Dean Radin is the lead scientist of the Institute of Noetic Sciences where he’s been working on cutting-edge consciousness research of showing measurable mind and matter interactions with quantum phenomena. He’s published 17 papers showing statistical significance of meditators being able to subjectively project their consciousness and make an “observation” in a double-slit experiment that collapses the quantum wave function. You can read more in his Physics Essays paper “Psychophysical interactions with a double-slit interference pattern,” as well as this lecture on mind-matter interactions at a consciousness conference. Radin’s team is starting to look at whether or not they can use virtual to amplify the effects of this remote observation triggering signs of a quantum wave function collapse. Rather than imagining an observation in your mind, will they see similar effects by replicating this experiment within VR where they can be more embodied.
The quantum measurement problem is an open problem in quantum mechanics, and the Von Neumann–Wigner interpretation that consciousness causes collapse of the wave function is merely one of many possible theories, but it’s one that Radin is explicitly researching. He’s also researching whether or not consciousness can entangle photons beyond the theoretical strength of Tsirelson’s bound. Radin’s team is still too early in this research to report any results either way, but it’s the type of consciousness work that they’re pioneering.
I had a chance to do a deep dive with Radin at the latest Institute of Noetic Sciences conference about what his research into quantum mechanics and consciousness means for coming to a better understanding about the ultimate nature of reality. Radin says that there’s some scientists and physicists are coming to a more Pythagorean belief that perhaps the fundamental base reality is some sort of mathematical or symbolic realm. This is a theory that Max Tegmark explores in great detail in his book Our Mathematical Universe, and a high-level summary can be found in his technical preprint called The Mathematical Universe. Radin says the idea of a fundamental mathematical base reality is one that comes from the Pythagoreans, and that it forms the foundations of the more esoteric Neoplatonic and Hermetic traditions of magic. It’s led him to write a book coming out in 2018 titled Magic is Real where he came to the conclusion that he sees enough scientific evidence that would support the claims made from the lore of these magical traditions.
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Radin says that perhaps virtual reality will serve as a reality turing test of sorts to be able to help up discern which level of reality that we’re currently living. In his book, Supernormal he examines the claims made of Siddhi superpowers that have been detailed in a 2,000-year-old manuscript known as the Yoga Sutras. He says that if you’re able to achieve an enlightened state of samadhi, then that could unlock all sorts of latent human potentials including many of the psychic phenomena that he’s explored in his previous books The Conscious Universe and Entangled Minds. So in essence, if you reach a state of enlightenment, then you’re able to start to literally cut through the matrix of reality and start to achieve things that are only bounded by your belief and imagination.
Radin is on the frontier of science, and so a lot of his research is not yet widely accepted within the wider mainstream thinking yet.
Even though Radin has personally experienced being able to bend his spoon with his will, he’s a data-driven empirical scientist who has more faith within the wider scientific method. Some of these more extreme claims of supernormal human potential made within the Yoga Sutras presuppose that people are able to more readily reach these mythic states of enlightened consciousness, which is not an easy feat. But overall, he’s committed to doing the type of basic research into quantum mechanics that could help solve the mysteries of consciousness, and potentially lead to larger paradigm shifts towards these philosophical ideas of panpsychism.
I didn’t have the capacity to go through his entire work within the context of this podcast interview, but I’d recommend that you check out this lecture about his mind-matter double slit interactions talk at a consciousness conference, David Chalmer’s TED talk on panpsychism, as well as a more extended documentary about the philosophical metaphysics of panpsychism.
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[00:00:05.452] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye, and welcome to The Voices of VR Podcast. So on today's episode, we're going to be doing a deep dive into the rabbit hole, exploring the fundamental nature of base reality, as well as how virtual reality is being used to study these mind-matter interactions and consciousness research. So I had a chance to sit down with the lead scientist of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, Dr. Dean Radin, and he's an experimental scientist, which means that he's very data-driven, and he's written like three books up to this point. He's written The Conscious Universe, Entangled Minds, and Supernormal. This format of the podcast isn't going to be a great way to dive into all the details of his previous work. We're going to dive deep into his latest work into mind matter interactions and research, as well as talk about his latest book, as well as using virtual reality to be able to put people in VR experiences and to collapse a quantum wave function with their mind. So that's what we'll be covering on today's episode of the Voices of AR podcast. So this interview with Dean happened at the Institute of Noetic Sciences Conference in Oakland, California on Saturday, July 22nd, 2017. So, with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.
