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Is your brain really your mind? Is matter the only thing in the universe? Does neo-Darwinism fully explain evolution? In the last few years, we've seen several controversies erupt in the worlds of science and academia, from Rupert Sheldrake's banned TEDx talk to philosopher Thomas Nagel's infamous book Mind and Cosmos, both of which question the modern scientific worldview and its account of the origins of life, the universe, and consciousness. What should we make of it all? Does the mainstream view really explain the world as we know it, or are there better options?

Returning to SOTT Talk Radio this week is Harrison Koehli, writer and editor for Red Pill Press, to talk about his upcoming book on these topics, tentatively titled Mind Matters. The book takes a hard look at the modern scientific worldview, its inherent absurdities, the facts it ignores, and a possible way out of its seemingly insoluble problems: information theory. We'll also be discussing the recent and enigmatic disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, and why we shouldn't exclude the possibility that it might have a paranormal explanation. Our reality may be way more paranormal than we think.

Harrison will also give some updates on new and upcoming publications from Red Pill Press.

Running Time: 02:10:00

Download: MP3

Here's the transcript:

Joe: Hi, and welcome to another episode of SOTT Talk Radio. I'm Joe Quinn. With me in the studio this week are my co-hosts Niall Bradley and Pierre Lescaudron.

Pierre: Bonjour.

Niall: Hello.

Joe: And we have a special guest this week. His name is Harrison Koehli. Harrison is a writer and editor for Red Pill Press and he is currently working on a book tentatively titled Mind Matters. The book takes a hard look at the modern scientific world view, its inherent absurdities, the facts it ignores and a possible way out of its seemingly insoluble problems via information theory. So we're going to be talking to Harrison about information theory. So welcome to the show Harrison.

Harrison: Hi guys. Thanks for having me on again. It's great to be back.

Joe: Excellent, great to have you here. So I'm going to let the listeners in on a little secret that earlier on we were talking with Harrison - or I was talking with Harrison about the show and about things and we were talking about a kind of hot topic that's going on at the minute, which is this missing Malaysian Airlines flight. And Harrison said to me that funnily enough, that's kind of related in a strange way to the topic of this show. And I was like "Huh? Information theory and missing planes? What are you talking about?" As he said "Well, I'll keep it for the show and I'll tell you on the show." So that's probably a good question to open the show with, which is, Harrison you said to me that this - this missing plane may be related so maybe just can you explain that? What's going on with this missing plane and what has it got to do with...

Pierre: Information theory.

Harrison: Sure. Well, there... there's a few things to get into that will kind of lead up to the answer, but... well first of all, you know, I've got to say that this plane right now as it is, is really a mystery. No one knows what happened to it. And the officials are confused, you know. There's this search going on. But really just from what we've heard, this thing just appears to have, you know, disappeared out of plain sight, just... it's just vanished. And we've go conflicting reports from Malaysian officials and all over about the radar and when certain systems were turned off, when the plane was visible using other systems, other radar. There's one satellite ping that put it west of Malaysia. There was a sighting a bit west of Malaysia. Apparently it just diverted off course shortly after its systems went off and that's the last that any conclusive knowledge about it came through.

So right now we're in a place where we really don't know what happened to it and it's kind of this enigma. You know, how does a plane just disappear? Now of course planes have disappeared ever since there's been flight. So many things can happen. You can have just some kind of failure and the plain can go down in the middle of the ocean or some remote location. So planes can disappear. There can be just kind of mundane explanations for them, even when - even if they've never been found.

But there's also kind of like a high strangeness factor, just a kind of weirdness that comes up. And there's... there's been a history of that kind of thing. Like there was Flight 19. Now that was a flight after World War II where five avenger bombers went missing off the coast of Florida, I believe. They were on a... like a routine training mission and they flew out and then there was radio contact between the five planes and their base. And the... the pilots were saying - all of a sudden they just, they kind of lost their bearings. They couldn't tell what direction they were heading in. They couldn't see land and they just couldn't figure out what was going on. Now John Keel - he's one of my favourite writers on all kind of weird topics like this - and he writes about it, he gives a little summary that I've got here. One of the interesting things he says is this. Well first of all the avengers were one of the first WWII planes to be equipped with radar; so radar actually on the plane. That was pretty difficult before then to - even to put two-way radio sets in a plane. Those were - that was high technology at the time.

So they were equipped with radar. They were also equipped with what called a radio detection finder. So these planes were meant to actually be able to go and drop their bombs and then be able to triangulate their location using any two radio transmitters around the area and then basically get a read on where they were to guide them back to where they were going. So these planes were actually designed to be unlosable in the sense that they couldn't get lost. They could find their way back.

They also had two compasses, standard magnetic compass and then the gyrocompass. And the gyrocompass apparently is a small turbine turned by a current of air, so it's not affected by magnetism.

But these guys were saying that all their compasses were out of whack, so they couldn't get a read with their compasses on where they were or where they were going. And then there was radio interference and then they just lost contact with them completely. And the thing is that they never found the remains of these ships or these planes. They just disappeared. They even sent out another plane to search for them. That one got lost too and it was allegedly - it allegedly exploded in midair or something like that. I don't know if there was any evidence for that or what the real story, the official story was. All I know for sure about that, from what I've read, is that all six of these planes disappeared and the first five were pretty strange, just because they seemingly - they had this weird situation where they totally lost their bearings, which was odd. They didn't know what was going on. Then there's this radio interference and then they just disappear and no one can find them.

Apparently this freaked out the U.S. government and the way Keel tells the story, it kind of inspired the first kind of big post-war intelligence group. Truman started the central intelligence group in January 1946 because there wasn't really a consolidated intelligence network in the states at the time after World War II.

And so Keel things that that was kind of inspired by Flight 19 because they realised they didn't have a system set up to deal with these kinds of events if they were to happen all over the place.

But the main point of that is that that's just one example of a plane disappearing and Keel and many other writers give all kinds of other examples that are as strange, even more strange. Like for example, some planes will just disappear, never be found. Others, the planes will be found later on, landed in these obscure locations but with no people. The people have disappeared. So the pilots. So the plane will just be sitting there. It might have half a tank of fuel, no sign of any kind of damage or fire or struggle. It's just this plane sitting in the middle of nowhere with no one around it. He even gives one example where they found a plane - let me see if I can find the quote for it. It's really interesting. They found the plane and there were footprints outside the plane that led a few feet away from the plane and then the footprints just stopped.

Joe: Wow!

Harrison: Which is pretty weird. But my main point in talking about these is that strange disappearances happen pretty often and it's not just planes. Like there's a series of books written by David Paulides called Missing 411. And he investigates all kinds of missing persons cases that happen in the states, like in parks, national parks and just really weird disappearances where people will be walking through one of these parks, one of them will be ahead maybe 10 metres, turn a corner, the people behind them turn the corner and then there was just no sight of the guy. And it's often children. But these cases - there's a tonne of them and they remain unsolved and they're just really enigmatic, really strange. There's something weird going on. And... Keel was into all kinds of these weird things. He wrote about a bunch of them. Actually I've got a couple here that are pretty interesting. One was - in the Korean War, a British wing commander, Jay Baldwin, in March 1952, he was flying, I think it was some kind of weather reconnaissance mission, if I remember correctly, and the people he was flying with saw his plane enter a cloud and then never come out of it.

And that was never explained. He was presumed missing - or missing presumed dead, but no wreckage, no - nothing. Just disappeared into thin air.And then there's another weird case. Apparently this one took place - it was a British regiment near Suvla Bay in Turkey in 1915. I'll just read this short paragraph here that Keel writes:
"A group of men later signed affidavits that they had watched the 104th Norfolk Regiment march into a peculiar brown cloud that hugged on the their path and that none of them reappeared on the other side. After a few moments, the witnesses said, the cloud rose and flew away joining a group of similar clouds which then sailed off against the wind. No one from that regiment was ever seen again. Eight hundred men missing or taken from the face of the earth."
And - so there are just all these kind of weird happenings that go on.

Joe: Yeah, there's a long list of aerial disappearances and this is planes, basically aircraft of some description that have never - no traces of them have ever been found. All they know is the last location for most of them, where they were. You can find it on that fount of wisdom, Wikipedia. There's a list of aerial disappearances. And you can see a long list of planes there. But there's one actually in particular that I was thinking about just as you were talking there, that was very similar. It was back in 1978 and it was a guy called Frederick Valentich.

He was flying in Australia, in southern Australia on a small kind of Cessna of some description and he - this was kind of like a UFO type encounter where he said that he had seen some kind of aircraft. He was trying to describe this aircraft that was tailing him, following him, coming close. He wasn't sure what it was. And the last kind of communications they had from him was - through the radio was that he was experiencing engine problems and he was going to proceed to some location. And then there was a brief silence which was followed by 17 seconds of an unidentified noise described as being metallic or scraping sounds. And that reminded me of - well first of all it reminded me of these strange noises in the sky. I don't know if that's in any way related, but these kind of strange noises that have been heard around the world which can be described as kind of metallic groaning or scraping noises. But also in a lot of UFO literature where that kind of a sound, metallic scraping sounds, have been associated with with UFO sightings or simply anomalous, not necessary sightings, but anomalous kind of events. One example is the book The Hunt for the Skin Walker about the Skin Walker Ranch, where that sound was described and here it's described as part of a missing plane. So I just thought I'd throw that in there.

Harrison: Yeah, and of course Keel was a journalist and in the '60's - in 1965 or '66, he got a job writing for Playboy Magazine and they wanted him to write an article on UFOs. And he'd never written on UFOs before but he - so he took the job. He was going to do the piece. He researched it and researched it and he never ended up publishing the article, but it ended up leading to him writing his book Operation Trojan Horse and writing hundreds of other articles for other publications. And from that point on, he was almost exclusively devoted to researching, investigating UFOs and stuff like that.

