MW: 2014-6

Issue 118

Quiet Time: Several San Francisco middle and high schools are using a stress reduction strategy called “Quiet Time.” Twice daily, a gong sounds in the classroom and students shut their eyes and try to clear their minds. An impressive array of studies shows that integrating meditation into a school’s daily routine can markedly improve the lives of students.

In the first school where it was tried students are doing light-years better. In the first year the number of suspensions fell by forty-five percent. Within four years, the suspension rate was among the lowest in the city. Daily attendance rates climbed to ninety-eight percent, well above the citywide average, and grade point averages improved markedly.

On the California Achievement Test, twice as many students in Quiet Time schools have become proficient in English, compared with students in similar schools where the program doesn’t exist, and the gap is even bigger in math. Teachers report that students are less emotionally exhausted and more resilient.

From: “Meditation transforms roughest San Francisco schools,” by David L. Kirp, SFGate, 2014, sfgate.com/opinion/openforum/article/Meditation-transforms-roughest-San-Francisco-5136942.php

Consciousness: Is consciousness generated by the activity of the brain or is it a fundamental property of the universe? The Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) research team has been studying this question for several years using various kinds of optical systems. Their latest experiments, published recently in the journal Psysics Essays confirm their earlier findings. This line of research suggests that consciousness may play a key role in how the physical world manifests. This does not mean human consciousness literally “creates” reality, but it does suggest that there is more to consciousness than is implied in today’s neuroscience textbooks.

When we observe an everyday object, meaning an object that can be adequately described using classical physics, the act of observation does not influence the object’s properties. This is not the case when observing a quantum system. The behavior of quantum objects is exquisitely reactive to the act of observation; this sensitivity can easily be seen whenever a quantum object is measured. The measurement causes the quantum wave-like behavior to change into particle-like behavior.

A controversial interpretation of this effect—that consciousness itself is responsible for “collapsing” the quantum wavefunction—was proposed by mathematician John von Neumann and supported by other prominent physicists. Much has been debated about this “quantum measurement problem” from philosophical and theoretical perspectives; IONS is taking a more pragmatic approach by explicitly testing von Neumann’s idea, and in their latest paper, they report the results of three experiments which all showed results consistent with von Neumann’s proposal.

From: “Series of Experiments Shed Light on the Role of Consciousness,” by Dean Radin, Noetic Now, 2014, library.noetic.org

alfred-russel-wallace
Alfred Russel Wallace

History: The Slade Trial: Alfred Russel Wallace (shown in picture), who was the co-discovered of Natural Selection, went on to become one of history’s most prominent defenders of Spiritualism, and several of his writings on the subject are on the “Alfred Russel Wallace Page,” at wku.edu/~smithch/index1.htm.

When the subject of spiritualism was introduced at an 1876 meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BAAS), skeptics challenged proponents of spirit writing to show that the phenomena were repeatable. In answer, Wallace cited the work of American medium Henry Slade (1835–1905) who had recently moved to England. Slade was known for spirit writings performed by his deceased wife, Allie, who facilitated communication with other spirits by writing on a piece of slate and chalk against the underside of a table.

Outraged about the introduction of spiritualism into the BAAS, a member set out to humiliate Wallace by revealing Slade as an impostor. His logic was that, all he needed to do was to expose Slade to discredit every psychic and medium that dared to prey on bereaved relatives and the gullible.

Slade was charged under the Vagrancy Act (still on the books today). Amongst other crimes, it condemned to three months hard labor “every Person pretending or professing to tell Fortunes, or using any subtle Craft, Means, or Device, by Palmistry or otherwise, to deceive and impose on any of His Majesty’s Subjects.” He was ultimately acquitted, but only because of uncertainty surrounding the interpretation of the act and not on the reportedly decisive evidence in Slade’s favor, thus leaving uncertainty as to the validity of spiritualist claims.

