The New Science of Consciousness: Toward the Next Great Scientific Revolution

In the 1960s, historian and philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn published a book titled The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, which became very influential in both academic and popular circles. In this book, Kuhn proposed that paradigms—theoretical frameworks of scientific disciplines within which theories are formulated and experiments performed—can and should change because sooner or later, they fail to explain observed phenomena.

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According to Kuhn, when anomalies—experimental observations or other empirical evidence which violates the widely accepted theoretical framework—that the paradigm cannot accommodate accumulate, and persistent efforts by scientists fail to elucidate these anomalies, the scientific community begins to lose confidence in the dominant paradigm and a crisis period ensues. A new paradigm, competing with the old for supremacy, can now be entertained. This new paradigm is not just an extension of the old paradigm, but a completely different worldview.

With regard to the study of consciousness, the currently reigning paradigm, known as scientific materialism (or simply materialism), erroneously claims that everything is material (i.e. made up exclusively of physical matter) and that all phenomena are the result of purely material interactions.physics space travel space science earth science physics space travel space science earth science

This worldview implies that mind and consciousness—and all that we subjectively experience (e.g. our memories, emotions, goals, and spiritual epiphanies)—are identical with or can be reduced to electrical and chemical processes in the brain. Another implication of the materialist paradigm is that our thoughts and intentions cannot have any effect upon our brains and bodies, our actions, and the physical world, since the mind cannot directly affect at a distance physical and biological systems. In other words, we human beings are nothing but complex biophysical machines. As a result, our consciousness and personality automatically vanish when we die.physics space travel space science earth science physics space travel space science earth science

Materialism has more or less dominated science and the academic word for centuries, despite the fact that many of the leading pioneers in modern science have either implicitly or explicitly rejected it. This dominance has seriously constricted the sciences and hampered the development of the study of mind, consciousness, and spirituality. Furthermore, faith in this paradigm as an exclusive explanatory framework for reality has compelled many scientists to neglect certain aspects of the subjective dimension of human experience. This has led to a severely distorted and impoverished understanding of ourselves and our place in nature.physics space travel space science earth science physics space travel space science earth science

There is mounting evidence that the materialist paradigm is obsolete. For instance, studies of the so-called “psi phenomena” (e.g. telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition) indicate that we can sometimes receive meaningful information without the use of ordinary senses, and in ways that transcend the habitual space and time constraints. Furthermore, psi research demonstrates that we can mentally influence—at a distance—physical devices and living organisms (including other human beings). Research also shows that distant minds may behave in ways that are nonlocally correlated, i.e.physics space travel space science earth science physics space travel space science earth science

the correlations between distant minds are hypothesized to be unmediated (they are not linked to any known energetic signal), unmitigated (they do not degrade with increasing distance), and immediate (they appear to be simultaneous). Psi phenomena are so common that they cannot be viewed as anomalous nor as exceptions to natural laws, but as indications of the need for a broader explanatory framework that cannot be predicated on materialism.

Moreover, conscious mental activity can be experienced in clinical death during a cardiac arrest (this is what has been called a “near-death experience” [NDE]). Some near-death experiencers (NDErs) have reported veridical out-of-body perceptions (i.e. perceptions that can be proven to coincide with reality) that occurred during cardiac arrest. NDErs also report profound spiritual experiences during NDEs triggered by cardiac arrest. It is noteworthy that the electrical activity of the brain ceases within a few seconds following a cardiac arrest.physics space travel space science earth science physics space travel space science earth science

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