It's one thing to ponder philosophy. It's another thing to actually test the philosophy you are leaning toward. Science has made a lot of progress and
it now gives us ways to test philosophy that ancient philosophers could not.
There are lots of different philosophies, but for the purposes of this thread we will focus on testing only one. Material monism. It is an ancient
philosophy that has opened the way for much of modern science, and thanks to the fruits of science it has tremendous persuasive power. A material
monist believes that everything that exists is matter, which means your mind is a brain-generated illusion that can be reduced to something that is
A dualist believes that material things exist and immaterial things exist, and they interact somehow.
On the other side of the monism coin is mental monism, or Idealism. It holds that some level or state of consciousness is the ground of reality, not
matter. It holds that time, space, and everything in them emerge from a primordial level of undifferentiated awareness, or a timeless cosmic
consciousness, or something to that effect. Mental monism can accomodate everything that material monism can, but the reverse is not true. Material
accomodate everything that mental monism can. So we can use science to test material monism, and see if it holds up to evidence.
If material monism is true, then when you stub your toe I ought not to be able to feel it. There should not be a correlation between my brain and
yours when one of us stubs our toe, because there is no material connection between our brains. So what would happen if we test that? What would
happen to material monism, if some part of me can feel your pain when you stub your toe? It would be confronted by evidence it can't easily
One twin should not experience what the other experiences, if material monism is true. Not unless their bodies are hooked up together physically. A
mother should not know when her distant child needs her, and lovers should not experience each others pain.
So here is a simple test. We take two people and separate them. We hook them up to science gadgets. And we watch their brains to see if they each
experience what the other does. Luckily, that test has been done many times, and the evidence does not favor material monism.
Evidence of Correlated Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Signals between Distant Human
The hypothesis that signals travel between the nervous systems of organisms that are not in physical contact has been posited but never fully
The first known report in the scientific literature of correlated signals between distant brains (“neural energy transfer”) appeared in Science in
1965. Duane and Behrendt studied pairs of monozygotic human twins and reported that EEG alpha rhythms were elicited in 1 member of the pair as a
result of evoking these rhythms in the other member, who was separated by 6 meters in a different room. They reported that “extrasensory
induction,” as they called it, occurred in 2 out of 15 pairs of twins tested.
In 1994 Grinberg-Zylberbaum et al reported that visually evoked potentials in a human brain produced by photostimulation to 1 member of a pair can
induce similar evoked potentials in the occiput of another person located 14.5 meters away in an electrically shielded room. These authors claimed
that the “transferred potential” was observed only after the pair, previously unknown to each other, had spent 20 minutes together in meditative
silence to induce a sense of “connectedness.”
The Bastyr University/University of Washington Consciousness Science Laboratory research group developed sophisticated electroencephalographic (EEG)
technology and statistical signal detection methods to replicate these findings. We previously reported that correlated EEG signals were recorded from
the occiput of 5 of 60 healthy subjects tested in pairs when 1 member of the pair received visual stimulation while the other member, located in a
separate chamber 10 meters away, did not receive visual stimulation. The next step in our research was to determine if similar results could be
attained using functional MRI (fMRI) technology. We report here on the first results of our fMRI study of correlated metabolic brain signals detected
between 2 human subjects separated from each other by 10 meters.
To our knowledge, this is the first fMRI demonstration of correlated-event–related signals between 2 human brains at a distance. The regions of
activation shown in this paper (area 18 and 19) are similar to the brain regions that are activated when a subject is directly stimulated with
checkerboard reversal stimulation (In this case test subject 1 was stimulated but the pattern appeared in the brain of test subject 2 in the next
If material monism is true, then what your body experiences stays in your body. It can't be in my body too. But many tests show that is not the case.
Sooner or later, mental monism will win out over material monism. That doesn't mean we will have to throw out all the science textbooks. It will just
mean a little tweaking.
The following list is not exhaustively complete, it is not in any particular order.
Duane TD, Behrendt T. Extrasensory electroencephalographic induction between identical twins. Science 1965, 150-367.
Grinberg-Zylberbaum, J. & Ramos, J. (1987). Patterns of interhemispheric correlation during human communication. International Journal of
Neuroscience, 36, 41-53.
Grinberg-Zylberbaum, J., Delaflor, M., Attie, L. & Goswami, L. (1994). The Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox in the brain: The transferred potential.
Physics Essays, 7,422–428
Hasson U., Nir Y., LevyI., Fuhrmann G., & Malach R. (2004). Intersubject synchronization of cortical activity during natural vision. Science 303,
Hearne K. Visually evoked responses and ESP. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 1977, 49, 648-657.
Hearne K. Visually evoked responses and ESP: Failure to replicate previous findings. J Society for Psychical Research 1981, 51, 145-147.
Kalitzin S. & Suffczynski P. (2003). Comments on “Correlations between brain electrical activities of two spatially separated human subjects”.
Neuroscience Letters 350, 193–194.
Kelly EF, Lenz J. EEG changes correlated with a remote stroboscopic stimulus: A preliminary study. In Morris J, Roll W, Morris R. J (eds.). Research
in Parapsychology 1975, Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, p. 58-63 (abstracted in Journal of Parapsychology, 1975, 39, 25) 1976.
Kittenis M, Carul P, Stevens P. Distant psychophysiological interaction effects between related and unrelated participants, Proceedings of the
Parapsychological Association Convention 2004, 67-76
(meeting held in Vienna, Austria, August 5-8, 2004).
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