So he makes the connection between UFOs and a lot of these strange disappearances. And not a lot of people did at that time. It was kind of - a lot of the stuff that he was writing about was really kind of fringe even in the field of so-called ufology and it's only been in recent years that a lot of the things that he's been talking about have become more mainstream in that field. So he was talking about strange abductions and disappearances in relation to UFOs and one interesting thing that I think might relate, that he was talking about these mysterious disappearances and UFO abductions, but one of the things that he observed and made a connection with is first of all, in this so-called alien abduction phenomenon - now this will be - it started, the first big cases were, in the '60s, gained speed in the '70s. And then it really took off in the '80s with Whitley Streiber's book and Bud Hopkins, the artist who wrote the book Missing Time and really brought this kind of thing to the mainstream, which was the idea that some people might remember these strange events that seem - they fit this - what we now can recognise as the alien abduction narrative. Or they might experience a short period of amnesia, what they've come to call missing time.

So you'll be driving down the road at night at some - or during the day, and then you might have this weird kind of blackout which is pretty common, just dissociating while driving. But then you might be with your family in the car and then three hours later you find yourself on a different road. It's three hours later than it should be, the trip should have - or you would get to your location, but you get there three hours late. So you've got this weird missing time where it's like - and you've got total amnesia of all this time. And so Keel was writing about that and the thing he observed is that there's also cases apparently unrelated to this - these memories of alien abductions of people a) going missing; b) turning up, but either turning up in really distant locations or up to weeks or months later with no memory of what's been going on in between. So these are like really extreme cases of what - maybe it's a similar phenomenon as what's going on with whatever's behind these alien abduction memories.

And so I took a look into this because it fascinated me, the idea of these people disappearing and then having almost total retrograde amnesia. And I found this one interesting case, because it happened pretty much every year. If you look through the news you'll find at least one case every year of someone who turns up in some country, usually they turn up in a place that's not where they're from. So they'll turn up in a different city or a different state, maybe even in a different country, but they'll have absolutely no memory of who they are, how they got there, where they've been. Usually we end up figuring out who these people are and we can construct some kind of narrative. The psychiatrists call it retrograde amnesia and they've got a whole bunch of brain mechanisms that they explain or that they give as an explanation for why this occurs and they say it's usually some kind of big trauma that brings on this amnesia. But none of these cases really can - or in few of them, can they really identify what actually happened because first of all, these people don't have any memories of what happened and so it's really hard to investigate to find out all the events that occurred up to the time they lost the memory.

It's a nightmare trying to figure out the logistics of it. And there's actually one case, his name - he thinks his name is Benjamin Kyle and he turned up in Georgia in 2004 and he was found in the back behind a Burger King, near the dumpster. He was - I believe he was naked. He had a bruise or a wound on his head, so they thought that he'd either been assaulted or that he'd fallen on his head. And when he woke up he had no idea who he was. And no one knows who he is to this day. They've used DNA tests. They've put calls out to - they've made a documentary about him. And so after - that was 2004 - so for 10 years they still haven't been able to determine who this guy is.

So there's these weird things that happen.

Joe: Yeah. That's very, very strange.

Niall: Does he have an American accent at least? Is he probably American?

Harrison: Yeah, I don't think there's - they think that he's American. He thinks that his name is Benjamin Kyle. That just kind of rang true for him. And he remembered that - well he thinks he remembered that his birthday was exactly 10 years before I think Michael Jackson's birthday. So he had an idea of when he thought he was born.

Niall: Well that's kind of like - there's another case, I think it was last year or two years ago, a guy wakes up in Sweden, has no clue who he is, but he doesn't speak Swedish or something. He speaks Czech. And they're trying to find out who he is. And he has a kind of back story. It's not complete amnesia. He has some points of reference, but they don't synch up with anything that they should do, i.e., somewhere from Sweden. I think there are a lot of other cases like that too. [Editor's note: this man was actually found - or 'woke up' - in Norway, and has since been identified as Czech national 'Mihal'.]

Harrison: Yeah, I was searching through the SOTT archives because I was actually looking for that one that you're talking about but I couldn't find it. But I found several others. They've all got similarities like that. But no one knows exactly why these happen, but they happen every year. And Keel was writing about them. He was saying they happened every year. And he said often it happens in July for some reason.

Niall: So, to come back to the missing plane... Are we talking about this because of the possibility that there's something out of the ordinary, high strangeness, to this plane disappearing? I've seen one mention of it in the mainstream media that is not derogatory. It's taking this into serious consideration because when you've nothing else to go on, you're going to have to chalk it up to something truly out of the ordinary. So I guess that's kind of all we can go with when there's no physical evidence of a crash, right?

Harrison: Yeah. And like - because I don't know what happened to the plane and I don't think anyone that's - well someone might know, but no one knows publicly. No one's given a full explanation that's adequate to the facts that we know about. So my point is merely this. I don't think we should rule it out as a possibility. And not only that, but I think we should actively consider these things as possibilities.

And that kind of gets back to Joe's question about how this all relates to the topic about information theory and why your mind is not your brain is that in the current paradigm, the current scientific paradigm, these things are impossible and you can't talk about them. And you can't even consider them as possibilities because they're impossible. And this has been kind of the main scientific response to any kind of a) experience of this sort, so kind of like an anecdotal personal experience that might involve something that we'd call paranormal; or b) the actual scientific experiments and research that have been done on these kinds of phenomena, what we call the parapsychology or psi. The response to these has been that it's impossible, therefore the research must be false and it can't be true.

Now this is kind of backwards thinking. Traditionally, if we look at how science has operated, it has been by examining the facts, so examining things that actually occur that we can observe happening, and then trying to figure out a theory that accounts for those facts. That's empirical thinking. Now this is more a paradigmatic thinking, where we have an idea, a theory, and any facts that don't fit into that theory, are dismissed. Or they try to wiggle them in, into the theory somehow to try to account for them in ways that the theory allows, but which really amount to no more than dismissing the phenomena in the first place.

So I think we should take these things seriously and look at them and that can lead into a whole bunch of stuff, which is stuff I'm working on and writing about.

Pierre: And it's all the more surprising that mainstream science dismisses those phenomena as impossible when we know that human beings, militaries have been able to reproduce similar phenomena like during the Philadelphia Experiment, with some basic tools - strong electromagnetic signals. And from the examples we have mentioned previously, there are some evidence that suggest there was electromagnetic disturbance, like during Flight 19, the compass getting crazy, or Flight 370, the plane apparently U-turning, going up and then down apparently losing its...

Harrison: And the transponders going off.

Pierre: Yeah, the transponders going off.

Harrison: To me that could say that it was an electromagnetic thing and not necessarily a hijacking.

Pierre: True. And even the metallic sounds that Joe mentioned previously, he talked about strange sounds, the electrophonics that have been demonstrated to be perturbation in the magnetic fields of electromagnetic nature as well. So there is some ground to consider those phenomena as possible.

Harrison: Yeah, and that's kind of the strange thing, is that you can even get - well, he's a mainstream scientist but he talks about weird things - I believe his name is pronounced Michio Kaku, the physicist. And he writes about all kinds of weird possibilities, wormholes and going in and out of dimensions and what might - what a hyperdimensional being might be that lives in four dimensions as opposed to three dimensions. And so there are all of these possibilities out there, but at the same time, they use the same paradigm to dismiss them.

Now what I think that comes down to a lot of the time - it's not necessarily that the science says it's impossible; it's that the scientist's own philosophical assumptions about science and about reality get into the picture. And so even if there's a scientific corollary or correlation between these things, like electromagnetism or these other dimensions, or something that can conceivably make it possible, there's something else that makes them see it as impossible. And that comes down to the scientific world view of materialism because materialism's a really weird ideology. I've been trying to wrap my head around how it came to be and how people can actually believe in it with such full force. When you really start looking into it, it really doesn't make much sense at all.

So I think that's what it comes down to is the actually philosophical assumptions that make them just think these things are impossible and then that translates into this weird kind of almost evangelical zeal with which the so-called militant atheists will go around and propagate their ideology. And you can see this on Wikipedia all the time. Like there's been a - there was a controversy recently with Rupert Sheldrake. Now Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist who's been the centre of controversy ever since he published his first book on morphic resonance. And - but just recently there's been this thing on Wikipedia where the bio that's on Wikipedia is totally biased and against him, saying that he's a pseudo-scientist, there's nothing behind his ideas, basically we shouldn't take this guy seriously. And any time that anyone tries to edit that article, just to make it more balanced, there's a team of editors that automatically reverts all those changes, puts it back. They just will not allow a balanced portrayal of who Rupert Sheldrake is. And I find it really strange.

Joe: What does it actually come down to, in terms of this debate between - let's say the people, the scientific community and what is called the militant atheists and those like Sheldrake. What are those like Sheldrake called? Do they have a name?

Harrison: Well, they've got a few names. I think one way to approach it is to look at how they view consciousness and what the role of the mind is and basically what is the - we can call it the ontological statuses of the mind, like what is the nature of mind.

Joe: Okay, it's the idea like in the show description here, it's why your why your brain is not your mind. And it's the idea that the consciousness or human conscious awareness is located and confined to the cranium, right?

Harrison: Yeah. And that basically - well it comes down to a couple of things. One is called materialism for a reason. And that's because according to this - it's really a philosophical world view - is that matter is the only thing that exists and matter being like matter and energy.

Joe: Right.

Harrison: So - and then there's a history for why it developed this way, but what it comes down to is that the only thing that science can study is physical interactions. So when we look at particles or atoms or molecules, it's the forces binding them together, holding them apart, pushing them apart, pulling them together, that sort of thing. And it's all these - what we call 'objective qualities' about matter. So these are the things that we can measure, that we can see happening. But what we can't study are the so-called 'subjective qualities'. Now we all have subjective qualities, otherwise we wouldn't be having this conversation, hearing the words, thinking what we're going to say, or any kind of sensory perception, we have a sensation of it, a perception of it. We have an experience of it. Philosophers will call it either subjectivity or agency or experience, being - well those are some of them.

So basically we've got this awareness and we can't - or traditionally science hasn't been able to measure this awareness. It's not a physical thing. So the problem comes down to trying to explain what is a subjective thing that isn't physical - just the experience of awareness - in terms of physical properties. But they're totally different categories. You have what it feels like to be alive, to be something, a person. You've got that, those experiences. And then you've got what you can measure about people. So you've got their behaviours, and what's going on in their bodies, what's going on in their brains. But we can't measure what a person's thinking or what a person's feeling.