[00:01:28.356] Dean Radin: I'm Dean Radin. I'm the Chief Scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences. Most of my experimental research now is involving entangled photons. We did a long series of studies, 17 experiments published on the use of a double-slit optical system to test the proposal made by John von Neumann, the mathematician who put it on a firm mathematical basis. in analyzing the quantum measurement problem came to the conclusion that you needed something non-physical to turn the quantum wave function into actualities. And that thing he proposed would be consciousness, because it doesn't seem like it's, at least subjectivity doesn't seem like a physical thing. So we did a series of experiments looking at that issue and found that, at least in our studies, that there was evidence that mentally observing the double slit caused a change in the interference pattern. So then the next step was to try to drill down more into what is it that we think we're looking at. Why is this happening? So I decided to look at the quintessential similarity between something in quantum mechanics and something in psychic experience. which is its non-local nature. They both involve the strangeness of things that seem to be either outside of space and time or transcendent of it or something like that. So many might say that it's a coincidence, that it's one mystery trying to explain another. And I would say, well, that's possibly true, but it's also true that the nature of the mystery is the same in both cases. It is connections that transcend space and time. That's actually the only, the one thing that makes psychic and mystical experience strange, is this transcendent quality. So, many, many experiments have been done, including by us, looking at mind-matter interaction, and we decided let's now look at non-local mind and non-local matter. So the non-local mind part is easy. It's simply pay attention to something that's somewhere else. That's what many experiments do anyway. The non-local matter is a little bit more difficult because you then need to use systems which you know are quantum inherently. And well, we've done that with single photons, but now we're using entangled photons. And this is something I've wanted to do for a long time, but it was extremely expensive to get systems that would not only show you entangled photons, but to get them produced continuously. And even more so, continuously, 24-7, that you can get onto the internet, because we wanted to do experiments with far distances. So the technology has come along now to be able to produce a desktop entanglement system. It's a company called Q-Tools, Q-U-Tools, in Germany. And they have a machine that will produce entangled photons of fairly high quality entangled photons that you can just generate continuously. And it also has a connection to the internet. So we have an online experiment now called entangledphotons.us, in which you go to the website and you can see in near real time the strength of correlation between entangled photons. And the task is very simple. You look at a moving line and try to make the line move up, which would mean that the correlation strength is moving up. Or, and there's several other kinds of displays that basically are the same task, but shown in different ways. And we've also used the same device in the laboratory to see if, in the lab, people only two meters away from the device could, by mentally thinking about it, increase the correlation strength. So to make a long story short, so far the preliminary data suggests that people can do that. They're observing mentally, non-locally, a system which is inherently non-local, and the strength of the correlation is increasing, which is what they've been asked to make it do. So the end goal on this is that entangled photons are, of course, a very curious thing to begin with, but the strength of the entanglement lives within two bounds. These are mathematical bounds that are defined by quantum mechanics. The lower bound is the transition between classical behavior and quantum behavior. The upper bound is called a Cyrelson bound. It's named after a Russian mathematician called Boris Tyrelson. And he calculated that the upper limit, according to orthodox quantum mechanics, meaning linear quantum mechanics, is 2 times the square root of 2. That's just a number by the way you calculate all of this. And the lower bound is two. The lower bound is the transition classical to quantum, the upper bound is quantum to something else. Super quantum, supra quantum, something like that. Maybe a nonlinear form of quantum mechanics. So when you look in the conventional literature now for people who have been testing what is the correlation strength, the best that they can get. In a laboratory, it's very close to two square roots of two, but no one's gone past it. So it looks like the mathematical prediction is correct, according to the orthodox theory, and we want to see whether not only can mind modulate the degree of entanglement, but modulate it above two square roots of two. Because if it does, it means that the mind is doing something to the physical world that is not yet accounted for very well by orthodox quantum mechanics.
[00:06:53.732] Kent Bye: Yeah, and if I understand this correctly, you first did these almost like remote viewing or meditating on a double-slit experiment to see if you could project your consciousness and make an observation within an event of shooting photons, and that once you make that observation, you have the collapse of the wave function, and you actually have like a discrete measurable result of being able to see whether or not you're able to make this observation remotely using consciousness. But now you're moving on to this other realm of quantumly entangled photons. And then what is it that you're actually measuring? I'm trying to get a metaphor of understanding, because I think part of the challenge with these quantum phenomena is that you get into these statistical models in a way that is disconnected from our direct experience in a certain way. Is there a metaphor that kind of describes what's actually happening? And then if you get this some sense of how the mind is interacting with physical matter here with this experiment.
[00:07:51.599] Dean Radin: Well, only as a metaphor, and maybe it's a little bit even further towards a story than a metaphor. Some people have proposed that perhaps consciousness is like the glue that holds together reality. This may be the case if consciousness is fundamental in some way, even more fundamental in the physical world as we usually see it. And so if consciousness is a glue, then entanglement is also kind of a glue. It's something that connects what appears to be separate particles. So if you kind of step back from trying to put words onto what that means, this is a problem with trying to figure out what could it mean that there are two particles and yet they have a shared superposition state, which is what the entanglement is all about. Well, maybe that superposition is some connection that transcends space-time, which is kind of a glue, which holds things together, and it is the thing that shares properties between particles. We think of it both partially as a real physical object, like a particle, and as a quantum wave function, which nobody knows what that is. So when you ask somebody to mentally, of course you can't tell somebody to try to do something with entangled photons because it's very hard to imagine even what that looks like. But what you can tell them is if you have a measurement of it in real time, and of course these are different particles, you can measure it and then that's gone. So you're looking at over a period of time how is the correlation strength changing. that if you are looking at that line, you try to make that line move up, it means that the strength of the glue is suddenly getting a little bit stronger, or the superposition is stronger, and the degree of separation between the objects is lessened. They become more like each other because of the strength of the correlation. Well, maybe that's what consciousness does. It holds things together. And also maybe the background proto-consciousness of whatever that is in the universe is completely holistic. There is actually no separation at all in whatever that stuff is. And so if you put your attention onto a system, it will reduce the separateness. And so that is said in other terms is increasing the correlation strength between entangled photons. it's increasing the strength of the glue or maybe just making the glue more evident or something of that sort. So that's about as best as I can think at this point about what's going on.
