Video Mind over Matter with Kit Pedler and Tony Bastable.
Interviews with Lawrence LeShan, David Bohm, Brian Josephson, Geoffrey Chew, Charles Tart, Elizabeth Rauscher, and Fritjof Capra.
Kit Pedler: In this series so far, we have been looking at the paranormal and trying to show that current physics is no longer outraged by some of the strange results. But in this program I want to look at some really new physics, which although is not yet fully excepted, might help us go further than that and might get an idea as if how the paranormal might work.
Tony Bastable: Kit when you say that current physics is no longer outraged by the idea of the paranormal, does that mean that we get somewhere towards a theory that might actually explain it.
KP: Well, a little way towards it, yes. You see, if the new physics is saying that pieces of matter, which appear to us to be separate in space, are actually connected. And in the series so far we have been talking about minds being connected in the same sort of way. Then we better just look at how the minds acquire information.
TB: Well, it acquires information by learning or being taught.
KP: Yes thatâ€™s true but people are now beginning to think that there are two ways of acquiring information. First of all in the everyday sense, that the mind is separate from everything around it. But in the other way of thinking, people are saying there is a sort of unity between the two minds. There is some sort of whole surrounding it all. And in that, there is no real problem about mind to mind communication. Or indeed, communication between mind and matter.
TB: But Kit, while I accept that there are the two views, surely they are by definition mutually exclusive. You canâ€™t have them both at the same time.
KP: Well remember, earlier on we looked at some physics which said, whatever you experiment on, you tend to get. Remember the beam of light. We shared one beam of light can be both particles and waves at the same time. Now some people are beginning to think that the mind, by the same token, can be two things at the same time.
TB: Now that experiment demonstrated the principle of complementarity and you brought it up. Now this is the third time in this series. Therefore I can only deduce from that that it is of extreme importance. Check me out if I got it right so far. That experiment proves that a beam of light when shown through a prism can be something made up of wavelengths. If you fire it at charged plates it indicates that it is particles. Now these arenâ€™t the properties of light, it all depends on what you want to prove. The way you look at it.
Now if the light experiment proves that, am I right in thinking then that what you are trying to say, is that it is perfectly possible for one mind in the universe which believes that cause always precedes effect, that the whole thing is very hard edged, coexists perfectly well with another one that takes the view that the universe is a much more fluid thing in which there could be a mind and mind communication by some means which we donâ€™t know about. And that those two things can coexist, right?
KP: Yes, it is as if there are two entirely different ways. The mind can relate to reality outside it. Some people call this the complementarity of the mind. And one person who is studying it is living in New York. He is an experimental psychologist and his name is Dr Lawrence LeShan.
Lawrence LeShan: Â The best analogy is how we get from one place to another. If we are going on a ship or an airplane and we are going long distance, we have to take into account the fact that the earth is curved. And some paths are faster than others. There is a great circle route from England to the United States. But if Iâ€™m walking from one street to another I better assume the world is flat, and go along as if itâ€™s flat. That is the common sense way because at that point for me it is flat. And so we can have two different ways of dealing with the world which are non contradictory.
KP: This is what you call the clairvoyance and the sensory reality.
Lawrence LeShan: Thatâ€™s right. Clairvoyant reality being the way of the relativity physicists, the way of the one of the mystics, and the way that the psychics use.
KP: Dr Leshan developed these two ideas of reality. The first one was a sensory reality where everything was as it were out there and separate.
TB: Now that is our idea of everyday reality, right?
KP: Yes this sort of reality like that. But he also talks about a clairvoyant reality in which everything tends to be unified and whole in which the mind is embedded. Now the reason why he did this was because all the people who claim the paranormal ability kept on saying to him, when they acquire paranormal information it appeared to them that the universe around them changed.
TB: Very persuasive Kid, and I am sure it is a very elegant solution to an otherwise insoluble philosophical problem if you like, but where is the evidence that this kind of connection exists for the people who do believe in the clairvoyant reality.
KP: Yes, one physicist that we will be meeting in a minute, tends to think that the basic unit of the universe is information itself. And funny enough he used a television example of this to show how it works.
Over there, thereâ€™s a goldfish in a tank. Now we have got two television cameraâ€™s, one looking at from the side of the tank and the other looking at it end on. Now each picture from each camera is coming through, to these two monitors here. And what we see on the two monitors is a picture of the goldfish there and a picture of the goldfish there. Now what we are seeing in fact as one picture as it were changing into the other as the goldfish moves. We are seeing two objects which are separate in space, but are connected by information.
TB: Yeah, but so what. That just a bit of television.
