by Karen Frazier, Managing Editor
Paranormal Underground e-Magazine
My brain meanders. A lot. I spend a lot of my time thinking deep thoughts. Move over, Jack Handey. Often this gives people the impression that I am absent minded. Or a ding bat. I’m not. I’m thinking DEEP THOUGHTS. I swear.
That being said, in my research for Paranormal Underground, I have often bumped up against the question of consciousness in my mind.
What on earth is she talking about, you ask.
In a nutshell, I think there is a very basic debate out there about who we are. What is it that makes up ME? Are we merely a set of chemical reactions firing off in the brain, and everything we think, do, say, believe is caused by those chemical reactions? Or, is there an element to us that has nothing to do with chemicals – that is, consciousness? Is consciousness something separate from those chemical reactions? Do we have souls? What about the quantum elements of consciousness?
I looked briefly at the quantum questions in an article I wrote about quantum physics. I am far from an expert here – just someone who did some research and tried to wrap my mind around some very big concepts.
Scientists have estimated the number of neurons and pathways it would take to account for human consciousness. This is only an estimate, keep in mind, based upon certain starting assumptions. There are many scientists who believe, based upon these estimates, that the human mind does not have even close to enough neurons and neural pathways to account for the complexities of consciousness. This is all theoretical, of course. The bottom line is that we just don’t know – we can only take educated guesses.
This is a very fundamental debate that rages on in scientific communities. Who are we? Are we chemicals? Are we consciousness? Are we merely our bodies, or are we something more?
I have opinions, but I sure don’t have any answers. My personal opinion (not that you asked) is that our consciousness is something separate from our physiology, but that is based on all kinds of not really scientific things. It is based on faith. It is based on hope. I hope that I am more than just chemical reactions. It is based on wishful thinking. I wish to believe that I have control over my actions, my choices and the outcomes of both of those things. To believe that we are helpless to the chemical reactions of our brain is a tough leap for me to make. Scientific data is the smallest element of my belief that our consciousness is above and beyond our mind/body.
While I like to try and find a scientific basis for the things I believe in, more than anything, I am probably looking for things that confirm what I already believe. And in doing this, it is eminently possible that I unconsciously attempt to massage any scientific data I actually find to lean in the direction of my beliefs.
My interest in the paranormal most likely has a lot to do with the fact that I believe our consciousness is separate from our mind/body. Because I want to believe that there is something more, there are reasons for everything, and I will go on after I die.
Does this mean that any conclusions I reach will not be rooted in science? Hard saying. I definitely have to keep my motivations in mind as I pursue science. I need to always be aware of biases that I have.
Let’s face it. No person is an entirely impartial observer to scientific data. We all bring our own motivations, agendas and biases to everything we do. It is something that we need to be aware of as we assess data. Otherwise, we may unconsciously massage the data to fit into our world-view. It’s human nature.
It is also a basic concept in quantum physics – the observer changes the outcome. This is the Copenhagen interpretation of the Heisenberg Principle. Perhaps this interpretation is true because the observer has a preconceived bias – and so the outcome will be more likely to fall in line with those preconceived notions.
The bottom line – no matter what I want to know, I just don’t know. And I probably never will. But you can see why I wonder.
See – I told you. Deep thoughts.