Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Social Construction of Eager Community Mirages

People who believe untrue things often are convinced that their incorrect belief is based on evidence.  This can occur whenever there is some enthusiastic community of researchers very interested in gathering evidence in favor of such a belief. If the community of researchers is well-motivated and well-funded, it may be able to create an illusion of having a body of evidence establishing the dubious belief it is eager to prove.  We may call such a large group of researchers an eager community.  We may call the misleading body of evidence created by such a community an eager community mirage. 

The word "mirage" may refer to an optical illusion in which something appears to be in front of you, even though it isn't actually there (the classic example being some reflective material ahead of you that reflects the sky, fooling you into thinking there is a body of water ahead of you).  The word "mirage" can also refer to something that appears real but is illusory. 

Let me give a fictional example of an eager community mirage. Let us imagine a billionaire who dreams up a theory that the ghosts of dead animals live in the clouds, and that you might be able to see the ghost of your dead pet up in the sky. Having many millions to spead publicizing such an idea, we can imagine the billionaire selling many copies of some book that he wrote advancing this theory. 

Let us also imagine that the billionaire decides to spend millions of dollars trying to prove his theory. He might find thousands of people very interested in proving his strange theory, and might pay them each tens of thousands of dollars to try to prove his theory, by taking photographs of clouds in the sky, and looking for shapes that look like animals. 

Given such a large of researchers, getting such lavish funding, it would be likely that some type of superficially impressive "body of evidence" would accumulate. If the billionaire asked everyone of his thousands of well-funded researchers to send him a photo whenever they photographed a cloud that looked like an animal shape,  the billionaire would be able to accumulate a fairly nice little collection of clouds that looked like animals (particularly if each researcher had a financial incentive for each such photo sent to the billionaire). 

Would such a collection of photos be good evidence that dead animals become ghosts that live in the sky among the clouds? No, it would not be.  It would simply be the amount of evidence we would expect to get for such a hypothesis, given the very large community of eager researchers, and given the funding the billionaire had given them.  The body of evidence the billionaire would accumulate from such researchers would be an example of an eager community mirage.  Like a mirage, the illusion of good evidence would be largely based in reality.  The photos would not be faked, and would show real clouds. But the collection of such photos would not be robust evidence to prove the theory that the ghosts of dead animals rise up into the sky and live among the clouds. 

In the world of scientific academia, there exist various examples of bodies of evidence that appear to be mere eager community mirages. Such bodies of evidence can arise because there is a large community of many thousands of well-funded researchers eager to gather evidence for some particular dogma believed in by a belief community of scientists. 

Let us consider the body of evidence that is typically cited to support claims that the brain is the source of the human mind and the storage place of memories.  We do not find in such a body of evidence any "slam dunk" experiments or studies that provide "smoking gun" evidence in favor of such claims. Instead we find a whole bunch of studies providing far weaker evidence. 

Remarkably the standard for getting an experimental neuroscience paper published (and sold by some press release as being good evidence) is a very low standard, a very low hurdle to jump over. The convention is that you can get an experimental study published if your p-value is merely .05.  What is the p-value? It can be roughly thought of as the likelihood of you getting a particular result if your hypothesis of a causal effect is false. 

Let's imagine an example in a neuroscience experiment. Suppose I hypothesize that some region of the brain will light up more strongly than any other region under some particular example of mental activity. I then scan brains during this mental activity, and I get some result that I judge to have a p-value of .05.  That means that if there is actually no connection between that region of the brain and the mental activity I have tested, I should not have got such a result by chance in more than 1 in 20 experiments I did. 

A very important point is that the p-value is certainly not the likelihood about whether my result would show up if many experimenters were trying my experiment. It is merely something like the likelihood of me getting the result by chance on any particular time I tried the experiment. 

Now, is it anything like convincing evidence if I do some experiment getting such a p-value of .05? Certainly not. In fact, if I do the experiment twenty times, I should expect purely by chance to get such a result about 1 time in 20, even if my hypothesis about cause and effect is totally false. 

Now let us imagine a very large body of many thousands of well-funded neuroscience researchers. Altogether they have many hundreds of millions of dollars of funding, which each researcher can partially spend 30 weeks a year trying different experiments.  A study estimated there were about 300,000 neuroscience papers published in a ten-year period, about 30,000 per year. The actual number of neuroscience experiments done could easily be 100,000 or more per year, because of a "file drawer" by which null results are not even written up, or not published.  

