Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics
As the idea of consciousness as something important gradually seeps into discussions of physics and the cosmos, new consciousness based theories of the universe are getting their day in the sun. One such theory is Biocentrism. (The Wikipedia entry is actually not bad . . . for a change.) While it stops short of presenting an explanation for psi, that next step is rather obvious.
The author Robert Lanza, PhD, like so many forward thinkers, is very accomplished. He is the chief Scientific Officer at Advanced Cell Technology and an adjunct professor at Wake University School of Medicine. He has hundreds of publications and inventions and several scientific books to his credit. He’s done groundbreaking research on stem cells. The book was co-authored by Cosmologist Bob Berman.
The concept of Biocentrism is helpfully divided into seven principles:
The 7 Principles of Biocentrism
First Principle of Biocentrism: What we perceive as reality is a process that involves our consciousness.
Second Principle of Biocentrism: Our external and internal perceptions are inextricably intertwined. They are different sides of the same coin and cannot be divorced from one another.
Third Principle of Biocentrism: The behavior of subatomic particles –indeed all particles and objects – is inextricably linked to the presence of an observer. Without the presence of a conscious observer, they at best exist in an undetermined state of probability waves.
Fourth Principle of Biocentrism: Without consciousness, “matter” dwells in an undetermined state of probability. Any universe that could have preceded consciousness only existed in a probability state.
Fifth Principle of Biocentrism: The structure of the universe is explainable only through biocentrism. The universe is fine-tuned for life, which makes perfect sense as life creates the universe, not the other way around. The “universe” is simply the complete spatiotemporal logic of the self.
Sixth Principle of Biocentrism: Time does not have a real existence outside of animal-sense perception. It is the process by which we perceive changes in the universe.
Seventh Principle of Biocentrism: Space, like time, is not an object or a thing. Space is another form of our animal understanding and does not have an independent reality. We carry space and time around with us like turtles with shells. Thus, there is no absolute self-existing matrix in which physical events occur independent of life.
The first principle makes a rather obvious point: that the reality that we perceive is just that. A perception. Light is what happens when photons stimulate 8 million cone shaped cells in the retina AND this information is then processed in the brain. Light then, is nothing but a translation of an interaction we’ve had with photons. Sound is a translation inside the brain of changes in air pressure and touch is the translation of the sensation we feel when our electrical field is repelled by another one. The same applies to our other two physical senses. What we experience is a translation of energy interactions. The objects of our lives, such as a hat for example, do not exist as such outside of conscious perception. It is only a hat in the context of our perception.
The second principle is a continuation of the first: All of our experience with reality happens within our brains. There is no “out there.” What we perceive as objective reality is nothing more than our interpretation/translation of energy interactions. The “outside” reality does not exist in any recognizable form without the intervention of consciousness. The inside and outside perceptions are essentially the same thing.
The third principle makes the claim that consciousness is what collapses the probability cloud of subatomic particles. (The observer effect) while this is often debated, it is a legitimate theory and it does not originate with biocentrism.
The fourth principle necessarily follows the third. If consciousness is what collapses the probability clouds, then a universe without consciousness necessarily only exists in an undetermined state of probability.
The fifth principle takes a bit more explaining because this information is not intuitive nor is it commonly known. The universe appears to be fine tuned for life. There are an enormous number of constants that, if they were tweaked only a tiny bit, would preclude the existence of life. (For a more complete explanation: Here is an article on that subject.)
The sixth principle is also a bit challenging to explain. The authors write:
According to biocentrism, our sense of the forward motion of time is really only the result of an unreflective participation in a world of infinite activities and outcomes that only seems to result in a smooth, continuous path.
At each moment, we are at the edge of a paradox known as “The Arrow,” first described twenty-five hundred years ago by the philosopher Zeno of Elea. Starting logically with the premise that nothing can be in two places at once, he reasoned that an arrow is only in one location during any given instant of its flight. But if it is in only one place, it must momentarily be at rest. The arrow must then be present somewhere, at some specific location, at every moment of its trajectory. Logically, then, motion per se is not what is really occurring. Rather, it is a series of separate events. This may be a first indication that the forward motion of time-of which the movement the arrow is an embodiment-is not a feature of the external world but a projection of something within us, as we tie together things we are observing. By this reasoning, time is not an absolute reality, but a feature of our minds.
He goes on to point out that time is not a constant in the universe. It changes according to relative speed and that means that it’s not fundamental to the universe. It’s a construct of the mind, light sight and sound. There’s more, but it would take an entire article to cover just this one area. (Here is an interesting article along those lines.)
The seventh principle makes the argument that space is also in the mind as well. It is a construct of consciousness, just like the five senses and time. As the book points out:
(…) distance (space) has no reality whatsoever for entangled particles, no matter how great their apparent separation.
The book goes on to demonstrate that distance is not a constant. As an object approaches the speed of light distance shrinks. As with time, when you have a property of the universe that can be altered, it is not a fundamental property. Space, according to biocentrism, does not exist without consciousness.
Clearly, this is a well thought out theory and most importantly, it explains rather than explain away. One would think, given the value of parapsychology evidence in demonstrating the validity of this model that the authors would have availed themselves of this information. Sadly, they skirted the whole psi issue. It could be because one of Robert Lanza’s mentors was John Wheeler, a truly great physicist, but also a notorious psi denier. It could also be that the mere mention of the word psi and they can kiss off ever being taken seriously.
If the theory has any flaws it is in not going far enough. Lanza appears to distinguish between living objects and inert ones and I think that this is impossible in a conscious universe. The only way this works is if everything is conscious. Consciousness must be interacting with other consciousness. The other thing in this theory is that he does not feel that information is shared through entanglement. Telepathy studies basically shred that idea.
There is room for psi in this theory. Obviously in a universe that is basically being created by consciousness, including setting the parameters of that universe to accommodate life, one would expect to see evidence that consciousness is having an effect on that environment. That takes the form of the psychokinesis studies done at PEAR, not to mention the placebo effect and many other psychic interactions with the world at large. I’ve covered this mostly in another post: (Consciousness is Part of Reality, Not a Trick of Evolution.)
In a universe with no space and time our separateness is an illusion, meaning that telepathy, precognition and clairvoyance would naturally occur. They are expected outcomes of a universe of this design. So even though psi has been omitted from this book, it would be a clear and predictable outcome of this theory of the universe.