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Chasing Consciousness

Chasing Consciousness

By Freddy Drabble

The curious person’s guide to all things mind!
Have you ever wondered how it is that your thoughts and feelings relate to the grey matter in your head? How space and time came to be out of nothing? How what life means to us influences our day-to-day struggles with mental health?
In conversation with experts in physics, psychology, neuroscience and philosophy, Chasing Consciousness will take you to the very fringes of reality and share with you the groundbreaking discoveries that are dramatically changing the way we relate to the world, the future, and our own minds.
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Chasing ConsciousnessSep 14, 2022



Why do we have a negativity bias that predisposes us to focus on bad things in the world? How can we channel that natural tendency to learn and improve, rather that be afraid and depressed by it? What are the implications of negativity bias for the functioning of our society ongoing?

In this episode we’ve got the important topic of the inherent Negativity Bias in human psychology to assess. This is the tendency for bad events, experiences and emotions to have more impact than good ones. We see this in relationships, social patterns, traumatic events, the media and learning processes. Research shows that bad impressions and stereotypes form quicker than good ones, that the self is more motivated to avoid bad self-definitions than to pursue good ones, and even that bad impressions are more thoroughly processed than good ones. This all plays out in out in the media, in the consumer markets and in politics and thus defines our culture ongoing. Is this natural? Is there anything we can do to mitigate it or use it for good? And do we even want to?

Fortunately for us our guest today is a specialist in these matters, one of the most prolific and cited psychologists in the world, with over 650 publications, Professor Roy Baumeister. His 40 books include the New York Times bestseller Willpower. His research covers self and identity, self-regulation, interpersonal rejection and the need to belong, sexuality and gender, aggression, self-esteem, meaning, consciousness, free will, and self-presentation, some of which we cover today in connection with negativity bias. In 2013 he received the William James award for lifetime achievement in psychological science (the Association for Psychological Science’s highest honor). In 2001 He co-wrote a seminal paper on the very topic of today’s episode in, called ‘Bad is Stronger than Good’; and one of his latest books, co-authored with John Tierney, is called “The Power of Bad: How the Negativity Effect Rules Us and How We Can Rule It”.

What we discuss:

00:00 Intro

10:00 Negativity Bias Explained

12:00 Evolutionary reasons to focus on the negative

15:45 “Life has to win every day, death only has to win once”

17:45 We process the negative more thoroughly than the positive

18:45 “We learn a lot more from bad events than from good ones”

20:10 The Pollyanna principle VS Bad memories being good for learning 

27:30 Negativity bias in the media, fiction and entertainment

31:50 Ai algorithms tracking our engagement with negativity, making us feel the world is worse than we it is

33:10 “The world is getting better on every index except hope”, John Tierney 

35:30 Older people are happier than younger people, Laura Carstensen

37:00 Polarisation as a consequence of algorithmic driven negativity bias

41:50 Using fear for profit VS using fear for control 

33:15 Tendency to see the outsiders as threats

47:30 Belonging: our need not to be thought of negatively, hence not to be thrown out of the group

49:50 Theory of mind: Primates understand how other people think of them competitively but humans also collaboratively

50:40 We act ethically because we need people to cooperate

53:50 Negativity bias leading to a sense of belonging in the camp against the ‘other’

55:30 Self control and regulation: taking control of negativity bias, we’re good at getting better

56:30 Not doing the bad things is what makes the difference

58:50 4:1 Ratio of good things to bad things required to swing the balance

01:03:40 Ego depletion confirmed: self control fatigue over time 


Baumeister and Tierney The Power of Bad: How the negativity effect rules us and how we can rule it”

‘Bad is stronger than Good’ Paper, 2001

Baumeister and Tierney,Will Power: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength”

Full Show Note References on

Sep 14, 202301:13:21


What data supports the idea that Oumuamua could have been space junk from another civilisation from another civilisation? Why is it so important that the Galileo Project at Harvard looks for more such objects? Why is science finally taking the UAP Phenomenon seriously?

Today we’re going to find out about new developments in the SETI discussion (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) that has been prompted by the anomalous interstellar object Oumuamua, that passed through the solar system in 2017. Since the cosmologist, sceptic and TV presenter Carl Sagan helped normalise the topic for serious scientific consideration, SETI has been a thriving, if underfunded, scientific endeavour with multiple techniques being used, not just listening for radio signals; but which until recently hasn’t found anything to write home about, despite a few false alarms.

Until the arrival of Oumuamua, today’s guest, Avi Loeb wasn’t really involved in the SETI debate, but his SETI interpretation of the data on this object, and his impeccable reputation as former chair of the astronomy department at Harvard University has brought him into the debate with a bang. He is the Frank B. Baird Jr Professor of Science at Harvard, author of over 700 scientific papers, and receiver of so many awards and accolades I won’t list them there. Avi is also the author of 4 books, of which we’ll be discussing two today. First his New York Times bestseller ‘Extraterrestrial’ about Oumuamua, and second his new book that’s just out “Interstellar: the search for extra terrestrial life and out future in the stars”.

To add further taboo to this newly invigorated debate, we’ll also be talking about the 2017 NYTimes story on military UFO encounters, which revealed that the US Government had not only been secretly studying the UFO Phenomenon, but also covered the extraordinary ‘TicTac’ case around the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier, witnessed by multiple pilots and including radar blip confirmation. All of which has led to Congress passing a new law obliging military witnesses to testify about these incidents and alleged black projects working on this kind of technology, and to the June 2021 report form the Director of National intelligence (see show notes). Having never known this was even a real confirmed phenomena, and knowing Avi has since become involved in the scientific debate on this topic too, this interview was particularly curious.

What we discuss:

00:00 Intro

12:45 6x anomalous data points on interstellar object Oumuamua, Oct 19th 2016

21:45 Technological relic VS natural object hypothesis

24:00 Natural origin: Solid hydrogen/nitrogen hypotheses

27.30 Avi’s New book “Interstellar”

32:00 Our star is younger than most in the galaxy so younger star’s civilisations are probably more advanced

36:00 The Galileo Project: Looking out for interstellar objects, in 3 ways

39:15 1. Exploring impact sites on earth, Finding the next Oumuamua sooner, Study of UAP

48:00 Imagining seeding of planets, creating species and creating universes in labs

01:12:30 “Science is not zero sum game its an infinite sum game, because basically everyone benefits from knowledge”


Avi Loeb 'Interstellar: The Search for Extraterrestrial Life and Our Future in the Stars '(2023)

Galileo Project @Harvard University

Office of the Director of National Intelligence Assessment on UAP, June 2021, John L. Ratcliffe

VICE Magazine, Experiencers brains and Anomalous materials magazine article

NY Times USS Nimitz ‘Tic-Tac’ article, Dec 2017

Aug 31, 202301:27:09


What is the protocol for psychedelic therapy? How does it work? Who is it appropriate for?

Today we have the interesting topic to look into, of how psychedelic compounds are now being used in psychotherapy. With promising results in clinical trials from Imperial College around the mid 2010’s, a flourish of trials at other medical schools across the world has seen a renaissance of the psychedelic movement for treating, particularly depression and PTSD, that was started by transpersonal psychologists like Stan Grof in the 1960’s before then being banned. 

Along with this renaissance has come interest from pharmaceutical companies and psychonauts, psychotherapists and members of the general public suffering from treatment resistant conditions. With all this activity there is confusion about what the results from the studies actually show, how the treatment should be done safely, ethically and with lasting results and who to be contacting if you want to try it out. So I thought it was important to speak about these matters here for anyone interested in getting a data led picture of the fast evolving situation, among all the noise out there on the internet.

Fortunately my guest today is a clinical psychologist who’s been at the centre of the field since the beginning of the renaissance, and not just as a researcher but as a hands on psychologist in the therapy room with the subjects at all stages of the process, Dr. Rosalind Watts.

Dr. Watt’s work as the Clinical psychologist Lead for Imperial College London’s psilocybin trials,  have made her one of the most prominent voices and minds in the field of psychedelic research. She has been named as one of the 50 Most Influential People in Psychedelics; however, what sets Dr Watts apart is her focus on integration, harm-reduction and inclusion in the psychedelic space.  

Apart from treating she also builds tools and structures to foster connectedness after psychedelic experiences, finding inspiration for their design from nature. The most recent of which is the integration community she’s created - ACER Integration.

What we speak about:

00:00 Intro

04:30 Clubbing community

07:40 The psychedelic therapy process: step by step

08:40 1. Screening: for people it could suit VS cause problems for

09:50 2. Preparation: Building trust and safety in vulnerability

11:15 The psychedelic experience is the beginning not the end of the work

13:05 Sharing meals; music and essential oils used to encourage relaxation and surrender

16:50 At least two guides needed for ethical and practical reasons

19:50 The ‘Pearl Dive’ analogy, deep down to the hidden traumas

26:50 3. The therapy session itself

28:50 A non-directed approach to the journey from the guides

33:05 4. Integration: after the experience, maximising benefits

35:10 Planting the pearl of insight to nourish and nurture them

35:40 6 months later the depression was back

44:20 The role of ritual and ceremony in effective results

46:20 Appropriated from Mexican Mazatec tradition of psilocybin for healing

49:50 How to talk about the ceremonial without deities and religions  

54:50 Opening up to the sacred wound VS numbing the feelings

58:50 Ros’s first experience: Fear before and transformation after

01:07:35 The ‘brain reset’ analogy and the expectations it created

01:12:05 Mystical experience’s importance in the transformation 

01:18:05 Adverse psychedelic effects: actively facing the hardest places


ACER Community Integration Group

Dr. Rosalind Watts, A.C.E. Accept, Embody, Connect model

Maria Sabina, Mexican shaman - Life magazine 1957

Gaia Hypothesis

Adverse effects trial at Greenwich University: Jules Evans and David Luke 

Increased brain connectivity following psilocybin treatment

Little Pharma (Dr. Ben Sessa)

Aug 01, 202301:30:21


What does symmetry and self-similarity between life and intelligence mean for the nature of reality? How are neurones like genes? 

Today we have the extraordinary Fractal Brain Theory to discuss. After episode #38 about the World as a Neural Network, with Russian physicist and computer scientist Vitaly Vanchurin, i’ve become more open to a unified theory of universe that reconciles quantum mechanics with general relativity, as Vanchurin’s equations seem to offer. So when I was recommended today’s guest’s Fractal Brain Theory by one of the wonderful listeners, I was curious if a little sceptical given all the psychedelic hype about fractal geometry. So a symmetrical theory of repeating self-similar, self-modifying behaviour in the universe is not so far from the vision of the universe as a thriving, adaptable neural network. And according to today’s guest the symmetry directly connects the often divorced worlds of neurones, brains and intelligence with the world of genes, evolution and life. 

He is multi-disciplinary researcher, computer scientist, musician and author Wai H Tsang. A self-taught thinker in the world of neurology, evolutionary biology, consciousness and philosophy of mind, Tsang is in the unique position of combining these traditions into a single theory of brain, that promises to solve even the hard problem of consciousness. Trained in computer science at Imperial college, he wrote the first version of his Fractal Brain Theory in 2016, in his book of the same name, and it was picked up by quantum consciousness theorist Stuart Hameroff, who invited him to the Science of Consciousness Conference, alongside heavy weights in the field like David Chalmers, Roger Penrose, Sue Blackmore,  Donald Hoffman - many who’ve been on this show already. This recognition catapulted his theory into the field, so it’s with great pleasure that I include it on the show for us to compare alongside the theories of many of the giants.

What we discuss:

00:00 Intro

07:10 Symmetry explained: Variance and non-variance; change and resistance to change

11:00 Genomes work like tiny fractal brains

12:30 The symmetry between intelligence and life, neurones and genes

13:00 Junk DNA, neurones and boolean algebra

17:45 Dendritic structure, processing and artificial intelligence

19:00 Self-similarity and recursively nested symmetry

21:30 Evolution and ontogenesis algorithm: differentiate, select, amplify 

22:15 Fractal Mathematics and Benoit Mandelbrot: Approximate self-similarity

25:45 Binary trees generating life and intelligence

29:00 Mitosis and progenator fields

30:00 Allocentric and egocentric mapping (Nobel prize)

34:40 Goodwin and cell division VS epigenetic mutation/adaptation

36:00 Recursive modification IS intelligence; evolving evolvability

40:15 A new calculus: analytic geometry 

47:00 The soft and hard problem of consciousness 

51:00 Time symmetric quantum mechanics and problems with causal chains 

58:00 David Chalmers: Identity cosmo-psychism critique

01:11:00 Is self-reflective conscious Ai possible?

01:19:30 Penrose: Quantum mechanics is incomplete until we understand the collapse of the wave function

01:21:00 The ethical debate about the future of Ai


‘The Fractal Brain Theory’ Wai Tsang

Wai Tsang You Tube Channel 

Wai Tsang Core Live shows

Boolean Algebra

Yakir Aharonov, ‘New insights into time-symmetry in quantum mechanics’ paper

David Chalmers, ‘The Singularity: A Philosophical Analysis’ paper

David Chalmers, “Idealism and the mind body problem” paper

Jul 15, 202301:30:26


What evidence is there for a connection between the microbiome and the chronic inflammation and mental health problems on the rise in western populations? Do we need to rethink hygiene practices to benefit from this new understanding?

In this episode we’re going to be getting our heads around the idea that while Hygiene has revolutionised health, too much hygiene, actually weakens our immune system’s development. To understand why, we need to understand how the complex community of microbes in our intestines, on our skin and in nature around us has evolved for thousands of years, in symbiosis with our immune system; we’ll be mapping out how, as our hygiene practices and food processing have increased, so the diversity of microbiota has dropped, eventually leading to the explosion of inflammatory disorders, mental health issues and auto-immune disfunction we’re now seeing in western communities. But how to solve this problem, without loosing the great advances in health care achieved by the application of Hygiene theory?

Who better to answer that question and explain these subtleties than professor of medical microbiology at University College London, Dr. Graham Rook. Rook is a specialist in infection and immunity, and has spent his career unfolding how the young immune system is ‘programmed’ by the microbial background, identifying all the medical conditions that have been worsened by the failing immuno-regulation associated with our impoverished biomes, and developing ways we can update our lifestyle to restore the diversity required to sustain healthy immune response.

In his new book ‘Evolution, Biodiversity and a Reassessment of the Hygiene hypothesis’ he explains all this and his 2003 Old-Friends hypothesis, which seeks to correct the over-stretching of the Hygeine hypothesis.

We have got a show from the second series with phytotherapist Alex Laird, about the dietary aspect of the microbiome and inflammation called ‘Mood Food: Inflammation, the gut and diet’ should anyone want to get into the food side of this.

What we discuss:

00:00 Intro

08:30 Bacterial diversity in the human body and the evolution of the immune system

12:00 The symbiotic co-evolution of internal bacteria and humankind

13:30 The ‘programming’ of the adaptive immune system by diverse bacteria: Lymphocytes

16:30 Most of our genes evolved in micro-organisms 

20:55 Modern western microbiomes compared to our hunter gatherer ancestors

21:40 Variety of diet and contact with nature

22:10 Microorganisms from mother and the natural environment

24:00 The socio-economic factor: Urban poverty VS exposure to microorganisms and diverse diet

26:00 Antibiotic over-use in children contributing to allergies and obesity

26:25 Immune regulation, and how it changes with hyper inflammation

30:00 Background high inflammation in the west

31:20 Microbiota transplants in mental health, allergies and obesity experiments

33:50 The difficulty in using biota transplants to treat biome related issues 

39:00 Microbiome/inflammation research into Autism, Parkinsons and Alzheimer’s 

46:00 ‘Trained Immunity’ - raising immune alertness epigenetically 

50:00 Reassessing the hygiene hypothesis, good diet and minimising antibiotics


G. Rook, ‘Evolution, Biodiversity, and reassessing the hygiene hypothesis’ book

G. Rook, 'The Old Friends Hypothesis’ paper

‘Pediatrics Consequences of Caesarean Section-A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis’, maternal microbiota paper

‘Association between antibiotic treatment during pregnancy and infancy and the development of allergic diseases’ paper

‘Gut microbiome remodelling induces depressive-like behaviour’ paper

‘Long-term benefit of Microbiota Transfer Therapy on autism symptoms and gut microbiota’ paper

'Pet-keeping in early life reduces the risk of allergy in a dose-dependent fashion’ paper

Jun 30, 202301:04:38


What is Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprogramming therapy? What could be the mechanism by which its bilateral stimulation relieves the disturbances from trauma?