Now this has led to a whole history of theories of consciousness and theories of what mind is. And if we look in the history of psychology, we've had a series of these explanations, starting with behaviourism. So the really hard core behaviourists argued that there was no such thing as consciousness per se, all that really existed were the behaviours that we could observe and measure. So when a person smiled, for example, they weren't necessarily feeling happy, because there's - that doesn't make sense. Feeling happy is a subjective quality and there's no such thing as subjective qualities because all that exists is matter. So the only thing that really happens is that they're smiling. They're doing a physical thing.

And that led through a series of theories to where nowadays we've got the computational theory of mind where basically mind is like an information processor, like a computer where we have an input, and that can be any influence that's coming from the outside world and acting on your nerves that goes to your brain. And then we've got this mysterious information processing that goes on and that it fulfills a function in the body that produces an output. And that output will be a behaviour.

Now it really doesn't - while it's more complex and it takes into account more of the advances in cognitive science and the actual neurology and neurochemistry of the brain, it's really not a lot different than behaviourism was 100 years ago. And there's a psychologist named Edward Kelly who wrote a book recently with a bunch of others called Irreducible Mind and a kind of big criticism of these theories. And I like the way he put it. I don't have the exact quote with me right now, but he basically said that the history of each of these theories has just been a less unsuccessful version of the previous one, that doesn't really take into account all the facts that we have about consciousness, and the most important one of which is that we are - that we do have awareness and experience.

So they've just been - they leave that out. It's like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. It won't work because they're talking about two completely different things. Now when we go to the - when we get to the brain - so we've got this activity in the brain. We've got neurons firing and all this stuff. Now one of the theories that - it's still kind of popular, it's kind of - I think it's been kind of subsumed by computational theory of mind, was called identity theory. And that basically said that when you have a brain state, that brain state is completely equivalent to the experience that you're having of that brain state. So right away we run into a logical problem that David Ray Griffin talks about in his books that we can't talk about something subjective in terms of objective qualities. It's a category mistake. We just - it's comparing apples and oranges. Well even then apples and oranges have more in common than a brain and the experience of thinking and feeling and etc.

So the idea is that they're identical. Now what does that mean? If they're identical, that means that what we think of as our mind, what we think of as thinking, can't have any real causal effect on the brain because they're the same thing. So the implication is kind of that mind is an epiphenomenon of the brain.

This is what John Searle - he's a philosopher of mind - this is the conclusion he came to, is that mind is this physical epiphenomenon that is reached at a certain level of complexity. So we've got simple celled organisms and amoeba and up the tree of life finally we've got humans that have such complex brains that for whatever reason, by virtue of that complexity, there's this extra physical effect that we call mind. But in reality, it's an illusion.

Now no one can really explain how exactly it's an illusion. How could you have the illusion of being aware? It's difficult to wrap your head around. So what they're basically saying is that a part of materialism is reductionism or determinism. Basically what that means is that everything that happens on top of matter - so that would be like conscious awareness from this point of view - is an epiphenomenon of physical functioning. Everything on top of that is totally determined by what goes on below it. So when we are thinking that we're making decisions, or we're thinking that we're thinking, that's an illusion. We're just convincing ourselves somehow that it's actually taking place but all we're observing is - that's just the awareness that we have of what's happening in our bodies totally outside of our control.

Joe: So just physiological functions and chemical functions, etc?

Harrison: Yeah. And I think the important thing is the fact that we don't have any control. We think we have control, but we're just observing all these things happen. Now what that implies is kind of a complete determinism, in a sense that our atoms are behaving in certain ways, they're combining, they're forming molecules, they're forming cells, they're forming organs and then - and a body and a brain, and then we have all these influences coming from outside and inside our bodies, acting on them. And then that creates physical changes that happen in our bodies and in our brains. So that creates these brain states. And then - so we're watching all this happening, somehow, mysteriously, and then when we think that we make a choice, like 'I'm going to do this' or 'I'm going to do that', 'I'm going to eat this or eat that' or 'I'm going to go to bed at this time or not this time', that's just a narrative that we tell ourselves, but it's actually totally and completely determined by our atoms, essentially.

Joe: Isn't the fly in this particular bowl of soup the idea that even they admit that we're observing this happening, therefore there is an observer?

Harrison: Exactly.

Joe: Because if we're just basically machines essentially, chemical, biological machines, we should just continue to go about our daily lives, but there should never be any self-reflectiveness, never any...

Harrison: Exactly.

Joe: Even the words "I am doing this" should never occur because that implies an awareness and an observation of these chemical and automatic or automata happening.

Harrison: Exactly.

Joe: And no one should be observing that. There should be no one inside observing any of that happening. It should just be being carried out and no one essentially therefore really talking to each other either.

Harrison: Well exactly.

Niall: I think these guys, they get around that by saying that "Yes, I'm doing this and it is an illusion."

Harrison: Yup.

Niall: And they leave it at that. "I'm aware that I'm doing this, but that is part of the illusion." And they are happy with that.

Harrison: Yup.

Joe: But that's not a satisfactory explanation of it.

Harrison: No.

Joe: And I can't satisfy it, even from a scientific point of view, and we're talking here about science. Science has to be rational. It has to make sense and their theory, therefore, does not make sense. But then the problem is that it doesn't matter that it doesn't make sense to a person, because you're a person, you're just a machine and your question, or your claim that it doesn't make sense, is also an illusion. A bit of a - what's the term - tautology?

Harrison: Yup. Absolutely.

Joe: The thing they accuse the creationists and the intelligent design people of all the time, they engage in it also.

Harrison: And this comes back to what you were talking about earlier about common sense. Now one of my favourite philosophers is David Ray Griffin. And probably a lot of our listeners will recognise his name because he's been part of the 9/11 truth movement for years now and he's written some great books on it. But actually before he got into 9/11 and that kind of activism, he wrote a whole bunch of books on philosophy and theology. He's a theologian. Now a non-traditional theologian so we can get into that maybe. But he wrote a whole bunch of books on the mind/body problem. He wrote an entire book on parapsychology. He's just written a whole bunch of great stuff that I just find really fascinating. And the thing he says about common sense is that he thinks, and he argues, that common sense should really be the ultimate, the starting point for any kind of philosophy or science.

But first we've got to figure out what common sense means. Now so Griffin, he really likes lists and numbers, so he divides common sense into two kinds: hard core common sense and soft core common sense. So he'd call soft core common sense just any kind of common sense belief that we might have about something but that really could be true or false. It's just pretty much determined by our society or our education. So it was a common sense belief that the sun circled the earth, or it's a common sense belief that matter is totally physical and isn't made up of space between particles and things like that. So those are just beliefs that can be very strong and that we feel are true but not necessarily.

But what he thinks about as hard core common sense are those ideas and those aspects of reality that we can't actively deny without affirming them in the very act of trying to deny them. Now this gets back to the funny thing that you observed about these scientists, or and these philosophers, is that - and we can take an example. If you try to argue that there's no such thing as truth, then how are we to judge the truth of your statement? Do you really believe that what you're saying is true?

If it is true, then you get into this logical paradox where if I'm arguing that there's no such thing as truth, I obviously believe that that's the truth and therefore the truth must exist in some sense.

And there's - so he goes through - there's various ones of these, like if I take the position of solipsism, that all I can know is that I exist and I can't be sure that any of you people exist, and I even doubt that you exist and maybe even you don't exist. But I'm talking to you and I'm, by communicating, I'm presuming that I'm communicating with someone that's not myself. I'm presuming that you're real. And I can also deny that anything has value.

Now this is - Griffin calls this the moral crisis and moral theory because currently there's no philosophical system or justification for the reality of any kind of universal values or morals. But when you get down to it, it's absurd because if I argue that there's no such thing as value, kind of like with truth, then I am implicitly affirming the value of my own theory. I'm affirming the value of a more truthful theory than the alternatives. So these are the kinds of things that we can't rationally deny because...

Joe: You mean the value of there being no value?

Harrison: Yeah. It's like you can't do it. It's so...

Joe: What amazes me is that when this is the logical end result of this kind of theorising and philosophising, why it hasn't been thrown out long before now or immediately after it was proposed and people said "Hang on, this is going nowhere", why anybody gives this any credence or is given any kind of a platform, it's just - it's totally anti-human, anti-natural, anti-freaking everything. It's anti-existence almost. It's like you said, it's kind of - it's not just solipsistic, it's kind of nihilistic as well. It's like - it's ridiculous. It totally denies - they go down that road of denying something that the entire human population on the planet feel and know to be true, let's say, collectively.

Harrison: Yup.

Joe: If they start down that road of denying something like that, then they're going to just collapse in on themselves and disappear up their own backsides at some point.

Harrison: Yeah, I always think of that quote in - that was in Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy where god disproves his own existence in a puff of logic.

ALL: [Laughter]

Harrison: That's basically what they're doing. They're disproving their own existence in a way that's just completely absurd. And it's really frustrating to read about and to think about and to see that this is the basis of our western civilisation. And so the basis of a lot of science - well the official basis, because you'll find a lot of scientists that disagree and that don't go - that don't believe these things, but it's the official narrative. So it's what gets filtered down. And it's the reason that there's a moral crisis. It's the reason that there's an ecological crisis. And the only thing that I can think of, why this has lasted so long and why it keeps going on is that this world view that's suggested by it, just kind of really happens to match up with the - some essential features of the psychopathic world view. And when we think about psychopaths being in power, it's like a match made in heaven kind of.

Joe: Absolutely. Well it certainly serves the agenda as we've seen it played out over the past few hundred years, of the powers that be, in terms of their major tool is - their major goal, let's say, is obviously greed and conquest and domination of - well they live in the world, the world is their playground, so that's what they want to dominate and control. And they do it by force that involves abuses and killing of human beings, and has done throughout most of recorded history, so you want to kind of, I suppose, get the population in line with that kind of an agenda. If you want to do that, then a great way to do it is to try to convince everybody through this kind of spread of a cultural philosophy or a personal humanistic kind of philosophy, that it's just all about me, I'm just a machine, nothing really matters.