[00:10:15.573] Kent Bye: Yeah, I think that's, you know, just to kind of take a step back, you know, quantum physics for a long time has presented kind of anomalies in terms of our worldview, in terms of science. But yet, because it is so disconnected from our direct experience, then I think it's been difficult to have these quantum metaphors be propagated into other dimensions.
[00:10:38.082] Dean Radin: Yes, however, the same difficulty that we have in trying to describe what's happening with entanglement could be then put onto something like telepathy, right? So if two people are sharing the same emotions or thoughts or something, regardless of where they happen to be, or somebody is interacting with their future self, and we call that precognition, these have the same sense of weirdness, because they're not part of everyday experience, except in the sense they kind of are. People have these experiences pretty frequently, they sometimes will try to describe it to somebody else and then they'll get weird responses looking back like what kind of crazy stuff are you talking about so people learn not to talk about it. So it's not clear to me that quantum mechanics is deeply related to those phenomena except as I said before, is it a coincidence that this strange connection is there in the physical world and there in experience? Is that a coincidence? My guess is that it is not a coincidence. We tend to think of quantum mechanics at this point as a strange or exotic laboratory thing. Even though there's the beginnings of quantum computing and quantum cryptography and all that stuff, it's still a very fragile phenomenon. I think by the way that we're actually producing them in the laboratory. But if the phenomenon is reflective of the way that the world is actually stuck together, it's probably way more robust than we think. As an example, the strange thing about quantum entanglement is that the correlations are stronger than classical correlations. That's what makes it doubly strange. It's very fragile in the laboratory, but the actual nature of the correlation is stronger than it is in a classical sense. So how can that be? It's yet another paradox that we have to think about. But it is the strength of the correlation that is the way that you detect that it's actually even there in the laboratory. If you're using two particles which are actually separate and they come out of a single source, you can make a prediction about what they would look like when you start plotting them and it looks like a line basically. This is by one method of measuring entanglement. And yet you can end up with something that has a cosine factor in it where you actually go over the line, which means it's stronger than it ought to be. So maybe consciousness, if it is truly fundamental, is the most robust thing that there is. It's like more robust than anything in the physical world because that's where the physical world comes from.
[00:13:04.371] Kent Bye: being in the virtual reality community, we've had people talk about this idea that we live in a simulation. And the thing that you're doing here with this research, what I see is the connection to VR, just to make that a little bit more explicit, is that you're kind of on the frontiers of science, meaning you're chasing down anomalous phenomena and you're finding empirical evidence and data for things that can't be described in existing paradigms that we have in our either materialistic or dualistic mindset in terms of trying to describe these mental models of our ontology of reality. And so you're working in a field that is having these fundamental philosophical questions. For me, having a direct experience of virtual reality, it starts to make this blending of what is reality when you have a virtual experience, when all of your sensory motor contingencies are completely tricked and fooled, and that you're in another world and that world is real. And you create memories that are real and then you come back into reality that then you start to ask yourself, OK, what is reality now that I've had this virtual synthetic experience? And so in this research that you've been doing, you've had these different papers being published in journals like Physics Essays. But yet, it's still not to the point where it's catalyzed a complete philosophical shift beyond some of the materialistic or dualistic paradigms into these other possibilities, whether it's idealism or panpsychism. So I'm just curious from a number of different dimensions is that, first of all, there's the philosophy of science and the overall ontology of the mainstream culture and all of science. But then there's the other direct experience that people are starting to have these questions and having a blurring of the lines between what is objective and subjective when it comes to having the direct experience of virtual reality, which it seems like a lot of these psychic phenomena and other things are also in the realm of in your body having a direct experience. But yet, they're not in a realm of being able to be empirically observed and measured and quantified in a way that is satisfying, perhaps, to mainstream science. Although that, you know, I think in their book Supernormal would argue that there is plenty of evidence there. It's just some sort of paradigm blindness of not having that higher level philosophy to be able to actually take that on. And so it feels like we're in this sort of cusp of like seeing the glimmers of a new paradigm. But yeah, I'm just curious to hear your reactions to all those different dimensions of that.