In this episode we have the fascinating technique of EMDR psychotherapy to look into. This is another show, like the Parenting by Connection episode #18, that’s close to home, as I personally have had extraordinary results with this method. Developed from the 80’s onwards by Francine Shapiro, Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing uses a bilateral brain hemisphere stimulation, similar to the pre-REM sleep state, to lower the physiological reaction in the present, following traumatic experiences in the past. The reason I was so struck by the method and wanted to share the science of it here, is how the model works physiologically on the reprogramming of traumatic memories, with more or less instant results - results that might take years using traditional talky therapies. Why this ‘straight to the point’ method works though is still not clear to scientists, so it will be interesting to hear the different theories.

Who better to tell us all about it than EMDR therapist ex-president of EMDR Europe and the president of EMDR Italy, Dr. Isabel Fernandez. As well as more than 20 years treating patients with EMDR and training tens thousands of therapists, she sits on several boards of organisations studying science of psychotraumatology, like the Society of Traumatic Stress Studies. She has written various scientific papers, books and chapters on EMDR and trauma too.

What we discuss:

00:00 Intro

06:10 Trauma with a big ’T’ (threat to life) and a little ’t’ (interpersonal)

09:20 The risk of a ‘victim’ complex, lowering resilience if we focus on even little ’t’ trauma

10:00 You reach resilience through addressing and integrating trauma 

11:20 Our innate ability to process adverse experience information and the overwhelming of that in PTSD 

15:30 Bilateral eye movement stimulation helps the completion of our innate memory integration ability

18:25 You do need to remember the memory to work on it, but often it arises by association rather than actively remembering it

21:00 Bilateral stimulation of the left and right hemisphere: visual, sensory and auditory versions

23:00 Pre-Rem Sleep is similar to the EMDR state

26:30 Proved to be faster than other therapies, therefore more cost effective for the state health services

28:15 Its functioning is not yet completely understood: the leading theories 

32:40 Iain McGilchrist’s left right hemisphere interpretation (See Episode #15) 

36:45 A meta analysis - Bilateral stimulation much more effective than non-bilateral stimulation, just therapy 

39:30 Adaptive information - 1. Processing of the past 2. De-sensitisation of disturbance the present 3. Imaginal future events 

50:15 EMDR for kids with traumatic experiences from 2 years old

51:45 Applications for collective mass trauma: war, pandemics, floods and earthquakes

52:45 The key is to work with bilateral stimulation during the acute phase of the trauma

55:00 Bringing EMDR to the Police, the military and the hospitals



Frontiers in Psychology: Slow Wave Sleep/ Pre-Rem Sleep similarities with EMDR State

American Psychological Association: Neural Basis of EMDR Therapy

Nature: Neural Circuits involved in EMDR suppressing fear response

American Psychological Association: Chris Lee, Meta-analysis of efficacy and speed of EMDR

PubMed: Meta-analysis of treatment of sexual abuse in children and adolescents 

Jun 15, 202301:01:51


Just how much evidence for psi phenomena is there today, when we put together the data from all the studies? What theory of reality could account for such phenomena? In this episode we have the baffling results of the scientific study of psi phenomena to get our head around. Broadly speaking psi can be broken down into four categories: telepathy, precognition and clairvoyance, and mind-matter interaction. The mere mention of these words immediately conjures images of magicians, charlatans and soothsayers duping a susceptible public; so combine that with the fact that nothing of these experiments and results have ever been properly covered in the scientific press, except by sceptics to dismiss them as physically impossible, as they would defy our current conception of the laws of physics: and the consequence is that scientifically educated people like us may have had absolutely no idea that there was more than 100 years of serious scientific peer-reviewed study on these effects from credible institutions like Princeton University and Stanford Research Institute, with debate and disagreement like any other field of science. Still, you can understand why professional scientists that are interested do this research out of the public eye, and the difficulty of other main stream scientists opening up to the results; as not only would it mean opening up to an alternative understanding of the laws of physics and mind, but also to be accused of believing pseudo-science. So I ask listeners that you sit through this presentation of the evidence patiently and just stay open to the possibility, as let’s face it the testimonial evidence for these anomalies is overwhelming. So who better to speak to about this baffling data, than one of the world’s leading psi researchers for over 30 years, psychologist Dean Radin. Dean got his degree in Engineering with Physics at the University of Massachusetts, and his PHD in psychology from the University of Illinois. He’s the head scientist at The Institute of Noetic Sciences and has worked in R&D for AT&T and GTE, as well as holding positions at Princeton University and SRI international. He has written many books on these topics for those who want delve deeper but the ones we’ll concentrate on today are ‘The Conscious Universe’, ‘Entangled Minds’ and ‘Real Magic’. 00:00 Intro 07:35 4 types of PSI experiments: Telepathy, mind-matter interaction, Precognition and Clairvoyance 10:30 Typical scientific response: delusion, illusion, mental illness, ignorance of the scientifically possible, and often that’s true 11:30 The Ganzfeld telepathy experiments: 5000 experiments with a 25% chance, result shift to 30% (6 sigma - a billion to one chance) 23:00 These phenomena may be bubbling up from the unconscious, so best to avoid conscious reporting methods 32:14 Mind-matter interaction: quantum random number generator experiments (4.5 Sigma result) 40:20 Dean’s ‘non-local connection/ observer effect’ theory for how psi works 44:80 Evidence for quantum coherence in the brain (See episode on ‘Quantum Biology’) 51:45 Robert Jahn, Princeton University Dean of Engineering, founder of PEAR Labs 56:30 A shift in openness to PSI 59:30 The Stargate remote viewing program at SRI: Dean’s role 01:07:00 Sceptic Ray Hyman: the strongest evidence for psi comes from Dean Radin and Jessica Utts 01:15:00 What’s being studied at IONS, that Edgar Mitchell founded following his mystical experience 01:35:00 Journals with editorial prejudice and psi research friendly publications References: Dean Radin 'The Conscious Universe' Dean Radin 'Entangled minds' Telepathy Gansfeld meta analysis of 29 studies (1992-2008) Precognition experiments meta analysis of 90 studies (-2011) Mind matter experiments eta analysis of 216 studies (1959-2000) Stargate Remote viewing program 1974-1996 Documentary ‘Third Eye Spies’ Evidence for quantum entanglement in the brain

May 31, 202301:46:06


Why are religious and mystical experiences important to our sense of meaning and purpose in life? What is a spiritual emergency and how can it actually help us in the long run? Are transpersonal experiences illusions of the mind or can they tell us anything about the nature of reality?

In this episode, we have the extraordinary topic of Transpersonal Psychology to learn about. With the steady rise in popularity of western secular spirituality, meditation, psychedelic research, altered states of consciousness and embodied practices in general, during the 60’s some psychologists felt there was a part of psychology missing from the old humanist and behaviourist models. It was as if the overwhelmingly materialist scientific view of humans, that sees our bodies and brains as fundamentally separate from other beings, the natural world and any hypothetically transcendent reality, was missing out a huge source of data about the way our minds work. So a bunch of them coined a new term, Transpersonal psychology, and with it came a new field of study and practice. 

It’s a really wide field and at its cusps starts to get into areas that science can’t actually study using the method; some of which we’re going to touch on towards the end of this episode. But above all it makes a place for the importance of the transpersonal that crosses those boundaries between our bodies and brains and everything else out there, both known and unknown. So fortunately today’s guest has over 25 years of experience both as a psychologist and a workshops leader, David Lukoff.

Dr. Lukoff has published over 80 articles on spirituality and mental health, and is an active workshop presenter internationally on spiritual competency, grief, death, recovery, and spiritual crises. He is a Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the Sofie University, previously known as the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, in CA and previously served on the faculties of Harvard University and UCLA. He is also the co-founder of the Spiritual Competency Academy, that offers mental health professionals courses on the skills and knowledge to become more spiritual competent.

What we discuss:

00:00 Intro

05:30 A psychedelic psychotic episode and a spiritual crisis

07:00 Spirituality and religion as resources and practices

07:42 The history of transpersonal psychology 

14:00 Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs VS behaviourism

16:45 Spiritual emergencies 

18:00 Jospeh Cambell’s ‘Hero’s Journey’ and Jung’s ‘Compensatory psychosis’

22:30 David’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) entry

24:00 The post scientific revolution meaning crisis, and spiritual assessment as a solution

29:45 Ceremonial, shamanic and plant medicine approaches

32:30 Bringing altered states into mainstream psychology

37:00 Holotropic breathing: simulating an LSD-like research after LSD research was banned

40:15 The strength of the mystical experience correlates with positive outcomes

41:15 Stan Grof: NDE, OBE, psi, afterlife and interdimensional communications

45:00 The Spiritual Competency Academy: forgiveness, compassion, mindfulness


Spiritual Competency Academy

Journal of Transpersonal Psychology

Rick Doblin - Founder of MAPS - Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies

‘Spiritual and religious problems’ included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders

Jung’s ‘Compensatory psychosis’

The Spiritual Emergency Network

Johns Hopkins and NYU studies - Intensity of mystical experiences correlation with positive clinical outcomes.

May 14, 202346:57


What do machine learning, physics and biology have in common? What maths emerges when we apply learning dynamics to physics, and can it reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity? If we see all nature as neuroplastic and constantly learning, like a neural network, what can this tell us about the fine tuning in the universe and the emergence of life and observers?

In this episode we have the fascinating possibility that the world is like a neural network to consider. On the show we’ve already deeply considered the way in which particles and sometimes even minds seem to be inter-connected in the universe, even beyond the apparent causal links in space and time. We also covered the brain science of neuroplasticity, for listeners who want to understand how that works. Applying that idea to the universe, that in some way the dynamic evolution of systems in the universe, over time adapt depending on the requirements could explain the extraordinary fine tuning we see in the universe, that permitted the arising of life in the first place. Along the way it could potentially fix some of the other gaping holes of disagreement in our best theories of physics. 

Our guest in this episode, the Russian physicist Vitaly Vanchurin, has not only developed this theory from the ground up, apparently reconciling quantum mechanics and general relativity, but is connecting it with biological systems and even developing a new type of computer processor to model it. After many years at the University of Minnesota, he’s taken a position at the National Institute of Health, and has more or less simultaneously launched a new multidisciplinary company ‘Artificial Neural Computing’ that connects physics, biology, and machine learning.

What we discuss:

00:00 Intro

05:21 The world as a neural network

06:00 Deep learning in the systems of the universe, neural learning and machine learning

09:00 The universe is learning as it evolves

11:30 Cosmic storage of learning, leads us to a cosmic consciousness model

12:40 The efficiency of learning defines its level of consciousness

13:30 A super-observer

16:00 It’s a useful model, but it’s likely how the universe actually works too

18:20 Fast changing non-trainable variables VS slow changing trainable variables

20:00 When the trainable variables change they could modify the laws of physics

21:20 Trainable variables in machine learning, are similar to genetic adaptation in biology

22:00 Connecting machine learning, physics and biological adaptation

31:40 What experiments could confirm this model?

42:00 At large scale entropy’s actually reduced by learning.

43:00 The emergence of life has a low chance of emerging by chance, more likely by pursuit of learning

44:50 Learning theory explains fine tuning in the universe

49:20 Neuroplasticity at a cosmic level: increasing efficiency and collective consciousness

54:30 The observer problem solved - hidden variables are trainable variables learning

58:30 Getting comfortable with variances from our best theories: models are only mental constructs

01:01:30 Vitaly’s new company 'Artificial Neural Computing’ - an interdisciplinary method marrying machine learning, physics and biology

01:11:00 What is emergent quantumness?

01:13:15 The implications of neuromorphic machine learning technology

01:17:30The implications for AGI

01:18:30 Self-driving car efficiency

01:21:00 Biology is a technology

01:27:40 You can think of space-time as many communication channels or neural connections

01:28:30 We are like one organism, a super-consciousness


Vitaly Vanchurin - The World as a Neural Network Paper

Vitaly Vanchirin - Toward a theory of evolution as multilevel learning paper

Vitaly's new company, Artificial Neural Computing

Anthropic principal

Stochastic (Adj) = Random and predictable only using probability distributions

Learning equilibrium = when learning in a system equalises with the level of knowledge in the wider system

Self-organising criticality

Apr 30, 202301:32:59


How Can Ultrasound destroy cancer cells and even increase immune response elsewhere? Are there any implications for a resonant field based understanding of matter?

In this episode we have the fascinating invention of Histotripsy (, the non-invasive destruction of cancer cells using ultrasound to look into. Alongside the other headline news that bioengineers are also using acoustics to pattern replacement heart tissue, makes the field of bioacoustics one of the most exciting for the future of medicine. 

It is of course the implications of this for the resonant vibrational nature of matter that make this of interest to us on the show, as we attempt to get closer to a true understanding of the nature of reality through our shows on the implications of Einstein’s ‘matter is energy’ findings and quantum mechanics. We get into this after 45 mins or so.

We are lucky enough to be speaking today with one of the inventors of Histotripsy technology, Zhen Xu, Associate Professor and Graduate Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Michigan University. She’s won many awards for her research, including from the American Heart Association and from the National Institute of Health. 

00:00 Intro

07:25 Destroying Cancer Cells with Ultrasound 

08:50 Issues with tissue heating and toxicity in other non-surgical techniques

09:50 Cavitation: the creation, expansion and collapse of bubbles - gas pockets in the tissue

11:40 Ultrasound propagates through the vibration of tissue particles

13:36 Acoustic Scalpel: Cavitation bubbles are highly visible on ultrasound imaging, for high accuracy treatment

14:45 No spread of tissue heating, so no healthy tissue damage

16:00 The discovery happened by mistake

19:45 She developed new devices for a new phenomenon 

21:40 Toxicity of the destroyed tumour is removed from the body in a few months

24:30 Immune response to tumerous cells after treatment, possibly from the debris

25:40 Live cancer cells alter signal pathways to confuse the immunes system

28:00 But once dead the the debris can are noticed by the immune system 

29:45 Future tumours or relapses in different locations are picked ups by the immune system

33:30 Treating neurological disease, brain blood clots and epilepsy too, across the skull protection

40:30 Patterning and forming new cell structures using sound (Stanford Med research): Structuring vs destructing using sound

44:30 Resonant frequency in various types of matter and biological tissue

45:00 No evidence from the lab for a resonant theory of tissue/organ health

48:50 Nikola Tesla, “If you want to find the secrets of the Universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration”

52:00 The implications of a wider wave-length fields, for the creation and maintaining of matter and biological life’s structure

56:30 Bioelectric component in organ development (TUFTS Study): The formation of life depends on more than DNA

1:01:00 A field based understanding of physical matter, rather than matter generating fields



Dr Zhen Xu 'Histotripsy: the first noninvasive, non-ionizing, non-thermal ablation technique based on ultrasound' Paper

Dr Zhen Xu - Histotripsy Group

Cosmos Magazine Article on Histotripsy

Dr Cliff Cho, Dr Zhen Xu - “...Immune responses that enhance cancer immunotherapy” Paper

Sean Wu and Utcan Demerci, Stanford Medical School, Engineering Heart tissue using Bioacoustics

Havana Syndrome

Nikola Tesla quote, “If you want to find the secrets of the Universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration”

Micheal Levin, TUFTS university, “changes in bioelectric signals cause tadpoles to grow eyes in back and tail”

Apr 14, 202301:10:34


What are the benefits and risks of transhumanist technologies, and why are they so taboo? How do we legislate to avoid existential risks, without holding back too much the enormous possible benefits? How do we secure the mental health, rights and equal access of the public as it inevitably rolls out?

