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Ed Lantz

<p>Great work on the definitions, Jennifer and Jim!</p><p> </p><p>I do have one general exception, primarily to Jim’s Evidence Based Statements section. It has to do with the attitude that many of my scientist colleagues have towards phenomenology or subjective observation. Its the insinuation that subjective phenomena lack empirical status and are thus inadmissible as scientific evidence of any sort. </p><p> </p><p>Consider our definition of Empirical: “derived from or guided by experience or experiment.2. depending upon experience or observation alone, without using scientific method or theory, especially as in medicine.3. provable or verifiable by experience or experiment.”</p><p> </p><p>Clearly we experience our own nervous systems, our psyche and our so-called “objective” world as sensory experience. However the domain of mind is informational in nature – that is, mind is mutable, etherial, fleeting and not terribly stable. The physical domain is, by comparison, rock solid. We can measure gravity to 10 significant digits and compute the position of the planets to a very high degree of accuracy. We can make quantitative measurements of physical characteristics, however it is difficult to measure thoughts or emotions which are more qualitative in nature and much more subject to bias and error. </p><p> </p><p>I would point out that, just because the subjective mind is more difficult to study and “objectify,” it does not mean that this domain is not worthy of introspective study and real science. I would in fact assert that introspection is a much finer observational lens than the blunt instruments of neuroimaging, EEG and other neurometric techniques. Of course, combining the two (objective neurometrics and subjective self-reporting) is an extremely powerful technique for exploring consciousness.</p><p> </p><p>Here’s why I think this is important. There are mental phenomena and subjective observations that may have yet-to-be discovered correlates in the physical domain. For instance, when we have a “unity experience” or whatever you want to call it (mystical experience, cosmic consciousness, etc.) and have the “realization” that the universe is alive and interconnected, perhaps we are indeed sensing something greater than ourselves – something “real” – and not just a neural phenomena. Perhaps we are activating a new sensory capacity that we do not yet know how to use.</p><p> </p><p>So when I read the following definitions:</p><p> </p><p>1. Observation: Evidence is based on, and subject to, observation with the senses or with instruments that aid the senses.</p><p>2. Measurement: Empirical data that serves as evidence [that] can be measured and is statistically significant.</p><p> </p><p>it strikes me as being biased against subjective observation which might be neither “observation with the senses nor with instruments,” and might be excluded by the requirement of “empirical data that serves as evidence [that] can be measured.” I would want to expand the definition to include observations or experiences in both the “objective” and “subjective” domains.</p><p> </p><p>Make sense? When Elisabet says that the “bulk of humanity” believes in a living universe, this “belief” may actually be rooted in observational experience and not just religious doctrine. We will not get to the bottom of it until we are able to explore these more subtle human observational capacities – possibly real sensory experiences – and stop dismissing them as “delusions” or “hallucinations” of the mind as many of my colleagues have done over the years.</p><p> </p>