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February 12th, 2013 Alex Tsakiris
Interview with author Chris Carter explores the scientific evidence for the survival of consciousness.
Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Chris Carter author of, Science and the Afterlife Experience: Evidence for the Immortality of Consciousness. During the interview Carter discusses the consequences of accepting scientific proof of an afterlife:
Alex Tsakiris: Are there unintended consequences for overthrowing materialism? Maybe the game is going to wind up being played one way or another. We’re going to wind up with scientific materialism or Church rule. Someone has made the decision that at the end of the day I choose the phony scientific materialism over the thin, phony Church state.
Chris Carter: I think that’s a false dichotomy. I don’t think that’s the choice. One of the major themes of my book is that there’s a third alternative, one that does not require a leap of faith and one that does not require embracing the pseudo-scientific ideology of materialism. There’s a third alternative and it is to examine the evidence without prejudice, without materialistic prejudice or religious prejudice, and see what the evidence says.
I believe that the conclusions that the evidence implies are not dogmatic. They do not ask people to go out and burn those who disagree with us at the stake or to wage war against those who disagree with us.
Chris Carter’s Website
Cynthia’s Book: Belief Is So Last Century
Download MP3 (58 min.)
Today we welcome Chris Carter back to Skeptiko. Many of you know Chris for his withering attacks on skeptical nonsense and his books, Science and the Near-Death Experience, Science and Psychic Phenomena, and his latest, Science and the Afterlife Experience. Chris holds undergraduate and Master’s degrees in philosophy from Oxford. He’s a very fine writer, and it’s a pleasure to welcome him back to Skeptiko. Chris, welcome back. Thanks for joining me.
Chris Carter: Thanks, Alex. How are you doing?
Alex Tsakiris: Great. Everything’s good. This latest book is really fascinating. It’s obviously a topic that we love to talk about here. You really dig into so much. I’m hoping we can talk about the book but also talk about a lot of other things surrounding the book. I’m anxious to have you back on.
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February 5th, 2013 Alex Tsakiris
Interview with chaos theory pioneer Dr. Ralph Abraham offers new insights into how a chaotic model of consciousness might work.
Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Dr. Ralph Abraham. During the interview Abraham discusses how chaos theory might impact how we think about consciousness:
Alex Tsakiris: Chaos theory presents a lot of problems for science when it comes to measurement, which is really the nuts-and-bolts of science.
Ralph Abraham: Right. In other words, if you know the state of the world exactly, well almost exactly, with a slight error, then you cannot make a long-term predictions. So we don’t know about global climate warming, for example. The basis of these mathematical models are chaotic in this technical sense. So, conceivably the flap of a butterfly wing could make a huge difference in the prediction of the model long-term.
Now as we take this kind of mathematical model for complex systems upstairs into the realm of consciousness, then obviously consciousness has a lot of parts. For one thing, if you think of the individual consciousness of six billion people on the planet being somehow netted together through communication by reading, writing, cell phones, the internet, etc. into a complex system, then obviously, that complex system is going to have very chaotic behavior.
Dr. Ralph Abraham’s Website
Download MP3 (43 min.)
January 29th, 2013 Alex Tsakiris
Interview with Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris examines the origins of the show and lessons learned.
Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for look back at 200 episodes to Skeptiko. During the interview Tsakiris discusses what he’s discovered about other skeptical podcasts:
Tim: There’s Skeptiko and you’re up against all of the skeptic shows: The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe, Skepticality, Skeptoid…
Alex Tsakiris: Not really, Tim. Those are like two different universes. I came into this from the outside and assumed that these two groups would fit together. If The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe and Skepticality and Skeptoid and all the rest of them are talking about parapsychology, although it be in a disparaging way, then naturally they’re going to want to dialogue with the same researchers I wanted to talk to. I was naïve enough to think that they actually did.
What I’ve found is that they don’t. What the Skeptics really want is to be left in their little island over there, in their little world, so they can talk about these things among themselves.
Download MP3 (59 min.)
Today we have a special episode of Skeptiko. I have with me and I’ll soon be turning the mike over to Tim #$%, who is a long-time friend of mine and a long-time friend of Skeptiko. A guy who has literally listened to, I think, every show that I’ve produced.