So today we have the tricky and somewhat taboo topic of how to ethically guide the ever-increasing application of transhumanist technologies. With the recent advances in bio-technology, and some technologies already making their way into our bodies, it seems that the move towards a transhumanist vision of how to improve our standard of living is already well under way. So the question now is how do we educate ourselves the public and legislate tech corporations and governments, to be sure that people’s mental and physical health, access to opportunities, and personal freedoms are not being compromised in the gold-rush.   

Fortunately our guest today is a sociologist and bioethicist with over 25 years of debating exactly these kind of questions. He is the executive director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies or IEET, and he is the Associate Provost for Institutional research, Assessment and Planning at the University of Massachusetts Boston, James Hughes.

He is a Buddhist and techno-optimist, and was executive director of the World Transhumanist Organisation from 2004-2006. He argues for a democratic transhumanism in which human enhancement technologies should only be allowed if available to everyone, with respect for the rights of the individuals to control their own bodies.

He’s the writer of many articles and papers and the author of the book,“Citizen Cyborg: Why democratic societies must respond to the redesigned human of the future”. He is currently working on another book about moral enhancement, tentatively titled “Cyborg Buddha: Using neurotechnology to become better people”.

Being a techno-optimist and futurist myself, yet extremely cautious of mankind’s reckless and often blind curiosity when developing technology, I felt it was an important time to take a balanced multi-perspectival look into the ethics and policy development of transhumanist technologies. The interview offered me a process of re-evalutation of my own preconceptions and triggers, so I hope it helps you question your own opinions on this complex topic. 

What we discuss:

00:00 Intro

08:00 Difficulty accepting our inevitable transhumanist future

14:00 The taboo of transhumanism and debating toxic issues

19:45 It’s not the tech that’s the risk but the way we use it and legislate it: Max Tegmark

33:20 The History of Transhumanism

44:50 Is Eugenics connected to Transhumanism?

51:00 The roadmap towards markets rolling out transhumanist technologies 

52:30 The Kurzweilian paradigm: Smaller, smarter and faster 

55:45 Backing up memories - replacing and supplementing brain function

57:00 Instantiating brain backups in robot bodies, cloned bodies or computers

58:45 The Metaverse and brain-internet interfaces assessed

01:03:00 Augmented reality will be more popular than virtual reality

01:06:00 Technology interfering with the evolution of brains and culture

01:10:00 Selective scientific publication about the negative mental health outcomes

01:21:00 Neurolink: brain computer internet interfaces assessed

01:27:00 Gene therapy assessed: the risks of yet further inequality of wealth and power

01:43:50 The Singularity explained

01:56:20 Inequality leads to dangerous conflict VS Transnational collaboration leads to peace


James J Hughes ‘Citizen Cyborg’

Nick Bostrum - ‘A History of Transhumanist thought’ paper

The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies IEET

Mar 31, 202301:58:10


What evidence is there for quantum effects in biological systems? What are the implications for life in general?

Today we’ve got the relatively new field of quantum biology to assess. For years the idea of quantum effects in biological cells was dismissed because live cells were ‘too warm and wet’ to host these sensitive quantum phenomena. But new research into quantum coherence in avian navigation, quantum tunnelling in DNA mutations, in enzymes, even in smell - has brought new interest and study to the field of Quantum Biology.

One biochemist, saw all this coming and wrote a book about it 20 years ago called, ‘Quantum Evolution’. He is none other that than Professor of Molecular Genetics at Surrey university, JohnJoe McFadden.

His mainstream research is in microbial genetics, particularly in developing new systems biology approaches to infectious diseases. He is a keen promoter of public understanding of science and has given many popular science talks on subjects as varied as evolution and GM food. He also writes popular science articles, particularly for the Guardian newspaper. His specialties are broad including: systems biology, microbiology, evolutionary genetics, infectious diseases, tuberculosis, meningitis, and bionanotechnology.

He’s written many books but in this episode we’ll be focussing on material from his newer books, ‘Life on the Edge: the coming age of Quantum Biology’ with physicist Jim Al-Khalili, and ‘Life is Simple: How Occam’s Razor Set Science Free and Unlocked the Universe’.

What we discuss:

00:00 Intro

04:30 ‘Too Warm and Wet’ Dismissing quantum consciousness in microtubules

08:40 Roger Penrose: Consciousness may be a field

14:28 The macro universe must be quantum in some way

17:30 Nobody understands the cut-off point between classical large and quantum small

20:20 Quantum coherence in Photosynthesis, enzymes, DNA mutations and avian navigation

23:00 Life ‘amplifies’ the dynamics of stuff going on at the quantum level a to classical level

49:30 University of Surrey ‘Quantum Biology’ PHD graduate program

54:30 Science is becoming more and more interdisciplinary

57:00 Biologists sometimes need to go to quantum mechanics to understand their phenomena

01:12:00 The brain is a receiver and a transmitter: Conscious Electromagnetic information theory

01:16:00 William of Occam’s ‘Razor’ explained

01:22:00 Any sufficiently advanced science would look like metaphysics

01:27:00 Simple models aren’t an ontological claim about the world being simple

01:28:30 Bayesian likelihood reasoning makes sharper predictions


The Emperor’s New MindRoger Penrose

Greg Engel, Quantum Coherence in Photosynthesis paper (2011)

Judith Klinman, Quantum Tunneling in Enzymes paper (2006)

Thorston Ritz, Avian navigation paper (2004)

Johnjoe McFadden, Consciousness: Matter or EMF paper  (2022) 

Mar 15, 202301:33:07


What are the implications of Jung’s theories about the Collective Unconscious, Archetypes, Synchronicity and Individuation? What can they suggest about the nature of reality and the anomalies of modern science?

In this episode we have the fascinating topic of the metaphysics implied by Carl Jung’s theories to discuss. Jung is one of the great hero’s of this podcast, we covered the collective unconscious in episode #6 and synchronicity in episode #14 for listeners who want to go into detail about that. And the topic of The Shadow is coming up too, so look out for that. But to understand the metaphysical implications of his theories we need a special guest.

He is philosopher and author Bernardo Kastrup. Bernardo is the executive director of Essentia Foundation and his work has been leading the modern renaissance of metaphysical idealism, the notion that reality is essentially mental (he has a PHD in philosophy). As a scientist, Bernardo has worked for the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) (he also has a PHD in Computer science!). He has written many academic papers and books, has appeared on many media outlets and writes regularly for the Scientific American. 

Today we’ll be mostly speaking about one of his most recent books “Decoding Jung’s Metaphysics, the archetypal semantics of an experiential universe”. But we do take time first to talk about his scientific and philosophical worldview, as it related directly to Jung’s.

What we discuss:

00:00 Intro

06:40 Materialism VS the church: The history of Idealism

14:20 The dissociative boundary between us and the mind at large

22:20 Neural correlates + interacting across the dissociative boundary

25:50 Anaesthesia: Mistaking unresponsiveness for unconsciousness

29:45 Jung’s Metaphysics

31:20 The unconscious is active and creative, not a passive container

38:40 Archetypes are primordial templates of manifestation

39:40 ‘The ego is a little boat floating on a raging ocean of psychic activity that it cannot control’

43:20 Was Jung an idealist?

46:00 Causality + synchronicity: Wolfgang Pauli and Jung

47:10 Individual quantum events are not causal, so they are governed by synchronicities

48:00 Causality itself is an aggregate effect of microscopic level synchronistic effects

01:04:40 Bernardo’s midlife crisis - the first and second half of life

01:06:20 Individuation explained

01:09:20 ‘The freedom of the Slave’: The impersonal flow of nature channeled through you

01:20:50 Etiology: spontaneous VS deliberate purpose

01:26:20 Interpreting quantum phenomena through an idealist, Jungian lens

01:34:20 Physical quantities only exist if you look, if you measure

01:35:20 Entanglement and materialism’s difficulty

01:40:20 The states of the world are not physical but probabilistic states, physical states arise from measurement

01:48:20 Primordial truth beyond space time, is projected into space-time

01:51:50 Evolution is a spatio-temporal projection

01:53:30 Are Psi phenomena and military UAP experiencers manifestations of the unconscious?

02:03:40 Humility in the face of the unknown about the nature of reality


“Decoding Jung’s Metaphysics, the archetypal semantics of an experiential universe” Bernardo Kastrup 

“Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle” Carl Jung 

Mar 01, 202302:17:42


What exactly are time and space? What are the implications of them not being as they seem? What is the relational interpretation of Quantum Mechanics? What are the implications of its leading to no universal laws of nature?  

In this Episode we have the non-linearity of space and time to get our heads around. In Episode #28 with physicist Paul Davies we talked about the implications of Einstein’s work in general, and in this episode we delve deeper into the implications of relativity, particularly of time, but also of space and extension. A subject that our guest has worked on extensively.  

Carlo Rovelli is a theoretical physicist who works mainly in quantum gravity research, heading up the Quantum Gravity Group at the Centre de physique Theorique in Aix-Marseille in France. He is also passionate about the philosophy and history of science, so a perfect guest for this show.  Rovelli has written many popular science books, including the bestseller ‘The order of Time’ which we’ll be focussing on today. We’re also going to discuss today the release the his new book ‘Helgoland’, which champions his favourite Relational Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. Being such a philosophical scientist I’m also going to ask him about Intuition, Buddhist philosophy and psychedelics.   

What we discuss: 

00:00 Intro 

08:05 Time is local not universal 

12:32 ‘Block time’ is a bad analogy 

13:20 The apparent ‘flow’ of time from the past to the future 

18:00 Entropy’s relationship to time 

21:15 Is time an illusion? 

26:00 Matter and its extension is also relative 

27:00 Space is curved 

28:00 Back holes are full of space 

30:35 Our most obvious intuitions may not be correct 

31:00 Quantum Mechanics: Nature is radically and violently different from our intuition 

36:00 Probability Matrices and margins of uncertainty 

38:00 The wave particle duality and probability distributions 

39:00 Why the relational interpretation is the best 

46:00 Science is how you think about reality, not just maths 

53:00 Our obsession with final truth is illusory, a silly dream 

57:00 Buddha’s Dependent Origination + Nagarjuna’s emptiness 

01:02:00 Intuition and altered states of consciousness 

01:06:00 Psychedelics, insights and jumps of imagination 

01:17:00 A scientific theory of meaning  

01:26:00 An intro to Loop Quantum Gravity theory  


‘Helgoland: The Strange and Beautiful Story of Quantum Physics’ , Carlo Rovelli 

'The Order of Time’ , Carlo Rovelli 

‘The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way: Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamakakarika’ , Nagarjuna 

Empedocles - Greek philosopher 

7 Brief Lessons in Physics’ , Carlo Rovelli 

‘Reality is not what it seems’ , Carlo Rovelli 

Dec 01, 202201:35:08


What theory of reality could accommodate a phenomena of remote viewing? What are the implications of its success?

In this episode we have the extraordinary phenomenon of Controlled Remote Viewing (CRV) to get our heads around. Thanks to declassification of US government documents and several freedom of information act requests, enough official paperwork and declassified accounts about the top secret Stargate remote-viewing program has been gathered to give credibility to a book Phenomena by Pulitzer Prize finalist and military journalist Annie Jacobson, and a documentary film about this controversial psychic phenomena. The film ‘Third Eye Spies’ follows laser physicist Russel Targ, who along with Hal Puthoff, was employed by the Defence Intelligence Agency to do some tests on allegedly ‘psychic’ test subjects at the Stanford Research Institute in the early 1970’s. This was at the height of the Cold War, when intelligence was coming out of Russia that the military were doing psychic research successfully. To cut a long story short, the experiments were successful and the program went top secret shortly after the scientists published their first results. A protocol for ‘viewing’ distant times and places in the minds eye was developed by their first talented subject, Ingo Swann. The program ran for over 20 years costing over 5 million dollars of military funding, which is actually very little for military projects. The technique was used for intelligence work for the CIA, DIA, NSA, the army, and the navy, including assisting the finding of lost aircraft and profiling of Russian bases, before being declassified in the mid 1990’s after a CIA report determined the technique wasn’t accurate enough, despite getting some good, statistically significant results.

After it was declassified, the instructors went over to the private sector and began teaching the technique to members of the general public. Two such instructors were Lyn Buchanan and Mel Riley, who met my guest today Lori Williams; and became her mentors. In 2001 Lori became the first non-military certified instructor. Her experience includes not only teaching the technique but working with law enforcement to assist in missing person cases, conducting professional sessions for corporations that have had a direct effect on profit margins, and working on archeological mysteries.

She is also the author of two books about the subject Boundless: Your How to Guide to Practical Remote Viewing, and Monitoring: A Guide for Remote Viewing and Professional Intuitive Teams for anyone who wants to learn more before doing an actual course with an instructor.

What we discuss:

00:00 Intro

07:20 Controlled Remote Viewing explained

11:20 Being ‘blind’ to the target

14:00 No need to be in a theta or meditative state

29:00 Viewing the future: some things in the future seem to be set

32:00 Anyone can do remote viewing

01:14:30 Fear of demonic possession and extra-dimensional viewings

01:25:30 Remote viewing structures on Mars and other dimensions


Lori Williams. Boundless: Your How to Guide to Practical Remote Viewing

Free introductory remote viewing course from Lori’s school

Annie Jacobson Phenomena’

Watch 3rd Eye Spies’ documentary

1995 CIA Report that led to the cancelation of the US govt Stargate program. Jessica Utts and Ray Hyman

Nov 15, 202201:39:28


In this episode we have the fascinating proposition that what we call reality is in fact a hallucination we all agree on, to consider. We’ve already heard in this second series in Episode #28 from physicist Paul Davies on ‘The implications of Einstein’, that indeed matter is energy and as such the world we see as solid objects with space between them, isn’t truly like that. We’ve also heard from cognitive scientist Don Hoffman that we see the world optimised for ‘fitness’ in the evolutionary sense, and not for truth i.e not to see it as it actually is. So in the same vein in this episode we’re going to find out from a brilliant neuroscientist that we are in what he calls a ‘controlled hallucination’. That neuroscientist is none other than Anil Seth.

Anil Seth is a professor of cognitive and computational neuroscience at the University of Sussex. He is also the co-director of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science. He has published over 100 scientific papers and is the editor-in-chief of the Oxford University Press publication ‘Neuroscience of Consciousness’. His TED talk ‘Your brain hallucinates your Conscious reality’ has more than 11 million views.

His new book ‘Being You: a new science of consciousness’, which expands on most of what we’ll discuss today, is a Sunday times top 10 best seller, and a New statesmen, Economist and Bloomberg book of the year.

I’ve wanted to speak with Anil since I heard about his theory, as it seemed to match some of my worries about the disconnect between what we perceive and what is actually there, and how much of what we see is coming from our own mental and biological state, and our biases at the time.

What we discuss:

00:00 Intro

05:41 A ‘prediction machine’ perceiving from the inside-out, as well as perceiving sensory info outside-in.

10:00 Interoception: predictions about the body for self-control/regulation

14:00 The rubber-hand illusion: the prediction machine is not perfect

19:00 The risk of our best predictions being considered truth rather than hypothesis

23:00 Cultural humility about differences in our perceptions and beliefs

24:15 Why we call reality is a ‘controlled hallucination’

31:30 The body has shaped the predictive brain for survival

34:00 Brain body bidirectionally vs reductionism

37:30 Supervenience

38:00 Can different levels of description be primary to each other?

46:00 The self is illusory


Anil Seth's best seller, ‘Being you’

The Perception Census - Call for participants

Immanuel Kant’s idea: Noumenon, ’the world is hidden behind a sensory veil’

Pareidolia - seeing patterns in things

The Dream machine - Interactive flickering light experiment

Nov 01, 202250:15


Is our subjective experience of Free Will, supported by the experimental evidence? If not, how do we take moral responsibility for our actions? Why do meditators, who’re used to watching their thoughts arise and pass without identifying with them, find this data easier to integrate?

In this episode, we have the tough job of evaluating the experimental evidence for the existence of Free Will. The debate has raged for centuries in Philosophy, but now with advances in neuroscience and psychology experiments, we have some actual physical evidence to examine, and its implications to reflect on. We’re going to discuss how most of those who accept this evidence have chosen to carry on as if it they still have Free Will, which sounds contradictory. Do the implications for personal moral responsibility require us to do that? We’re also going to get into meditation and Zen, as our guest today and another famous advocate of the illusion of free will, Sam Harris, are long term practitioners. It seems those who use some kind of mindfulness meditation, and hence are used to watching the way thoughts arise and pass without identifying with them, are less troubled by the idea that they may not have free will. What does all this mean for the reality of a ‘self’?