[00:15:33.057] Dean Radin: Yeah, whenever you are faced with an anomaly, it is considered an anomaly because it doesn't fit within the framework or the paradigm that people are used to. So if you have a certain framework and there's no place to hang the anomaly, it oftentimes will just fall off. People don't pay any attention to it or assume that it's wrong or something like that. So one of the challenges then with taking the anomalies which we can produce in the laboratory, so it's not that anomalous, how do you deal with it? What kind of schema will you use in order to understand it? One of the fears I hear many times by people across disciplines is that these anomalies cannot be what they seem to be. They can't be real. because it would mean that we'd have to throw away all our textbooks. And there's a lot of fear behind that, that a person's entire career is based on textbooks. And it's a valid fear. We really can't throw away what we have pretty good ideas as true. So what do we do? We can't get rid of the old paradigm. We need to do what we have always done, which is expand it. So how do we expand it? So the proposal I would make is that think of knowledge as a kind of pyramid of fundamental and less fundamental and so on as you go up this pyramid. So the fundamental, at least within the prevailing worldview, scientific worldview, is physics at the bottom. You have matter and energy and space and time, and they're all fundamental in some way. And from that emerges chemistry. Well, chemistry has some new properties that you couldn't predict based on the ones below, but it consists completely of the stuff of physics. And then from that, you have biology, and from that, you have psychology and neuroscience and blah, blah, blah. Up near the top you have consciousness. And the neuroscientists today and many scientists from other disciplines also will assume that consciousness is a property of the complexity of activity in the brain. That's what it is. That gives rise to some neurophilosophers who call us zombies because then consciousness is just another side effect of mechanical processing and it's inherently meaningless, doesn't have any more meaning than an atom sitting out there somewhere. So that's the paradigm. From that paradigm, it's extremely difficult to imagine why mind and matter should interact other than being an emergent property. And then you could say, well, maybe there's some downwards causation that goes on because the mind, after all, can influence the body through the placebo effect. But what I just said 30 years ago was completely laughable. No one even accepted that there could be a mind-body effect because downwards causation was considered to be nonsense. So that's beginning to break down a little bit. You have both upwards and downwards causation on this hierarchy. So another problem though is that nobody knows where consciousness actually comes from. The subjectivity seems extremely different than objectivity. A philosopher might say that it's a category mistake to assume that they're actually the same or one emerging out of the other. It's like taking the square root of an orange. So, what do we do to expand it? So, the easy way to expand it is through panpsychism or idealism where you simply say the bottom layer is not physics, the bottom layer is awareness. Or if that pushes people too much and you say, no, the bottom level is actually information or it's mathematics or it's a symbolic reality. And you find more and more scientists now talking in these terms. I mean, not only quantum information, but just information alone, symbols. So if that is so, then there are people working on this notion of how do you get from concepts of pure information, which are not physical yet, that turn into physical reality as we experience it. If that was true, that means we are, in a sense, we are living in the matrix. Because everything at the bottom, it becomes symbolic. So I've been thinking about this, and I have actually written a book, which will be coming out early in 2018, which looks at the consequence of that, if it's true. And of course, if it is true, then suddenly all the psychic and mystical stuff are very easy to talk about, because that informational substrate at the bottom, that's also part of us. Just like electrons live everywhere in the knowledge hierarchy, consciousness has to live everywhere too, and oh, by the way, we're talking about a layer which is below space-time. which means we're permeated with awareness that is not in space-time. So then, you know, why would telepathy be strange? It's something that should happen. So one of the consequences that I came up with is that ultimately traditional esoteric magic is probably real because traditional esoteric magic essentially says that consciousness is primary over the physical world. And that's exactly what this new expanded model would suggest. So in this book, I spend about a third of the book looking at the esoteric lore all the way back to shamanism and looking for a way of synthesizing what is the core concepts within this lore, and it really does go back throughout history, and it's taken many different flavors and cultural versions throughout time, but it is still very present. It's as present today as it was back in 50,000 years ago or more. In the synthesis, which is the most popular, is the perennial philosophy. The perennial philosophy basically has two concepts in it. One is that consciousness is fundamental, And the other is that reality as we experience it emerges out of that. So that's this new fundamental layer at the bottom of our knowledge hierarchy. Everything that we can think about magic, and magic being three categories. Divination, which fits in nicely with clairvoyance and precognition, that's what it is. force of will, which is the way we usually think of magic, the lightning bolts coming out of your fingertips and that kind of thing. That's psychokinetic effects, or the effect of prayer at a distance, or distant healing and all that stuff. And the third category is called theurgy, from two Greek root words, the, the in this case like theology, and urgy meaning work. So the rough translation of that is something like God work. What it means is communicating with spirits. So when we have an idea of traditional ceremonial magic, it's usually about evoking spirits to do something on your behalf and also involving lots of robes and things like that. So, you cut through all of the ceremonial overlay on magic, and you now see that, well, psy research has been looking at these phenomena in various ways for about 150 years. Overall, if you simply take a neutral assessment of the data, it looks pretty darn good that there's something real going on, in which case, the traditional ideas about magic are real. That doesn't mean Harry Potter is real, but it does mean that Harry Potter probably reflects these ancient myths that have gone all the way through history and are embellished like any story. And it also doesn't mean that it's fake, as in stage magic, because stage magic takes advantage of things that people want to see. I mean, why would somebody want to go see a magician if you weren't ready for the awe, in a sense? So you could do a magic trick and people would look at you like you're crazy if you weren't interested in real magic. So that's what the book is about. It's basically saying that if you just keep tracing backwards in time what the esoteric literature has been trying to say, and oh by the way, it's been enormously suppressed. The church of every stripe has completely suppressed it, not because it doesn't believe in it, but because if you believe in that particular magic, you may not believe in our magic. And so just from sociopolitical reasons, magic was strongly suppressed. And it was associated with, rightly or wrongly, with paganism, some of which is true, but magic still exists in the Catholic Church in particular. It's all magic, which is why Protestantism began. And science has also suppressed it in the sense that the data are there, and yet it's very, very difficult to break into the mainstream with this data because it's considered to be an untouchable. So you have both science and religion strongly pushing this aside, and yet it can't go away because it's part of reality. And so where does it pop up? It pops up in movies like Doctor Strange and in endless other movies and endless TV shows, all of which are looking at these themes. Eventually, it will be allowed outside of entertainment into other domains. If I had to guess, I would guess we're within 20 years of a sea change happening as a result of more and more scientists becoming open about their notion that maybe panpsychism is not so crazy after all. Each one of those is another door opening in that direction.
