The Foundations of Mind IV (FOM4)”Quantum Mechanics Meets Neuroscience” conference was hosted by the California Institute for Integral Studies (CIIS) by the CIIS Center for Consciousness Studies in San Francisco on January 27, 2017. It featured presentations by: John Hagelin, Stuart Hameroff, Ruth Kastner, Henry Stapp, Russell Targ, Jack Sarfatti, George Weissmann, Elizabeth Rauscher, Leslie Allan Combs, Fred Alan Wolf, Shelli Joye, Seán Ó Nualláin, Cynthia Sue Larson, Stanley Klein, and Chris Cochran. This fourth Foundations of Mind conference was scheduled to coincide with what would have been Walter Freeman III’s 90th birthday.
People registered through Foundations of Mind (FOM) have joined in numerous conversational threads in areas related to the quantum paradigm, consciousness, quantum interpretations, neuroscience, and higher education.
Foundations of Mind founder Seán Ó Nualláin began the conference by talking about the history of Foundations of Mind, starting with a humble initial budget of $55 a few years ago. In just a few years time, Foundations of Mind has grown to an organization that has created over a hundred peer-reviewed papers–with 79 papers published in just the past three years–all the while providing researchers full rights. The tremendous success of Foundations of Mind is obvious when witnessing the exponential increase in online views and downloads of it’s published research papers, with over 28 million views of all papers published through Cosmos and History in 2015 alone.
Ó Nualláin shared insights and breakthroughs associated with Walter Freeman III’s work that will likely continue for many years to come. Ó Nualláin elucidated the differences between Pribram and Freeman’s work from his unique perspective of having had the opportunity to work closely with both of them. Ó Nualláin explained how Pribram’s holonomic approach arises from consideration of the “microscopic” level–such as individual neurons–while Freeman’s research focused on mass action at the “mesoscopic” level. Ó Nualláin emphasized Freeman’s point that a critical mistake neurologists often make is in supplanting ‘neural fields’ with ‘neuron doctrine,’ as he called for a return to neural field research. Ó Nualláin emphasized that there are important clues to discerning between consciousness and awakeness that can be found in gamma synchrony, with characteristically brief (about 3 seconds at most) synchronous states attained through meditation that requires less energy than other mental states.
Tuning the Mind
Shelli Joye presented a talk about how quantum field theory can be applied to the electromagnetic field, resulting in quantum electrodynamics. A hypothesis of consciousness residing in the frequency domain is congruent with David Bohm’s implicate order, which appears to provide support for experiences of mystics and psychonauts.
Wolfgang Pauli’s Background Physics
Chris Cochran talked about conversations between physicist Wolfgang Pauli and psychologist Carl Jung mostly centered on the topic of Pauli’s dream interpretations. The notion of background physics was presented as a method of psychoanalytic interpretation applied to foundations of quantum mechanics–comprising a practice of self knowledge that emerges in relation to knowledge of quantum mechanics. One of the more interesting conclusions from this rather unique quantum interpretation is that Pauli took complementarity to express the impossibility of final determination of the categories of ‘physical’ and ‘psychic,’ resulting in a conclusion of it being an impossibility for there to be mere ‘physical’ grounding for science. Cochran reminded us of Carl Jung’s suggestion to note that “Only from his wholeness can man create a model of the whole.”
Consciousness in the Universe
Stuart Hameroff presented the “Orch OR” theory that he and physicist Roger Penrose devised to provide a physical explanation for where consciousness might be found to reside. Hameroff began his talk by describing how most modern science is based on an ‘integrate and fire’ neural model that has led to brain mapping, which so far has not been very fruitful. When Penrose suggested the idea that microtubules might be capable of processing information along the lines of a kind of biological quantum computer, we gained an idea for how human memory might work. Hameroff noted that consciousness is definitely not a computation, stating that Penrose used Gödel’s theorem to show conscious understanding is non-computational. Penrose points out that ‘self-collapse’ is consciousness, and we can imagine our conscious minds as something akin to an orchestra warming up.
Search for Consciousness
John Hagelin presented a summary of recent theories and evidence refuting the
“objective” or “OR” component of “Orch OR.” Hagelin asserted that the OR portion of Orch-OR needs a closer look, since once it is considered in light of recent developments in theoretical quantum physics, the OR portion doesn’t stand up. Hagelin was quick to point out that this does not mean that quantum mechanics does not play a role in consciousness. He continued that he feels the absence of any mechanism suggests that there might not be any wave function collapse; instead we may have the emergence of a multiplicity of parallel viewpoints via decoherence within a single wave function, all operating within a single universal consciousness.
A lively panel discussion with Stuart Hameroff, Stan Klein, Henry Stapp and John Hagelin followed the morning sessions, with Ruth Kastner stating that the matter of the collapse of the wave function needs to be addressed, and advising against “shoving the collapse under a different piece of furniture in the room.”
Nonlocal Remote Perception
Russell Targ talked about the long and successful history of the remote viewing program that he managed for many years at SRI, and showed a movie clip from the forthcoming documentary film, Third Eye Spies. Targ discussed some of the more remarkable discoveries from nonlocal remote perception (aka “remote viewing”) such as he oversaw at SRI in the 1970s. Targ emphasized that “remote viewing is so easy that even a scientist can do it.” Targ’s ability to provide prompts to those learning to do remote viewing for the first time proved especially fruitful, such as asking a viewer to “show me the surprising images that come into your mind.”
Testing Psychic Phenomena
Stan Klein presented his talk on, “Using Psychic Phenomena to Test Walter Freeman’s Devotion to Connecting Neuropil to Hard Problems.” Stan made a call for more and better experiments investigating findings in psychic phenomena in the future.