So who better to explain this mind boggling question than, our first returning guest, psychologist, author and visiting Professor at Plymouth University, Susan Blackmore. Best known for her books The Meme Machine, Consciousness: An Introduction, and Seeing Myself, Sue’s work spans across hundreds of publications in over 20 different languages, making huge contributions in the fields of psychology, memetics, religion, philosophy of mind, supernatural experience, and many other areas.

What we discuss (full show notes on the website)

00:00 Intro

04:24 Previous Interview with Susan - Episode #1 on The Hard Problem of Consciousness

08:30 Experimental evidence refuting Free Will

14:30 Daniel Wegner - Thought suppression experiments

19:30 Who is making the decision if not our consciousness?

29:40 Wegner, ‘I let the decision make itself’ = Zen: Let the universe or practice do it

40:00 Meditation: frustration, Sam Harris and letting go of free will

50:00 Buddha’s ‘dependent origination’ and science’s causation


Susan Blackmore - ‘Living without Free Will’

Benjamin Libet - Testing readiness potential against the time of choice

Daniel Wegner - Thought suppression experiments

Susan Blackmore - Conversations on Consciousness’

Susan Blackmore - Zen and the art of consciousness’

Oct 15, 202201:07:60


In this episode we explore a User Interface Theory of reality. Since the invention of the computer virtual reality theories have been gaining in popularity, often to explain some difficulties around the hard problem of consciousness; but also to explain other non-local anomalies coming out of physics and psychology, like ‘quantum entanglement’ or ‘out of body experiences’. 

As you will hear today the vast majority of cognitive scientists believe consciousness is an emergent phenomena from matter, and that virtual reality theories are science fiction or ‘Woowoo’ and new age. One of this podcasts jobs is to look at some of these Woowoo claims and separate the wheat from the chaff, so the open minded among us can find the threshold beyond which evidence based thinking, no matter how contrary to the consensus can be considered and separated from wishful thinking.

So who better than hugely respected cognitive scientist and User Interface theorist Don Hoffman to clarify all this.

Donald D Hoffman is a full professor of cognitive science at the University of California, Irvine, where he studies consciousness, visual perception and evolutionary psychology using mathematical models and psychophysical experiments. His research subjects include facial attractiveness, the recognition of shape, the perception of motion and colour, the evolution of perception, and the mind-body problem. So he is perfectly placed to comment on how we interpret reality.

Hoffman is also the author of ‘The Case Against Reality’, the content of which we’ll be focusing on today; ‘Visual Intelligence’, and the co-author with Bruce Bennett and Chetan Prakash of ‘Observer Mechanics’.

What we discuss:

11:20 Seeing the world for survival VS for knowing reality as it truly is

13:30 Competing strategies to maximise ‘fitness’ in the evolutionary sense

21:30 The payoff functions that govern evolution do not contain information about the structure of the world

29:30 Space-time cannot be fundamental

37:45 A User-Interface network of conscious agents

41:30 A virtual reality computer analogy

53:30 User Interface theory VS Simulation theory

01:08:00 The notion of truth is deeper than the notion of proof and theory

01:17:30 Is nature written in the language of Maths?

01:27:00 Consciousness is like the living being, and maths is like the bones

01:44:00 Being and experiencing being may co-arise

01:48:00 Different analogies for different eras


Donald Hoffman - ‘The case against reality: Why evolution hid the truth from our eyes’

Nima Arkani-Hamed - ‘Space-time is dead’

Nima Arkani-Hamed - 'Reductionism is dead'

Local Realism is false

Noncontextual realism is false

Don Hoffman - Objects of Consciousness paper

Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem

Sep 30, 202201:55:44


What are the implications of Einstein’s predictions? Has our understanding of reality integrated the implications of this thinking? His General and Special theories of relativity have completely changed the way we see gravity, energy, mass, space and time, even size - but how? Physicists may find it easy to understand what his ideas mean; like this quote “The distinction between the past, the present and the future is nothing but a stubbornly persistent illusion”. But for us, the general public, just thinking that the the arrow of time is an illusion, is enough to give us a bad headache and leave us wishing that Newton was right after all. But that’s not what we do on Chasing Consciousness, our mission is the same as always, to update our world view to match new theories. Now this sounds like no small feat, but have no fear, all will be be clarified by a man with a skill for presenting complex ideas in a way we can all understand, one of the worlds most published popular science writers, Professor Paul Davies.

Paul Davies is a Cosmologist and Professor of Physics and Director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science at Arizona State University. His work has covered topics as far reaching as Cosmology, Quantum Fields and Astrobiology, with a sprinkling of the Search for Extra terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) and cancer research to boot. He’s the bestselling author of almost thirty popular science books, his many awards include the Templeton Prize and the Faraday Prize of the Royal Society. He is a Member of the Order of Australia and even has an asteroid named after him! Quite a career!

His new book ‘What’s eating the universe’, that covers many of the topics we’ll touch on today, is out now.

What we discuss in this episode:

00:00 Intro

08:00 ‘The universe is about something’

16:00 The warping of space time

22:00 The implications of gravity slowing time

31:25 Time and Space are relative, and can change and move like matter

36:00 Arrow of time VS Block time - ‘Time is just there’

38:30 Matter is energy or Mass is a form of energy

42:00 The table isn’t solid, its mostly empty space

44:30 Did time start at the Big Bang?

49:00 Time doesn’t flow universally, it’s what clocks measure

52:00 3 big origin problems: the universe, life and consciousness

1:03:00 John Wheeler - the ‘bendy rubber’ analogy of space time

1:05:00 Einstein’s famous quotes explained

1:08:00 Intuition according to Einstein


Paul Davies ‘What’s Eating the Universe: And other cosmic questions’

An Einstein Ring (A warping of space time)

Full Isaac Newton quote, ’Absolute, true, and mathematical time, of itself, and from its own nature, flows equably without relation to anything external’

St Augustine quote ‘The world was made, not in time, but simultaneously with time’

Nima Arkani-Hamed ‘Space Time is Dead’ lecture (from 14.20)

John Wheeler ‘Pregeometry

Mach’s Principle

Sep 14, 202201:14:44


How can out of body experiences be explained? What theory of reality could accomodate such a phenomenon?

Today we have the extraordinary topic of the science and physics of Out of Body Experiences to get our head around! Many brain scientists have reduced this common experience to a mix of physiological and brain chemical effects, maintaining that no perceiving consciousness actually leaves the body, rather it is a form of hallucination and distortion of body schema. Not knowing when these experiences will spontaneously occur has made them hard to study in the lab.

However, certain researchers have developed a method for inducing the experience, allowing for deeper study. Following that study some new theories of reality have developed that could include such an experience and even others like Near Death Experience or NDE, and Controlled Remote Viewing which we’re evaluating in this second series.

One such scientist is our guest today physicist Dr. Tom Campbell! He’s an experimental physicist who’s worked for over 20 years developing US missile systems for the Department of Defence, specialising in developing cutting edge technology, large-system simulation, technology development and integration, and complex system vulnerability and risk analysis.

He began researching altered states of consciousness with Bob Monroe at Monroe Laboratories in the early 1970s. He helped design experiments and develop the Binaural Beats technology for creating specific altered states, and became an experienced test subject and trainer too. After many years studying consciousness, and out of body experiences he wrote the book ‘My Big TOE’, as in ‘Theory of Everything’, which describes his model of existence and reality from both the physical and metaphysical points of view.

PART 1: Testing Out of Body Experiences

00:00 Intro

06:00 Balanced left right brain thinking

09:00 Out of Body Experience is a bad term, but neutral

13:00 Consciousness is not projected from the body

21:30 Testing Bob Monroe’s OBE phenomena

32:00 The experiment that confirmed it was real

36:00 Alpha Numeric information is not the same type as image, pattern or metaphor

46:00 The weirdest stories Tom’s encountered

55:00 Non-embodied consciousnesses encounters

01:05:00 Binaural beats to aid getting out of body explained

01:20:00 Theta brainwave is the state you need to be in to explore your consciousness

PART 2: The physics of Tom’s ‘My Big T.O.E’ (Theory of Everything)

01:25:00 Consciousness evolves by lowering entropy, finding more order and structure

Full show notes at


My big TOE book series

Monroe Institute

MBT events (binaural beats)

‘On testing the simulation’ One of Tom's scientific papers

Tom's You tube channel MBT

Sep 01, 202202:57:07


Why is Panpsychism gaining popularity? Is it coherent to say consciousness emerged out of non-consciousness? What can we deduce from a universe fine tuned for life?

In this episode we have the important job of finding out what Panpsychism is all about, and why the philosophical position is gaining more and more traction in philosophy, but even with physicists and other scientists. The idea that consciousness is the fundamental nature of the physical world is by no means a new one, and it does seem to resolve some of the problems of how consciously experiencing lifeforms could have evolved out of non-conscious non-living material. But most materialists balk at the idea and consider it absolutely bonkers, for reasons we’ll find out as we attempt to pay respect to the criticisms of the position too.

So fortunately, to navigate this tricky philosophical quagmire we have one of the best known and most passionate supporters of panpsychism, author and professor of philosophy at Durham University Philip Goff. Philip’s research focuses on how to integrate consciousness into our scientific worldview. He argues that the traditional approaches of materialism, that consciousness can be explained in terms of physical processes in the brain; and dualism, that consciousness is separate from the body and brain, face unresolvable difficulties.

His first academic book, Consciousness and Fundamental Reality was published in 2017 and his first book aimed at a general audience, Galileo's Error: Foundations for a New Science of Consciousness, was published in 2019.

He also has a podcast, Mind Chat, which he rightly hosts with a philosopher of a completely opposite point of view. And he’s involved in a book of essays on consciousness which will be out this year called ‘Is Consciousness Everywhere? Essays on Panpsychism, which is a collection of essays by scientists and philosophers published in Journal of Consciousness Studies. The contributors include Carlo Rovelli, Sean Carroll, Lee Smolin, Anneke Harris, Christoph Koch, and Anil Seth, several of whom appear in this series of Chasing Consciousness.

What we discuss

00:00 Intro

06:00 The unanswerable questions

09:30 Panpsychism explained

12:30 %32 of philosophers are now opposed to materialism

19:30 Neural correlates don’t describe the subjective contents of experiences

21:10 Arguments for Panpsychism

23:00 Consciousness from Non-consciousness: the evolutionary problem

26:20 Materialist counter arguments

44:45 Public observation and experiment is not the full story

54:30 Block Universe implications for panpsychism

01:06:45 Meaning, value and mystical experiences


Galen Strawon: why he believes Panpsychism

Eric Schwitzgebel ‘Crazyism’ article

Sabine Hosselfeld “Electron’s don’t think” article

David Chalmers on Consciousness might collapse the wave function

Full references and show notes at

Jul 31, 202201:22:15


In this episode we learn everything we need about how food relates to our mood and state of mind. We’re going to lay out the fundamentals of how different food groups and qualities of food influence directly our mental and physical health; how the gut species depletion and inflammation are key consequences of the changes we’re seeing in western industrial diet, and we can counter that tendency with some simple tricks.

Alex Laird is a medical herbalist with more than 20 years' clinical experience. Trained in biomedicine and plant pharmacology, she treats patients in the only NHS herbal clinic based in a UK hospital at Whipps Cross, and she is a fellow and council member of the College of Practitioners of Phytotherapy (CPP). She worked with Breast Cancer Haven UK for 20 years, using nutritional therapies for cancer. Alex has undertaken clinical research, is a visiting lecturer, has published numerous research papers, and is the co-founder of the charity Living Medicine. She is also the author of the new book ‘Root to stem’ which talks about seasonal foods and remedies for strong health and immunity that can be found growing literally in the hedgerow around your house!

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What we talk about:

05:00 An epiphany with nature

07:00 Nutritional Psychiatry and the Gut microbiome

08:40 Evolution with unrefined foods VS modern refined sugars

17:00 The need for minerals and phytonutrients

13:10 High protein/ lo-carb approaches

18:10 Variety is key, the research says

20:20 Phytotherapy

21:20 Inflammation explained

26:30 Acidification and pH in the body

33:00 The gut microbiome

40:00 Reciprocity in nature and life: Feeding diversity

44:00 Crucial gut and fecal microbes via vaginal birth

46:00 Contact with soil and pets (spores, fecal microbes)

46:30 Immune response load needed regularly to maintain health

48:30 The overuse of antibiotics in humans and animals

50:20 Gut disbiosis explained and solutions

55:50 Immunity evolved alongside bacteria and viruses and needs their load

58:30 Supporting Innate and adaptive immunity

1:00:00 Germ theory 2.0? - healthy immune response load

1:04:00 The ‘Root to Stem’ philosophy - Diversity, reciprocity, interconnectivity

06:00 Our relationship to the seasons sustained by seasonal foods

06:55 Reconnecting to nature, ourselves and to community

01:09:10 Plant medicines we might not be aware of

01:10:25 Phytonutrients explained

01:15:30 Dietary fibres and prebiotics

01:18:10 Fermented foods and probiotics

01:24:00 Connection to nature

01:28:00 Sacred = in service to life


Alex Laird’s association 'Living Medicine'

Breast Cancer Haven UK

Graham Rook, Old Friends Hypothesis, UCL

Karin Moelling - Viruses, more friends than foes’

Tim Spector, British epidemiologist and gut microbiome specialist

The College of Practitioners of Phytotherapy

European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy 

Association of Foragers

Jul 14, 202201:37:17


Audio Note: There’s a short background sound at 10 mins, it only lasts for 5 mins and it was during an important a point about the role of feelings in reasoning, which was too crucial to the topic to cut out.

In this episode we have the fascinating topic of understanding how feelings play a part in reason and consciousness. We’re also going to be learning how feeling is different from sensing, and if internal feelings and homeostasis, which evolved far earlier than other elements of our perceptual systems, can tell us anything about the evolution of human consciousness.

To get to grips with this we the hugely influential Portuguese neuroscientist Antonio Damasio. Damasio is professor pf Psychology, Philosophy and Neurology at the University of Southern California and the founder of their important ‘Brain and Creativity Institute’. He’s written many important books like ‘Descartes Error: Emotion, reason and the human brain’ and just out the subject of most of our discussion today, ‘Feeling and Knowing: Making minds conscious’.

I’m extremely grateful to previous guest Jonas Kaplan, who works for professor Damasio at USC, for arranging this interview. Check out his fascinating interview Episode #9 ‘The Backfire Effect’ on the neuroscience of belief.

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What we discuss in this episode:

00:00 Intro

02:49 The importance of creativity in science and life

08:30 Creativity can be slow, not always a flash of intuition

09:12 Brain and body are intertwined in the creation of consciousness

14:00 The importance of emotions to reason

17:00 Homeostasis explained

19:15 We have feelings to provoke us to get something that we need

21:15 Feeling is different from sensing

28:00 Sensing predates the nervous systems and feelings in evolution

31:50 Consciousness is related to feelings and they allow knowing

33:15 Artificial intelligence will not be conscious and feeling, but could copy vulnerability

36:28 AI didn’t evolve from surviving like us

38:15 It’s not just the brain - from the start it’s been interrelated with the body

40:30 Will robots suffer?

42:20 There’s no Hard Problem of Consciousness, it’s just physical evolution

47:00 Does awareness of awareness have an evolutionary reason?

48:30 The feeling system is ancient and early in our conscious evolution

51:30 Consciousness isn’t an illusion it’s a representation of your self and the world

53:13 The mind instinctively creates maps and patterns, even ones that don’t exist


‘Feeling and Knowing: Making Minds Conscious’ 2021

‘Descartes’ Error: Emotion, reason and the human brain’ 1994

Jun 30, 202255:13


Can we have conscious experiences after clinical death?