[00:24:23.785] Kent Bye: Well, I think if you go back to Plato and Neoplatonism, they had this idea of the anima mundi or the world soul, which speaks to this living conscious universe rather than an inert universe. And so I think during the emergence of the printing press, which led to much more distribution of information and knowledge, which then led to the Renaissance and then eventually the Enlightenment where you have these Cartesian splits of the mind and body and then for the past 500 years we've had this segregation between things that are happening inside of our heads and things that are happening in objective reality and so it feels like what I see happening is a little bit of like this calling back to these platonic or neoplatonic ideas of the anima mundi and these ancient ideas of like the books that you're talking about and that in some ways you're finding direct evidence of it, but I'm also seeing that there's this larger cultural trend towards having things be live and embodied and virtual reality representing a new communication medium which allows people to record and share their embodiment in a way that goes beyond the abstractions of language and text and such that we can have a much more immersive experience, such that we're hacking all of our senses. And it feels like there's a correlation there between when you write something down, then it sort of becomes dead. But when you're speaking it, there's something that is living and alive in that embodiment of that. And that with these new communications mediums, what I hear you saying is that we're also coming back to these more neoplatonic ideas.
[00:25:57.972] Dean Radin: Well, not only Neoplatonism but Hermeticism and the Kabbalah and all of that. These ideas have never gone away. They're culture-bound in some sense because it would be difficult to understand from one culture to another. But the essence of them are all pretty much the same. They're the perennial philosophy. So the interesting thing about VR is that it does begin to blur. It blurs it very strongly in some cases between objective and subjective. Because you're now, you're literally in your head. So if we're living in something like a VR, then this is a VR simulation inside a VR simulation, and of course you don't need to go very far to see that spill out into endless, it's like the multi-worlds hypothesis, only it's VRs and VRs and VRs all the way down. And where does it stop?
[00:26:47.550] Kent Bye: Yeah, and I think that's sort of what I've just been hearing over the last three years is just people talking about this and accepting it, and even like Elon Musk kind of just bringing it out as being like, yeah, there's probabilistically a good chance that if we're going to have the technological capabilities in 10 to 50 years to create artificial intelligent entities that are able to live in a reality that they have to then question whether or not they're living in a simulated reality, then what's to say that we're not already there? And so to me, I think the thing that freaks people out a little bit is the extent of their free will and what is being predetermined. If we live in a simulation, then what degree can we interact with the fundamental fabric of this code? If this symbolic language is set, then is our consciousness be able to interact in a way that we are able to preserve this sense of agency and free will that we have within our direct experience, but yet Is it predetermined? And these kind of like larger philosophical questions, I'm just curious if you can even think about that or explore that empirically, or if it's just purely in the realm of speculation and philosophy at that point.
[00:27:58.142] Dean Radin: Yeah, I mean, if we're living in a simulation, can something or someone simulate free will? Sure. Why not? I have no idea. If you're living in a simulation and you're beginning to get down to the bare metal, so to speak, and see what the assembly language is like, maybe it'd be exactly what we're slowly coming to realize. And then God is the coder. And who coded him? We don't know. It's part of the fun, actually, to see if you could be clever enough to figure out what is the medium in which you're in. It's reality testing. It's like a new form of Turing test where you're not only interested in whether the thing is intelligent, but what is the thing? What's the nature of the thing itself? And the Turing test is difficult enough. A reality Turing test is going to be that much more difficult.
[00:28:49.006] Kent Bye: So I wanted to ask you, because you've done the whole book, Supernormal, where you're looking at these cities or these gifts that people have that they're able to push the limits of human potential. And one of the things that I see in virtual reality right now is that We have things like sensory replacement, where David Eagleman is able to put a vest on and be able to feed information through his body, and as long as the information is encoded in a similar way that an ear would translate sound into these different signals, then he can train his body to turn into an ear. It's like an extra-sensory perception, but he's literally just turning his torso into an ear. Then there's other things like James Blaha who was able to cure his lazy eye by being able to give sensory input to his weak eye at a higher signal and be able to slowly train the muscles of his eye based upon the sensory input of the photons coming from these VR headsets and such that He's able to essentially rewire his brain through the principles of neuroplasticity to have the capability of a latent human potential in his mind of his eye that doesn't work, and he's able to fix it through VR. And with that principle, I've been saying for years that, oh, wow, look at the work of Dean Radin in this supernormal. There's these cities and these ancient texts that point to supernormal possibilities of the human potential. Curious to hear a little bit about your journey through India and kind of exploring both the science and anecdotes and stories of what did you discover in terms of the limits of the human potential?
[00:30:26.102] Dean Radin: Well, our former president, Willis Harman, had this quip that the only limits we have are what you believe. That's a paraphrase. And I think that may be correct. Certainly, if you try to walk through a wall and you're not in the right frame of mind, the wall is going to say no. So you might believe that you can do that, but that's not simply like a shallow level belief, but something more fundamental than that. We know from both laboratory tests and from magical lore that belief is one of the strongest modulators as to whether or not the magic works. But again, it's not momentary, fragile belief. It's some deep core belief that is hard to articulate that seems to make things be the way that they are. So as far as the siddhis go, at least within the yogic tradition, you need to achieve a state of enlightenment essentially, samadhi, which is a unity type of meditative experience. And at that level, the Atman equals Brahman, you and the rest of the universe are the same. From that state, which we can think of as being a very deep state where mind and matter and space and time and all of those kinds of concepts that we have kind of merged together. If you can maintain awareness at that level, then in principle you can do anything you can imagine. In that case, I'm not even sure that belief matters. All that matters is imagination, which also turns out to be part of the magical lure. That it all begins with your ability to imagine what it is that you want. So I can immediately see all the hair raising on many scientists as I'm saying these things because it is suggesting that the whole genre of books on affirmations and positive thinking, that it's all true. because that's what that domain says. And of course, most people would say, well, that's ridiculous. You could wish for something and the universe doesn't care. And so my response is that we are so not used to thinking about being able to achieve states, which are at this very deep level of awareness, that of course it seems ridiculous. Because most of us, most of the time, are living in an everyday state of awareness. So until we get enough people who are able to achieve states like Samadhi and do things within that state, which is what you need to do from the yogic tradition to produce the cities, then it'll remain an outlandish question. But the thing that impressed me about the Yoga Sutras and lots of the yogic lore is the matter-of-fact way that these things are described. They're not described as fantasy, but more importantly, at elementary levels of the siddhis, we're talking about things like precognition and telepathy, we know that that's correct, just from empirical science. And so why would they be lying about all the rest of it? So I think probably people from ancient times and very different kinds of conditions were way ahead of us figuring out what is the nature of subjectivity and how far down does it go and what does it do. It does probably very strange things.