People are much less likely then to feel. Or it's going to reduce people's natural kind of maybe empathy and sense of community that would stand against the kind of predations of the powers that be. So it's very useful and a very useful philosophy for their agenda.

Harrison: Yeah, and just a couple of examples to kind of bring that point home: the philosopher Descartes, he believed that only humans had any sense of awareness or experience, or subjectivity.

He thought that everything below humans - so that any kind of animal, didn't actually have any sense of being, of experiencing, so even dogs for example, so that made it really easy for him. He was like a champion of the practice of vivisection, kind of the dissecting of animals while they're still alive because for him, he thought that they were just like machines. They weren't actually feeling anything.

Joe: Machines, eh?

Harrison: They were just - that was just the stimulus response that they were giving of but, you know, it didn't hurt them! So he was able to rationalise it to himself. Think about how long humans have been performing surgeries on babies because they thought that babies hadn't developed this - the ability to actually feel pain yet. That's the kind of length that this can go to.

Pierre: Harrison, you mentioned this mechanistic vision of the world was one of the foundations of our western civilisation. In your book you show that it's not always been the case, the Stoics or the Animists had a totally different vision of the world and as history progressed, the church, in an ironic twist of fate, actually laid the foundations of the mechanism, or the mechanistic view on which modern science grew. So could you explain better this evolution?

Harrison: Sure. Now the time - before what we think of as the scientific revolution and even during the beginning of this - the church was really in charge. And the church was intertwined with politics so they were basically one in the same, essentially. Variations here and there. But the - so there was a dominant world view and that was a supernaturalistic world view that god created everything, god being this omnipotent being, omniscient, had all the power, could interrupt the universe at any time to create a miracle. And this was the kind of world view that was going on. So there were, like you said, Pierre, there were alternatives though. There was this idea of the - what we can call the hermetic philosophy or the hermetic tradition, or the esoteric, these kind of alchemists and assorted folk like that. And the way they saw the world was kind of different. They saw the world as what we might call being panpsychic. What that basically means is that all parts of the universe, the entire universe, has some mental aspect, some idea of mind, or some ability of mind. So basically mind is expressed in the entire cosmos.

And they had a few kind of ideas that followed from that, one of them being action at a distance, so being something like telepathy, the idea that one mind could influence another mind over a distance. And that might mean that the paranormal was real, that these things actually existed and happened, and there was a natural explanation for them because this just happened to be the way the universe was constructed. Now what happened was the church couldn't allow these things for several reasons and I'll just get into a couple of them. One of which was if action at a distance was possible and if telepathy was possible, if there was a natural explanation for paranormal events, that meant that there might be a natural explanation for the miracles in the bible. And the miracles in the bible were one of the foundational reasons to believe in the truthfulness of the Christian religion. It was like - so do we have the right to rule over you? Well god said we did. Just look at all the miracles that happened. But if it was possible that these things might happen either randomly, spontaneously, or might happen to bad people, you know, bad people might have supernatural powers, that takes away this one justification for Christianity being the one truth.

So there were a bunch of these ideas that conflicted between one or the other. And what basically happened - Descartes was one of them - is that they ended up seeing the world as being strictly dualistic. So that means there is two basic fundamental principles in the world, one ultimately being god and then god created the universe and everything in it, like in this act of instant creation. So he created the world out of nothing. So god existed in this supernatural sphere and he gave humans the gift of minds. So this was their explanation for mind. So the thing about the dualists because - and all of the early founders of the scientific revolution, they were all Christians of one sort or another. And so they all saw mind as being a real thing. And it was an important part of reality. They accepted the existence of their own minds. They just placed it in this supernatural context where god was the ultimate source of mind and god gave them their minds. And somehow these two separate worlds, the mental world, and the physical world, connected somehow. There are various explanations for how that happened. Descartes thought it was because of the pineal gland. And that theory's been discarded since then.

So we've got this supernatural world. Now the qualities that the world had, was that the world was completely mechanistic, like you said Pierre. So the world operated like a clock. God created the physical laws, created all the matter in the universe, set it in motion and everything proceeded mechanistically. So any kind of causation, any kind of cause and effect, was a strictly physical one. So one object bumped into another and that was the only thing anything could really happen. And then - and of course god created everything as it is, so god created humans and then he just happened to give them minds.

So really this was - I'd call it a silly world view. It doesn't really make much sense, but it's at least left open the room for mind. Now what happened was, as scientists studied the world more and more, they found more and more physical explanations for things, explanations for why this becomes this, why this happens after this happens. And they were able to kind of fill or close all the gaps that god had occupied for so long. So eventually we get up to Darwin. And finally - well allegedly, we've got an explanation for what originally had been seen as god's work. So "Oh well now we've got a physical explanation for this", and the gaps became smaller and smaller to the point where scientists said "Well we can pretty much dispense with god altogether. We - the more we discover, the more we find that god isn't responsible for the things that we now know are made possible by physical laws and things like that."

So by rejecting - by eventually coming to reject god as an explanation for these things, scientists were left with that mechanical part of creation, the one-half between the mind and the body, or between god and the world, we were just left with the world. And it was completely mechanistic. And another thing, one of the views of the church was that god was of course, the supreme ruler, the supreme kind of like a king or a lord, and what do rulers do? They proscribe laws. And laws are universal and they're - 'it's my way or the highway' basically. So the universe was seen as being this mechanistic, ordered, clockwork universe.

So when god was erased from the equation, all we ended up having left was that mechanical clockwork universe. And that's what's, in a nutshell - now it's a lot more detailed than that, but in a nutshell that's why nowadays we've got this mechanical clockwork universe where mind has no place because it got erased. It got basically thrown out - it's the baby that got thrown out with the bathwater when we rejected god as an explanation for the universe.

Pierre: Yeah, and actually in your book you say the church hoisted on some petard. But if you look at it from a more global perspective, the psychopathic ruler's mind, actually the church and science, materialistic science, are two ages of the same world, in the sense that they've put us in some kind of double bind because they give the illusion of opposition between creationism and big bang, materialistic big bangism - I don't know if you can say that in English - while excluding any other third option. And yeah, led to this world devoid of any moral compass, of any value of anything that is related to what makes us human, this consciousness.

Harrison: Yeah, it puts us in a similar situation of that false dichotomy of republican/democrat or right or left, this kind of issue because we've got two extremes that are both equally...

Pierre: Wrong.

Niall: They're both equally dogmatic.

Harrison: Yeah.

Niall: And that's the term that Sheldrake uses that I really like, because he comes out and he says in his book... have you read The Science Delusion?

Harrison: Yup.

Niall: Sheldrake just comes right out and says, "Here's the problem. Since the 19th century we've been dominated by a very specific philosophical materialism" which is actually a number of isms grouped together, but he boils it down to hardcore materialism. And he says it's ruled by 10 basic dogmas: that nature is purposeless; that everything is material, including humans; that the mind is exclusively inside one's head, and so on. But if there's one overarching belief that has come to dominate how science is used and seen today, it's basically that they think the whole world has been discovered. The main principles are more or less worked out and everything else is just detail.

Harrison: Yup.

Niall: For me, the arrogance that comes with that basic assumption is breath-taking.

Harrison: Yeah.

Pierre: One question relating to this point. If I understand correctly, Harrison, if our world was solely ruled by mechanistic laws, how could we explain this growing level of complexity, of order? We would be the slaves of entropy. We would all be led to decay. So how can it make sense?

Harrison: I think the main thing is that we can't explain any of these things with a mechanistic philosophy. The philosopher Alfred Whitehead said something interesting - I'll try to find my quote here...

"As Alfred Whitehead points out, in a world of just chance and necessity" - so this is basically mechanism - "evolution is impossible in principle." So this is his quote: "There can be merely change, purposeless and unprogressive."

So when we think about - when we think through the implications of what materialism and mechanism really mean, there can't be any evolutionary principle. There can't be anything new in a cosmos that doesn't have the potential for something new. And what is the potential for something new that's not a physical thing. We've only got what the strict laws of physics will allow to progress. And that will just be basically things changing. Things might come together in certain ways, but they're completely determined by the operations going on in this fundamental level.

Now of course that goes totally against what we know about the world, where we experience evolution and change and novelty, new things. And this is where we can probably get into the idea of information theory because the things that physics, as a basic understanding of our basic material universe, what it can't explain is, or account for - is higher forms of information. Now I guess we can get into what exactly information is to try to kind of make all of this make sense.

Information: probably the two things that might come to mind automatically, because they're the most immediately accessible for information are first of all speech, like communication, language. When we communicate information to others, we use language. We use words and sentences and paragraphs. We write books. We read books. We're having this conversation right now. Now so - and the other that I'll get into, might be DNA. So we often talk about the language of life, the language of DNA.

So if we start with words, for example, well what's information and what's a word? Let's see. We've got an alphabet, 26 letters, that roughly match up with different sounds that we can make, different vocalisations that we can make with our voice box. So we've got these 26 - no, I'll just say we've got these 26 sounds. It's more, but just for the sake of argument. We've got these 26 sounds or letters that we can make. We can - and then we can order them in different arrangements. We can place one after the other in all kinds of different arrangements.

So let's just take the example of a 9-letter word. I've got the math here. So if we take a 9-letter word, there are approximately, let's see, 5 trillion or quadrillion possible combinations of 9 letter words. So just putting all different combinations of any letter in any space in that 9-letter word. Now I did a little search and found that there's a Harvard Google study that found that the English language has about one million words. And the ratio of English words, or of 9-letter words in the English language: about 14 percent of English words are 9-letter words. So if we've got a 9-letter word, I think bodacious is 9 letters - if we've got that word, that is one example of like 5 quadrillion different possibilities of arrangements of letters. And that's one possibility out of about 140,000 9-letter words.