In this episode we have the bizarre phenomena of Near Death Experiences to examine. The intense experience reported by about %25 of patients whose hearts are restarted after a short time of clinical death, has fascinated researchers for many years going right back to Plato. However, advances in cardiology techniques in the last 50 years have permitted doctors to save many more people, and thus to study the phenomenon in a controlled manner: so, exactly how many people have the experiences, exactly how dead they were at the time and so to start assessing the controversial part of this discussion, whether these experiences can be explained in simply neurobiological terms or if there is evidence that consciousness can ‘survive’ clinical death, if that is in fact the best way to talk about it.

So who better to help us understand this than cardiologist, scientist and author Dr. Pim Van Lommel from The Netherlands. During his 35 year career as a Cardiologist, Dr. Van Lommel saw the need for a detailed study on this to nail down the physiological variables like medication, length of time without oxygen and to connect those to the psychological data, about the content of the experiences and how long they remained influential in the patients lives.

The prospective study he spearheaded was published in the respected Lancet medical journal in 2001, and his book about the research ‘Consciousness beyond life, the science of the near death experience’ was published in 2007. He also recently won second prize in the Bigelow Foundation for consciousness studies essay prize, which discusses the study and its implications.

Full references, shownotes and links here

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What we discuss in this episode:

03:19 Common experiences during an NDE

05:30 NDEs are possible even when the brain is fully functional e.g. Fear of death emergency

06:44 Carl Jung’s NDE was the first description of viewing planet earth from above

07:45 Transformation of world view via NDE + STEs (Spiritually transformative experiences)

08:14 Scientific curiosity about NDEs in clinically dead brains

11:00 1988-1998 Pim’s medical and psychological study of NDEs

17:15 Examining neurobiological explanations

27:45 Implications: consciousness must be non-local and the brain an interface

38:30 NDEers report heightened intuitive skill, empathy, precognition and telepathy

46:00 Organisations researching post-materialist science

51:50 Is the information perceived in an NDE different to normal perceptive information?

54:00 Non-local information exchange

59:30 Heightened sense of interconnection with nature and other beings - oneness

01:01:00 Life review: Experiencing from a different consciousness’ point of view


Pim’s book ‘Consciousness beyond life: the science of near death experiences’.

Pim’s medical and psychological study

Pim’s Bigelow essay prize text 2022

Bigalow Insitute for Consciousness Studies


The Journal of Consciousness Studies

Jun 28, 202201:06:11


How do we integrate the intense experiences of psychedelic therapy for long term benefits? Can we apply those learnings to existential exploration in general?

In this episode we have the fascinating topic of ‘psychedelic integration’ to get our head around. Integration is a crucial part of any psychotherapy process, but perhaps even more so when those suffering experience psychedelic compounds in their treatment program. Many subjects of the new psychedelic treatments for depression and ADHD, have life changing experiences that often go against everything they have come to believe about themselves and the world. So regardless of how positive that can be to the meaning of their lives, it’s clear that some pretty sensitive guidance and processing needs to take place for the therapy to shift their day to day life long-term. And interestingly the same tools we’ll discuss can be used for all of us to navigate our own existential exploration.

So who better to help us explain this and offer some tools for navigating these tricky experiences than clinical psychologist and author Dr. Kile Ortigo. Kile is the founder of the Center for Existential Exploration in Palo Alto California; he’s hugely influenced by psychologist Carl Jung and Jospeh Campbell and specialises in treating trauma, PTSD, depression, anxiety, and addiction, with a particular sensitivity to gender identity issues. He’s just written a book about the topic Beyond the Narrow Life: A Guide for Psychedelic Integration and Existential Exploration

What we discuss in this episode:

00:00 Intro

06:00 Integration in therapy

09:44 Integration of psychedelic experiences

12:13 Preparation for the unknown - Kile’s new book ‘Psychedelic integration’

17:00 Re-finding initiation; analogy with preparation

21:00 The risks of self-initiation

23:25 Is meaning built into existence?

28:00 Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey

31:30 The symbolism of the battles in the myths

34:00 The shadow - ‘a moral problem’ Jung

35:00 Monomyth is a misnoma

38:00 The Heroine’s journey - Maureen Murdoch

41:30 MDMA therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

43:45 Preparation - medicine journey - integration; 3 Arcs

46:00 The risk of re-trauma if the patient is not prepared

49:45 The rewards from existential exploration and integration

54:00 The exciting mystery of the unknown - making friends with the unknown


Kile’s new Book Beyond the Narrow Life: A Guide for Psychedelic Integration and Existential Exploration,

'The Shadow' according to Jung

Collective Unconscious episode #6

Individuation according to C.G.Jung

Jospeh Campbell’s Hero’s Journey episode

Jun 01, 202259:17


This episode covers the fascinating science of mindfulness meditation. The massive explosion in popularity of meditation, has brought about a quiet revolution to the frantic western mind with the result of a complete change in our societies approach to stress management, happiness and well being. Today we’re going to get to the bottom of what happens to the brain when we meditate and why it’s so beneficial. But we’re also going to find out what happens to our levels of happiness, satisfaction, mental health and physical health if we meditate regularly over a long period of time. We’re also going to think about how society and business at large will evolve if these techniques continue to be introduced to our schools and companies.

So who better to help us find out what all the buzz is about than award winning professor of clinical psychology at Santa Clara University, Dr. Shauna Shapiro. She’s a fellow of the Mind and Life Institute co-founded by the Dalai Lama, who we’ll be discussing a bit today. She also lectures about and leads mindfulness programs internationally; and she’s even brought mindfulness to pioneering companies including Cisco Systems and Google. She has published over 150 articles and is the author of several books, like ‘The art and science of Mindfulness’, and ‘Good Morning I love You’ and has just released The ‘Good morning I love you’ guided journal.

What we discuss in this Episode:

00:00 Intro

05:37 Study results: Increased attention, memory and academic success, lowered activation of the Amygdala, reaction to pain

09:00 Better regulation of the nervous system

10:00 Effects of longer term meditation practice

11:00 Our happiness base line can be changed with practice

13:30 Intention and repetition’s relation to neuroplasticity

16:00 Journalling to set intention and maintain practice

17:00 Journalling for memory, health, mood, immune system and sleep

18:00 Morning theta state - more malleable brain

20:00 Advice for beginners getting started on meditation

22:00 Breath as a tool for relaxation

24:20 ‘Name it to tame it’ - Increased resilience and acceptance

27:00 Historical undervaluing of the coping function of emotion

28:30 Emotions only last 30-90 seconds, apart from their intellectualisation

30:00 Rise of polarisation and negative bias hacking by media - Mindfulness and compassion as a solution

33:00 Self-compassion leads to wider compassion and implicit bias reduction

34:00 The insular (compassion centre of the brain) is muted when someone is very different to you.

35:00 Knee jerk reactions (amygdala) reduced with regular meditation

37:00 Shauna’s meditation workshops in the military and companies


Good Morning, I Love You: A Guided Journal for Calm, Clarity, and Joy Shauna Shapiro

Altered Traits, Daniel Goleman and Richard J. Davidson 

Changing happiness set points - Dr. Tal Ben Shahar - Happiness Studies 

Andrew Huberman Lab, ‘Sigh breath’ research

‘Name it to tame it’ UCLA study.

Alleged Viktor Frankl quote “Between stimulus and response lies a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose a response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness.”

May 15, 202241:27


In this episode we have the challenging job of getting our head around the psychology of altered states of consciousness or ‘exceptional human experiences’ as today’s specialist calls them. Are they mere illusions of the mind? Does their ability to radically change our world view and sense of meaning in the world give them a special status in psychology and mental health? And how do we talk scientifically about significant similarities between such experiences across different times and cultures that appear to imply the existence of an alternative kind of ‘reality’ what ever ‘reality’ is.

Fortunately, to navigate this bag of worms, we have a researcher who has devoted his career to the study of these experiences both psychedelic and other, Dr. David Luke. David Luke is currently a module leader of the Psychology of Exceptional Human Experience in Greenwich Universities Psychology and Counselling Department, a course he has been running since 2009.

He is also currently an Honorary Senior Lecturer for the Centre for Psychedelic Research, Division of Brain Sciences, Imperial College London. He was President of the Parapsychological Association between 2009 and 2011, and received the Faculty's first Inspirational Teaching Award (2016) from the University of Greenwich.

He is a prolific author and editor of books, and today we’ll be discussing his 2017 book ‘Otherworlds: Psychedelics and exceptional human experiences’ and his new book, a collections of essays he has edited called ‘DMT Entity Encounters: Dialogues on the Spirit Molecule’

He is also the co-founder of the Breaking Convention Conference on Psychedelics.

What we discuss in this episode: 

00:00 Intro

04:20 Measuring subjective qualitative experiences

11:45 The different types of altered states of consciousness

18:00 Reduced activity in the DMN (Default Mode Network) during alternate states of consciousness, but increased brain region connectivity

21:30 Evaluating mystical experiences psychologically

33:00 The connection between psychedelics and telepathy

57:00 Psychonautics - trying to map psychedelic realms and types of beings encountered

and much much more (full show notes here)


William James - Radical Empiricism

During Altered states there is a reduced activity in the DMN but increased brain region connectivity

Johns Hopkins and NYU studies - Intensity of mystical experience correlation with positive clinical outcomes.

%50 drop in atheism among DMT experiencers

Stephen Szára - first DMT experiments in 1950’s

Charles Laughlin - Polyphasic culture and transpersonal anthropology

Medicalisation and Reciprocity Specialists Symposium

Apr 30, 202201:30:20


In this episode we have the extraordinary theory of Biocentrism to consider: the hypothesis that the space, time and matter arose from life, and not the other way around. This theory obviously flies completely in the face of material science’s Darwinian view that life and consciousness evolved slowly out of ever more complex systems of matter.

Now we’ve heard in multiple interviews on the show so far that similar theories like Panpsychism, the hypothesis that consciousness is fundamental to the physical world, are hugely increasing in popularity and not only among philosophers but also among physicists, perhaps because many of the anomalies coming out of quantum experiments can be explained in a panpsychist model. But this is the first time as far as I know that a scientist has argued that life itself is fundamental to the physical world. Perhaps to many scientists it would sound absurd, but as the theory has been popularised by award winning Stem Cell biologist Robert Lanza, it seems important that we give this theory a closer look.

Given our physics slant on Chasing Consciousness, we are extremely lucky to be speaking today with Robert Lanza’s co-author on the new book about the theory “The Grand Biocentric Design, How life creates reality”, physicist and author Matej Pavšič

Matej Pavšič has been a theoretical physicist at the Jožef Stefan Institute in Slovenia for over 40 years, working on Mirror Particles, Brane Spaces, and Clifford algebra and spaces among other areas. He’s published more than hundred scientific papers and 3 books including "The Landscape of Theoretical Physics: A Global View" (Kluwer Academic, 2001) and "Stumbling Blocks Against Unification" (World Scientific, 2020). And the Biocentrism book mentioned above.

00:00 Intro

06:00 Niels Bohr - Measurement ‘creates ‘ the world quote

10:00 The wave particle duality - real vs perceived

15:10 The Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics

18:00 Hugh Everett - The wave function is relative to the observer

20:00 The risk of Woo when talking about Quantum Entanglement

25:30 A universe fine tuned for life - Hierarchical levels of representation and the hard problem

37:00 Mystical experiences may connect to wave function of the universe

38:31 Hawking and Wheeler - The past is not fixed until measurement

39:45 Matej’s theory: The Big Bang could have been caused by a vacuum instability in the quantum field

40:30 The book has been criticised by scientists for being over-simplified for the general public

44:30 Testability of Biocentrism via Quantum Mechanics

46:00 Weak Biocentrism paper, accounting for the observer effect while keeping the physical world

49:00 Quantum Suicide and the impossibility of being dead from the first person point of view

53:00 Why is consciousness so controversial in modern physics?

55:12 Difficulty of applying different laws at the classical and quantum level


Rupert Everett - The Many Worlds from interpretation of quantum mechanics

Robert Lanza, Dmitriy Podolskiy and Andrei Barvinsky paper - reduction of quantum gravity in the presence of observers: Intro article and Paper

Apr 14, 202259:22


In this episode we look at an alternative child psychology approach to parenting and care-giving, than perhaps the one we’re used to from our own childhoods: one based on connection rather than threat based motivations. This episode is a little closer to home than usual, as a few years ago we hit the wall with our eldest boy, who after the birth of our second child when he was 6, became extremely aggressive and uncontrollable. This led us to try Hand in Hand parenting, and we got an improvement of wellbeing and behaviour within just 2 weeks!

We were scheduled to be speaking with the founder, child psychologist Patty Wipfler. Patty sent her apologies as sadly her health had taken a turn, but what a silver lining as Patty sent us Hand in Hand’s program director and Clinical psychologist Dr. Maya Coleman Ph.D. Since 2007 she has been providing trauma treatment for children and support for parents. She spent 3 years at the Children’s National Medical Center giving behavioural and developmental consultancy, and last year joined Hand in Hand as program director.

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00:00 Short intro

13:36 Parent-child mutual connectedness for healthy emotional development

18:50 Learning and healing only possible in a state of safety

19:30 Traumatic experiences block learning both physically and mentally.

27:00 Release of emotion only when connected, emotionally regulated care is present

27:00 Crying is an opportunity to clear and reset their emergency/threat system

31:00 Offloading often happens later when the parent takes back the child

32:40 Children’s fear of care givers themselves


39:20 SPECIAL TIME EXPLAINED - building connection

43:45 STAY LISTENING EXPLAINED - holding a regulated space for big emotions

55:00 SETTING LIMITS EXPLAINED - Listen, limit, listen

01:05:00 Regulation and body language, instead of tagging and shaming


01:13:45 Laughter as an inbuilt releasing mechanism


01:21:00 Parents too get triggered and go off track

01:28:35 You can heal betrayed trust with kids

01:35:30 Memories and a corrective associative adjustment

01:38:15 Heal parenting, heal the world


Attachment theory

Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Study 

5 Listening tools for parents introduced

Hand in Hand you tube channel

More videos with Patty introducing the tools

Patty Wipfler and Tosha Schore Book “Listen: Five simple tools to meet your Everyday Parenting Challenges”

Listening partnership instructions video

‘The neuroscience of enduring change’ Richard D. Lane and Lynn Nadel

‘Birthing a new world’ parenting blog, Roma Norris

Mar 31, 202201:49:31


In this episode, we have the tough task of examining the evidence that our society is losing its ability for prolonged attention, focus and concentration. We talk about what are the main factors leading to this, and what we can do to mediate it individually, but also collectively through regulation if necessary, before it becomes intergenerational. Is this also another symptom, like depression and addiction, of growing up with less and less face to face social connection and non-focused attention?

Fortunately today’s guest, the New York Times bestselling author Johann Hari, has written about Depression and Addiction, and his new book “Stolen Focus: What you can’t pay attention and how to think deeply again”, focuses on this very issue of Attention.

Johann is a British award winning author and journalist. His book on Addiction ‘Chasing the Scream: the First and Last Days of the War on Drugs’, has been adapted into the Oscar-nominated film ‘The United States Vs Billie Holiday’.

And his second book, ‘Lost Connections: Uncovering The Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions’ was shortlisted for an award by the British Medical Association.

His TED talks have been viewed more than 80 million times. Over the past decade he has written for some of the world’s leading newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, and the Spectator. And he has appeared on NPR, HBO, The Joe Rogan Podcast, and the BBC.

What we discuss:

00:00 Short Intro

050:0 Rumi’s quote, ’The wound is where the light enters you’

09:42 The 12 reasons for our shrinking attention

11.10 Task switching and the illusion of multitasking

14.27 Higher stress from faster lives

17:00 Deep concentration only when feeling safety

18:41 Technologies that monitor us and manipulate our attention

20:00 Precedents in history for laws to ban certain elements that were harmful

22:00 The social media business model and the alternative

45:16 Gabor Mate, trauma and the rise of ADHD

48:45 Lowering of length of sleep and bad diet

50:00 The loss of exercise, sedentary schooling

53:00, free social play without supervision

01:04:00 Flow states: Meaningful goals at the edge of your ability


Leonard Cohen quote: ‘There’s a crack in everything, that’s where the light gets in’

Earl Millar at MIT - Task Switching and the Switch- Cost effect

Nadine Burke-Harris - Ex-Surgeon general of California, adverse childhood experience survey

Tristan Harris - Social Dilemma documentary

Gabor Mate book on addiction - In the realm of Hungry ghosts

Johann Hari book on addiction - Lost Connections, free social play without supervision

David Hume quote - ‘reason is the slave of the passions’

The Corporation, documentary about the history of corporations

Paul Graham - the world will become more addictive

Krisna Murti quote- ‘it’s no sign of good health to be adjusted to a profoundly sick society’

Mar 15, 202201:30:49


How likely is it that we live in a simulations? Are virtual worlds real?