What makes this particularly interesting, other than I have this close personal relationship with Tim, is that Tim is a skeptic and he remains a skeptic. I love the fact that he’s stayed with the show, stayed with the material, has battled it out, and has remained a skeptic. So I think when Tim proposed the idea of doing an interview about Skeptiko, something I’ve been resistant to do, the more I thought about it the more I thought, ‘What more perfect person to conduct that interview than someone who’s deeply engaged in the show and remains opposed to a lot of the ideas. And that true spirit of sorting out the data and skepticism?’
I can now turn the mike over to Tim.
Tim: Thank you, Alex. And thank you very much, honestly, for agreeing to do this. You and I had a bit of a back-and-forth on whether or not you thought this was a good idea but I do want to do this, primarily in my mind as a celebration of the fact that you’ve reached this milestone of 200 shows. So if you’ll look back at Skeptiko, it started January 7, 2007 and you introduced it with how controversial science is debated.
So my idea for the next few minutes is to talk about the show. I’m hoping we can stay out of the topics of the show. We may bleed into that but I’m curious to get started with how the show got started. Take us back to 2007.
Alex Tsakiris: Well, I started out as a listener. I’ve always been very interested in not only these topics but in general in the idea that I can learn. I can get better. I can improve by absorbing knowledge from other people. So I was a listener first, and I became quite interested in the whole idea of parapsychology and paranormal phenomena just at a very casual level, like anyone who watches a television program on the topic. Read the rest of this entry »
January 22nd, 2013 Alex Tsakiris
Interview with Ancient Aliens Debunked filmmaker Chris White who swamps the Ancient Alien theories with science, but relies on Biblical inerrancy for core beliefs.
Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Chris White, creator of the popular documentary film, Ancient Aliens Debunked. During the interview White discusses the film as well as his controversial conservative Christian beliefs:
Alex Tsakiris: Here’s what Ancient Aliens, the TV show says is one of the most compelling bits of evidence for the Ancient Alien proposition, and that’s the site of Pumapunku and the ruins there. That’s where you start the film. So, take us through Pumapunku, and how that’s debunked.
Chris White: The main thing that the Ancient Astronaut theory proponents suggest is that these angles are too perfect and the stone-cutting is too amazing to be anything that any ancient peoples could have done. We could talk about what the site actually was and so on but the main thing is that the stonemasonry there at Pumapunku is not difficult to do.
There’s lots of things that they say are true about Pumapunku that are not. For example, they say that these stones are granite and diorite and therefore they’re too hard. Not only is that not true if they were granite or diorite but they’re not granite or diorite. They’re red sandstone and ambercite. They are not as heavy as they say they are and they’re not as in the right-angles as they say they are.
Later, Mr. White offers opinions on the limitations of Islam and Buddhism, and the primacy of Christianity:
Chris White: In Islam they have a lot of rules that say, “Give to the poor. Fast. Be nice to people.” Those are rules that they’re following because of threat of whatever.
Alex Tsakiris: You can’t generalize like that, Chris.
Chris White: I think it’s dangerous when we say, “Oh, we know that these people are just as good.” I think you can analyze—not their personality — I’m not talking about whether they’re good or not but you can analyze the very tenants of what they’re trying to do. And I think very few times do people understand Hinduism or Buddhism or Islam or any of these things…
Alex Tsakiris: Chris, how many Buddhist monks have you met? How many Buddhist monks have you encountered and really sat down and experienced, and talked to?
Chris White: It’s really not about the individual; it’s about what they are claiming that any individual would claim…
Alex Tsakiris: How is it not about the individual? It’s only about the individual.
Chris White: Because nobody has reached the very thing that they need which is freedom from Nirvana or getting to Nirvana. Show me a Buddhist that would claim that right now. Everybody’s saying, “Oh well, the suffering is caused by tanha.” Tanha is sin. It’s our desires to do bad things that we don’t want to do. That’s the reason that any Buddhist is trying to do the ascetic practices. They try to eat less rice, go onto a hill, do whatever because they’re trying to defeat the innate desire to sin. Now, that’s their path.
If you understand that they’re hoping that one day, if they do all the right meditations and they eat the less food and they give away enough possessions and they’re nice enough to people, it will happen and they will be diminished in their level of desiring to sin. That’s Buddhism.