How Hippies Can Save the 2nd Quantum Revolution
Cynthia Sue Larson introduced the afternoon sessions devoted to presentations by Ruth Kastner, Elizabeth Rauscher, George Weissmann, Fred Alan Wolf, Henry Stapp, and Jack Sarfatti.
Science Hasn’t Disproven Free Will
Ruth Kastner presented a different perspective on the topic of free will than the currently prevailing view amongst most quantum physicists–that there is no such thing as personal choice; it’s all probabilities. Kastner contends that we do have free will, as she guided us through an exploration of considering oneself as a ‘quantum system’ in a ready state. It’s clear when envisioning this scenario that each person is enormously complex while existing in an open (rather than closed) state. Choices are not really quantum observables, and each choice option is not represented by an eigenvalue. It is thus physically inaccurate, for example, to call a choice made by Hitler a “quantum defined observable.” Kastner reminded us of a quote by Freeman Dyson, “… mind is already inherent in every electron, and the processes of human consciousness differ only in degree but not in kind from the processes of choice between quantum states which we call ‘chance’ when they are made by electrons.”
Paradigm Shift Number II Ready to Happen
Elizabeth Rauscher talked about how she and George Weissmann initially formed the Fundamental Fysiks Group at UC Berkeley in 1975 to delve deeper into the mysteries of quantum physics beyond the “shut up and calculate” point of view. Quantum concepts were explored with talks by David Bohm and some Nobel prize recipients. Rauscher discussed the idea of quantum reality, showing how EPR fits in with Bell’s Theorem, and what happens as our previously accepted notions of reality fail. Rauscher explained how there is a notion of approximate reality associated with the quantum realm, sandwiched between improbabilities, in a narrow slice of physical ‘exact reality.’ Rauscher provided an overview of subjective versus objective aspects of reality, and the value of precognition in bringing information from the future back to the past, as described in more detail in her books and papers.
The Quantum Paradigm
George Weissmann discussed the nature of paradigms, and the way presuppositions are implicit unconscious assumptions that often have a dangerous way of sneaking into our theories unquestioned–going mostly unnoticed and ignored. Weissmann stressed that it is absolutely critical in these times to become paradigm-aware. One fundamental assumption to examine more closely is that of objectivity: that there exist such things as objects. When we challenge assumptions, it’s not the same thing as negating it, but rather challenging can be understood to be a process of questioning. In the case of objectivity, we can then keep track of subject and object with every distinction being made. Classical physics is always about ‘external things,’ while quantum is not about external things. Quantum theory is a process, and the arena is in the mind… which leads us to wonder, “Which mind?” We thus begin to gain a sense of relational quantum theory that is personal and not idealistic (mind VS matter), since experience consists of both subject and object. Dreams can thus provide us with a good metaphor for the quantum paradigm, with an implicit sense of One Mind cosmology, in which the quantum paradigm can qualitatively explain and predict.
Ontology, Epistemology, Consciousness, and Closed Timelike Curves
Fred Alan Wolf discussed some ideas behind quantum computers having to do with viewing the universe as a multiverse along the lines of what David Deutsch suggests, with closed timelike curves in the multiverse, and wormholes connecting universes in the multiverse. Such a conceptualization of the multiverse transcends linear dynamics, so everything can be considered as being part of parallel universes, where previous time travel paradoxes no longer wreak the kind of havoc we’ve come to expect. Both the “knowledge paradox” and “grandfather paradox” can be resolved through chronological-respecting qubits and consistent time-looping qubits. What comes out of one wormhole thus goes into another world, with entanglement being preserved overall throughout the multiverse.
Backward-in-Time Effect in Orthodox Forward-in-Time Relativistic Quantum Field Theory
Henry Stapp pointed out that the present exists “now” and this representation of reality is represented by density matrix. Density matrix is ontological, and represents potentialities with statistical weights, evolving smoothly through time. When considering experiments such as Daryl Bem’s “feeling the future” precognitive experiments, an upsurge of conductance occurs before the stimulus is applied–which seems to provide evidence for backward-in-time causation. When considering such experiments, we must understand orthodox von Neumann quantum theory in a way that is not normally considered. We thus need to better understand ‘actual past’ versus ‘historical past’ so we understand and appreciate that history does not create us.
Recent Advances in Post-Quantum Physics: The Third Revolution
Jack Sarfatti advocated considering an earlier Bohmian pilot wave view of quantum physics, utilizing John Bell’s “be-ables” in conjunction with the work of Sutherland. Quantum information waves can thus be considered to actually be mental waves, so there is an ontological physical field that manifests as quantum potential, Q, as “will” or “volition.” Mental waves do not have qualia unless the matter they act on reacts directly to them. There is thus a kind of post-quantum action-reaction that has much in common with the wormholes and closed timelike curves presented by Fred Alan Wolf. As soon as you have wormholes, you have consciousness, operating in a block universe. Both future and past are located on the horizon.
Informal Conference Conversations
Conference attendees got a chance to mingle with others during breaks, at lunch, and after the conference. An evening musical performance by Corca Baiscin (pronouced Kurka Boshkin) featured vocalist Melanie O’Reilly’s beautiful Celtic jazz. “Kurka Boshkin/Corca Baiscin” combines Irish traditional music with a Celtic-Americana contemporary twist, interwoven with jazz improvisation. Corca Baiscin is the name of the ancient territory now known as County Clare on the west coast of Ireland; you can hear a sample of Corca Baiscin playing “The Tamlin” in this video clip: https://youtu.be/6QycRVt8Xf8 and Melanie O’Reilly sing “The Diamond Rocks” here: https://youtu.be/mVRqR_pjVs0
Some presenters and attendees continued to enjoy a meal and post-conference conversation at a nearby restaurant.
Additional photos and news announcements from the Foundations of Mind IV conference can be viewed at the Foundations of Mind facebook page.