So we've got all this amount of gibberish and a smaller percentage of words that we identify as meaningful and then we've got the one word that we choose. Now if we look at this dynamic, this really can apply to all kinds of forms of information because what do we have here? We've got millions and millions and millions of different choices, different possible arrangements. But when we have one specific arrangement, that's what we can tie in meaning to. So the only way that we can create meaningful sentences, for example, is if we've got enough choice, enough possible sequences of letters, that we can say "Okay, this word's going to be that one or that meaning", "this word's going to be that", this word's going to be that". And by that - by doing that we get a vocabulary that we can speak with, but we couldn't do that, for example, if we only could make one sound with our vocal cords, otherwise it would just be "eh, eh, eh, eh." We wouldn't be able to differentiate any kind of meaning or any kind of different arrangements of that information to be able to convey a meaning.

And so there's a big aspect about probability with information. So we might say that a really complex or a really improbable sequence of something will have a high information content. It has a high information capacity because we can pack a lot of information of that into that because it's so specific. So for example, if you were to roll a dice 100 times and get 6 every time - that would be like remarkable, probably wouldn't happen. And there are rules of probability that can say whether something like that is possible or not. And something like that is considered impossible.

Pierre: Yeah, just one point in your book you mention this example of 100 coins and you say that actually statistically it's the possibility of having 100 heads is the same as the probability as any other result, but what is very unlikely is to get 100 heads after announcing beforehand before the event that you will get this result.

Harrison: Yes. That's - and that's where we get into something about specified information because technically any sequence of heads or tails that you're going to flip are going to be equally improbable. It's going to be 1 over 2 to the power of however many times you flip the coin (0.5n). But the improbable thing is that you're actually going to be able to guess the sequence exactly. So I might roll heads, tails, tails, heads, heads, heads, tails, heads, tails, heads, heads, heads, etc. and if I can guess that before I actually flip it, that's something remarkable. But the kind of direction I want to go with this is if we look at something like DNA, DNA's also a language. We've got these nucleotide bases that are arranged in a certain order that when translated and converted into proteins by - the DNA will be read, a copy will be made, molecular machinery will read that copy and then it'll match these transfer RNAs that have an amino acid, and it'll put them all together according to that sequence.

Now if we try to look at the probabilities involved, well a pretty small protein has about 150 amino acids. And so we can take the number of amino acids there are. We can do our math and figure out how many possible arrangements there are of 150 amino acid protein lengths. And the number's just huge - let me see if I've got it here. Something like 1 to the power of 195, so that's a one followed by 195 zeros. And given all the time in the universe, all the computing power of the universe, we can't match - we can't get that result by chance, for example. That's more or less just one example.

But when we look at a protein, there's a scientist named Douglas Axe who did a study on this where he tried to figure out the total number of those sequences that will actually produce a functional protein, so something that actually works in the cell. And that number's slightly smaller, it's 10 to the power of 77. And well - no, I'm sorry, 10 to the power of 77 will have stable folds. So a protein is just a sequence of amino acids but it has to be able to fold into a specific shape and keep that shape in order to have any function. And then only 10 to the power of 74 will have a function. So we've got these - it's kind of like our 9-letter words - we've got all these possibilities for what the protein will be or what the word will be. It could just be nonsense. Then we've got a smaller probability - a smaller subset of this, of all these possibilities that will make a protein. And then we've got the one protein that we're looking for basically.

So what we've got, this is basically a form of information in the sense that information is when you choose how things will go one way or not any other. So we've got a whole bunch of options and we're going to choose one option, as opposed to all the others. And this gets back to kind of our evolutionary principle in nature. If there's no evolutionary principle, if there's no potential for change, no potential for one option or another, things are just going to happen and repeat. One object will move here, then it'll move over there. But there's not going to be any real growth or anything.

Now the interesting thing about information and DNA and all this stuff, is that we can take the material world, like we can take these nucleotides and we can put them together in arbitrary sequences seemingly, and then somehow out of that, we can get something like a protein, or something like hundreds of proteins because a cell needs hundreds of proteins to work. So we've got this just immense - like it's immensely improbable to not only get one protein by chance, in some chemical soup, but to get hundreds of proteins, all at the same time, all working together, all working within a cell wall...

Pierre: And...

Harrison: do their job. It's just a mathematical impossibility. And so when we look at how this all works, it's like we can't explain the arrangement of the DNA, for example, in terms of its physics because the organisation that's going on is something on top of physics. It's something that isn't determined by physics. Because physics just acting - physics and chemistry, just acting on their own, they might put certain amino acids together in certain ratios. So this amino acid might bond naturally with this amino acid, this many times. These ones won't bond really. So all we'd have are these amino basically kind of randomly coming together and making these random sequences that wouldn't end up being an actual protein because there's no law in nature, there's no law in physics that says "Okay, I'm going to put this sequence of DNA, this, this, this, this, this, this, and it's going to be a protein." That - it doesn't happen that way. Chance and necessity, neither can explain them.

Pierre: So you show that DNA can't form by chance. So obviously there's another factor, there's some kind of - what would you say, some kind of intent, intelligence, design?

Harrison: Yeah.

Pierre: How does it work? What is the driving factor?

Harrison: Well this gets into another controversial issue because the things that I'm saying right now about probability and DNA and stuff, the only people that say this are the supporters of intelligent design. So that gets into the whole creationism angle because the popular view of this - of intelligent design, is that all the people that support it are creationists. So they're hard-core Christians and they're just trying to find a way to make god responsible for evolution. Kind of unfair assessment. Not all people that support intelligent design are Christians or even religious.

There's Nick Bryant, for example, who has this theory of rational design in his book Origin of Life, the Fifth Option. And his point, and also it's the point the intelligent design supporters make, is that we only have one explanation for information, for specified, complex information, like language, which DNA is, and that's intelligence. You need intelligence in order to take that highly improbable sequence and just make it probable. We do that all the time. When we're speaking, we're forming highly improbably sequences of vocalisations tied with meaning that we're informing with intent. And we do that every time we speak, every time we write an email. It's this event that occurs in the cosmos that shouldn't happen, but we're able to do it because of intelligence.

So what the people - what the intelligent designer guys say is that there must be an intelligence behind DNA, for example - and not only DNA because DNA isn't the only information in the cell. The cell structure itself is highly specific and the cell structure needs to be in a certain way. It determines a lot about how an organism will develop from that first cell. But there's no DNA to transfer that cell organisation. The cell structure gets inherited directly from cell to cell. So where did the first cell structure come from? Where did that first DNA come from? I think there's got to be some type of intelligence that somehow makes that specific arrangement that can't have come about by just molecules bumping into each other because it's just so complex, so specified. And...

Joe: What is the Darwinists' explanation for this? It's that it is possible by random chance?

Harrison: If we take someone like Richard Dawkins, Dawkins is probably as hard core a materialist and an atheist as you can get. And there's a kind of revealing interview that was done with him in a documentary on intelligent design called - I think it's called Expelled-No Intelligence Allowed. And so the interviewer kind of presses him into a corner about the origin of life, so basically the first DNA, the first single-celled organism, where did that come from? And Dawkins had to admit "Well, we don't have any idea at the moment. No one knows".

There are all kinds of theories of course. And there's the RNA world theory so, because one of the problems is that DNA is necessary in order to make proteins, but proteins are necessary in order to work with the DNA. So we've got a chicken and egg problem. You can't - if proteins came first, there couldn't have been any DNA, they needed DNA. And the same, if there's just DNA, there's no proteins to read that DNA or to self-replicate. So what they've come up with is this RNA theory that RNA came first because there are certain enzymes, ribozymes, that can - well basically RNA can act in a similar way as DNA and proteins. So they theorise that there must have been - it must have started as RNA and then somehow - now this is where the mystery is - somehow a self-replicating RNA sequence evolved and then from there it evolved into other structures and DNA, etc. etc.

But kind of like the mind - psychological theories of the nature of mind, like behaviourism and computational theory and identity theory, like they're all just less unsuccessful theories than the last. It's the same thing when we look at origin of life theories because all they do is push back the search for the first information because you need a whole lot of information in order to have a self-replicating organism or sequence of RNA even. That's a huge informational input that has to come from somewhere. You can't get that by chance.

So it's another one of these examples where because there's no intelligence allowed because that might in the - I think in the scientists' mind, imply that god is real, and we can't have god being real then that must be impossible, so therefore we've got to just really try to figure out a way that it might be possible without any intelligence. But you can't. Like none of these theories make sense. They all presuppose existing information.

Joe: Okay, well that's the origin of things, but in terms of how things - let's say we leave it out as an open question. No one has the answer to where it all began. But in terms of the theory of evolution and that things could have, in the vastness, in the amount of matter in the universe that it could have, over a long period of time, evolved to produce, for example the planet and everything on it. But they obviously claim that this is possible, through essentially random chance. The problem is there's no way to prove or disprove that. Obviously, nobody's seen evolution happening. They see it having happened and they also can't disprove that there's some kind of an intelligent design behind it. But it can't be disproven that it didn't happen by random chance either.

Harrison: Yeah. And this is something that Thomas Nagel wrote about in his book Mind and Cosmos which was another controversial book because Thomas Nagel's a pretty mainstream philosopher, American philosopher. And - but one of the things he said about this is that he thinks that the world makes sense. And when you have something that just appears as this inexplicable mystery, to just write it off as being like a chance event, even if we can't prove it one way or another, it's kind of like just giving up looking for an explanation. So when we have these people saying that "Oh it must've - it happened - it probably just, or it might have just been chance. It might have just been - we can't prove it either way", it's kind of like just passing off the buck. It's like "Well we really don't - we really won't even try to explain it". So it's like no explanation versus - I don't know, it just doesn't make sense to me to just kind of bracket it off and not think about it when it seems to be really important.

Joe: I think it behind it all, the materialist viewpoint tries to impose on people - and it is being imposed on people - against human intuition and stuff - imposed by people like Dawkins, etc., and science, modern science - is that human beings have no input essentially in their own evolution. We're not a part of evolution per se, we don't have any active role in it. We're simply what you could call, depending on your perspective, you could say you're a victim. We're victims of evolution. It's just happening and we have no role in it. And it essentially tries to convince people that they're not participants in their own kind of future, essentially. Or the future of other species, or their own future, or and they don't really have much effect on the broader evolution of the human race and human destiny, let's say.