KP: Right, now supposing instead we were out in deep space. And we were scientist looking at something new. And all we were looking at were these two screens. We didnâ€™t know anything about television at all. We knew nothing about all the cameraâ€™s and that sort of thing. All we could see where these two things. What we would correctly observe was that we see two systems if you like which are separate in space. And since one merges into the other, and the other can merge into the one, we are seeing two separate systems, separate in space connected together.
TB: I see, so we are on the bridge of the Star Ship Enterprise and we switch on our monitor and see two pictures of deep space goldfish. And havenâ€™t gotten over our surprise because one merges into the other. We conclude that we have two pictures of the same thing that are connected in some way although the pictures themselves are separate. Thatâ€™s an illustration, thatâ€™s not an experiment.
KP: Let me show you an experiment.
TB: Well, this is a lovely thing Kid. What is it?
KP: Itâ€™s a very dangerous machine. It is a double ping pong projector. And it works like this. When I press the trigger, it fires one ping pong ball in that direction and another in that.
TB: Wow, or even two or three.
KP: Well, I think you agree that once one ping pong ball has left the barrel here and another one has left the barrel there, there is nothing I can do to that one which will affect this one once they are in flight.
TB: Fare enough, yes.
KP: Letâ€™s use an example. Pick up a ping pong bat and hang it in the way of the ping pong ball. Now as that ping pong ball came out of there and hit the bat it deflected. But it had no effect on this one which continued on in this path, undisturbed.
TB: Absolutely right.
KP: Now lets get it turned off. That was a ping pong ball projector, now look at a pair of cannons. If you replaced the double ping pong ball projector with two cannons, and fired two cannon balls, nothing you can do to one cannon ball, once it has left the barrel, will affect the other. If you put a bit of felt in one way of the cannon ball and fire the balls again, again even though one cannon ball is slowed by the felt, it doesnâ€™t affect the path of the other. If you put a steel plate in the way, and fire the guns yet again, one cannon ball will bounce of the steel plate, the other will go on uneffected.
Now forget the cannon balls and look instead at two elementary particles which are the smallest part of an atom. If you fire two of them in opposite direction with a special gun, each one of them can be given a spin like a cricket ball. But if you put a magnet to the path of one of them, something really strange happens.
TB: What happens, what goes on?
KP: Well, one particle comes out of one projector, the other comes out of the other, in opposing directions. The magnet makes this one change its spin in mid flight. And the problem, the really strange thing that happens is, directly that happens, this one over here, downrange if it were, changes direction instantly.
TB: You are seriously trying to tell me, that two particles moving away from each other, with opposite spins on, one of them goes through a magnet and changes the spin, and at the same time the other one changes its spin. How do they know it happens.
KP: Well, there have been 8 experiments on this particular thing now and 6 out of the 8 have confirmed that it does happen, yes.
TB: In which case, the really important question seems to me, how does this particle know what that particle is doing?
KP: Well, there is a very hot debate about this in physics, it is by no means resolved. But either they say the whole of physics is wrong, there is no evidence for that. Or information gets around the place faster than light. Or, and this is the most favorite explanation at the moment, things which are separate in space, to our senses, actually are connected somewhere else, in some other part of the universe.
TB: So where is this connection then?
KP: Let me show you an example. Over here we got an ordinary film projector and if you switch it on, I show you what I mean. Over there, thereâ€™s a picture of me on the screen. And that is a stable, external certain century reality. But in here, the heart of the machine, thereâ€™s a racing flood of information, roaring through the gate of the projector, at 24 frames a second, that is example perhaps of the hidden reality, hidden away from our senses, which is connected to the real reality by information.
TB: I see. Let me just see if I grasp this so far. The fact that when you shoot the particles out of the particle gun with the spin on, and this one goes through a magnet, which changes the spin, and instantaneously the spin on the other one, which, in theory at least, should not be connected in any way, changes. That means 3 things: either physics is wrong as we know it, or something travels faster than light, or in some odd way these particles have access to a kind of universal information store. Rather like the information thatâ€™s going through the gate on the projector at 24 frames a second. Would you present we canâ€™t easily get into. Now if that contention is right, is that information store where the paranormal is than.
KP: No, thatâ€™s probably going to far. But what it does do, it provides a concept, an idea or framework of thinking which is really possible. But one man who has been actually working in the physics of this, not the paranormal part but the physics, is professor David Bohm of the university of London.
David Bohm: Yes, if you say that all matter actually works from information, not merely matter in the nervous system or DNA matter working in the cell, but even the electron is forming from empty space being informed as it were by some unknown source of information which may be all over the space. And then we can not have, there is no sharp division between thought, emotion and matter. You see that they flow into each other. Even in ordinary experience you have thought and emotion flow into a movement of matter in the body. Or the movement of matter in the body gives rise to emotion and thought right.