In this first episode of the 2nd Series we delve into the fascinating topic of virtual reality simulations and the extraordinary possibility that our universe is itself a simulation. For thousands of years some mystical traditions have maintained that the physical world and our separated ‘selves’ are an illusion, and now, only with the development of our own computer simulations and virtual worlds have scientists and philosophers begun to assess the statistical probabilities that our shared reality could in fact be some kind of representation rather than a physical place.

As we become more open to these possibilities, other difficult questions start to come into focus. How can we create a common language to talk about matter and energy, that bridges the simulated and simulating worlds. Who could have created such a simulation? Could it be an artificial intelligence rather than a biological or conscious being? Do we have ethical obligations to the virtual beings we interact with in our virtual worlds and to what extent are those beings and worlds ‘real’? The list is long and mind bending.

Fortunately, to untangle our thoughts on this, we have one of the best known philosophers of all things mind bending in the world, Dr. David Chalmers; who has just released a book ‘Reality+: virtual worlds and the problems of philosophy’ about this very topic. Dr. Chalmers is an Australian philosopher and cognitive scientist specialising in the areas of philosophy of mind and philosophy of language. He is a Professor of Philosophy and Neuroscience at New York University, as well as co-director of NYU's Center for Mind, Brain and Consciousness. He’s the founder of the ‘Towards a Science of Consciousness Conference’ at which he coined the term in 1994 The Hard Problem of Consciousness, kicking off a renaissance in consciousness studies, which has been increasing in popularity and research output ever since.

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What we discuss in this episode:

00:00 Short Intro

06:00 Synesthesia

08:27 The science of knowing the nature of reality

11:02 The Simulation Hypothesis explained

15:25 The statistical probability evaluation

18:00 Knowing for sure is beyond the reaches of science

19:00 You’d only have to render the part you’re interacting with

20:00 Clues from physics

22:00 John Wheeler - ‘It from bit’

23:32 Eugene Wigner: measurement as a conscious observation

27:00 Information theory as a useful but risky hold-all language tool

34:30 Virtual realities are real and virtual interactions are meaningful

37:00 Ethical approaches to Non-player Characters (NPC’s) and their rights

38:45 Will advanced AI be conscious?

42:45 Is god a hacker in the universe up? Simulation Theology

44:30 Simulation theory meets the argument for the existence of God from design

51:00 The Hard problem of consciousness applies to AI too

55:00 Testing AI’s consciousness with the Turing test

59:30 Ethical value applied to immoral actions in virtual worlds

The difficulty of simulations within simulations


Hans Moravec - Pigs in cyber space 1992

Eugene Wigner ‘Remarks on the mind and body question’ 1961

David Chalmers and Kelvin McQueen ‘Consciousness and the Collapse of the Wave Function’

NPC becomes conscious in ‘Free Guy’ movie dir. Shawn Levy, with Ryan Reynolds

NPC torture in ‘USS Callister’ Black Mirrors 4th series, Episode 1

The Turing test for subjective conscious experience

Robert Nozic’s ‘the experience machine’ thought experiment

Future of Life: Max Tegmark's Organisation to reduce existential risk from new technology

Mar 01, 202201:09:30


What would a post physicalist world look like?

So in this episode we’re going to evaluate the evidence presented by psychiatrist and author Dr. Iain McGilchrist, from his extensive analysis of split-brain studies, that support a broader understanding of the mind and reality. One that pushes beyond the traditional reductionist materialist worldview, to include the implicit, the context dependent and the consciousness dependent.

He’s just released an epic two part book to clarify all of this, ‘The matter with things: Our brains, our delusions and the unmaking of the world’ in which he asks how we should understand consciousness, space, time and matter, given the apparent over-emphasis on Left hemisphere interpretation of the world.

Iain is an associate Fellow of Green Templeton College, Oxford; he’s a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists; a Consultant Emeritus of the Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital, London; a former research Fellow in Neuroimaging at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, in Baltimore. And he now lives on the Isle of Skye, off the coast of North West Scotland.

He has published original research as well as original articles in papers and journals, including the British Journal of Psychiatry, Psychiatry & Psychology, The BMJ, The Lancet, The Wall Street JournalThe Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Times on topics in literature, medicine, psychiatry and philosophy. He has taken part in many radio and TV programmes and documentaries, including for the BBC, NPR, and ABC and also took part in a Canadian full-length feature film about his work called The Divided Brain.

This interview was recorded at the start of last year, so the new book is not covered in so much detail.

What we discuss in this episode:

00:00 In communication with the world itself

06:30 Taking the implicit apart and out of context: disembodying it

12:00 John Cutting: noticing consequences of right hemisphere damage

14:40 The differences between the hemispheres shown in many studies

27:00 The Left Brain Interpreter: Denial and invention by the right hemisphere

29:15 Scientism: the belief that science can explain everything

30:48 Imagination and intuition in scientific discovery

33:10 Reason suggests there are immaterial things

37:40 We only know about matter because of consciousness

42:00 Navigating beyond materialism


55:00 Implications of the Observer Effect and Quantum Entanglement

57:30 The world changes depending on your attention

58:00 Panpsychism on the up in Anglo-American Analytic philosophy: Galen Strawson and Christian De Quincy etc.

01:14:00 Cells have intelligent novel reactions to the environment, genes store the map

01:19:00 Iain’s new book “The Matter with Things: Our brains, our delusions and the unmaking of the world

01:22:00 Why the drop in happiness despite a rise in standard of living?


“The Matter with Things: Our brains, our delusions, and the unmaking of the world” 

“Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World” 

Maurice Merleau-Ponty - Philosopher and neurologist 

John Cutting - psychiatrist 

Galen Strawson - philosopher 

Barbara McKintoch - molecular biologist 

Dec 01, 202101:45:32


Can Physics shed light on how synchronicity might work?

“Synchronicity: A meaningful coincidence of two or more events where something other than the probability of chance is involved.” C.J. Jung, from ‘Synchronicity: An acausal connecting principal’

The majority of us have experienced some meaningful coincidences in our lives - perhaps the right person to help with a problem got in touch out of the blue at just the right time to help solve it, or the right book randomly ended up in front of you when you have hit a block with a certain question, or a disaster happened that created total upheaval in your life which in retrospect turned out that without that disaster you would never have arrived at a certain really important change in your life.

Of course there is no way of scientifically testing or falsifying either a potential coordination between the causally unconnected events, nor the meaning of those coincidences to the individual. Despite that, the famous psychoanalyst Carl Jung thought that meaning could be as rigorous and objective as logical deduction, setting apart synchronicities from mere statistical coincidences.

So, firmly planting ourselves on the subjective, experience based side of the scientific fence, today we’re going to be exploring what Jung meant by a synchronicity and the evidence in physics that might help to explain at least the possibility of a non-local connection across space and time, or between the ‘inter-psychic world’ as Stanislaf Grof puts it, and material reality. We talked to psychologist Monika Wikman in episode #6 about Jung’s Collective Unconscious concept, so please listeners go back to that episode if you’d like to familiarise with that crucial idea too.

So who better to explain the relevant physics than the executive director of the Los Angeles ‘C.G.Jung Institute’ and theoretical physicist, Christoph Le Mouel. Having moved out of high energy quantum physics when he moved to USA in 2007, he is passionate about the connections between physics and psychology and incredibly knowledgable about the history of science.

What we discuss in this episode:

00:00 Superhero scientists and poems from the unconscious

12:30 Einstein and Jung have dinner: Relativity between space and time and between the psyche and the outside world

13:30 Quantum physicist Wolfgang Pauli asked Jung to write about synchronicity

16:30 Synchronicity: ‘Meaningful equivalence’ between causally unconnected events

19:40 Symbols appearing widely without previous knowledge of them by the patients

24:55 Is it impossible to investigate synchronicity with science despite the acausality?

26:45 Wolfgang Pauli sought therapy from Jung

34:00 The incompleteness of quantum mechanics according to Einstein and Pauli

35:00 Pauli wanted a neutral language with analogies to connect quantum mechanics with psychology

37:45 They discussed the unobservable parts of reality, strange numbers and other realities


48:45 The implications of the proof of acausality in quantum mechanics

55:00 Science cannot deal with meaning, despite statistical significance beyond chance

01:06:20 Uncertainty in quantum mechanics leaves space for creativity and meaning

01:10:00 Jung’s Brain as a transformer idea: transforming ‘Infinite intensity’ of the psyche into extension and frequencies.


Carl Jung ‘Synchronicity: An causal connecting principal’ 

C.G.Jung, Wolfgang Pauli ‘Atom and Archetypes: The Pauli/Jung Letters 1932-58’ 

David Bohm’s impilcate and explicate order 

Nov 15, 202101:43:06


Are our scientific assumptions justified?

In this episode we’re going to be examining the assumptions of Western Science. All science is based on assumptions. In order to isolate systems in experiments and standardise measurements of the target data, other variables need to be pinned down so scientists can form precise mathematical models, that can then be repeated accurately in the peer review process. Today we’re going to look at these assumptions, and establish if they indeed have become standard, fixed and unquestioned as some critics claim.  

One of those critics is Cambridge educated biologist Rupert Sheldrake, who gave a TED talk in 2013 about the assumptions of western science, which was banned by TED’s anonymous board of scientific advisors for not being a ‘fair description of scientific assumptions’. Far from quieting the controversy, the ban caused outcries of censorship, and the ripped video was seen many millions of times on You Tube, probably many times more than had it been left to stand as one scientists opinion. Today I want to examine just how fair his description was.  

To help us examine his claims is one of Rupert’s old friends and supporters, a specialist in the history and philosophy of science, an author and the program director of the Scientific and Medical Network, David Lorimer. He is also President of Wrekin Trust and Chief Consultant of Character Education Scotland.  He is also a former President of the Swedenborg Society, and Vice-President of the International Association for Near-Death Studies. Originally a merchant banker then a teacher of philosophy and modern languages at Winchester College, he is the author and editor of over a dozen books, most recently ‘The Protein Crunch’ (with Jason Drew) and ‘A New Renaissance’, and out this year his new book ‘a quest for wisdom’. He is the originator of the Inspire-Aspire Values Poster Programmes, which this year involved over 25,000 young people.   

What we discuss in this episode:

00:00 Compulsory philosophy and death 

07:32 Examining Rupert Sheldrake’s 10 claimed assumptions of western science  

09:10 The ‘Life and nature are mechanistic’ assumption 

19:30 The ‘Matter is unconscious’ assumption 

29:40 ‘The laws of nature are constant’ assumption 

38:26 The Galileo Commission - get everyone to look though the telescope 

43:00 Reality is relational not relative - Apilla Colorado and Leroy Little bear 

44:45 The ‘Nature is Purposeless’ assumption - teleology 

52:30 ‘Biological heredity is only physical’ and ‘memory is in your Brain’ assumptions 

55:00 Morphogenetic fields and memories of previous lives and birthmarks 

1:01:45 ‘Your mind is in your head, your consciousness is correlated to your brain activity’ assumption 

1:05:30 ‘Psychic phenomena and telepathy are impossible’ assumption 



Rupert Sheldrake ‘Science set free’ 

David Lorimer ‘A Quest for Wisdom’ 

David Lorimer ‘Thinking Beyond the Brain’ 

The Galileo Commission - get everyone to look though the telescope 

The Scientific and Medical Network 

Nov 01, 202102:04:52


Can intention, attention or expectation affect random physical events?

In this episode we’re going to be exploring the subtleties of an odd phenomenon: the Experimenter Effect, where the expectations of the scientist doing an experiment appear to affect the results measured. This is hugely important for the right practice of science, and for understanding why some experiments that seem watertight methodologically can only be reproduced by scientists who expect the same results and not by sceptics of the hypothesis.

Who better to discuss this with than a scientist who ran into this while trying to disprove the the influence of consciousness in a physical system, Professor Garret Moddel; Dr. Moddel is Professor of Electrical and Quantum engineering at Colorado University, specialising in Solar cells, metal-insulator technology and geometric diodes, and optoelectronics among other extraordinary technologies. He also runs a separate psi phenomena lab. He is also one of the former presidents of the groundbreaking research organisation the Society of Scientific Exploration.


01:04 The Experimenter effect explained

01:06 The difference between the effect in Psychology and in Physics

19:00 RNGs: Helmut Schmitt and atomic decay Random Number Generator experiments

25:00 1000’s of scientists in a data driven, peer reviewed field of science, in underground labs at top universities; totally unacknowledged by the rest of science

27:30 Garrett didn’t believe it till he read the literature

55:55 Standford Research Institute’s 1970’s-1990’s military psychic spy Remote Viewing experiments

01:03:30 Jessica Utts: The statistical analysis of SRI’s remote viewing research


01:08:00 The Observer Effect: simply observing interacts with quantum systems

01:11:00 Wigner Von Neumann and the ‘collapse of the wave function’

01:15:00 Our intention does affect random phenomena, incontrovertibly in the literature


(please note the reported bias towards criticism over support on the wiki entries; the supporters of this science try constantly to re-edit these entries to represent credible support as well as criticism, only for moderators to edit back. Why the need for such disproportional criticism?)

Schmidt, Helmut. Paper "Collapse of the state vector and psychokinetic effect." Foundations of Physics 12.6 (1982): 565-581. 

The Society for Scientific Exploration

Dean Radin at IONS

Radin, Dean, et al. paper "Psychophysical interactions with a double-slit interference pattern: Exploratory evidence of a causal influence." Physics Essays 34.1 (2021): 79-88.

Robert Jahn, Dean of Engineering at Princeton and founder of PEAR Labs Princeton

Robert Jahn, Brenda Dunne paper, ”On the quantum mechanics of consciousness, with application to anomalous phenomena." Foundations of Physics 16.8 (1986): 721-772.

Roger Nelson, Director of PEAR Labs Princeton

Bernie Haisch’s and Garret Moddel’s Zero point energy patent

Garret Moddel et al, paper on Zero-point research

Oct 14, 202101:58:23


In episode #11 we explore the way emotions work, and particularly fear - the way it’s triggered, what happens in the brain and how much we are conscious of what’s going on. I think this is really relevant as we appear to be an extremely fearful, defensive and argumentative society in general, and perhaps if we understood what was happening inside us we might be able to limit some of the damage these kind of encounters produce. We also look at the the Limbic System and Triune Brain theories of emotions and the evolution of the brain, and find out why these hugely popular theories in Psychology are no longer really considered true by neuroscientists. Perhaps we can salvage something useful from these theories for psychology, as some really effective therapies have been based on them in the past.

So who better to help us clarify all this than emotion and fear specialist, neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux.

Dr Le Doux is the Henry and Lucy Moses Professor of Science at NYU in New York in the Center for Neural Science, and he directs the Emotional Brain Institute of NYU and the Nathan Kline Institute. He is also a Professor of Psychiatry and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical School. His work is focused on the brain mechanisms of memory and emotion and he is the author of The Emotional Brain, Synaptic Self, and Anxious and his most recent book that we’ll be talking mostly about today “Deep History of Ourselves and the evolution of consciousness”. He has received loads of awards, including prizes from the Association for Psychological Science, the American Philosophical Society, the IPSEN Foundation and the American Psychological Association. His book Anxious received the 2016 William James Book Award from the American Psychological Association. Awesomely, he is also the lead singer and songwriter in the rock band, The Amygdaloids and performs with Colin Dempsey as the acoustic duo So We Are.