And that's a very pernicious thing to do. But they say "Well, we're just trying to be realistic and we're not - we don't want" - the impression I get from people like Dawkins is that they're traumatised. I think they need to be psychoanalysed. That would shut them up. I would say "Dawkins, you know I'm not going to argue with you on your theories, I'm going to psychoanalyse you". I think maybe when he was a child - they've either got a messianic kind of complex where they want to be in control of it all, kind of conversely in a certain sense, or paradoxically, while they reject god and all this kind of stuff, they themselves want to have the whole banana, if you know what I mean, the complete answer to everything, so that they know. And it's almost like a god-like situation, from a materialist's point of view.

It's the materialistic god, that everything is locked down. "We know how it all happened and there is nothing else and we're in control". And for me, that's - there's lots of potential there for a psychoanalyst to look at that and say "Listen, tell me about your mother", you know. "When you were a child, did you have some traumatic experience where some kind of random - some kind of event caused you to want to have everything locked down in your life? There'd be no outside forces other than what you yourself are able to see and observe and...?" You know what I mean? There's something wrong with those people.

Harrison: Yeah, and it's a very religious mindset.

Joe: It is, when you think about it.

Harrison: Where you've got to have definite answers for everything and anything that goes against those ideas, you've got to stamp them out. You can't even let them enter your mind, because to doubt would be to let the devil in.

Joe: And the other thing that they totally ignore is the totally - the completely reasonable and logical idea that human beings, as they are at this point in time, as evolution, let's say, has conspired to create them, that they are not capable, or they do not have the ability to perceive the true nature of all of reality in which they exist, right? They - how it actually works and what there is to observe, right? I think even they would admit that obviously human beings, even with their prostheses and their scientific instruments, can't necessarily observe everything that there is. So any theory therefore that they would come up with, cannot be the be-all and end-all and they would therefore by definition have to allow for things that are beyond the scope of human observation or understanding, or beyond the scope of human awareness. For example, if you took a bunch of monkeys in the jungle without opposable thumbs, and they -let them come up with a scientific theory about what is or is not possible, they would come up with a very interesting theory about what is possible based on their particular current state of evolution and what they're able to do physiologically and intellectually. But it would be ridiculous from our point of view to see a bunch of monkeys do that and have "Yeah, that's the complete be-all and end-all." Yeah, we would laugh at that. So why do these people not assume the same for themselves and that even within the theory of evolution, that evolution may continue to push human understanding further to the point where we would be able to understand these things?

And this brings up the other idea of - that maybe people like Dawkins are arguing for their own limitations in the sense that if Dawkins says "I'm just a machine", if he says we're just machines developed by random evolution and we have - there is no intelligence, etc., I would say "Mr. Dawkins, I agree that what you say is true for you. But you must allow for the fact that not all human beings are created equal and you may see things in that way and in fact it's almost empirically true in a certain sense that what you're saying is true for you. If I say something different and I claim that there is more to me than you say there is to you, well then you're going to have to accept that and live with the possibility that you are essentially defective in some way or maybe not quite as evolved as me from an evolutionary point of view and you don't have what I have. Therefore go ahead, but be careful about projecting your limitations onto the entire human race. Because the thing that I'm talking about, you can't measure. You say it doesn't exist, but..."

Pierre: I have a question, Harrison. You mention Bryant Shiller who demonstrates in his book that obviously life on earth and human beings in particular, are the result of intelligent design. But where Shiller falls short is about who designed the designer. And in your book there are some possible explanations for how all this stuff gets created. So could you explain this point?

Harrison: Okay. I'll try. The way I've structured the book and the way I kind of approached it was kind of really building on one thing to the other. So by the time I get to how it gets to a possible explanation, I might miss a few steps, but I'll try. So when we've got this idea of an intelligence - of an intelligent designer, we naturally ask "Well what's the nature of this intelligence that's doing the designing?" So if it was some kind of extraterrestrial or some alien intelligence that has a biology, for example, then sure they might have created us in test tubes and created the first organisms, or the first single-cellular organisms and then kind of seated them on a planet and then just let things take their course. That of course brings up the question, well who - how did the beings that designed us get their design? What - we can't just put the question back, in this infinite regress. So where did that intelligence come from?

But there are other options. And one of them is to get back to this animistic idea of panpsychism, that there's mind in the entire cosmos. Mind is a general property of the cosmos. And if we look at it from this perspective, we might have a way out, or an explanation for where this comes from. And one of the ideas I tried to develop - first of all, to kind of tie it back into the conversation with the paranormal and the disappearance of the Malaysian flight, if we can do that - is this idea of 'okay, well what is the nature of the paranormal?' Well we've got - in parapsychology it roughly breaks down into two types of phenomena, ESP, or extrasensory perception, and psychokinesis, or PK. And that's basically receiving information in our minds that isn't mediated through our physical senses. So we receive - we might get information about events taking place elsewhere or some other time, it may be in the past. And that's been written about a lot in the history and research into remote viewing. Also telepathy, so basically reading minds.

And the research into that, one of the common experiments done these days is called the Ganzfeld experiment where a person will sit down in a comfy chair, they'll put halved ping pong balls over their eyes with a red light to give a uniform light stimuli to the eyes and they'll put on some relaxing music and basically give four pictures to a person in another room. They'll pick one of the pictures and they'll just think about that picture and try to send that one to the guy sitting in the room with the sensory deprivation stuff on. And then afterwards they'll show him the four cards and say "Which one was the one you were looking at?" And if we just go by chance, it should equal out to about 25% success over a long series of doing these tests. And Dean Radin, who's one of the big writers and researchers in parapsychology these days, he's done big meta-analyses of all the tests that have done this, so he's got like thousands and thousands of trials that contribute. And the average success rate is 32 percent. And that is, even though it doesn't look like it's necessarily a big response, it's actually really big statistically. It's basically gone from getting one out of four to getting one out of three correct. So - and then there's - so there's some evidence for something like ESP, for getting information that hasn't come through our physical senses.

And then the same with psychokinesis where basically using the power of our minds to affect a physical system or another mind. And one of the tests that they do with that is random number generators. So you've got a random number generator that will generate zeros and ones and as it progresses, it will pretty much equal out to 50 percent. But when you concentrate on it, they do these studies and they hook these people up and they concentrate on trying to get more zeros or ones and they'll actually get a significant deviation from 50 percent. I think it's 51 percent is the effect. And again, it looks like a small effect, but it's a real effect. The probabilities of chance for these results are just astronomical.

So there seems to be some laboratory evidence for ESP and PK. And of course the - the only reason people started doing laboratory experiments is because people had ordinary experiences in their lives that seemed to be demonstrations of these sorts of things. So scientists decided to test to see if these things were actually true. And the thing about the things in real life is that they're often a lot more dramatic. So there's a whole history of psychical research that you can get into if you want to do that.

Niall: Well right there Harrison - sorry to interrupt - right there, there's an issue.

Harrison: Okay.

Niall: Who says because it had to be replicated in the lab, results drawn up, discussed among the experts, that that then qualifies to make it true, when tens of thousands of ordinary people have long since already established that something like that is true.

Harrison: Yeah. That's a good point.

Niall: That's what infuriates me.

Harrison: There's a philosopher named Stephen Braude who researches and writes about parapsychology. And that's exactly his point; is that he thinks that all this research is kind of useless. We're spending all this money and doing all these experiments to prove these tiny effects that a) aren't very interesting and b) we experience them all the time in life. That's the very reason we do it, is that we know that these things happen or at least we have the experience of them. I think he might argue that we've done enough experiments in the labs. Let's try to find out the really exciting stuff, the really interesting stuff, but that's a whole other topic.

The reason I bring this parapsychology stuff up is that it comes back to the mind/body problem where how do we view the mind? Do we view it as identical with the brain? Do we view it as an epiphenomenon of the brain? These really fall short of being satisfactory answers, primarily because it doesn't give any room for a causal influence of the mind. The mind can do nothing.

In essence the mind can't create information because all information - if information even exists - must be created from below. It must be strictly a result of our atoms. So when we view the mind as somehow distinct from the brain, it allows it to interact. So just - that's just a philosophical distinction. It has to be distinct if it's going to be able to interact. So somehow - this is what David Ray Griffin concludes - is that somehow our minds must be distinct from our bodies or from our brains. And there's probably some kind of process going on where the mind is able to influence the brain and the information - basically there's an information transfer between the brain and the mind. And physicist Henry Stapp has been trying to develop a kind of model for this on how this might work, and the way he sees it, he sees the brain as kind of a quantum state. It's got this probability cloud of possible brain states with a conscious choice or observation we can basically say "Okay, we're going to do this brain state. Choose this one." So we choose this brain state and we somehow actualise it in our brains and then we can move our arms or do whatever, or we can somehow control what's going on basically, and not be just machines.

So he's looking for a way to understand this using quantum dynamics in the brain and stuff that really are kind of over my head because I'm not a scientist. But looking at it from the philosophical perspective, David Ray Griffin, basing his thinking on the work of Whitehead, came to the conclusion that there must be a fundamentally non-sensory mode of perception.

So at the very basic level throughout all the cosmos, and not just mammals or humans, everything has a sense of mind, some kind of even really primitive mentality. And the way that happens is what he calls non-sensory perception. It's an awareness of one's past, the causal influences acting on you, so basically the information transfers that are coming from all the objects in your sphere of influence.

Now for a human that would be everything acting on our bodies, the light, the temperature, the pressure, sights, sounds, smells, all the things happening in our body. All this information that's going through our senses and going into our brains, it's all an information transfer. Now the point he makes is that if the brain is not the same thing as the mind, which it seems it must be, or it seems it must be something different from the mind, then awareness or the fundamental nature of perception can't be sensory because we've got sensory neurons going from our skin, through our body, to our brains. Well where are the sensory neurons between our brains and our minds, right? It just, it doesn't make sense to think like that.