Now the only point is that present science has no idea how thought could directly affect an object which is not in contact with the body you see, or electrically through some system. But if you say that the entire ground of existence is enfolded in space, that all matter is coming out of that space, including ourselves, our brains, our thoughts and the thing you want to bend, then the information might gradually .. the space so that matter starts to, you could say that matter is always forming according to whatever information it has and therefore the thought process could alter that information content. So Iâ€™d say that it does look possible though I think very careful experiments have to be done before we say whether it actually does take place.
TB: Kit, professor Bohm is universally regarded as one of the most eminent living physicists. And I am bound to say that what heâ€™s just said strikes me as the sort of thing that I would go away for about a month and try and work out. But am I right in thinking that his view of the universe is that it is kind of an enormous grounds well of information, this information just hanging about all over the place. And that what we understand matter to be, is the result of various bits of that information, being projected out of this grounds well, coming together. And thatâ€™s what matter consists of.
Do we go on from that, as he goes on, to say that because the human mind is a huge information store like a computer, and it must be pretty big, that we similarly can make other things happen by projecting bits of information from the mind. Is that what heâ€™s saying?
KP: Thatâ€™s exactly what heâ€™s saying. And another person whoâ€™s thinking in the same sort of way, that matter is connected with information, which is connected with the mind, is professor Brian Josephson who is a professor of physics at the university of Cambridge.
BJ: Well yes, let me give you an example of what I mean. If I say to you, pass the salt please, then what happend is, you heard my voice and then you pass the salt. Now the energy in the sound of my voice is a very small amount of energy and became amplified into a much larger effect. That is the sort of thing Iâ€™m interested in.
KP: So a sound signal produced the movement of metal, in a sense?
KP: But thatâ€™s on a large scale, isnâ€™t it. Is it possible that this sort of thing could happen on a very small scale, on an atomic scale perhaps?
BJ: Well, if it can happen on one scale, it can happen on any other scale. So in principle that can happen as well.
KP: Yes, but here you seem to be saying, if I got it right, that your will in terms of the salt seller, moved the salt seller. Now, are we talking about the will or the mind of somebody having an effect on atoms? Is that conceivable in the realm of physics?
BJ: Well, itâ€™s conceivable yes.
KP: So what professor Josephson is saying once again, is the information in the signal â€˜pass the saltâ€™ effects the movement of the saltseller. So again he is linking the idea of information being connected with matter.
And I also asked professor Geoffrey Chew of the university of California in Berkely if he thought that physicists would now take an increasing interest in the connection between the conscious mind and the physical world.
Geoffrey Chew: I think that is quite possible. I donâ€™t myself have any specific ideas in that direction. Although I know that many of my colleagues are working in that direction. But to me the complexity of the human might very well be an ingredient in the full story. Yet it is a difficult thing for me to try to predict how long it will take, before such a step might be made in which the complexity of the observer is really integrated into the understanding of what reality means. But I believe it will come. I believe it is going to happen.
TB: Kit, professor Chew is another physicist of great eminence. We take that as common ground. And yet here we have a man who is talking about the mind of the observer being involved in our understanding of reality. Now that surely got to be an incredibly dangerous road for, what after all Â has traditionally been, a nice hard edged science to go down. I mean, if you start on that you have physicists trying to explain God next. I mean, youâ€™re involved in a mystical experience. This is going pretty close to being crazy.
KP: Well, remember we talked earlier on to Dr Lawrence LeShan the psychologist. Well he did a very interesting experiment in this area. What he did was to take 60 descriptions of the universe, 30 were from high energy physicists and 30 were from mystics. He then took out of those descriptions keywords like â€˜electronâ€™ or â€˜Buddhaâ€™, so to give the game away, and he gave the descriptions to a group of people and said: â€˜all right, who wrote whichâ€™, and nobody could tell. The descriptions of the mystics were almost the same as those by the physicists. So lets try the game on you.
TB: All right.
KP: Somebody, mystic of physicist, wrote this: â€˜The universe looks less and less like a great machine and more and more like a great thoughtâ€™.
TB: That is a kind of mystical statement.
KP: Sir James Jeans – Physicist. What about this one: â€˜Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world; all knowledge of reality starts from experience and ends in it. Propositions arrived at by purely logical means are completely empty of realityâ€™. Now who said that, mystical or physicist.
TB: That is a very tough one, that sounds rather unscientific but I would say it is a sort of philosopher, a mystic.
KP: Albert Einstein – Physicist. Who wrote this: â€˜It is necessary therefore, that advancing knowledge should be based on a clear, pure and disciplined intellectâ€™. Mystic or physicist.
TB: That is a clear, pure and disciplined statement, that was from a scientist.
KP: Well actually that was from a mystic Sri Aurobindo – Mystic. Well, all right this began to worry me too. So what I did, I went to talk to Brian Josephson about it.
