- ”We do not experience electro-chemical impulses. What we experience are colors, movements and shapes”, says Etzel Cardeña, one of leading researchers on parapsychology in the world. What he is referring to is qualia, individual instances of subjective, conscious experience, whose origins have not been possible to directly connect to the brain. ”We don’t have anything […]
”We do not experience electro-chemical impulses. What we experience are colors, movements and shapes”, says Etzel Cardeña, one of leading researchers on parapsychology in the world.
What he is referring to is qualia, individual instances of subjective, conscious experience, whose origins have not been possible to directly connect to the brain.
”We don’t have anything even close to a satisfactory account, from a reductionist or materialist position, for how we are conscious of anything”, says the professor of psychology at Lund university in southern Sweden.
There is evidence that we receive information that is not coming from the senses, information that is temporally and spatially distant.
There is also a lot of nonsense being said in the context of parapsychology. Therefore, Cardeña points out, the scientific method is crucial. Researchers must be able to independently confirm what people say they are experiencing and discount alternative plausible explanations.
Properly made studies point to an array of psychic abilities that seem to be real. Cardeña lists four main categories: telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition and psychokinesis or telekinesis.
It is actually common to have experiences that resemble at least the first three kinds of phenomenon. Many dismiss them because of fear. They hear these kinds of experiences are ”paranormal”, i.e. not normal.
But we all have these abilities. Some are better at them than others.
”It’s no different than the ability to hit a tennis serve”, Etzel Cardeña says.
How can they be explained? A tenable theory is that time and space are not as we experience them in everyday life. There might be more dimensions.
”On some level where distance doesn’t make any difference we might be interconnected in a way. Past, present and future might be adjacent.”
And what about altered states of consciousness?
The truth is that we all go through different states of consciousness every day: we sleep, we dream, we have deep sleep, we are in between waking state and sleep.
”This is not paranormal. We have them for a number of reasons”, Cardeña says.
”Our waking state is good for some things but not for others. It is good for reacting to the senses. But it is inflexible. You ruminate about things. In other states you may have another flexibility. In a dream you may come up with a creative, novel idea that you would never have come up with in the waking state. It’s the same with psychedelic drugs.”
Etzel Cardeña is somewhat skeptical of the idea that altered states of consciousness of the kind that for example near death experiencers report represent something ”higher” in ourselves.
And when asked if he thinks the shaman-mystic traditions have insights about consciousness that were lost when western science came along, he answers by rejecting the notion, held by some, that everything was ”hunky-dory” until science came along and then it went down the drain.
”People have done ghastly things in shamanic and non-shamanic traditions alike. Humans have been in many ways terrible all along, with or without science.”
Cardeña is also skeptical of the idea that humankind is becoming more enlightened.
”But fortunately there have always been people who have been caring and compassionate, and thanks to those people we haven’t destroyed humanity or other sentient beings on the planet.”