[00:33:34.677] Kent Bye: Have you had a direct experience of any of these cities? I know in the book you said that you may have been able to bend a spoon through telekinesis and that you didn't have any other explanation. But I'm just curious to hear from your own direct experience, because it sounds like some of these experiences people have, and maybe they explain it as a synchronicity, which Jung may describe as kind of an alignment between your internal state and your objective reality, that there's a resonance there. And I think people have that feeling of synchronicity many, many times, but to kind of take it this step further in terms of being able to kind of use your mind to bend the will of reality. I'm just curious to hear like what you've either personally experienced in your own body, but also seen in terms of direct evidence or anecdotal evidence, I guess, in terms of the possibility of these cities.
[00:34:27.867] Dean Radin: Well for me the more, I have had some experiences which coincidence doesn't do justice to, but I've always been more impressed by the results of laboratory tests because then you know what the conditions are of the test. especially if other people can replicate the same kind of result, even if it's statistical results. I mean, all of science depends on statistics to understand how things work, so it doesn't bother me that we're dealing with relatively weak effects in the lab if they can be replicated and the statistics uphold the result. Because it's not only seeing something under controlled conditions, but that others can do it, which gives this consensus sense of confidence that something is going on, it's not just me. So for me personally, though, probably the most dramatic effect was the bending of a bowl of a spoon. Because that doesn't happen spontaneously. I've never heard of anybody having a soup spoon, even in boiling water, suddenly decide to fold up. It doesn't do that. And yet this is what I was trying to do. And this is a heavy soup spoon where the bowl is bent in half. Well the bowl doesn't like to bend in half. It's going against the shape of which it was made. It has a shallow shape which is very strong and resists bend. And I got it the same spoon afterwards and measured with a torque wrench how much force would it actually take to do that. And it's way more than a human being can provide. So what do you do with that? It becomes a one-off anomaly. But it's an anomaly that doesn't go away. It stares you in the face. So I know people who are skeptical of these things. I have great sympathy for that because I used to be very skeptical of spoon bending also because there's a lot of ways of bending spoons through ordinary force at the neck of the spoon and various twists and so on and there's all kinds of gizmos you can buy as a magician to do it. Except it wasn't any of that. It was something else. And I think even if I had seen it close up, which is what I originally planned on doing, was to look at somebody like a foot away and just watch him do it as close as I could, I'm not even sure I would have believed that. So it was my own experience of feeling what it felt like when it happened that I can't deny it. I have the spoon in my office. They look at it every so often thinking, what in the world was that? So, yeah, strange things happen.
[00:36:55.708] Kent Bye: Yeah, just the matrix keeps coming up over the last times you've been answering, just because there's these different scenes of kind of cutting through the matrix and being able to change reality in this way. I know that there's been the Global Consciousness Project, which uses these quantum random number generators. What do you think it is about the nature of probabilities or probabilistic phenomena, whether it's a quantum probability or something like the I Ching, which is using flipping of the coins or drawing straws, is in some ways drawing on this random probability that is maybe as you address it with your will with a very specific question is through that divinatory process somehow collapsing that wave function into an answer that is being described through either the I Ching or in the case of collective consciousness being able to kind of have some measurement. So what do you think it is about the probability as being this interface into these consciousness phenomena?