Ancient Aliens Debunked Website
Download MP3 (80 min.)
Today we welcome filmmaker, radio host, and podcaster, Chris White to Skeptiko. Chris’ latest documentary, Ancient Aliens Debunked, has caused quite a stir among Ancient Alien believers, as you might expect, as well as skeptics and even Evangelical Christians, as Chris himself is quite public about being a Conservative Christian.
There’s a lot here to unpack and Chris, I’m really glad that you’re joining me today on Skeptiko to do just that. Welcome.
Chris White: It’s great to be here, Alex. I’m really excited about this interview. It’s a really unique opportunity and I’m looking forward to it.
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January 15th, 2013 Alex Tsakiris
Interview with Blogger and UFO researcher Mike Clelland about reports of contact with alien consciousness.
Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Mike Clelland, host of the Hidden Experience Podcast. During the interview Clelland discusses various account of contact with alien consciousness:
Alex Tsakiris: I look at the UFO phenomena and I am challenged to either fit it into that near-death experience, mystical/spiritual framework, or say that it lies outside of that framework. So are the aliens God?
Mike Clelland: I’m sure you could cherry-pick the reports and you could come up with that answer that they are God. In these UFO narratives people come back and they tell what they experienced and so one person in one narrative asked the little gray aliens, “Are you Angels?” And the gray aliens reply, “Yes. But not in the way you think of Angels.” Which is an interesting answer.
In another report someone asks the gray aliens, “Did God create the universe?” And the aliens reply, “No. God is creating the universe moment-by-moment.”
Alex Tsakiris: That gets back to the most challenging part of all that which is we don’t understand the nature of that extended consciousness beyond our physical level, so whenever we talk about theatre, then is it theatre to us? Or is it theatre to them?
Mike Clelland: I feel like I’m constantly confronted with—and the phrase I will use is “something’s going on behind the curtain.” I’m implying that there’s this other dimensional realm that “they,” these aliens, can access that we can barely access. Maybe we can access it through death; maybe we can access it through psychedelics. Maybe we can access it through intense meditation or through dream realms. We can access that realm fleetingly.
Mike Clelland’s Website
Download MP3 (82 min.)
Today we welcome Mike Clelland to Skeptiko. In addition to being a pretty amazing illustrator, Mike is also a blogger and podcaster at www.hiddenexperience.blogspot.com where he tackles a number of paranormal topics mainly centered around alien contact.
Now I know that can be a challenging topic for those who haven’t really studied the phenomena very much, but I’m really hoping that in this Skeptiko interview we can jump past all that first-level skeptical silliness because it’s really not that interesting. If you think all this stuff is swamp gas and ball lightning then more power to you but that’s not really what we’re going to talk about today.
What I’m hoping to get into with Mike is questions about this other form of consciousness that many, many folks he’s been coming in contact with and hopefully trying to tie that back to so many of the topics that we’ve talked about here on Skeptiko, be it remote viewing or out-of-body experience or near-death experience, lucid dreaming, psychedelics, all the rest. So with that rather long introduction, Mike, welcome to Skeptiko. Thanks for coming on.
Mike Clelland: Thanks for having me.
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January 3rd, 2013 Alex Tsakiris
Interview with Dr. Diane Powell about her book, The ESP Enigma, and why research into extended human consciousness remains taboo.
Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with neuroscientist, psychiatrist and author Dr. Diane Powell about her book, The ESP Enigma: The Scientific Case for Psychic Phenomena. During the interview Powell discusses why psychic abilities are not accepted by mainstream science:
Alex Tsakiris: My opinion is that if you’re waiting for the paradigm shift, if you’re waiting for science to roll over and say, “Uncle. We admit it. This phenomenon is obvious; it’s self-evident,” it’s not going to happen. What do you think?
Dr. Diane Powell: I agree and I think that, as I said, it is counterproductive to think that way. I think that people close their minds to considering new possibilities. I mean, like I said, in the early 1900’s when people thought that all of the physics had been discovered there was this whole other world out there. I believe that’s true for consciousness. I think we’re just now starting to have more and more receptivity to studying that. But still, trying to understand—I think human consciousness is just too vast a topic and you’re not going to be able to understand it with conventional materialistic science. I mean, that’s only one tool in trying to obtain knowledge.