How many results would we expect to get each year with a p-value of .05, purely by chance, even if brains do nothing to produce the human mind, and even if brains do not at all store memories?  Very many. In fact, we should expect to get thousands of such experiments producing a p-value of .05 or smaller, even if   brains do nothing to produce the human mind, and even if brains do not at all store memories. We also should expect to see hundreds of experiments with a more impressive p-value of only .001,  purely by chance, even if brains do nothing to produce the human mind, and even if brains do not at all store memories. Since tens of thousands of neuroscience experiments are being done around the world, we would expect that purely by chance hundreds of these experiments would produce results that had a chance probability of only about .001, even if no brain cause was producing the results.  We should also remember that scientists very often claim p-value results much more impressive than their observations warrant, as happened in the BICEP2 affair and the subsequently discredited  "phosphine on Venus" paper. 

What happens during the social construction of eager community mirages is that members of the eager community go searching for all of the results that best support the belief they want to believe in, and discuss these results in a single article or paper, often a scientific paper called a "review article." Gathered together, such results may seem impressive. But the appearance of some impressive reality is very often a mere mirage.  The results discussed may be merely exactly what we would expect to get by chance, given the size of such a research community, its eagerness to establish some particular result, and the number of trials that are being done.  

To give some examples, if there exists some large eager community desiring to prove some theory that the ghosts of animals live in clouds, and such a community is well funded by millions of dollars each year, we would expect that members of this community would spend many thousands of hours each year photographing clouds and looking for shapes that look like the ghosts of dead animals; and we would expect that every year some superficially impressive results would be produced by such a community.  But we would merely be seeing what we would expect to get by chance, even if the ghosts of dead animals don't live in clouds. Similarly, if there exists some large eager community of neuroscientists desiring to prove some theory that brains produce minds and that brains store memories, and such a community is well funded by billions of dollars each year, we would expect that members of this community would spend many thousands of hours each year doing experiments trying to show that brains produce minds and that brains store memories; and we would expect that every year some superficially impressive results would be produced by such a community.  But we would merely be seeing what we would expect to get by chance, even if brains do not produce minds and do not store memories. 

Defective or questionable research practices are a key factor facilitating the social construction of eager community mirages. The weaker the standards followed, the easier it will be for the eager community to socially construct the appearance it is trying to create. In experimental neuroscience we see such defective or questionable research practices very often. To give examples:

  • Scientists know that the most reliable to do an experiment is to first state a hypothesis, how data will be gathered, and how data will be analyzed, using methods called "pre-registered studies" or "registered reports." But most experimental neuroscience studies do not follow such a standard, but instead follow a much less reliable technique, in which data is gathered, and then the experimenter is free to slice and dice the data in any way he wants, trying to prove any hypothesis he may dream up after collecting the data. 
  • Because very many neuroscience observations are the kind of observations where subjective interpretations may be at play, a detailed and rigorous blinding protocol is an essential part of any reliable neuroscience experiment. But such a blinding protocol is rarely used, and in the minority of neuroscience experiments that claim to use blinding, the blinding will usually be only fragmentary and fractional. 
  • Neuroscience experiments trying to measure fear in rodents can only do that reliably by measuring heart rate in such animals (which dramatically spikes when mice are afraid). But instead of using such a reliable technique, the most common practice in rodent experiments involving fear is to use an unreliable and subjective technique involving trying to judge so-called "freezing behavior."
  • Brain scanning experiments typically present misleading visuals in which differences of less than 1% in brain activity are depicted in bright red in a brain diagram, creating the incorrect impression there was some big difference in activity in such a region. 
  • A web site describing the reproducibility crisis in science mentions a person who was told of a neuroscience lab  "where the standard operating mode was to run a permutation analysis by iteratively excluding data points to find the most significant result," and quotes that person saying that there was little difference between such an approach and just making up data out of thin air. 
The neuroscientist community (very eager to prove dogmas that brains create minds and store memories) is only one example of eager communities in the world of scientific inquiry. Another such community is the origin-of-life research community, which for many decades has been eager to prove that life could have naturally originated from chance chemical reactions. 