Jo’s new book “The Deep History of Ourselves: the 4 billion year sorry of how we got conscious brains” 

What we discuss in this episode:


05:16 Jo joined Mike Gazzaniga’s lab in the late 60’s

07:00 The neuroscience of being afraid and under threat

09:00 Left Brain Interpreter: Consciousness is a narration making sense of our behaviour (See Episode #3)

16:45 The Amygdala: Raised heart rate and sweaty palms are not the emotion of fear

33:00 A criticism of Paul MacLean’s Limbic system and Triune Brain theories

40:00 The Amygdala is misunderstood when associated with fear rather than threat stimuli processing

45:45 We should keep mental state terms and behaviour terms separate

47:00 Threat hormones like cortisol can affect rational thinking in the frontal cortex


52:00 The conscious experience of anxiety and fear is often where the problem lies, not the physiological mechanisms the medication is treating

59:30 3 types of noetic consciousness: breaking it down to try and learn more

1:14:00 Contrary to darwinism, cognition came before emotions

1:15:30 Reconciling the disconnect between experiences and brain activity

1:24:00 W.H.Auden "The age of anxiety" poem

1:27:00 Focussing on improving how we feel over how we behave


Leon Festinger’s theory of Cognitive Dissonance

 Endel Tulving - 3 types of noetic consciousness

Steve Flemming UCL - subjective self awareness in the frontal pole area

Sep 30, 202101:35:13


'Psychedelics in a changing World: medicalisation, reciprocity and planetary healing' With: Ben Sessa, Gabriel Amezcua, Nick von Christierson, David Luke, Andrea Langlois & Ashleigh Murphy-Beiner.

This is a recording of a fascinating panel chaired by Chasing Consciousness in the talks tent of Medicine Festival programmed by Ruby Reed. It included psychologists, psychiatrists, psychedelic entrepreneurs and activists at the top of their field. The panel gave a nuanced and positive overview of the issues associated with the now inevitable medicalisation of these psychedelic compounds. With great sensitivity they approached the very difficult issue of how to honour the roots of this therapy in indigenous shamanism, without reducing it to just money or token indigenous board members. Despite positive predictions for the future it became clear by the end of the talk just how complex the issue of reciprocity is.

You can check our interview with Ashleigh Murphy Beiner of the Imperial College team on 'Testing psychedelics for depression' here. And look out for future interviews with panelists Dr. Ben Sessa and David Luke to come soon!

00:00 Introduction to the speakers

02:49 Medicalisation: Just a success story or are there shadows to call out early in the process?

03:10 Ben Sessa: safe, effective medicines as alternatives to long term pharmaceutical

05:00 Getting to the root cause of the problem rather than papering over the symptoms

06:40 'A psychiatric renaissance'

09:20 Ashleigh Murphy-Beiner: Learning from the shadow to confront worldwide depression

15:40 Designing ethical psychedelic treatment models that match its uniqueness

16:15 David Luke: Biomedical model VS subjective psychological model

18:00 Bio-Psycho-social-spiritual models may not work with medicalisation

21:00 Nick Van Christiersen of Woven Science

22:00 Being inspired by Indigenous models: Diagnosis, preparation, peak experience, integration in community

23:00 Psychedelic treatment is a threat to big pharma

24:00 Andrea Langlois: Keeping the door more widely open than just to medicalisation

25:00 Gabriel Amezcua: Accessibility, decolonisation, inclusion of indigenous people in the medical process

28:00 Andrea Langlois: The indigenous idea of Reciprocity. The ailments of modern society like depression and climate change are a call to come back into a relationship of reciprocity with Gaia

31:00 Risk of hijacking of reciprocity, to green wash profiteering

32:00 Gabriel Amezcua: Giving and getting, participation, engagement, respect not money

36:00 Do you think they really want to be ‘preserved’!?

39:00 Nick Van Christiersen: reparations before reciprocity

42:00 David Luke: Is it our right to give them to have a seat at the table!?

45:00 Ashleigh Murphy-Beiner: We have so much to learn and adapt from the indigenous methodology

47:00 The newly founded Association for Psychedelic Therapies

48:00 Ben Sessa: Reciprocity between carer and patient

53:00 Andrea Langlois: Indigenous knowledge should be understood as science and decriminalised

59:00 Ben Sessa: Getting it over the line - decriminalisation

1:01:50 David Luke: Changing our whole world view through psychedelics, to reboot the culture of a species in crisis

1:06:00 Gabriel Amezcua: Psychedelics are confined mostly to privileged white people when they are most needed by vulnerable minorities

1:08:00 De-Regulation of substances, accessibility for poor communities with trauma and PTSD

1:11:00 Andrea Langlois: Earth practice and our own western relationship with plants and the natural world

1:18:00 Closing comments

Sep 24, 202101:25:55


Can psychedelic therapy help depression?

We are now in the middle of the first psychedelic resurgence since the last bout of research in the 60’s and 70’s led by legends of the psychedelic movement like Dr. Stan Grof at Harvard. This resurgence is taking place on two fronts: Firstly, following promising results from Imperial College’s Psidep 1 study into the use of Psilocybin, the active ingredient in Magic Mushrooms, to treat treatment-resistant depression; there has been a host of studies around the world at leading universities like Harvard investigating many other compounds as well as Psilocybin like famous rave drug MDMA and horse tranquilliser Ketamine. This is an odd turn of events for compounds that have been systematically demonised by governments and accused of worsening mental health conditions.

Secondly, we are seeing a a massive increase in the participation of Ahyuasca rituals, whose active ingredient is DMT, one of the most hallucinogenic compounds in the world, to the point that it has become a fashion among the funky philosophical Burning Man style community.

The world of medicine and personal transformation seem to be converging. But we need a specialist to clarify the details here before we get ahead of ourselves.

So who better to help us navigate this new territory than assistant psychologist on Imperial’s most recent psilocybin study, Ashleigh Murphy Beiner.

Ashleigh Murphy-Beiner is a Trainee Clinical Psychologist and Mindfulness Practitioner. She is a member of the Psychedelic Research Group at Imperial College London. She is also a scientific researcher and has published research investigating the therapeutic use of ayahuasca. Her research has found changes in mindfulness and cognitive flexibility after ayahuasca use which both play a role in psychological wellbeing.

What we discuss:

00:00 Inequality and suffering and how to deal with that experience

05:20 Victor Frankel and thriving from the fundamental quest for human meaning

07:49 Treatment resistant depression, ruminating about the past and social disconnection

14:00 Psychedelics reduce rumination (DMN) and increase plasticity

16:00 Mazatec and North American Indian traditions of healing using hallucinogens

17:30 Plants have their own agency in the indigenous worldview

18:30 Imperial Colleges 2nd Psilocybin Study for depression explained

28:00 The results and how they compared to Psidep1, the first study

31:00 No magic answer to long-term effectiveness challenges against Depression

33:00 ‘Restoring a quality of life’ despite persistent depression symptoms

34:12 Dr. Rosalind Watts’ ACE (Accept, Connect, Embody) Model of treatment and post traumatic growth

36:30 Avoidance to acceptance, and disconnection from others, themselves and the world to connection to those things

39:00 Embody: allowing yourself to feel the pain

43:30 Yohann Hari and the wider systemic issues of inequality leading to depression

45:30 How it feels to publish your first scientific paper

46:00 Ashleigh’s study of Ahyuasca’s effects on cognition

49:00 The commercialisation of Ahyuasca and reciprocity

53:00 Common threads of between Ahyuasca, NDE and psilocybin experiences

56:20 The value of studying altered states of consciousness

1:00:00 Evidence that trauma is stored in the body


Victor Frankel 

Dr. Gabor Mate documentary 

Yohann Hari book 'Lost Connections' 

Sep 15, 202101:02:10


In this episode we want to understand how easy it is to change our beliefs when we receive new information, a process that can be really uncomfortable and lead to great resistance in the psyche. The scientific community, whilst educated to update their world view based on new information and theory, are by no means immune to this resistance; today we’ll find out to what extent it is just a human trait we have to accept.

Now that the scientific method has become more water-tight from our biases than ever, and data collection is more sophisticated than ever, the difference between hard data and the opinion we draw from that data should also be more clear. However, the introduction of the internet and the separation of the population by social media algorithms into tribal bubbles of like-minded people, has mixed together data and opinion, confusing the scientific community and the lay population alike. 

So understanding the biology of belief, our discomfort and resistance to new information, and how beliefs play a part in our sense of self can really help us stay open to new data and to update our world view to match it with the necessary flexibility demanded by the sheer speed of change of our current era’s technological revolution; in my opinion this awareness offers essential tools for navigating the next few decades.

So who better to help us navigate this mine-field of human behaviour than cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Jonas Kaplan. His research focuses on the neural basis of consciousness, self, empathy, social relationships, action perception and creativity. Using a combination of fMRI neuro-imaging and behavioural studies he aims to examine the neural mechanisms that underlie our experience of resonating with other people and being aware of ourselves. He is the assistant Research Professor of Psychology at University of South California’s ‘Brain and Creativity Institut’e and Co-Director of the Dana and David Dornslife Cognitive Neuroimaging centre.

Today’s chat will begin discussing his research with Sarah Gimbel and Sam Harris into a possible Backfire Effect when faced with new data.

What we discuss in this episode:

00:00 Split brains and 2 separate consciousness’ in one head

07:10 The Backfire Effect explained

09:00 Why do we find it so difficult to change our minds about things that we care about?

12:40 Less flexibility to changing mind associated with activated Amygdala and Insular cortices

16:00 Avoidance of situations that will challenge us to change our minds

18:15 The evolutionary intertwining between emotion and cognition

23:30 The difference between Cognitive Dissonance and The Backfire effect

25:30 Reason is coloured by underlying motivation

29:00 Sam Harris and the neural basis of belief

31:45 The algorithmic belief bubbles of a post internet world

37:20 The Default Mode Network’s narrative about self, is less active in meditators

40:00 Utilitarian values VS idealogical/sacred values

45:00 The Left Brain interpreter and making up narratives to keep our world view consistent


58:00 What is self and is it an illusion?

1:01:30 Demasio’s ‘Core’ and ‘Autobiographical’ self

1:04:00 Mental concepts are useful provisional illusions in some sense

1:08:00 The blur between ‘self’ and ‘other’

1:11:50 Belonging and social group membership and it’s influence on beliefs

1:21:00 Self is a narrative about ourselves

1:22:00 Exceptional experience revealing the illusion of self and the fear of ego death

1:26:45 The biology of belief: the mind body connection


The left Brain Interpreter

Antonio Demasio ‘Descartes Error’'_Error

Jonas' new podcast

Aug 31, 202101:34:25


How important is story to to human understanding?  

Today we take a step away from science per se, to look at the role of story in the formation of our world views, for generations our only method alongside direct experience of understanding the world, as opposed the more modern method of hard data from scientific research that we tend to examine on Chasing Consciousness. So we’re continuing the all important job of our first series: to establish the limits of what science can know. And today we’re going to start understanding how some of the story like information found in the psyche, and perhaps in the way our lives unfold, can give us clues to the nature of human reality and so support our scientific research in psychology.   

So who better to help us navigate this troublesome academic area than award winning social anthropologist Dr Carla Stang! Carla earned her Ph.D. in Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge.  She has held the position of Visiting Scholar at Columbia University and Associate Researcher at the University of Sydney, and was awarded the Frank Bell Memorial Prize for Anthropology from Cambridge. Based on her fieldwork with the Mehinaku, Carla wrote a book called “A Walk to the River in Amazonia” which we’ll be talking about in a bit. She writes for the Dark Mountain collective which advocates ‘uncivilisation’, and has created a mysterious new project ‘Imaginal Futures’. Most recently she co-created the first Masters of Philosophy at Schumacher College, and is currently at work on a new book, an ecological, cross-disciplinary and collaborative project.

What we discuss in this episode: 

Part 1 

00:00 Tarzan of Greystoke

10:00 How much of a problem is our propensity for narrative over fact? 

14:00 Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey or Monomyth examined

24:00 Critiquing the destructive power and domination of others presented in the mono myth

40:00 The uninitiated: we’re a society of children

49:00 The Heroine’s Journey, Maureen Murdoch and healing the wounded feminine

55:00 Different types of ‘events of consciousness’ and mythos

Part 2 

1:05:30 The importance of interdisciplinary research to get big picture understanding

1:17:00 What’s quotidian Amazonian life like; ‘A Walk to the River in Amazonia’ Carla’s 2011 book

1:53:00 Imagining the stories of the future we want, we can form the world


Carla Stang ‘A Walk to the River in Amazonia’ 

Imaginal Futures created by Carla Stang,  Rachel Flemming and Emma George  

William James quote, ‘Live life to the fullest’   

Ben Okri quote ‘We are story beings’ 

Eugène (Eugeniusz) Minkowski 'Vers une cosmologie. Fragments philosophiques'

Joseph Campbell quote ‘follow your bliss’ 

Sonu Shamdasani Historian and Redbook publisher 'Lament of the Dead'

James Hillman Jung scholar and founder of the field of 'Archetypal Psychology'

Freddy’s ‘Rites of Passage’ podcast show  

Maureen Murdoch 'The Heroines Journey' 

Henri Corbin - 'Mundis Imaginalis' 

Sean Kane - a place telling a tale through human beings  

Jul 14, 202102:04:29


How easy is it to change our Habits?

Today we have the important job of working out what neuroplasticity is all about. 50 years ago we thought the adult brain remained the same after reaching maturity. Now since the discovery that in fact our neural networks remain ‘plastic’, which means adaptable, a host of research has opened up fuelled by our desire to thrive and improve rather than just survive. Along with that knowledge, as so often with popular science, has come a host of exaggerations and quick fix claims, that prey on the wishful thinker, and today we’re aiming to sort the facts form the fiction and really understand what can change in our neural networks in adulthood and perhaps even offer some tools to facilitate that.

Who better to discuss this with than developmental neurobiologist turned freelance science writer Moheb Costandi. He writes stories and articles for various popular publications like New Scientist and the Guardian, is often cited from his Neurophilosophy blog, and is the author of the books Neuroplasticity and 50 Human Brain Ideas You Really Need to Know.

Things we discuss in this episode:

00:00 A good psychology teacher

04:30 The controversial history of neuroplasticity

11:46 Longterm potentiation (LTP)

12:41 Stem Cells and the tipping point for neuroplasticity

14:47 What’s the significance of neuro-genesis?

16:00 What actually happens when neurons adapt?

18:00 Electro-chemical neurocommunication at high speed

22:00 Are there neurons all over the body?

23:30 The gut’s enteric nervous system (ENS)

25:00 Calling out spurious false rumours about neuroplasticity

31:40 ‘Awareness of plasticity doesn’t empower us in any way’

33:00 The wellness, self help and new age industries have manipulated neuroplasticity to exploit the public

37:05 Can we use plasticity to reprogram negative habits?

40:30 The bidirectional link between brain and behaviour.

44:00 The longer we have a particular behaviour the stronger those pathways become

47:00 Stress hormones stimulate plasticity. Negative emotions encode memories more strongly.

50:00 Microglia: the brain’s immune cells

53:00 Plasticity even in white matter tracts of myelin

55.00 Mitigating age-related cognitive decline using plasticity

01:01:00 Learning a musical instrument or new language can help mitigate dementia

1:05:00 Are there any limits to how plastic the mind can be?

1:12:00 Are brain computer-interfaces going to cause a plasticity adaptation in the brain?

1:16:00 Technology could cause a lowering of brain function rather than a bionic super race


‘Neuroplasticity’ by Moheb Costandi 

’Neurophilosophy’ Mo’s blog 

Charles Darwin - Dissent of Man 

Santiago Ramone Cahall and Camill Gogi - Nobel prize 

The Raticularists 

Paul Bach-y-Rita 

Longterm potentiation LTP 

Microglia: the brain’s immune cells 

Jun 30, 202101:21:18


How much of our consciousness is shared?

