after 20 or 30 minutes or at some particular protracted time, what they’re doing is telling you what they experienced. So they’re not necessarily conscious at the time. They’re reporting experiences that they’ve had. And I think that’s a very important distinction that deep within the brain that information is being consolidated and so if you suddenly become active again, then you can have access to the information. Very much like during a good portion of the night you’re not dreaming.
There’s all kinds of activity going on within your brain. All kinds of metabolic activity and information being represented. During the dreaming state you suddenly have access to it and if you wake up you can actually remember it, even though it may have been going on for several minutes to tens of minutes. You now are aware of it and you can now report it. So it’s like suddenly becoming on-line, so to speak, in terms of a computer. The information’s been there for quite a while. Now you can talk about it and remember what happened.
Alex Tsakiris: Interesting. What do you make of the reports of people retrieving information that they wouldn’t normally know? Being able to say, “Yes, I recall that you were the one who resuscitated me.” Dr. Penny Satori has actually done some research of the ability of people who’ve recovered from cardiac arrest, those who have experienced a near-death experience are better able to recollect, if you will, I don’t know if that would be the correct term – the actual procedures that happened during the resuscitation.
Then a control group who were resuscitated but didn’t have a near-death experience. What do you make of the fact that people routinely in these near-death experience accounts say, “I was able to travel. I was able to see inside the room. I was able to travel home and see what Mom was cooking for dinner. Or see what was going on in these other places.” What do you make of that?
Dr. Michael Persinger: I think those are very interesting experiences and I think the critical thing is the information may be very accurate but the explanation and the perception the person has may not. For example, most of us would agree that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. If you’re in Ptolemies’ day, the perception would be it’s because the sun is moving around us. That’s the perception. Now, of course, we realize that’s not the case. It’s because the Earth rotates. The sun is not going around us. But the perception is similar, so the interpretation will change.
And the same thing happens with these near-death experiences in the sense that yes, information may be obtained but that of course is then filtered through how the brain interprets information. For example, right now if you’re looking at someone nearby, you see an integrated image. But in actual fact, from the time that the retina picked up that image, all the parts of that image were broken apart into more than 3, 4, a dozen different kinds of components. What the color was, how the person was moving, their facial characteristics, goes to different parts of the brain and then is re-integrated according to how the brain is organized and your expectations.
So in large part, memory is a reconstruction of the experiences. So the same thing happens here. The information may be there but how you interpret it and report it is going to be a function of how your brain is organized, your belief system, and how you accommodate language and information.
Alex Tsakiris: I’m not sure I totally got that. So how would someone know something that was happening at a distance? Happening far away, three floors above them in the hospital where they saw something?
Dr. Michael Persinger: Oh, okay, now in terms of looking at something that’s a distance away, again, information is around us all the time and we’re typically not aware of it. Let’s first of all address that first comment about how can people be aware of things when they’re under anesthesia? Well, first of all, for over 30 years we’ve known that if you’re sleeping and deep sleep, and we whisper your name in your ear, your EEG will show a response or evoke potential, will show response even though you’re never aware of it. So the brain never really goes away, even though it may be in a state of anesthesia.
The second feature: if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s a near-death experience and is exotic, it wouldn’t be as impressive because if you look at the functional MRI of a brain of a person reading and you suddenly change the text, very subtly, there are areas of the brain that are activated even though the person is not aware of what’s going on. In other words, the brain responds even though there’s no awareness associated with it.
And in another example, so-called psychic blindness, these are individuals who are blind but yet as they are walking about they can move around objects and if you look at their brains you find that a small amount of their occipital cortex is activated enough for the unconscious reflex systems to respond and move around the objects, but not enough critical mass for them to say, “I’m aware of what I see.” So the critical thing is you can have a lot of changes and detect a lot of changes in your environment without necessarily awareness.
Now to address the issue of things at a distance, that of course, is totally acceptable and expected. Right now you and I are being inundated by cosmic rays, by signals from cell phones, from just literally billions of events but we’re only aware of a couple of them or a few of them per unit time that we call stimuli. So what would happen if you changed the organization of the brain and you became aware of events that were taking place at a distance? It could be anything from, for example, picking up radio signals or something equivalent. If you change the structure of the brain, and that’s what happens in altered states, then of course, you can pick up information at a distance.
The classic example would be when you’re dreaming. All right, the environment, stimuli that you’re not even aware of at quite a distance, for example, a sound from a bell or the temperature of the room can be incorporated into your dream content. So what makes the near-death experience so exciting is that – and indeed, altered states in general – is it opens up a more objective way of trying to understand what has been rejected, sadly, so many years, called parapsychological phenomena, which is simply information obtained from a distance or time through mechanisms not known to date. And if you keep the definition that way it becomes much less mystical.
Alex Tsakiris: Wow. You just gave a definition there that I guess you could take in a number of different directions. Now you took it in a kind of very – ordinary is probably the best word – ordinary direction in terms of, hey, maybe you can tune into radio waves or other signals at a distance. But you also seem to leave open the possibility that you could tune into other communication along the lines of the experiment you said you did with the psychic who seems to be able to tune into certain kinds of information at a distance. Any thoughts on that? And I guess that would also tie into…
Dr. Michael Persinger: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I think the critical thing about science – and again, this is how I started at the top of our interview – is it’s really important to be open-minded. It’s really important to realize that the true subject matter of science is the pursuit of the unknown. And sadly scientists have become extraordinarily group-oriented. Our most typical critics are not individuals who are mystic believers. It’s scientists who have a narrow vision of what the world is like. In science we have arbitrarily divided nature into increments we call scientific disciplines into physics and chemistry and psychology and so forth. But in actual fact, this division is quite artificial.