A key element in the social construction of an eager community mirage may be biased interpretation of research results.  We have a gigantic example of this in the famous Miller-Urey experiment. In that experiment a small sealed glass apparatus was filled with a mixture of gases consisting of methane, ammonia and hydrogen, and subjected to continuous discharges of electricity for a week.  The result was some amino acids that formed at the bottom of the apparatus. For seventy years the eager origin-of-life research community has spread the groundless idea that such an experiment did something to show a likelihood of amino acids forming in the early Earth.  This claim never made any sense. Showing that some chemicals can form in a small sealed glass apparatus subject to continuous electricity discharge does nothing to show that such a formation would have occurred in the open atmosphere, both because gases and chemicals in the open atmosphere would have been many trillions of times more dispersed, and also because lightning in the atmosphere only occurs occasionally rather than continuously. But for 70 years the eager community of origin-of-life researchers has  misinterpreted the experiment as one showing that amino acids would have been common in the early Earth. 

Similar things happen in the neuroscientist community.  Scientists put whatever "spin" on their research results that most fit in with the belief dogmas they are eager to prove.  Such dubious or biased interpretations are endlessly repeated by other scientists eager to show that there is some evidence for some claim they want to believe in. 

I can give a little equation summarizing what I have discussed above:

Large community eager to prove some idea + lavish funding + weak research standards  + biased interpretation = occasional superficially persuasive results.

The "eager community mirage" arises when such occasional superficially persuasive results are collected from many years of effort by such a community. The result is something that may look like some body of evidence seeming to support the idea or dogma the community is eager to prove. But the result may be merely a mirage. 

A physical mirage does not stand up well to close inspection. On a hot road you may see in the distance something that looks like some water on the far horizon, but driving a hundred meters closer does not make that appearance seem more concrete. 

Similarly, socially-constructed eager community mirages do not stand up well to close inspection. The more closely we examine the techniques used to construct such mirages, the more likely we may be to realize that the body of evidence offered by the eager community to prove its favored beliefs is a mere mirage. 

Friday, February 12, 2021

Exceptional Memories Strengthen the Case Against Neural Memory Storage

Materialist thinkers often act as if their motto was "make humans seem like something much less than humans."  There are various different ways in which they do this:

  • They sometimes make the utterly preposterous claim made by Darwin that there is no fundamental difference between the mental abilities of humans and the mental abilities of higher mammals, a claim contrary to all human experience.
  • They senselessly classify humans as animals, and arbitrarily put the human species in an animal kingdom (given the abundant mental and behavioral differences between humans and animals, a sensible classification of organisms would be to have four kingdoms: a microbe kingdom, a plant kingdom, an animal kingdom and a human kingdom).
  • They refuse to acknowledge hundreds of years of written testimony from reliable witnesses such as doctors and scientists (and many decades of compelling experimental evidence) that humans have faculties such as clairvoyance and ESP that are beyond any biological explanation.
  • When describing human mental faculties, they tend to describe them as being far weaker than they are. 

It is interesting to read the writings of neuroscientists who try to portray human memory as something weak and unreliable.  Again and again they will try to suggest that learning something requires multiple exposures to some source material, a claim that is contrary to the facts of actual human experience, which is that humans can very often reliably learn things after a single exposure, that people can recognize faces they have seen briefly only one time, that people can remember stories they have heard only one time, and that people can remember events they have seen only one time. 

Neuroscienitsts often try to make us think that humans can't remember very well things they experienced years ago, or that each time we remember something there will be a high chance of error.  Such claims are contrary to abundant human experience. It is rather obvious why neuroscientists tend to speak in such a way. The more you believe that human memory is not very reliable, and something that requires multiple exposures, the more likely you may be to believe that human memories are stored in the brain. 

A neuroscientist's portrayal of weak and unreliable human memory can be refuted by citing a host of ordinary human experiences. Such a portrayal can also be refuted by citing cases of exceptional human memories.  Below are some examples:

  • Steven Wiltshire has repeatedly shown the ability to accurately draw an entire skyline after seeing it only one time. 
  • Mathematician and computer scientist Herman Goldstine wrote this about the legendary mathematician John von Neumann: "One of his remarkable abilities was his power of absolute recall. As far as I could tell, von Neumann was able on once reading a book or article to quote it back verbatim; moreover, he could do it years later without hesitation."
  • According to an article in the LA Times, Kim Peek could recall the contents of 12,000 books he had read, even though his brain was severely damaged, and he lacked most or all of the corpus callosum fibers that connect the two hemispheres of the brain. 
  • According to one book, "John Fuller, a land agent, of the county of Norfolk, could correctly write out a sermon or lecture after hearing it once; and one, Robert Dillon, could, in the morning, repeat six columns of a newspaper which he had read the preceding evening. More wonderful still was George Watson, who... could tell the date of every day since his childhood and how he had occupied himself on that day."
  • The mathematician Leonhard Euler could recite the entire Aeneid from beginning to end, a work of 9896 lines. 
  • Mezzofanti could speak very well thirty different languages. 
  • A four-year-old girl demonstrated on TV her ability to speak seven different languages. 
  • Numerous Muslim scholars have memorized all 6000+ lines of their holy book, and some did this as early as age 10. 
  • According to a book, "The great thinker, Pascal, is said never to have forgotten anything he had ever known or read, and the same is told of Hugo, Grotius, Liebnitz, and Euler. All knew the whole of Virgil's 'Aeneid' by heart." 
  • The famous conductor Toscanini was able to keep conducting despite bad eyesight, because he had memorized the musical scores of a very large number of symphonies and operas. 
  • According to a book, a waiter in San Francisco could recall exactly what any customer had previously ordered, even if the customer had not visited the restaurant in years. 
  • The artist Franco Magnani (famed as "the Memory Artist") was able to draw "photographically accurate" drawings of his hometown that he had not seen in more than 30 years. 
  • G. C. Leland says: " It is recorded of a Slavonian Oriental Sect called the Bogomiles, which spread over Europe during the middle ages, that its members were required to memorize the Bible verbatim. Their latest historian, Dragomanoff, declares that there were none of them who did not memorize the New Testament at least; one of their bishops publicly proclaimed that, in his own diocese of four thousand communicants, there was not one unable to repeat the entire scriptures without an error."
  • Akira Haraguchi was able to recite correctly from memory 100,000 digits of pi in 16 hours, in a filmed public exhibition.
  • The fascinating 47-minute video here "The Boy Who Can't Forget" documents cases of Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM), also called hyperthymesia.  According to the article here a scientist named McGaugh "is adamant that the super memory demonstrated by the small number of people he and others have identified represents a genuine phenomenon." People with such a Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (including Jill Price and Aureilien Hayman) can recall what happened to them every day in the past ten years. 
  • A book tells us this: "The geographer Maretus, narrates an instance of memory probably  unequalled. He actually witnessed the feat, and had it attested by four Venetian nobles. He met in Padua, a young Corsican who had so powerful a memory that he could repeat as many as 36,000 words read over to him only once. Maretus, desiring to test this extraordinary youth, in the presence of his friends, read over to him an almost interminable list of words strung together anyhow in every language, and some mere gibberish. The audience was exhausted before the list, which had been written down for the sake of accuracy, and at the end of it the young Corsican smilingly began and repeated the entire list without a break and without a mistake. Then to show his remarkable power, he went over it backward, then every alternate word, first and fifth, and so on until his hearers were thoroughly exhausted, and had no hesitation in certifying that the memory of this individual was without a rival in the world, ancient or modern."
  • Encyclopedia.com refers to the "miraculous photographic memory" of Thomas Babington Macaulay.
  • Wikipedia.org states this about Daniel Tammet: "One of his most notable achievements was being able to recite Pi to 22,514 decimal places, taking him over five hours."
  • According to an article on bbc.com, "Ask Nima Veiseh what he was doing for any day in the past 15 years, however, and he will give you the minutiae of the weather, what he was wearing, or even what side of the train he was sitting on his journey to work."
  • Derek Paravicini was born 25 weeks early, with severe brain damage, but he has reliably demonstrated countless times the ability to very accurately play back on a keyboard any song that is played to him, note for note, even if he has never heard the song before. 
  • A nineteenth century work describes a similar ability in a prodigy known as Blind Tom: "The doctor then called for some one of the audience to come and play a piece of music for the first  time in Tom's hearing, promising a very faithful imitation ; Miss Jones was persuaded to play a piece of her own composition, and hence unknown to Tom and the audience....When the lady was through and escorted from the stage, Tom sat down and played it through perfectly. " The next page states, "Tom executes some of the most difficult pieces of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Bach, Gottschalk, Thalberg and others, and these he learnt by hearing them played."
Thomas Babington Macaulay

If normal human memory abilities are inexplicable as being produced by brains with very rapid protein turnover, very high levels of signal noise of several different types, and nothing like an indexing system, a position notation system or any known mechanism for reading or writing memories, brains that replace about 3% of their proteins every day, which is certainly the case, then cases of exceptional memory such as these are all the more inexplicable as being neural effects. 