So there's got to be some kind of non-sensory perception going on that our mind is able to somehow receive information from our physical brain and our physical brain is somehow able to receive information from our presumably non-physical mind.

And so do we have any evidence of that? Well if we look at ESP and PK I think we do. We've got ESP being information coming from external sources, into our minds and PK we've got our minds somehow influencing physical probabilistic systems. So we've got this non-physical connection, the ability to a) receive information or b) input information, or change the probabilities of physical events. So when we get to the idea of evolution, what I think happens is that it's basically something like this going on at like a - almost like a cosmic perspective. So how - but first of all, what's the only known cause for creation of information? Well, it's intelligence. Now based on like parapsychology and what we can gain from that, what's the only known, or relatively known, if we can say that, method for influencing a random information substrate, in such a way like in a cell to be able to organise DNA in a certain way? Well, I think that might be psychokinesis.

Now it's like - so now this would get into whole other areas about what's the nature of the mind doing the psychokinesis on these physical systems to create maybe genetic mutations, maybe the first DNA, maybe organising cell structures? I don't know. So I'm just throwing that out there. But I'm not sure if that's where you wanted me to go with your question, Pierre.

Niall: Well, it's a tough one to answer! He basically asked you the ultimate question: 'What's behind it all?' And it seems the rules of the game are that we cannot know at this level of reality. There's a lot yet to discover.

Joe: Before that, there's no point in trying to go to the big question or who created god or that kind of stuff. Obviously we're up against a bunch of materialists who are trying to lock everything down. And for me it's the height of arrogance and self-centeredness because, when these people; surely people like Richard Dawkins etc. and the scientists, look at - they have evidence for, from all around the world from millions of people, and the evidence that you've just talked about - that there is something more than this materialistic view of things. And mind in some way, does influence reality and is separate from the brain.

And so they see this evidence, but because they cannot measure it, because it's something - essentially it's something beckoning the human species to a greater level of understanding, or even maybe it's evolution beckoning the human species. And they see that and they discount it because at this level of our evolution, let's say, we're not in a position to measure it and understand it. It doesn't fit with our set of laws, so they dismiss it. That's completely obtuse. That's incredibly obtuse for anybody who claims to be a scientist, to take that approach, to tentative evidence that says "Okay, there's something here that science cannot explain and does not understand." Therefore the conclusion should be that science does not know enough. But they don't do that. They say...

Harrison: Devote more resources into looking into it.

Joe: Exactly. But they don't. They say "We know everything there is. Therefore anything that doesn't fit with what we know today, does not exist." Really? That's meant to be logical and rational? Well, you know what? Evolution's done a pretty crappy job of people like Richard Dawkins.
Harrion: Mm-hm.

Niall: In a way it's even worse than that. You see, on the one hand, they ridicule anything suggesting that there's more than just purely materialistic laws, rules governing the known physical world and universe. At the same time, we know that they take very seriously these other taboo subjects that are ridiculed publicly, yet which we know they do research on, in secret. And it comes out in the development of super high-tech weaponry, for example.

Pierre: Right.

Joe: Like disappearing planes?

Niall: ...GMO food.

Joe: Yeah.

Niall: I mean, technically, that is, according their professed principles or beliefs, voodoo science. I don't know if it's hypocrisy or if it's something more than that. Dawkins, for example, says "We're just gene machines. There's no free will." There's no such thing as consciousness in itself. Well, about that, I kinda agree with him: the reason why there's absolutely no logic to that world view is because he and his fellow materialists are unconscious!

Joe: Dawkins is down on creationists, right? And these are the fundie types. But he's also down on anybody who believes in religion. I tell you what, based on evolution, people who believe in mainstream Christianity, even though it's extremely distorted, and - at least they have an awareness of there being something more than themselves, something higher than themselves, which is borne out by the evidence all around us in the world and on the planet in terms of everything that's been created. Those people in my book, are above, are higher on the evolutionary scale than people like Richard Dawkins, who want to remain at the level. He's basically arguing for everybody being machines with no kind of experiential awareness or no - nothing outside of this materialistic brain.

Anybody who argues with Dawkins, he doesn't argue with people anymore, because he's kind of scared to. He says "No, it's pointless. We shouldn't give them a platform" and stuff. But anybody who argues with Dawkins should turn his arguments against himself, like I did kind of earlier on. And he also is the one who wrote that book The Blind Watchmaker, right? And this is from - it was again his materialistic argument and he was using the term of blind watchmaker - comes from the watchmaker analogy that was famous or something in the 18th century by some English theologian who basically was saying that just as a watch is too complicated and too functional to have sprung into existence merely by accident, so too must all living things, with a far greater complexity, be purposefully designed.

So Dawkins took this idea of the watchmaker analogy for this ideal of intelligent design and he coined the phrase "blind watchmaker" where he says that natural selection is sufficient to explain the apparent functionality and non-random complexity of the biological world and can be said to pay the role of watchmaker in nature albeit as an automatic, non-intelligent blind watchmaker." Right? So that's his argument. He turns it around and says that if there is a watchmaker, it's blind, it's random, it's got no actual intelligence. But again, Dawkins is speaking from his own - arguably, he would agree, from his own perception, from his own person, and what he sees. And I would say "You can have it Richard. It's all yours. You're the blind one. You're not - if you want to argue with the rest of humanity that what you are - using the argument - you are arguing that you have no part in your personal evolution or the part that you play as a human being in terms of - he claims evolution is - well everybody would claim that - everybody would agree that evolution is happening through the human species, as one element on this planet, right? Evolution is progressing.Well if some people claim that they are taking an active role in that, and are able to direct that perhaps, and that there's a possibility of directing our own evolution through our own participation in it, that's fine. If Richard wants to argue that he's blind, that he's just a mere tool of evolution and has no participation in his own little part of pushing evolution forward, fine, go ahead.

Pierre: And he's pushing evolution backwards. To answer your question Harrison, yeah, what you said about who designed the designer is what I had in mind. And somehow, as you point out in your book, evidence suggests the existence of a immanent mind, cosmic mind, made of information, intelligence that permeates every single entity that constitutes this cosmos and ironically, it is the world vision that was held for centuries by our ancestors and those people that Joe described very well, like Dawkins, made it - made offence of one of the most important pieces of knowledge to understand our universe.

Harrison: Yeah. I can say a few things about that idea. So I talked earlier about the church and the kind of battle with the animists. The church saw god as being supernatural, so being totally separate. And so here we've got this false dichotomy again, that our options are only a supernatural god or no god, no mind, no intelligence in the universe, total materialist atheism.

But there's a third option. And the third option, which I like, is that there's no supernatural god, but materialism isn't true either. We can have a third option that the intelligence of the cosmos, basically the soul of the world, as it has been called, is immanent in creation, that means it's present throughout all of creation. There's a term for it in philosophy called Panentheism and that basically means that whatever we call god, god is in the world and we are in god. And the way I see god in that equation, is as this cosmic mind, as kind of the source of all information, the source of all possibilities because possibilities aren't material things. Possibilities are virtual. They're possibilities. They don't exist in a physical realm. We actualise them. Possibilities get actualised all the time. That's what we do whenever we make a choice.

But philosophy has to answer several questions, one of which is: where are these non-physical things? Where are possibilities? Where do we get the standards of truth, or the standards of logic, or mathematics? Where do numbers exist? Because we all have access to mathematical truths, and mathematical truths are universal, in the sense that if a mathematician comes up with a proof, it's not just true for him, it'll be true for any mathematician. And any mathematician will be able to define problems in that theorem or that proof. And the - I think the conclusion that we can gain from this is that truth is universal.

And so truth will apply to me, it'll apply to you, whether we want it to or not. But where do we get the standard for truth? Why is it even a standard? And like, conceivably we could have a world where a) truth doesn't matter, so we could have - when we have a criminal trial for example, we could have - it doesn't really matter if we get the right guy or not, because the truth doesn't matter. It's just - we're just going to have a trial for the sake of it. But for some reason, truth matters. And there are certain standards of truth. So we have consistency with the facts. We have non-contradiction. Why do we rely on non-contradiction? Why should that be such an important thing? Well it is for some reason.

But these are non-physical standards. These are mental standards that operate our thinking and the way that we put thoughts together. And so that applies to mathematics. It applies to logic. But it also applies to values. So we value truth. Truth isn't just the opposite of a lie. It's not just one of two options. Somehow it's more important to us. When there's a trial going on that gets big news coverage, we want to know the truth. It's like if we know that people are lying to us, it causes us to feel like this indignation. Why are they lying to us? We want to know the truth. We want the guilty party to get punished. We don't want an innocent to be punished. We want the truth.

Also so the fact that truth is universal, so if something's true on earth, it's true millions of miles away in outer space. It doesn't matter where you are that it's truth. It doesn't matter where you are, that something's true. And then we can go even bigger, and look at the physical laws of the universe. Why do the physical laws of the universe so-called, apply always and everywhere? So why does gravity - why isn't gravity different in a different solar system or somewhere else? Why are the values of all the physical constants what they are and not something else? Sheldrake gets into some of these ideas in the book you mentioned Niall, Science Set Free or The Science Delusion, depending on if you're in the UK or Canada, or North America. Different titles.

But basically the big question is what holds all this universe together? What provides the context for these a) universal truths or b) these universal informational statements or rules that guide or direct or control the operating of the universe itself? Why is this a universe - uni - one - what unifies the universe? What makes it one context where something that's true in one place is true everywhere, where gravity works here, gravity works everywhere else? Why is it unified? And where do these non-physical things like values and truths and logic and logical norms and all these things and possibilities, where do they exist?

Well the conclusion that the Stoics came to, many of these Panpsychic philosophies - and this was so-called primitive animism, so the beliefs of all our ancestors and then various philosophical schools - what was there conclusion? Well their conclusion is that the world had a universal mind and that there was a macrocosmic/microcosmic dynamic going on, 'as above, so below'. So if we were to look at ourselves and find kind of like the universal principles at work in ourselves, because really philosophy should start with us. We're the ones experiencing things. That's why I think Descartes was right to say that "I think, therefore I am". Basically we have to start with our own experience because all the facts that we see, all the facts that we try to explain are our experiences that are coming into our own minds.