From: “Capturing the will: Imposture, delusion, and exposure in Alfred Russel Wallace’s defense of spirit photography,” by B.D. Mitchell, Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 46 (2014) 15–24, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24603059

Mediumship Study: A study done by the Institute of Notetic Science (IONS), and funded by BIAL, investigated the mental activity of mediums as they were tasked with communication with the deceased. The mediums were guided to experience four distinct mental states: thinking about a known living person (recollection), listening to a biography (perception), thinking about an imaginary person (fabrication) and interacting mentally with a known deceased person (communication). The reason for such a protocol is that skeptics will often argue that the mediumship mental state is akin to making up an imaginary person or remembering previously obtained information. Electrocortical activity was measured during each state. Reliable (i.e. statistically significant) differences among the four conditions were found in all participants. These data suggest that the mediumship state is a subjective experience with brain correlates that are distinctly different from activities like recollection, perception or fabrication. In other words, from this empirical foundation it appears that mediums are involved in a process that cannot be explained as imagination or some other form of known recall.

From: “New Study Sheds Light on Brain States During Mediumship Readings,” by Alan Pierce, Noetic Now, 2013, noetic.org/blog/new-study-on-brain-states-during-mediumship/

PEERS: Public Education and Empowerment Resource Service (PEERS) is deeply committed to cultivating community and transformation through inspiration and education. PEERS is a nonprofit organization that embraces a bold vision of building a brighter future by inspiring a sense of global community based on love and cooperation. They offer free online personal growth courses. These include: The Inspiration Course, The Hidden Knowledge Course, The Insight Course and The Transformation Course. From their website: “The lessons in these personal growth courses contain thought-provoking essays, quotes from some of the greatest thinkers ever, beautiful photos, moving online videos and empowering exercises designed to inspire and bring greater understanding and deeper meaning to people’s lives. Promote your personal growth and treat yourself to the treasure chest of inspiration and education here.”

From: PEERS, peerservice.org and personalgrowthcourses.net

Dogmatic Materialism: Grahame Mackenzie interviewed Professor John Poynton of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) in December for a Spirit Today article. Professor Poynton takes a critical view of the dogmatic materialism promoted both by current science and by current philosophy and has helped many people break free from the chains of materialism through his books, his teachings and motivational talks.

john-poynton
John Poynton

Poynton says that “True skepticism does allow facts to guide conclusions; it is the false skepticism of debunkers that accepts no guidance from facts, because such people “know” the answers already.” He says that the SPR has consistently met closed doors when trying to interest the media in some event or idea.

In his inaugural address of 1882 to the SPR, Professor Henry Sidgwick said, “It is a scandal that the dispute as to the reality of [psychic] phenomena should still be going on, that so many competent witnesses should have declared their belief in them, that so many others should be profoundly interested in having the question determined, and yet the educated world, as a body, should still be simply in an attitude of incredulity.” This “attitude of incredulity” is resistant to facts and argument and is maintained aggressively in academia, the media and things like Wikipedia.”

From: “Interview with Professor John Poynton of the Society for Psychical Research,” by Grahame Mackenzie, Spirit Today, 2013, spiritoday.com/interview-with-professor-john-poynton-of-the-society-for-psychical-research/

adventures-in-the-afterlifeAdventures in the Afterlife From the book: Adventures in the Afterlife is a powerful journey of spiritual awakening; a bold quest for answers and enlightenment. The old assumptions of heaven are confronted and an expansive new vision of our continuing life is presented. After being diagnosed with cancer, William Buhlman, author of Adventures Beyond the Body, pursued answers to the mysteries of our existence after death. Confronting his mortality, he experienced profound insights into what lies beyond our physical body. Our journey into the next life is the basis for Adventures in the Afterlife. The author chronicles his out-of-body experiences and lucid dreams through the eyes of a fictional character, Frank Brooks. The insights are sometimes surprising, but a clear message is always apparent; we are powerful, spiritual beings and we shape our reality now and in the future. The purpose of this book is to prepare us for the many thought responsive environments we will experience. William Buhlman teaches and lectures worldwide on the subjects of out-of-body experiences and spiritual empowerment. Visit the author at astralinfo.org.

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