Brain studies of people with exceptional memories have failed to present  any robust evidence for any brain difference that could explain such memories. The paper here  claims to have studied the brains of 11 people with Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM).  The abstract makes no specific claim of having found any specific difference in the brains of such people.  The abstract does vaguely claim to have identified "nine structures as being morphologically different from those of control participants," but the text of the paper does not justify any claim of any significant morphological difference in the 11 people with Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM).  We read in the paper nothing different from what you would get by randomly picking 11 people and comparing their brains to 11 other random people. 

It is interesting that Table 1 of this paper shows us the nine regions that were supposedly "morphologically different" from controls.  There are nine up arrows to indicate little regions of neural superiority in the HSAM subjects with amazing autobiographical memory, and down nine down arrows to indicate little regions of neural inferiority in such subjects.  "That's a wash," as they say: the negatives cancel out the positives. Overall there is no indication of neural superiority in these HSAM subjects with amazing memories. 

A more recent paper on this topic can be read here.  The paper fails to show any robust evidence of any significant brain activity difference between those with astonishing HSAM memories and normal controls. The very marginal differences discussed are merely the type of differences we would expect from comparing about 10 randomly selected people with 10 other randomly selected people. 

The fact that people with vastly superior recall ability have brains that are not structurally superior (and are sometimes very structurally inferior) to those with normal recall abilities, and the fact that brain scans of such people show nothing very noteworthy are both facts that strengthen the case against the claim that memories are stored in the brain. 

Friday, February 5, 2021

Five Hallmarks of an Information Storage System (None of Which Your Synapses Have)

It is claimed by many that the synapses of the brain are an information storage system that stores our memories. To analyze whether this claim is credible, let us look at some common characteristics of information storage systems, and see whether synapses have any such characteristics.

Characteristic #1: An “alphabet” of symbolic tokens consisting of at least two types of tokens.

By an alphabet of symbolic tokens, I mean a set of symbols that can be used in the writing of symbolic information. Below are some examples:

  1. In English books, this alphabet of symbolic tokens consists of the letters of the alphabet and the various punctuation marks.
  2. In DNA this “alphabet” of symbolic tokens consists of the four types of nucleotide base pairs found in the DNA molecule (adenine, cytosine, thymine and guanine).
  3. In early Egyptian hieroglyphics, there was an “alphabet” of different pictogram symbols, each of which stood for some particular thing.
  4. In computers that store information using binary, there is an “alphabet” consisting of only two things: a magnetic mark standing for 1, and another magnetic mark (or absence of a mark) that stands for 0. Different combinations of such binary characters stand for particular letters in the alphabet. 
Characteristic #2: A recurring tendency for one or more of these symbolic tokens to represent some particular thing. 

In an information storage system such as a book it is not enough to simply have some set of symbolic tokens. There must also be some tendency for particular combinations of these tokens to represent some thing. 

In the simplest type of information storage system, a single token represents one particular thing. For example, we may consider road signs as an information storage system in which a single token stands for one thing. On the left is a token standing for "a gas station," and on the right is a token standing for "pedestrians crossing."

In a more complex information storage system, it is ususally the case that particular combinations of tokens stand for some particular things. For example, in the English language the combination of the tokens "c," "a" and "t" stand for a cat. 

Below we see a representation of the genetic code used by DNA. There are four tokens, A, C, T and G, which are the nucleotide base pairs adenine, cytosine, thymine and guanine.  Particular combinations of these base pairs stand for particular amino acids. Looking at the chart below, and moving your eye from the center to the edge of the chart, you can see examples of these combinations and what they mean. For example, a combination of guanine (G), cytosine (C) and adenine (A) stands for the amino acid named alanine. 

genetic code

Characteristic #3: A sequence of these tokens in which particular tokens of the “alphabet” are repeated multiple times.