Dr. Diane Powell’s Website
Download MP3 (40 min.)
Today we welcome Dr. Diane Powell to Skeptiko. Diane has an amazing background, stellar credentials, Johns Hopkins trained neuroscientist, MD in psychiatry from Johns Hopkins, as well. Faculty position at Harvard Medical School. Salk Institute right here in my backyard in La Jolla. I mean, the credentials go on and on. She’s also written a book titled, The ESP Enigma. Dr. Powell, thank you so much for joining me and welcome to Skeptiko.
Dr. Diane Powell: Thank you. It’s a pleasure. Read the rest of this entry »
December 21st, 2012 Alex Tsakiris
A look back at a series of dialogs between Rupert Sheldrake, Terrance McKenna and Ralph Abraham.
Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for a rediscovery of the audio recordings of Rupert Sheldrake, Terrance McKenna and Ralph Abraham. Through a reexamination of the ideas and expectations of these progressive scientific thinkers we gain perspective on where science is heading. And, whether a “paradigm shift” is eminent? These dialogs also provide a deeper appreciation for the challenges facing scientific materialism as explored in Sheldrake latest book, Science Set Free.
Rupert Sheldrake’s Website
The Complete Trilalogues
Download MP3 (56 min.)
December 11th, 2012 Alex Tsakiris
Interview with Dr. Mario Beauregard about his new book, Brain Wars, and the battle between old brain science and new brain science.
Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with neuroscientist and author Dr. Mario Beauregard about his new book, Brain Wars: The Scientific Battle Over the Existence of the Mind and the Proof That Will Change the Way We Live Our Lives. During the interview Beauregard discusses the coming revolution in the way science understands consciousness:
Alex Tsakiris: Near the end of your book, Brain Wars, you talk about a shift in consciousness within science. I’d like you to talk about whether you really think that is likely. I mean, we are so enmeshed — we are so married to this materialism — can we really get beyond it?
Dr. Mario Beauregard: Well, I can say that at least in my own field there’s an increasing number of scientists and also in other disciplines challenging the old materialist worldview, so it’s done not only by scientists but also by philosophers themselves. In the last few years we’ve seen books come out about the waning of materialism and so on. Now several different scientists are starting to question this. We’re in a transition period, like I said before, and in certain circles scientists are creating a sort of union where they’re getting together and trying to get organized.
For instance, there’s a special issue of a mainstream journal in neuroscience called, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, and next year there will be a special issue about the possibility of non-local mind. This is a sign of the times because only 10 years ago or 15 or 20 years ago, this would not have been possible at all. Now it’s becoming possible to discuss these important issues publicly and even to challenge the mainstream view overtly. This was not possible at all before.
There’s a progress regarding this evolution in our field. I think that there eventually will be another big revolution in science and this will be about mind and consciousness. The same kind of revolution that they’ve had about 100 years ago in physics from classical physics to quantum physics. We’ll have probably the same in our own field.
At the same time in parallel, like you said at the beginning of the interview, if you talk to laypeople, most people do not believe that they are strictly biological robots and don’t have any influence over their brain activity or what’s happening in their body. So, if there’s the start of really a transition within science, it will go quickly because the rest of the world is very sympathetic regarding a non-materialist view of consciousness and of human life and the universe.
Mario Beauregard’s Website
Download MP3 (46 min.)
Today we welcome Dr. Mario Beauregard to Skeptiko. Dr. Beauregard is an Associate Research Professor at the Neuroscience Research Center at the University of Montreal. He has a Ph.D. in neuroscience also from the University of Montreal. He also has two post-Doctorate fellowships in experimental neuropsychology. He’s the author of over 100 publications in neuroscience, psychology, and psychiatry. And he’s here today to talk about his latest book, Brain Wars: The Scientific Battle Over the Existence of the Mind and the Proof That Will Change the Way We Live Our Lives.
Mario, thank you very much for joining me today on Skeptiko and welcome.
Dr. Mario Beauregard: Thanks to you.
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November 27th, 2012 Alex Tsakiris
Interview with author and UFO filmmaker Paul Kimball.
Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with author and UFO filmmaker Paul Kimball. During the interview Kimball discusses the hypocrisy of belief in the paranormal:
Paul Kimball: ‘Who’s the Paranormalist-In-Chief in the United States right now?’ I had this dialogue with a friend of mine who’s a liberal Democrat in the United States who was going on and on about how we have to elect Barack Obama. I was going, ‘Yeah, sure. Absolutely. I agree with you.’
But he was also a guy who continually would chide me about my interest in the paranormal. He would occasionally call it “woo” and that sort of stuff. He was very big into the James Randi kind of stuff. So one day we’re sitting there and we’re talking about both of these things and I said, “Well, wait a second now. You’re telling me that you’re going to go vote for a guy who has stated repeatedly that he believes in God, this telepathic being…”
Alex Tsakiris: Hold on, Paul. I love that. It’s in the Introduction of your book and I have the exact quote that you include in the book and it’s really good. This is in a 2008 interview between Christianity Today and Barack Obama: “I am a Christian. I am a devout Christian. I believe in the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe faith gives me a path to be cleansed of sin and have eternal life.”
Paul Kimball: Right. So I asked my friend the next time I saw him after the election, ‘Let me get this straight. You just voted in an election for the most powerful office in the world for a man who believes in the supernatural being with whom he communicates by telepathy. This supernatural being also sent his only Son to Earth to be tortured and executed and then brought Him back from the dead a couple of days later. All so a prophesy could be fulfilled. And of course, there’s the whole walking on water thing, not to mention the water to wine trick, the raising of the dead.’ I could have mentioned the virgin birth, but I didn’t. And you think I’m a big goofy for having an interest in UFOs and ghosts?’
And the point to me is in the materialistic world we live in now it has become very de rigueur to just dismiss all of this stuff and I understand why. Religion has gotten—and deservedly so—a bad name over the course of human history. But you should be able to separate organized religion from what’s actually out there. Call it spirituality; call it faith; call it philosophy, if you will.
Paul Kimball’s Website
Download MP3 (33 min.)
Today we welcome filmmaker Paul Kimball to Skeptiko. Paul has written a fascinating new book entitled, The Other Side of Truth, in which he takes us on a road trip of sorts through all sorts of questions about ghosts, extraterrestrials, reincarnation, and the afterlife. Quite a fascinating book.
Paul, welcome and thanks so much for joining me.
Paul Kimball: Hi, Alex. Good to be here. Long time listener, first-time guest as they say on some other sort of radio show, so great to be here talking to the Skeptiko audience.
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November 13th, 2012 Alex Tsakiris
Interviews from the 2012 Parapsychology Association conference with Dr. Daryl Bem, Dr. George Williams, Dr. Athena Drewes and Dr. Robert Van de Castle.
Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris and Dr. Richard Grego for interviews from the 2012 Parapsychology Association conference. During one of the interviews Dr. Daryl Bem reveals the secret psychologists need to know about quantum theory:
Dr. Daryl Bem: Quantum theory, quantum mechanics, has never had an empirical failure. That is, to the degree you can measure, within the error of measurement, every prediction made by quantum mechanics has come true. The thing that so boggles the mind of physicists in the 20th Century was no one knows how it works. So even Richard Feynman, who won a Nobel Prize for all of this said, “Stop beating yourself up by asking ‘But how can this be?’ Nobody knows how this can be.”
And psychologists and non-physicists generally don’t know that conundrum exists in physics. They say, “Well, I don’t have the mathematical knowledge to know what quantum mechanics is.” They should give themselves more credit. No one knows. No one has an understanding of the mechanics of how it works.
Now some psi researchers actually think quantum mechanics does contain the seeds of an explanation. It has to do with what we call “Quantum Entanglement.” Now, there are technical arguments why that won’t work, but every week in physics there’s usually some new paper that shows entanglement at higher temperatures than we would have expected. Or, at longer distances. Or, at a more macro level. So some of psi researchers believe that’s this is going to be it.
Dr. Richard Grego’s Website (full audio interviews)
Download MP3 (48 min.)
Today we welcome back Dr. Richard Grego to Skeptiko. Rich, as you may remember, has brought us some kind of feed on the street interviews, most recently a few episodes back from The American Psychology Association Conference. This time, he has a series of interviews that he recently conducted at the Parapsychology Association meeting for 2012 and I believe that was in Durham, North Carolina, is that right, Rich?
Dr. Richard Grego: Yes, it is.
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