In this episode we have the fascinating job of trying to get to get to grips with Jung’s concept of the Collective unconscious. I’ve always loved Jung and I think his ideas can offer a brilliant framework in which to maximise our mental health, to use life’s challenges to harvest meaningful lessons, and just to navigate the subjective experience of being alive. But this is a science podcast, so we do want to get clear on what is just a useful idea and what is a scientifically proven reality. Jung was very shy to speak about scientifically unprovable ideas because he was a rigorous academic, but as his career progressed he was encouraged more and more to elaborate on the tools he was using with his patients; and as we’ll discuss today he felt there was a huge value in acknowledging the active role of what lies outside of the sphere of testable knowledge, rather than just dismissing it as non-existent.

So I am extremely happy to have Jungian analyst Dr Monika Wikman with us to help locate the threshold between these two very different fields of knowledge and to explain in detail the collective unconscious. Monika is the author of ‘Alchemy and the Rebirth of consciousness’ and received her PHD in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology and then deepened her knowledge of Jungian Analysis at the Jung-Von Franz Center for Depth psychology in Zurich. She is an expert on topics including the anima mundi and environmental issues of our time, archetypal phenomena surrounding death, dreams, active imagination, and alchemy. Her work with the dying culminated in a research project called ‘Dreams of the Dying’ at UC San Diego Medical Center, which is the foundation of her most recent book, Alchemy of Life, Death and the Wedding Veil.

What we discuss in this Episode:

Part 1

12:20 The humility of the ego to identify suffering that creates an opening for us to grow: Dissent, the renewal of consciousness

14:30 What is the Collective Unconscious?

19:00 How can motif’s from ancient myths appear in the minds of those who’ve never learned about these myths?

20:00 The healing function of connecting with this archetypal strata of consciousness

29:00 The importance of dreams to scientific discovery

40:00 Monika’s ‘2 weeks to live to cancer free overnight’ experience

50:00 Ego consciousness making a bridge to the symbolic field of the collective unconscious

Part 2

1:03:00 How do we use knowledge of the collective unconscious in therapy? 

1:11:20 Chaos as a catalyst forcibly setting off a chain reaction of transformation

1:15:00 The Implicate and Explicate order, David Bohm and the big question about where does all this information reside

1:27:30 ‘Exploring Holotropic Breathing’ 

1:35:00 Peak experiences, psychedelics and the dangers of getting hooked on transformation


‘Pregnant Darkness; alchemy and the rebirth of consciousness’ Monika Wikman 

‘Exploring Holotropic Breathing’ Monika Wikman

Monika’s presentation ‘Refining you inner bullshit detector’

‘On dream and death’ by Marie- Louise Von Franz 

‘The order disorder paradox’ by Nathan Schwarz

Stan Grof’s Holotropic Breathing and Grof Transpersonal Psychology training

Jun 14, 202101:46:38


What's the importance of safety to health? 

In this episode we’re going to be talking about the neuroscience of safety and how our sense of safety can be hugely important to the way we communicate and learn. Research shows that when we perceive threat, we go into a hyper-vigilant state and certain circuits of the brain shut down to focus on self-protection. If we can become aware of this as it’s happening we can not only use certain tools to mediate it, but we can also help others not end up in that state too.

We are extremely lucky today to go straight to the horses mouth so to speak of this research, speaking with the founder of Polyvagal Theory himself, Dr Stephen Porges. Dr. Porges is the founding director of the Traumatic Stress Research Consortium at Indiana University. He is Professor of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina, and Professor Emeritus at both the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Maryland. He has published more than 300 peer-reviewed papers across several disciplines including, biomedical engineering, neurology, neuroscience, obstetrics, pediatrics, psychiatry, psychology, and substance abuse.

In this episode we’ll be unpacking his Polyvagal Theory, a theory that links the evolution of the mammalian autonomic nervous system to social behaviour. The theory is leading to innovative treatments based on insights into the mechanisms operating in several behavioural, psychiatric, and physical disorders.

He is the author of several books which we’ll be mentioning in the interview and you can find links to in the show notes.

What we discuss in this episode?

06:29 What’s going on inside people’s heads?

09:00 If your body is in a state of threat you can’t access certain areas of your brain

12:49 What does the Vagal nerve do?

17:00 Facial expression and tone of voice broadcast our physiological state via the Vagal nerve

22:30 Co-regulation between parent and child

24:00 Polyvagal Theory explained by its founder

28:00 Bidirectionality: feedback between physiological state and mental state

32:00 Trauma, making ourselves numb, disassociation and turning off your body

35:00 Co-regulation VS co-exacerbation between individual and collective systems

40:30 Dan Siegal’s ‘window of tolerance’

43:00 Error in thinking about trauma, of focusing on event and not on bodily reaction and feelings

45:30 Stephen’s new book ‘Polyvagal safety: attachment, communication, self-regulation’

48:00 Physical and mental illness are the same, but medical professionals aren’t taught this

51:45 Vagal metrics to help explain ‘medically unexplained symptoms’

57:00 Moving beyond Paul McLean’s outdated concepts of the Triune brain and the Limbic system

54:00 ‘Neural exercise’ (play and social interaction) should be a fundamental part of a healthy education

1:04:34 Being listened to is crucial to feeling safe

1:07:30 Voice cues for safety have been critical to man’s survival

1:07:40 The ‘Safe and Sound’ protocol for inducing clam and safety

1:12:00 Tools from Polyvagal theory for bypassing trauma triggers

1:13:45 Listen to your body don’t hack it.

References and books mentioned: 

Dr. Stephen Porges ‘The pocket guide to Polyvagal Theory: the transformative power of feeling safe?’

Dr. Stephen Porges ‘Polyvagal safety: attachment, communication, self-regulation’

Dan Siegal’s ‘window of tolerance’ concept

Safe and Sound protocol™

May 31, 202101:19:34


What does entanglement actually mean?

So in this episode we’re going to be trying to get our heads around one of the most extraordinary phenomena ever recorded in subatomic physics: Quantum Entanglement. Famously dismissed by Einstein as ‘Spooky action at a distance’, it has been proved to exist in the lab over and over again since then. This non-local phenomenon is when sub-atomic particles remain connected so that the physical properties of one will affect the other, no matter what the distance is between them. It’s been in the news a lot recently not only because it has been photographed by a team at the University of Glasgow, but also because of a host of successful so called ‘Teleportation’ experiments, in which entanglement has been used to send information instantaneously between two computer chips that have no causal connection between them whatsoever. I believe the implications of this non-local phenomenon are among the most important scientific discoveries of our time, most importantly to update our purely classical ‘cause-and-effect’ understanding of the world. But it also begs the question, through what medium is that information passing between those two entangled particles, if not through Space and over time?

To help us get our heads around this mind-bending reality is theoretical Physicist Dr Chris Fields, an independent scientist interested in both the physics and the cognitive neuroscience underlying that human perception of matter in space and time.

Chris began his career as an experimental physicist, obtained his Ph.D. in Philosophy of Science at the University of Colorado and was an early developer of automated DNA sequence analysis tools at the Human Genome Project. He has published over 130 peer reviewed papers in nuclear physics, artificial intelligence, molecular biology and cognitive psychology.

What we discuss in this episode:

00:00 The Human Genome Project

07:00 What is Entanglement?

15:30 “Spooky action at a distance”

16:24 Einstein’s mission to remove non-locality from physics

20:00 Quantum theory challenges all classical intuitions

22:30 Re-think what we mean by locality

22:42 Is the intuition of separability false?

26:24 What Is spin?

29:12 The difficulty of using classical analogies for quantum concepts

31:06 The difference between quantities and qualities of information

35:00 John Wheeler and the way you ask questions changing the answers you get.

37:00 The interaction of information exchanging systems as a model for panpsychism

41:00 Hiding the distinction between Semantics and Syntax in information theory

43:36 Predictability VS Meaning

44:30 Observation is interaction

47:50 Is objectivity achievable? Intersubjective agreement.

50:00 The disaster of ‘Shut up and calculate’

52:00 John Wheeler’s ‘Participatory Universe’ bridging the gap

53:00 Physical systems are question askers and answer receivers

54:00 Was Wheeler a panpsychist?

Part 2:

58:00 The implications of Entanglement

1:02:00 What does it mean to give and receive information to and from the world?

1:10:00 Are the observer and the system they are interacting with not in fact one and the same thing?

1:17:00 La Place: Non-local forces like gravity imply that all the information about the system must be uniformly available to the whole system.

1:23:00 What effect will quantum understanding have on the general world view of society in the future?

1:28  Does Meditation lead to a non-separate world view?

1:34 Moving attention and interest away from the self


‘Meditation if you’re doing it you’re doing it right’ Alison Tinsley and Chris Fields 

May 14, 202101:48:02


Do we realise we invent explanations? 

In this episode we look at the extraordinary phenomena of the Left Brain Interpreter, in which a part of the left hemisphere tends to literally invent an explanation for something we’ve perceived or done based on past experience, sometimes in a completely mistaken way. This is a very important phenomena to our first series as we introduce the cognitive limits of our brains, as it shows just how tricky our so called rational mind can be, and begs questions about the authority and validity of our conscious faculties and how much is the result of previous bias. The most interesting part about this is that the subject has no idea cognitively that this is an invention and thinks that this is true information and not a deduction. But before we jump to any conclusions, in order to understand this properly we need to speak to a legend in the relatively young field of neuroscience, the person who actually discovered this phenomena in the first place, Dr Mike Gazzaniga.   

He is the founder of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at both the University of California and Dartmouth College. He is also a proficient author of books for both the general public and the more specialised field. Some of his titles include: ‘The Ethical Brain’, ‘Who’s in Charge? Free will and the science of the brain’, and most recently, which we’ll be discussing today, ‘The Consciousness instinct: unravelling the the mystery of how the brain makes mind’.  He made is name in the field as one of the pioneers in split-brain research, which led to the bulk of his early work on what the functions of each hemisphere of the brain are, and and how the left and right hemispheres communicate with each other. So who better to answer our questions and doubts about this tricky area. He’s also, unlike many scientists who prefer to stick to hard observable evidence, not afraid to write about the ethics and philosophy of these discoveries.  

What we discuss in this episode:

04:40 The ‘What the hell is going on?’ question.

09:23 The early split brain discoveries

15:44 The differences between the two hemispheres.

19:45 Mythbusting the Left and right brain.

22:54 The Left Brain Interpreter explained by its discoverer.

31:30 The connection between the interpreter and confirmation bias

34:00 Solutions through awareness of the interpreter, the difficulty of changing opinion

36:00 Facing the resistance of dogma in science

37:00 ‘How do we go from matter to mattering?’

38:00 ‘The Consciousness instinct'

43:00 Complimentarity, the wave particle duality, Howard H Pattee and his paper ‘how does a molecule become a message?’

48:00 Mike’s ‘babbling brook’ analogy for consciousness.

53:00 My theory of your consciousness is better than my theory of my own consciousness.

54:00 Free Will and personal responsibility

Referenced in this episode:

John Doyle at Caltech, Bioengineer,

Howard H Pattee, Biologist and philosopher - How does a molecule become a message?

Nils Bohr - Complimentarity - complimentary features which can’t all be measured simultaneously

William James - The Conscious Whole

Sebastian Seung - the Connectome

Apr 30, 202101:02:30


Wave or Particle? 

So in this episode we have the interesting job of trying to get to the bottom of the famous mystery of the Wave Particle duality, and seeing if along the way we can’t bust a few myths about it. We’re also aiming to better understand whether Quantum mechanics can or can’t help us get closer to a complete theory of reality or not, and hopefully find out of it can give us some clues about how matter and consciousness are related. We’re also going to trace the developments and discoveries in Quantum Theory throughout its relatively young 100 or so year history.

So who better to speak to about all this than physicist Dr Jon Butterworth one of Britain’s most experienced sub-atomic particle physicists and a professor who’s much loved for his gift of making physics accessible.

Jon was born in Manchester but is currently a Professor of Physics at UCL in London and he’s worked for years a the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. He tells the story their long search for the Higgs Boson particle at CERN In his book ‘Smashing Physics’ if you’re interested. He often speaks publicly about particle physics, with some brilliant talks that you can find on Your Tube at the Royal Institution, and he also appears regularly on TV including the BBC’s Newsnight, Channel 4 and Al Jazeera. His new book ‘Atomland’, which we’ll be talking about came out in 2018.

In this episode we discuss:

03:40 Jon’s book Atomland and the history of quantum mechanical discoveries throughout the 20th Century

05:00 High Frequency and high energy corresponds to higher resolution and allows you to see smaller things

07:40 Particles which, until now cannot be broken down into any smaller components, they’re provisionally fundamental

09:10 Gravity, space and time have still not been incorporated into the standard model of Quantum Mechanics

11:15 The Uncertainty Principle

17:40 The Wave Particle Duality Explained

22:30 Quantum Electro Dynamics, the Copenhagen interpretation and the inherent randomness in nature

28:20 James Clarke-Maxwell, Faraday, humility in the face of the unknown and different ideas of ‘clean’ maths and explanations changing over time

31:00 The Many Worlds Interpretation

33:15 the division between observer and observed and wave function ‘collapse’

33:50 Schroedinger's Cat and the observer interfering in a system

41:00 The mathematical explanation of Quantum Field Theory; unpacking what we mean by waves and particles

42:20 Matter is energy

46:30 Working quantum level up rather than quantising down form the classical world

52:45 Jon’s opinion on the implications of the Wave Particle Duality

54:30 Jon’s response to famous quotes on consciousness by physicists

57:52 Wheeler’s ‘participatory universe’ and the things that are real are only definable relative to other things

59:30 Einstein’s ‘Wave function of the universe’ solution to the observer/observed paradox

1:02:30 Implications of Entanglement (See Episode #4 for the full episode on Entanglement and non-locality)


Jon’s book Atomland

Jon’s Website 

Jon’s science blog on Cosmic Shambles

Jon’s Book Smashing physics

Jon’s Youtube channel with all the Royal Institution talks and others:

Richard Feynman’s book QED

Apr 14, 202101:13:21


Subjective or Objective? 

In this Episode we’re going to be introducing one of the oldest and most talked about problems in philosophy, the problem of consciousness. Just how does our subjective experience as humans relate to our existence as human bodies with brains? For most of the 20th century you couldn’t really talk about this as a serious scientist without being laughed at and told to study something useful. But since the 90’s, with the advancement of MRI brain imaging in neuroscience, and the coining the term The ‘Hard Problem’ by funky philosopher David Chalmers, Consciousness studies have blossomed back into mainstream science.  

To kick off the podcast with a bang, and explain the mystery that perhaps underlies all mysteries is psychologist and author and visiting Professor at Plymouth University, Dr Susan Blackmore. Best known for her books The Meme Machine, Zen and the Art of Consciousness, Consciousness: An Introduction, and Seeing Myself, Sue’s work spans across hundreds of publications in over 20 different languages, making huge contributions in the fields of psychology, memetics, religion, philosophy of mind, supernatural experience, and many other areas. It is no surprise to find her ranked amongst 2013’s 30 Most Influential Psychologists Working Today and 2015’s Top 100 Global Minds.  

In this episode we discuss: 

09:12 How do we define consciousness?  

15:00 Is dualism an unrealistic position?  

18:00 The Hard Problem explained  

23:00 Sue’s Out of Body and ‘oneness with the universe’ experience  

36:00 Explaining OBE’s biochemically  

45:00 the importance of Body Schema  

50:00 introducing the various theories of consciousness from materialism to idealism 

51:00 Dan Dennet on consciousness 

56:00 Illusionism: the belief that consciousness is an illusion  

57:00 Galen Strawson and the attraction of panpsychism  

58:00 the importance of the 'don’t know' mind for studying consciousness  

1:05:00 Zen, the self and non-duality  

1:14:00 What would a post-self society look like?  

Books and References: Sue Blackmore - Consciousness - A very short introduction

Sue Blackmore - Conversations on Consciousness

Dan Dennett - Consciousness Explained

Sue Blackmore - Zen and the Art of Consciousness

Sue’s Son, illustrator for many of her books, Jolyon Troscianko

Mar 31, 202101:20:47
TRAILER - What's the Chasing Consciousness podcast all about?

TRAILER - What's the Chasing Consciousness podcast all about?

See for the full program. Here host Freddy Drabble introduces what he'll be covering with his guests in the first 15 part series. Please subscribe and leave a rating and review if you like what you hear.

Mar 15, 202103:57