Below are some examples of this type of sequence:
  1. On a page of an English book, we have a long sequence of letters, and particular combinations of these stand for particular words. 
  2. In a DNA molecule, there is a long sequence of nucleotide base pairs that collectively specify genetic information.
  3. On a computer hard drive, there are files consisting of long sequences of magnetic marks (the equivalent of 1's and 0's), that store information in particular types of computer files.

Characteristic #4: Some physical arrangement by which it is possible for the sequence of tokens to be read.

In order for you to have a meaningful information storage system, there must be some arrangement by which the stored information can be read, so that the stored sequence is retrieved or read. Imagine a system by which you spell out your text messages in scrabble blocks, and then toss the scrabble blocks to the bottom of a large trash can. That is not a workable information storage system, for it offers no hope of retrieving the original messages.

Some examples of systems that meet this characteristic are as follows:
  1. A book is an arrangement by which it is possible for a human to conveniently read all of the symbolic tokens in the book, in the correct sequence. The arrangement of tokens and the bindings of the pages make it easy for a sequential reading of the tokens.
  2. A DNA molecule is an arrangement by which it is possible to conveniently read all of the tokens (the nucleotide base pairs) in the correct sequence. The physical structure of the DNA molecule (a long string-like structure) make this sequential reading fairly easy.
  3. A tape playback and recording system such as a VCR had a physical arrangement by which a slowing turning tape passed by a read/write head, allowing magnetic marks on the tape to be read in a particular sequence. 
Characteristic #5: Stability

Most of the information storage systems we use have stability. For example, once words have been printed on paper, the information will last for a very long time. And once something has been stored on a hard drive, the information can last in exactly the same state for years.  Video tapes also last for many years. The information stored in DNA is also very stable. You still have basically the same DNA information in your cells that you had when you were born. 

Do Synapses Have Any of These Characteristics?

Now let us look at the synapses of the brain, and ask: do they meet any of these five hallmarks of an information storage system? We will find no match to these characteristics merely by mentioning DNA in synapses, because synapses do not have DNA (DNA in the brain is found in neurons, but not in the synapses that connect neurons). 

It seems that synapses do not have the first of these hallmarks. No one has ever discovered anything like an “alphabet” of symbolic tokens that could be used by synapses to store information. Some might argue that maybe the strength of a synapse acts like a symbolic token. But a synapse could have any of millions of different strengths, just like a muscle can have any of millions of different strengths. There doesn't seem to be any built-in characteristic of synapses allowing synapses to act as particular symbolic tokens, or to store symbolic tokens.

There is no evidence that synapses have the second of these characteristics. We can find no  combinations of synapse tokens that stand for particular things, because no one has discovered any tokens at all in synapses. 

It also seems that synapses do not have the third of these hallmarks of a system for storing symbolic information. No one has found any repetition of tokens in synapses.

It also seems that synapses do not have the fourth of these hallmarks of a system for storing symbolic information. There are countless synapses in the brain that exist in three-dimensional space, like tangled vines in a very densely packed jungle, or like strands of spaghetti in a huge pot filled with enough spaghetti to feed 100 children.  There does not exist anything in the brain corresponding to a synapse reader that might sequentially read some stream of tokens in synapses if they happened to exist in synapses. 

It also seems that synapses do not have the fifth of these hallmarks of a system for storing information. The proteins in synapses are short-lived, having an average lifetime of less than two weeks. It has been estimated the 3% of brain proteins are replaced every day. So synapses lack the stablility that characterizes information storage systems. 

It seems, therefore, that synapses have none of the main characteristics of information storage systems. Synapses no more resemble an information storage system than an outdoor lump of mud resembles an information storage system. So why do so many neuroscientists maintain that synapses are some storage system storing your memories?  It's merely because they have committed themselves to the silly idea that memories must be stored in brains.  It would be much better if neuroscientisists were to honestly say this: "We have found nothing in the brain that resembles a system for storing information that minds learn." 

The scholar Robert Crookall has collected very many accounts of out-of-body experiences which you can read online here, here and here. The great similarities of such accounts, the fact that they are so often reported as spontaneously occurring in healthy, normal people, and the fact that things observed in such experiences are often verified are all indications that such accounts are not merely hallucinations. In such accounts we see people reporting no dimming of memory when they reported floating out of their bodies. Such accounts (senselessly ignored by almost all neuroscientists) provide a clue as to what is the real repository of memory: some soul or spiritual faculty that is very different from the brain.