A new political consciousness

Interesting editorial at Positive News:

When Russell Brand challenged the status quo on Newsnight, he was picking up on a shifting sense of what is possible, and recent successes in international diplomacy are among the signs that he may be right

The controversial video:

“I don’t get my authority from this pre-existing paradigm, which is quite narrow and only serves a few people. I look elsewhere for alternatives that might be of service to humanity.”

And more on the ideas:

Strenthening Our Inner Firewalls

In a world of what William Gibson described as “deliriously multiple viewpoints, shot through with misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theories and a quotidian degree of madness,”[i] we need to cultivate the power of discernment – conscious attention and conscious inattention. In a hyper-stimulated media world, silence clears the “memory buffers.” Mind clarification must precede mind expansion. Our gullible consciousness responds to any software we put into it.

These moments of silence are the “inner firewalls” against the waves of cultural spam that threaten to inundate us. From this place of deep quiet we can begin to perceive the whole web of illusion, beyond appearances and habitual concepts, to the true state of non-duality which modulates all reality. As media scholar Marshall McLuhan told us 60-years-ago, pay attention to the underlying medium, not the message.

By Steven Vedro author of Digital Dharma. See the full post at Digital Dharma: Metaphors of Consciousness in the Infosphere blog.

TEDx talks: Interconnectedness and Collective Consciousness, ideas worth spreading indeed!

Cassandra Vieten, clinical psychologist and Executive Director of Research, Institute of Noetic Sciences, spoke at TEDx Napa Valley in December, talking about “The Science of Interconnectedness”. She started with an overview of how interconnectedness has inspired people in important ways throughout history and then shared some of what modern science is telling us about interconnectedness:

In another TEDx talk (Black Rock City, for Burning Man 2012), Cassandra worked on an experiment in collective consciousness – with very interesting results:

These are good news from the Institute of Noetic Sciences newsletter. Happy 2013!

Awareness and its many manifestations beyond the brain

The location of the mind – our centre of awareness and consciousness, the “self” – remains a mystery and as elusive as ever, despite advances in functional neuroimaging, says Douglas Heaven puts it in the New Scientist, on commenting the challenges posed by “a patient who is self-aware – despite lacking three regions of the brain thought to be essential for self-awareness”.

According to the models based on neuroimaging, “patients with no insula should be like zombies”, explains David Rudrauf, University of Iowa in Iowa City. But patient R, who lost brain tissue including the chunks of the three ‘self-awareness’ regions following a viral infection, is in no way a zombie:

But patient R displays a strong concept of selfhood. Rudrauf’s team confirmed this by checking whether he could recognise himself in photographs and by performing the tickle test – based on the observation that you can’t tickle yourself. They concluded that many aspects of R’s self-awareness remained unaffected. “Having interacted with him it was clear from the get go that there was no way that [the theories based on neuroimaging] could be true,” says Rudrauf.

Journal reference: PLoS ONE, DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0038413

"Thinking about thinking, the brain, mind, and consciousness". Image: Sharon Brogan/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

“Thinking about thinking, the brain, mind, and consciousness”. Image: Sharon Brogan/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

I think the mind is not in our physical body at all but in the reality of the soul, and our brain is an instrument for the mind, not the cause of it.

Revolution Evolution

I am quite curious to watch Dieter Broers’ documentary – [R]evolution 2012 – Revolution Evolution 2012 – said to be based on scientific research and documentation from NASA that explains the connection between the activity of the sun, the changes it produces in the earth’s geomagnetic field, and our psyche. The film brings together research with the conclusions of scientists of different special fields, who “grasp the actual connection of mind and matter – a connection which enables us to understand the sense of our existence and demonstrates that we are immortal beings with an unlimited creative potential”. And more:

NASA has warned repeatedly of a so-called solar activity maximum in 2012 which, according to Broers, will have an extreme impact to our being and our consciousness. The NASA warnings astonishingly coincide with the old calculations of the Maya, which predict a final fundamental change in 2012. Based on current Astrophysics Research and the doctrines of the most gifted representatives in the astro-and quantum physics world, Broers impressively convinces that in the year 2012 a revolutionary shift in consciousness will produce a fundamental change, and will force people to wake up into a new dimension of being, and a higher state of consciousness.