Brian Josephson: Well, the ideal sort of way would be if a physicist himself had mystical experiences. And if he could do that, he could then try and call those into his physics.
KP: It seems puzzling doesnâ€™t it, to conceive the idea of incorporating mystical experience into what people would regard as being a very hard subject like physics.
BJ: Well, physics is the most universal of the sciences. It is supposed, in principle, to cover every kind of phenomenon.
KP: So you really donâ€™t see no artrade in trying to connect one to the other.
BJ: Well, there is in a sense, because mystical experience is a subjective experience. And physics is often thought of as being about things out there, rather than things in the mind. But the distinction between whatâ€™s outside us and whatâ€™s inside us, got a little bit blurred in modern physics.
TB: But the point is Kit, surely whatâ€™s the point in it? For as long as physics is about what I call useful handy things like inventing batteries, there was some material benefit for all of us. But where do we benefit from a physicist having a mystical experience.
KP: Let me say, first of all, the physicists who are thinking like that, have no intention at all in logic reason and testing by experiment. What they are saying is that this extended way of thinking brings the human conditioning into science. It is not the mystic way of looking at things. One person I talked to actually has views on that, Dr Charles Tart.
Charles Tart: Now if you accept the phenomenon like telepathy, there is a very real sense in which you and I are one. That it is possible to have a really direct kind of contact. And in that case I have much more real concern for what happens to you, whether you are happy or suffering, than if youâ€™re forever isolated from me. Those kind of implications are very exciting. They will have effect on how we treat one another, our place in the universe, how we relate to other animals, other life forms and so forth. That whatâ€™s important.
KP: Now Dr Tart is an experimental psychologist, you would actually expect him to be more concerned with the brain and mind. Elisabeth Rauscher, who we already met in program one, is an astrophysicist.
Elisabeth Rauscher: I think it is very optimistic. I personally think that it is something that will give us a handle on really understanding our inner connectedness with other people, with other things in the universe. Actually we have a sense of separateness, but there also is always an example of the idea how we are communicating, like we are doing now. There must be some connection or we canâ€™t communicate.
KP: And in fact other physicists in the area beginning to include the mind and consciousness in their experimental work. One of these is Fritjof Capra.
Fritjof Capra: So you have these two realities, patterns of matter and patterns of mind. The two reflect one another. You cannot say mind over matter or matter over mind. Itâ€™s not that one causes the other, but they are mutually interrelated and reflect one another. And therefore many physicists, including myself, think now that future progress in physics will not be possible unless we include the nature of consciousness explicitly in our theories.
But as I just said before there we go far beyond the current framework of science. The new type of science will have to enter the picture.
KP: What I found was, that it was the physicists, of all people, were prepared to shift their ground. Their view is often strikingly more flexible then the scientists working in the field of the paranormal. Professor Geoffrey Chew.
Geoffrey Chew: I think thatâ€™s fair and I think that itâ€™s impossible for a person to study the great discoveries of the 20th century, relativity and quantum mechanics, and not be lead to this broader view. It is paradoxical that philosophers even, are probably less willing, on the whole, to think in these extremely broad terms then physicists. But itâ€™s true. I have discovered that, generally speaking, physicists are more willing to loosen their ways of thinking.
KP: Well Tony, you have been with the series since the beginning, asking questions. What do you think now?
TB: Well, that last section there, really answered the last question I asked. I mean, Dr Chew and the others really do regard this as enormously optimistic. Itâ€™s work thatâ€™s much more about people, itâ€™s much more optimistic than, for instance, the hydrogen bomb. And itâ€™s much more about people than boils or a battery. Going right back to the beginning when I said to you, all those months ago, is there any way in which science can explain the paranormal, I had on mind that you would somehow produce a kind of pat explanation for or against with experiments.
I did not realise that if there were an explanation that it might be found within science itself. Thatâ€™s impressed me. Now, you go on the record, whatâ€™s your conclusion.
KP: Well, one thing we all discovered while we were making the series, is that nobody is neutral about the subject. Everybody has a view. Some people object it outright, and other accept it fully. What I have tried to show you, is that the paranormal is no longer the province of cranks. Itâ€™s studied by ordinary scientists, doing careful experiments in ordinary laboratories. Itâ€™s only their results that are extraordinary.
Iâ€™m sure itâ€™s an important step forward. There were 45 colleges in the United States that teach formal courses in the paranormal. And the American association of advancement in science now recognises part of the scientific endeavour.
And so finally my own view. I think a scientist would have to be massively ignorant, or a confirmed bigot, to deny the evidence that the mind can make connections through space, time and matter in ways that probably have nothing to do with the ordinary senses. And also that he would find it difficult to deny that these strange effects are compatible with current thinking in physics, and may in the future become part of an extended science, in which they’re no longer viewed as paranormal, but as normal.