For last week’s Woo, click here.
I had a conversation the other day with a man who maintains adamantly that consciousness can in no way stem from the human brain. His reasoning was built on the fabrications built by multiple pseudoscientists, and he was happy to name every single one of their publishings, one after the other in pursuit of my concession to his claims. He was quite disappointed, but we did end the confrontation peacefully, despite the fact that I still had so many questions, specifically regarding what he deemed as the source of consciousness, and why he felt so strongly and personally about the subject. Now I am left to my own speculation, which is quite imaginative to say the least:
Perhaps he feels consciousness arises from magical pixie dust that is spread throughout the ether.
Or maybe he thinks all energy of the universe conspires to make sure Pee Wee Herman can distinguish between himself and his own porno stash.
It’s also possible he considers conscious awareness gets its source from unicorns who emit beams of thought to us from their magical horns.
But most likely, his belief stems from a total misunderstanding of quantum physics…
But quantum physics does nothing to explain a consciousness incapacitated from brain damage. No amount of “studies” on *NEAR* death experiences produced can explain the vegetative state, nor can they negate a multitude of evidence that damage to the brain causes changes in personality.
Now while there may be many things we still have yet to know about consciousness, there is no need to fill in the gaps with wild claims. As neurology progresses, we shall learn more about our sense of self, and it will be an exciting endeavor as we peer through the marvelousness that is higher order consciousness. While speculation about these things may be fun, it can be harmful to assume that damage to a human brain cannot possibly change identity. I have known folks who suffered from head trauma, which subsequently altered their sense of self, behaviors, and ability to function at the same level before their injury. If the source of their consciousness stemmed from somewhere other than the brain, then why did the brain being damaged alter who they were? This is a worthy question to ask the New Agers who tend to separate the brain from the self.
From my perspective as a skeptic, the simplest explanation is the most likely, hence the higher functioning consciousness human beings utilize has evolved over a long period of time with genetic and environmental factors working in unison as contributors to developing the human brain. We had to be inventive and anticipate the future in order to survive, and this implies a deeper understanding of our own mortality – we realize that death is inevitable, and that can be an unsettling concept. We try to rationalize our own death in order to escape the fear attached to such an idea, as well as the pain that arises when we lose the company of those we adore. It’s the human condition to occupy the spaces of boredom, happiness, sorrow, and a deep sense of loneliness that accompanies higher order consciousness.
Assumptions regarding the perplexity of one’s self awareness and inner dialogue play leap frog with logic. While human consciousness may present itself as the end-all be-all that permeates everything, there is no way we could possibly know for sure, but nonetheless, the woo crowd takes this ball and runs with it. They claim that since observation is key to translating reality, that it *must BE* reality itself, and from this follows eternal life. The reasoning is that consciousness is energy, and energy only changes form. But of course, entropy isn’t considered as a portion of this idea, because that would be deterioration, which is a negative cherry these folks tend to avoid.
The cattle finds these sweet patches throughout New Age fields to be euphoric, but in truth is a misunderstanding of what we know of consciousness, and acts as if scientific inquiry yet touches the subject. We have discovered magnificence within the field of neuroscience. Like I said in a previous article, these folks long for the comfort of some sort of hive-mind, but have yet to question the implications or efficiency in their reasoning. Herds have immunity to being reasonable.
Example of this:
“I am all that is real…”
Kinda doesn’t follow the whole “death of the ego” concept. The incongruities just keep piling up with the enlightened crowd, don’t they? But you can bet your bottom dollar that when faced with the problems in logic, they will add some special pleading into the mix to make these ideas work, because the aim is to believe we are more than mere animals subject to mortality. It makes us feel better to think this way, at least until the frail reality of life hits someone over the head, and we must rely on the hard-working neurologists to help them recover. I am so thankful we have medical professionals and scientists to come to our aid! To me, that is way more of a comforting thought than any nonsense the woo folks can conjure.