So let's look at ourselves. Presumably we've got a mind and we've got a body. Our mind kind of unifies all this activity going on in our body, all the processes going on. We act as a unified whole. We're a system. We're a system of systems where we've got all these systems operating inside our bodies. But at the same time, we've got this mind that somehow unifies things. If atoms were somehow aware, or molecules or cells, then if we put all that together, we just have about 10 trillion cells I think we have in our body, 10 trillion cells that experience something. But that's not what we've got. We've got one consciousness that is somehow mysteriously able to unify all this information. We've got all this sensory information coming to us. I can't remember the number of bits that some scientists have concluded or calculated. All the information coming to our minds. We don't have access to all of it at the same time, but it's unified. We can hear and see at the same time. We can see the context of something that we're reading. We can read ahead or behind. We can see foreground and background. We can put it all together in this whole that makes sense.

Now if we can extrapolate that to the universe, we've got a material universe, this body of matter and for the Stoics, god was immanent in nature, so god was this divine principle, this intelligence, this information that creates and maintains the universe. And that it's the source of values and truth and all that.

So I guess I kind of agree with them.

Niall: And I would suggest that they did not come to this realisation by philosophising for the sake of it. I think that the reason we have established the universal truth that 2+2=4, is because at some point, somebody decided to test the idea that 2+2=5 and build a machine based on that false mathematical equation, realised the machine didn't work, the whole tribe starved and everybody learned by very hard experience what was true and what was not. So experience is central.

Joe: Yeah, I agree that it seems to be that there is, there are universal truths or a universal truth. And - but there is a lot of scope, it seems, within the human experience for people to have their own subjective truths. And those subjective truths can be pursued and lived out in each individual's human experience. But what people find, and this is ultimately the - shows the origin of human suffering, is that when those truths that people believe, that they adopt for themselves or choose to - those personal subjective truths - they clash with this broader objective truth. And that happens, you probably notice, quite a lot.

And most ordinary people don't have the power to kind of like impose their own personal subjective truth on a lot of other people. And that again, when that does happen - when people do have that power - we find a lot of suffering.

So it seems to me that in terms of the true evolution of the human species, it's about aligning our own understanding with this broader objective truth. And it's a process of exploration obviously, and learning and growing. And it's completely anti-evolution and anti-human essentially, anti-human nature to adopt this materialistic, where we are now is all there is type of thing, and what we are is pretty much just machines, and have no - essentially no influence over our own evolution, or have no part to play. When you put it in those terms, that that is what people like Richard Dawkins, etc. are promoting, and you look at the amount of air time they've been given. And this guy Dawkins has been given, for several years running I think, was cited as the world's kind of best mind, or something like that, in some magazine, you know? You look at what he's proposing, it goes against everything that makes everybody else human.

So what is he and his ilk? Who are they? They're not spokesmen for the rest of the human population, certainly, based on what the rest of the human population experience. But they're trying to shove it down people's throats. It's terrible! You can tell I don't like Richard Dawkins, can't you?

Harrison: But then Rupert Sheldrake gets banned from TED Talks.

Joe: I know! This is a very important point. People need to look at this, look at what these two - use these two people as examples, Richard Dawkins and Rupert Sheldrake. And look at how they have been received and wonder why. It's just bizarre, to be honest.

Harrison: Yeah, I feel the same way.

Niall: Something that's interesting about information theory, as I understand it, is its contrast with the materialists' worldview. In the materialists' world view, everything is built from the bottom up: DNA, single cells, amoeba, small creatures, all the way up to humans, and then consciousness is a by-product, or an epiphenomenon as you described it, of just neurons firing in our brain.

Harrison: Yes.

Niall: Just the end result of a series of chances. But information theory turns that completely on its head. Would that be a fair way to say it?

Harrison: Yeah.

Niall: That actually everything is informed from the outside and sort of "top"-down, with top in quotes.

Harrison: Yeah, I think so. Absolutely, yeah. Because with information, when you're informing something, you're imposing like a top-down structure on it, that isn't reducible to the parts. So, like a system's - when you're looking at things in terms of systems, you can't - you just simply can't explain the operations in a cell strictly in terms of its atoms and its subatomic particles. It's just - it's not possible. That's why we've got cellular biology, to be able to study things the way they are there. Information imposes this additional structure or arrangement on top of the physical parts that it's arranging. So you can't reduce information to the substrate that it's built upon. Now we could use the example of writing on a page. Now if we reduce writing on a page to its physical parts, all we get are ink and paper and down below that we'll get the actual atoms making that stuff up. But what - so physically, a page of gibberish is exactly the same as a page of Shakespeare. But what's important is the specific arrangement arbitrary; the arbitrary arrangement of those - of that material into a shape that we recognise and that we agree is meaningful, which is the English language, in this case.

So it does turn it on its head in the sense that everything isn't bottom-up. There is a bottom-up process, but the bottom-up process is from the material world. Basically I think, are the way they are in order so that information can be made, that - in order that so that things to become more complex. The way I see it is kind of like nested types of information in nested types of information. So we've got this kind of like circles within circles kind of thing where we've got the material world, so like atoms and particles. Now those can be used as a substrate for a higher type of information where we've got DNA. Now then the DNA will create creatures with specific body plans and those creatures will be conscious to some degree and be able to make life choices. So then on top of that biological information, we've got the information that we're able to create as creative beings. So we've got the information not only of literary creations, the things that we're able to write or speak, or artistic, so the pictures that we paint or music that we make, etc. We've also got the information structure of our own lives.

Now this gets back to what the Stoics thought. I can't remember how to pronounce his name. Epictetus, I believe. He wrote "For just as wood is the material of the carpenter, bronze that of the statuary, so each individual's own life is the material is the art of living." And Seneca said "Philosophy moulds and constructs the soul. It orders our life, guides our conduct, shows us what we should do and what we should leave undone. Without it no one can live fearlessly or in peace of mind."

So we've got all of these higher and higher types of information that are made possible by the arrangements of information below them. What does information need? Well it needs a variable alphabet of a sort, below it. So it needs something that it can arrange in a in a specific way, that won't be totally determined by that shape. So with - and when we look at the way the cosmos is structured, we've got our individual choices starting at our level, we've got the choices that we make in our lives, where we've got multiple choices open to us and we choose one of them. And we choose those based on the information that we have available, the values that are informing our choices, all that sort of thing. At DNA we've got this sugar phosphate backbone of our DNA. All the bonding sites for the nucleotides that attach there, they're all the same, like we can attach them arbitrarily. It's there - it's not a physically determined structure. It's like a scrabble board. You can put any letter you want out of the alphabet that you've got, in those positions to make meaningful combinations.

Then we go down to quantum physics where we've got the quantum probabilities where a particle might - it's got a probability of being here, here, here, here, here, here or there, etc. But something happens, some physical process happens, some measurement is taken and it'll take - I'd say choose maybe - one specific position out of this probability of others. So when we look at all these different levels, we've got - it's like this system of probabilities where we've got some kind of natural variation at the bottom that can be shaped, not fully physically determined. And that's like the foundation for some kind of freedom. Up to DNA we've got this backbone that can be arranged in an arbitrary manner. It's not totally physically determined.

And then on top of that we've got our life decisions, where we can arrange them however we choose. And we can do that - we've got a lot more freedom than a proton, for example.

Protons don't have many different options open to it. But we've got a tonne of options. And with a tonne of options, just like when I was talking about all the different possibilities for 9-letter words and all the different arrangements we can make, there's a whole bunch of possibility for nonsense. And unfortunately, or fortunately, either way, I think that applies to our lives. With so many possibilities available to us, that means we've just got so many more possibilities and ways to screw things up. And I think of, just by looking at the world, we've been doing that. We've been making the wrong choices consistently, in almost every field. We've been making choices that have screwed things up.

But I think that the - one of the things about information theory that's so interesting and kind of hopeful, is that there's a possibility of making a better choice, of finding the right information, the necessary information, to inform a better choice, and to be able to do that with an awareness of a certain value, or a certain - we could call it a certain purpose inherent in the cosmos. Now it's another part of panpsychism is seeing the world as teleological in nature, that is, nature does have a purpose. It isn't purposeless, like Sheldrake talks about in the book, is that there are purposes inherent in nature. And if we can figure out, or get an idea of what one of those purposes might be, we can adapt our behaviours and our choices to come into alignment with that.

And the way I see it, the universe does have a specific direction it goes in. We can see that things do get more complex, that information gets more complex, that more options become available and that it seems to be going in the direction of an increase in information, not a decrease in information. And I think that by really taking a hard look at everything, all areas of knowledge, that we can, by getting that information, by getting it from all over the place, we can make better informed decisions that will make the - maybe make the future a better place to live in than its current trajectory, which doesn't look very good at all.

Joe: Absolutely. Well, I think we're going to leave it there for this week Harrison.

Harrison: Alright.

Joe: Thanks a lot for being on the show. It's been great to talk to you and some very interesting information you have imparted to us.
Yeah. Just to let our listeners know then - Harrison has a book in process, tentatively called Mind Matters, but watch the space because it's in process.

There's one other book that's just been released from Red Pill Press by me and Niall Bradley. It's called Manufactured Terror - the Boston Marathon Bombing, Sandy Hook, Aurora Shooting and Other False Flag Attacks. It's a long title! You can get it on Kindle so far, but it's going to be out in hard copy pretty soon. And just so people know, Kindle books, there's a lot of Kindle books produced by our group here. You don't have to have a Kindle to read them. If you've got a cell phone, there's a free Kindle app you can get from Amazon's website where you don't even have to buy yourself a Kindle. You can just buy the Kindle book and read it on your phone, if you've got that.

Harrison: And it's very affordable.

Joe: Exactly, they're very cheap. So that's about it for this week folks. We hope you enjoyed it. We'll be back next week with another show. Thanks to our listeners.

Niall: Join us then.

Pierre: Thank you Harrison.

Harrison: Thanks for having me!

Joe: Bye-bye!