Never had a UK screenning or been released in English, the UK Premiere will be at The Conference for Consciousness and Human Evolution, this upcoming weekend. Dieter Broers will give a talk and there will be also a Question and Answer session by Christian Köhlert, one of the film’s directors.

Consciousness Confirmed in Non-Human Animals

This is very exciting news: experts and scientists admit non-human consciousness exists and signed a declaration publicly proclaimed in Cambridge, UK, on July 7, 2012. I only learned about it today – has it been reported in the mainstream media?

In short, it means that now it is official: they reached a unanimous decision that humans are not the only conscious beings in the universe, and animals – specifically mammals and birds, but also insects and mollusks – have same brain-mind functions develop a striking case of parallel evolution of consciousness, with similar states of attentiveness, sleep and decision making.

The implications of this finding are huge – and may change for good the way we relate to animals. It is hight time we develop a more respectful and less exploitive relationship with our fellows in evolution.

Check the videos of the conference out: http://fcmconference.org and the full text of The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness, from which I republish the conclusion:

We declare the following: “The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states. Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non- human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.”

Also, a very good post on Earth in Transition (my source), by Michael Mountain, who says:

“It’s a really important statement that will be used as evidence by those who are pushing for scientists to develop a more humane relationship with animals. It’s harder, for example, to justify experiments on nonhumans when you know that they are conscious beings and not just biological machines. Some of the conclusions reached in this declaration are the product of scientists who, to this day, still conduct experiments on animals in captivity, including dolphins, who are among the most intelligent species on Earth. Their own declaration will now be used as evidence that it’s time to stop using these animals in captivity and start finding new ways of making a living.”

Update: Saturday, Aug 11

As I watch the silence in the mainstream media, I was glad to see this piece just published in Psychology Today: Scientists Finally Conclude Nonhuman Animals Are Conscious Beings. Marc Bekoff says:

It’s said that repetition is boring conversation but there’s now a wealth of scientific data that makes skepticism, and surely agnosticism, to be anti-science and harmful to animals. Now, at last, the prestigious Cambridge group shows this to be so. Bravo for them! So, let’s all work together to use this information to stop the abuse of millions upon millions of conscious animals in the name of science, education, food, amusement and entertainment, and clothing. We really owe it to them to use what we know on their behalf and to factor compassion and empathy into our treatment of these amazing beings.

For my part, I have recently started my journey in vegetarianism, and I really hope to turn out nicely a vegan. Yet, last week I could not resist eating a piece of squid. Now I know it was the last time. Causing any type suffering to animals is against my principles and since I woke up to the fact that eating them is also a way to cause suffering, not only by filling but by feeding an inhumane and greedy food industry where very few profit. With the Declaration, I am now aware that even octopuses and squids are conscious – and like me, suffer too.

Update: August 24

While I have been tracking (non) media reactions and finding plenty of interesting pieces on this:

Katherine Harmon, in Octopus Chronicles, Scientific American, a post that was quickly mentioned in the Atlantic Wire:

What was keeping scientists from accepting the existence of consciousness outside of our own family tree? Simple brain anatomy. Older models of brain activity lodged complex, conscious experiences—like musing about a piece of music or reminiscing about a piece of cake—in our highly evolved cortex. But, as the authors of the new declaration noted, many nerve networks involved in “attentiveness, sleep and decision making appear to have arisen in evolution as early as invertebrate radiation, being evident in insects and cephalopod mollusks (e.g. octopus). Even emotions (or, according to the declaration, their “neural substrates”) are not dependent on an animal having particular brain structures, such as our cortex, after all. In fact, many other neural regions are activated when we emote and “are also critically important for generating emotional behaviors in animals,” the scientists noted.”