[00:37:54.825] Dean Radin: Well, it's a similar question to what is the quantum wave function? You square it and then you get probabilities. And so if we're dealing with probabilities in things like random number generators, if you go down to the level of the noise, it's still probably dealing with a quantum wave function. So somewhere between the square root of probability and the actual probability, there's something strange. I don't know what that is. I mean, it's possibilities that are pregnant and waiting to be manifest in some way. And so maybe consciousness, maybe that's the, one of the ways of thinking of a magical process where you're trying to manifest something is that the design of making something happen is a little bit like an electrical circuit that's not powered. It's a potential. It has a certain design to it. It can do things. but it needs to be powered in order to actually do it. So the design of it are these probabilistic connections, a little bit like a very complex Markov chain perhaps, that all of this could happen, but it's just gonna sit there and not do anything unless it's turned on. Well, what turns it on? Our awareness somehow. Consciousness is the thing that powers the design. And then something happens, it manifests as a result. So one of the things I talk about in my new book on magic is the use of sigils, which is a magical process where you use words and you squish them together into a symbol. Well, the symbol stands for something. It's a little bit like an electrical circuit that's not turned on. And now once you've made your sigil, the symbol, you charge it through consciousness. You push your consciousness through it, and by doing so, the belief is, or the hope is, that it makes things manifest. So I've made some sigils, and I've been playing with them, and to my joy and disconcernation, they seem to work, which is frightening, actually. Frightening in the same way that bending the bowl of the spoon was frightening, because I don't really know what's going on. I don't know the extent of it. I don't know how far it can go, and I know that I have a much larger portion of my mind which is unconscious, which by definition I'm not in control of, and a little tiny bit, which I have some control over. So I think the power of all of this is coming mostly out of our unconscious. And so among other things, you have to start thinking about it. You better be really careful about what you're hoping to manifest. Because if you're lucky, it'll be in alignment with what your conscious mind likes. And if you're really not lucky, it will be self-defeating in some way. So I'm actually very glad that most psi phenomena are really weak, not only in the laboratory, but in the real world. It's weak, because if it wasn't weak, we would destroy ourselves almost instantly. Because if whims turn into reality, just think about every time that you've had a whim which would result in harm of somebody else, it would be a disaster. So I'm kind of happy that we're very weak little psychic machines that are not able to actually push the world around very much.
[00:41:03.824] Kent Bye: So with virtual reality, you're able to immerse yourself into these virtual spaces, but you could start to work with the symbolic realm or with the visualizations of things and start to perhaps do invoking of different magical processes in some ways where you're able to have something that goes beyond your imagination. I mean, I guess that's a question as to whether or not it's better to use your raw imagination or to have some sort of physical simulcrum of it in the metaphor of it that you have an embodied relationship to it. I guess that's sort of perhaps an open question as to what the impact of VR versus, you know, magic without that. I'm just curious to hear some of your ideas in terms of just using virtuality in terms of your experimental protocol or things that you're interested in kind of experimenting with given your ontological beliefs in terms of what's possible. What could you use virtuality for in order to kind of push the limits of this technology to assist us to be able to do things that we weren't able to do without it?
[00:42:06.681] Dean Radin: Well, initially what we'll be doing is taking mind matter interaction experiments and using the power of VR to help people visualize the actual task. So in the case of a double slit, the slits themselves are 10 microns. You can't really see them very well and they're separated by 100 or 200 microns. So, in VR, you'd be able to shrink down to the level of a slit being the size of a door, and then you could do stuff with it in that space. So, it'd simply be a way of helping you embody or make the nature of the task more understandable. That would go a long way, I think, into simply making it easier to do. The other thing is that you can simulate entire environments where you could use as feedback from whatever the system happens to be. We're not using random systems anymore. We're using real physical systems that do things. So if you had some object directly in front of you and you wanted to melt it, as an example, and the melting was related to the behavior of the system that you're trying to influence, it's much easier to do something which is embodied, even though it's a virtual embodiment, than to just mentally think about it. So we've been using meditators because they have more attention training, but I think the VR environment will help people, even who are not meditators, get a much better grasp about what it is that we want them to do.
[00:43:30.049] Kent Bye: Great, and finally, what do you think is kind of the ultimate potential of virtual reality and what it might be able to enable?
[00:43:39.656] Dean Radin: Well, ultimately, I think people will remain in VR all the time. You know, it will turn into the Matrix, hopefully, that we are able to decide what we want to do in that space and it won't be something else controlling it. But who knows? If something has to control the VR system, and there will be VR systems where there are lots of people in it at the same time and we're wearing their own avatar bodies and all the rest of it, I remember probably 20 years ago that VR, when the first ideas came out and the first demonstration programs, which made you nauseous almost immediately, everyone of course immediately went directly into sex as the ultimate place it's going to end up. And there will certainly be a large portion of VR that is going to go in that direction. and it will invariably become extremely addictive. So I can imagine there will be a whole new psychiatric syndromes of people who go into it and don't want to come out or can't come out or come out and can no longer distinguish between the quote real world and the virtual world and all of that. It's going to be a whole new set of problems. I think another thing likely to happen is that actual physical travel will begin to disappear pretty quickly and it's not too soon for me. Or if we're going to virtually travel, then we all go in first class.