And natural phenomenon – and there’s lots of natural phenomenon to study – really are the subject matter of science and pursuit of the unknown is the subject matter. So that means we have to remain open-minded. The only difference between a scientist and a religious believer or a mystical believer is the fact that we measure. And once we measure it we can reproduce it experimentally. If you can experimentally reproduce it, you can control it. And then you understand how it works. That’s the only difference to science is open-minded. Anything is possible.
Alex Tsakiris: What an interesting way to maybe start to wrap things up. Can you maybe in the last few minutes that we have, tell us some of the most interesting things that are going on in your lab today, and some of your most current discoveries?
Dr. Michael Persinger: Well, what’s going on in the laboratory – and I have some fantastic graduate students and we work together as a team – and what we have found for example, is that if you place two different brains, two different people at a distance, you put a circular magnetic field around both. There’s a magnetic field going around like a coil, around both brains even at a distance. You make sure both coils are connected to the same computer which means they’re generating the same configuration of two different spaces.
If you flash a light in one person’s eye, even though they’re in a chamber that’s closed up, the person in the other room that’s receiving just the magnetic field now, they’re not aware of the light flashing or not, they will show similar changes in frequency in the room. And we think that’s tremendous because that maybe the first macro demonstration of a quantum connection or so-called quantum entanglement. And if that’s true then there’s another way of potential communication that may have physical application and application, for example, in space travel because there’s no time involved with it. That’s one thing we’re looking at. That’s one of our more exotic hypotheses.
Other ones we’re looking at, for example, how various kinds of patterns of electromagnetic fields generated from the brain may influence cell cultures in terms of influencing their outcome in terms of their molecular chemistry, which may someday add to the understanding of how somebody being nearby can influence the physiology and health of a person. We know about individuals with green thumbs. We know that certain physicians are better than others just by touching the patient. And it’s more than just a placebo effect. What’s the mechanism? We’re trying to understand that.
And the third thing I think is really important is we’re trying to understand the nature of consciousness itself. And of course, consciousness is probably more like an over-inclusive term. It’s probably not consciousness but a variety of complicated processes and we just slam this word on it that are involved with individuals have these unique skills, like the Shawn Haribands and the Ingo Swanns who seem to have access to information that others do not have. So we’re trying to understand the neurophysical basis to it and to try to integrate it in terms of the known energies around us so that someday we can also replicate it. That really is the real test of a hypothesis or an idea. Can you replicate it with an experiment?
Alex Tsakiris: Wow, very fascinating stuff. It does lead me – I can’t resist asking this one more question. If you do seem to be kind of leaning in the direction of saying that there might be other ways that consciousness interacts with other consciousness, you know, the telepathy thing with the light flashing, then are you open to the possibility that maybe the physical structure of our brain is more of a transceiver than the agent that creates consciousness, as some people have suggested. Is that on the table for you, or…
Dr. Michael Persinger: Absolutely. The idea that the brain, of course, is a source of all experiences because the brain, obviously if you terminate it you don’t have experiences, but the counter hypothesis – actually it’s not even counter, it’s a parallel hypothesis – that the brain is microstructured. This infinitesimal, complex pattern, is microstructured so that it can serve as a substrate for electromagnetic patterns.
And those electromagnetic patterns are the behaviors and the experiences, which means technically they could exist somewhere else. That means that if indeed there is an electromagnetic pattern, a complex one though it may be, associated with consciousness, if you recreated a substructure in another kind of setting, for example, a computer or in rocks or in trees, could you have some simulation of that? That, of course, is a hypothesis that definitely deserves testing.
Alex Tsakiris: What a wild ride you have there in your lab, huh? You must wake up – also in your interview I read how your work ethic is quite impressive. Do you still work until the wee hours of the morning every day?
Dr. Michael Persinger: Yes, we do. We work until about four in the morning.
Alex Tsakiris: Wow. That’s great. Well, we’ll all stay tuned to the exciting and interesting things that are sure to come out of all your work. Thank you, thank you so much for joining us today on Skeptiko, Dr. Persinger.
Dr. Michael Persinger: Well thank you for asking me.
Alex Tsakiris: Thanks again to Dr. Michael Persinger for joining me today on Skeptiko. If you’d like more information about this show, including all those links that I spoke about in terms of connecting up with me and connecting up with this show, please visit our Web site. It’s at skeptiko.com. You’ll find links to all our previous shows. You can also post your comments right there, or you can go to the Skeptiko forum and post your comments there, as well.
That’s going to do it for today. I have some very interesting interviews along this line coming up, so stay with me for that. And until next time, bye for now.
ome to Skeptiko where we explore controversial science with leading researchers, thinkers, and their critics. I’m your host, Alex Tsakiris, and on this episode of Skeptiko we’re going to talk about science and skepticism. You know, a few months ago I received an e-mail