[00:44:59.241] Kent Bye: Great. Well, thank you so much. You're welcome. So that was Dr. Dean Radin. He's the chief scientist of the Institute of Noetic Sciences. He's the author of Entangled Minds, The Conscious Universe, Supernormal, and the upcoming Magic is Real. So I have a number of different takeaways about this interview is that, first of all, Dean is mentioning that there's a number of different scientists that were talking about fundamental base reality as some sort of mathematical or symbolic reality. And so I looked into this and read the book by Max Teggart. It's called Our Mathematical Universe. And he's putting forth this theory that we do live in this base reality of mathematics and that Right now, the scientists don't know what the mathematical structure is for base reality, mainly because there's a disconnect between classical physics and relativity, as well as with quantum mechanics. There's a lot of open questions as to what the fundamental mathematical structure may be, but a lot of physicists are coming to believe that, yeah, there's some sort of elegant mathematical beauty that is at the core of our base reality, and that then drives all these equations and matter and space and time as well as these things that are outside of space and time, that quantum wave function which is this infinite dimension Hilbert space that these vectors are exhibiting, more of an indeterminate probabilistic type of reality. So Dean is really at the forefront of doing the fundamental research at the core of physics to see if there are these types of mind-matter interactions and If it does turn out that there is the Copenhagen interpretation of the quantum measurement problem of having a collapse of the wave function and that it's because there's an observer that has a subjectivity and you're able to project your consciousness onto this double slit and turn what was a waveform into a particle, that has a huge number of implications as to the nature of consciousness being something that could in fact be something that is at a base level of reality below physics, so this idea of panpsychism or idealism where there's this consciousness that from consciousness then emerges reality. Or the panpsychist also has that, you know, every single photon and electron has some sort of information or consciousness or awareness. So I'll be including some more videos on panpsychism from David Chalmers, give a great TED talk on it. There's a more extended documentary about panpsychism. I'll be including a video from Dean Radin, who talks more about the research that they've been doing with this mind matter interaction to collapse the wave function. And, you know, it'll be interesting to see whether or not virtual reality will be able to amplify these types of interactions. Up to this point, it's been using meditators who are projecting their consciousness, almost like remote viewing and imagining it in their mind. And so it's taking a skilled meditator to be able to hold that within their mind. What does it mean to somebody have a more embodied interaction with this that's more life-size, that could actually like lift up a Vive controller and block the photons that are coming in to, you know, quote unquote, make this observation to see which slit it's going through. So I also talked to Lauren Carpenter, who's working with the Institute of Noetic Sciences. We do much more of a deep, deep dive into the specific experiences that they're creating in order to study these quantum phenomena. But to take a step back, the larger implications of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, this research into consciousness, I think gets into this question of, like, can VR be some dimension of a Turing test to get down to these base levels of reality? If we live in a mathematical universe, then what's it mean to have these simulated experiences of these mathematical metaphors so that we can have more of a direct experience of something that has been up to this point largely abstract? If you go all the way back to The Ultimate Display from Ivan Sutherland, he talks about wanting to step into a mathematical wonderland. This idea of stepping into mathematics is something that inspired the creators of virtual reality, and it's something that goes all the way back to Pythagoreans, who also agreed that there was some sort of base reality of numbers or mathematics. and that influenced Plato and Neoplatonic thinking that there were these ideal forms and that has informed the whole hermetic tradition which leads into the latest research that Dean has been doing into magic is real. Studying from what he's seen from doing all this empirical research into psi or psychic phenomena for his entire career, being able to do these different books that he's written, he lays out all the evidence for all of this that he's seen over the years. And it goes against the mainstream orthodoxy of the scientific materialism, which I think these types of direct experiences of telepathy, clairvoyance, and psychic phenomena are these anomalous experiences that are calling forth for some other paradigm or worldview that is able to encompass these types of experiences, which is in part why Dane is looking to something like idealism or panpsychism. And finally, it was fascinating to hear Dean's take on supernormal, which was his exploration of these yoga sutras, which were going into all of this lore of what is possible when you're able to get into these enlightened samadhi states. So if there is a level of awareness that's below physics and you're able to transcend your mind and body and go out of space-time and go into that level of pure awareness and have that state of being for extended periods of time, then what is coming from the lore is that just about anything you believe can manifest in reality. Now, this is where he says it's a little bit concerning when you start to think about these things about magic, if you start to believe things, and that we would essentially destroy each other. And so maybe there's some sort of like consensual agreement that these effects are small because we don't necessarily have the ethics to not destroy each other with these powers. So at this point, even though there's some statistical significance for some of these effects, they're relatively weak. But what Dean is alluding to here is that the potential of achieving these states of Samadhi means that you'd basically be able to cut through the matrix of reality. whether that's like walking through walls. At a minimum, a lot of these telepathic, psychokinetic, clairvoyant, precognition types of experiences, I think, just become part of your second nature. Now, I was just at SIGGRAPH where I had an experience with Neurable, where I was having my brainwaves read and I was able to essentially telepathically and psychokinetically move objects around in the room. And so, in some ways, my brain is being taught to have these category schemas of what it feels like to be able to, like, actually pick up objects with my mind and move them around with my force of my will. And that level of intention is a brainwave that can be detected very easily. But overall, people are going to start to have these experiences with the brain control interfaces of assimilating what it feels like to have these psychic powers. And what Dean is saying is that if we are able to perhaps use VR to unlock some of these latent human potentials and get into these enlightened samadhi states, then maybe we'll be able to cut through the matrix and be able to do all sorts of magical things. The only limit to that is perhaps our imagination. So finally, the last thing that I would point out here is I super appreciate Dean's commitment to being an experimental scientist. He's very much into the data and so much more concerned into creating these scientific protocols that could be replicated by other people to gather a scientific consensus. Because you can have your own direct experience of something, but until that you have that distributed within the wider scientific community, then a lot of these ideas are just going to be relegated to be fringe science that is on the frontier, but is largely unaccepted and unacknowledged by the larger scientific community, which at this point is where it's still at. But this is how knowledge progresses. There's these anomalies that he's investigating. And if they're able to replicate these anomalies within the lab and then have other people replicate them, then this is how eventually, you know, science progresses. So super fascinating to think about the fundamental nature of reality, but also some of these stories and anecdotes from the yogic lore. So that's all that I have for today. I just wanted to thank you for going down the rabbit hole today. And yeah, if you enjoy this podcast, then please do spread the word, tell your friends. And you know, this podcast is listener supported. I rely upon the gracious donations from you and to be able to continue this type of coverage. And so If you appreciate this coverage and you want to support it, then become a member of my Patreon. I'm going to be having some events upcoming here, so check those out. You can go to patreon.com and donate today. Thanks for listening.