Thursday, March 11, 2021

When Clue-Blind Professors Ignore All the Signs

The 1999 film "The Sixth Sense" is widely considered the best film of the director M. Night Shyamalan, who wrote the script. If you have not seen this film, I suggest streaming it or catching it on or pay TV before reading the rest of this post, which has spoilers concerning its ending. 

At the end of the film there is a plot twist that isn't really a plot twist because you should have been able to anticipate it, although most people fail to do so. The story goes like this:

First, we see a child psychologist character named  Crowe (played by Bruce Willis) being shot in the chest at point-blank range by someone intruding into his home. Then we see Crowe meeting a boy who confesses that he sees ghosts walking around, who are unaware they have died.  There are various spooky occurrences, and at the end comes the big plot twist. It turns out that Crowe, who most viewers of the movie thought was a regular physical person, is actually a ghost, one of the deceased people that the boy can see. Only at the end of the movie does Crowe realize that he was killed in the gun attack at the beginning of the movie. 

Members of the original audience of the movie must have kind of slapped their foreheads upon seeing the movie's ending, saying to themselves, "I'm such an idiot -- why didn't I figure that out all along?" There were actually two very clear reasons for suspecting that Crowe (the Bruce Willis character) was a ghost throughout his interactions with the boy. They were:

(1) We see the character Crowe shot at point blank range at the beginning of the movie. 

(2) After he was shot, we never see Crowe having a back-and-forth two-way conversation with anyone other than the boy who sees ghosts who do not know they are dead. We see Crowe talking to his wife, but she is just staring into space, as if she could not even see or hear him. 

In retrospect, it was easy to figure out the plot twist at the end, that all through the movie the boy was talking to the ghost of Crowe. But the audiences who first saw the movie were clue-blind, and very surprised by the ending. There is today a large group of people who seem even more clue-blind. This group is the group of materialist professors who deny the existence of a human soul, and claim that all mental phenomena come from the brain, and that the brain is the storage place of memories. 

Let us consider some of the clues that reality has given us about the relation of the body and the mind.

  • Scientists discovered the genetic information in all cells around 1950, but it is now the year 2021, and no has ever discovered any stored memory information in a brain of a human being, even through brain tissue has been examined at resolutions vastly greater than the resolutions sufficient to discover DNA in cells. 
  • Many humans (both children and adults) have had half of their brains removed to stop very bad and frequent epileptic seizures, but when surgery is done, it has little effect on intelligence or memory, with learned knowledge being well preserved. 
  • Many humans can remember very well things they learned or experienced 50 years ago, but the average lifetime of the proteins in synapses (claimed to be the storage place of memories) is 1000 times shorter than 50 years (less than two weeks). 
  • Humans are able to form new memories instantly, in contradiction to all theories of brain memory storage, which typically postulate "synapse strengthening" that would take minutes.
  • Even though the brain has no physical characteristics that would allow any such thing as instant memory retrieval (something like an indexing system or a position notation system or coordinate system that might allow stored information to be quickly found), humans are able to retrieve learned information instantly upon hearing some person name or event name or place name, even if they haven't heard such a name in many years.
  • Very many humans (as many as 10 percent or 20 percent of the population) report floating out of their bodies, and observing their bodies from above them in space. 
  • Inside brains there is very severe noise of several different types that should prevent humans from being able to reliably recall large bodies of information, but it is a fact that many people (such as actors playing the role of Hamlet) can recall very large bodies of textual information with perfect accuracy. 
  • There are hundreds of documented cases of people who saw an apparition of someone who died, but who they did not know was dead, only to soon learn that the person had died about the time when the apparition was seen. 
  • There are also very many cases of apparitions seen by more than one person at the same time, something we should expect to never or virtually happen if a mere brain hallucination was causing the sighting of the apparition. 
  • Instead of having some vastly greater brain connectivity that might help explain the superiority of the human mind, a study found that brain connectivity is about the same in all mammals; so we have the brain connectivity of mice. 
  • As discussed here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here, there is two hundred years of written evidence (often written by very weighty figures such as scientists and doctors) for the reality of clairvoyance, an ability that is not explicable under any theory that minds are created by brains. 
  • Quite a few people who have lost  half of their brains due to disease or epilepsy surgery have average or above average intelligence; and the physician John Lorber showed that some people have above-average intelligence despite having the great majority of their brain tissue destroyed by disease. 
  • Besides a wealth of narrative evidence that some humans can have ESP (an ability inexplicable as a brain effect), there is abundant robust laboratory experimental evidence for ESP (discussed here, here and here). 
  • No one has any credible detailed theory of how a brain could ever store learned information (such as academic information) or episodic memories as neuron states or synapse states; and if such a thing were happening, it would require a whole host of very specialized memory-encoding proteins, which have never been discovered (along with some not-yet-discovered encoding scheme millions of times more complicated than the genetic code discovered around 1950). 
  • Brains show no signs of working harder during heavy thinking or memory recall, and brain scan attempts to find signs of such greater activity merely report variations such as half of one per cent, the kind of variations we would expect to get by chance, even if brains don't produce thinking or recall. 
  • Because of numerous severe slowing factors such as the cumulative slowing effect of synaptic delays and dendrites, signal transmission in the brain should be way too slow to account for the blazing fast thinking speed of some people able to do mathematical calculations at incredible speeds, and also the instant memory recall humans routinely show. 
  • People with dramatically higher recall of episodic memories or learned information seem to have no larger brains or brain superiority that could explain this.
  • Contrary to the dogma that brains produce minds, ravens with tiny brains can do as well on quite a few mental tasks as apes with large brains; and also tiny mouse lemurs do just as well on quite a few cognitive tests as mammals with brains 200 times larger. 
  • As discussed here and here, scientists have very well documented inexplicable physical effects occurring around some people, suggesting they either have powers that cannot be explained in terms of brains and bodies, or are somehow in contact with others who have such powers. 
  • There are numerous reasons for suspecting some source of a human soul or spirit outside of the human body, including the sudden unexplained origin of the universe with just the right expansion rate to allow eventual planet formation, the very precise fine-tuning of fundamental physical constants and laws of nature needed for biological habitability, the origin of life so hard to explain as a chemical event, the extremely hierarchical organization of biological organisms, the great abundance of complex fine-tuned protein molecules in organisms (each seeming to involve a vast mathematical improbability), the great abundance of immensely organized biological forms that are not explained by genomes that merely specify low-level chemical information, and abundant photographic evidence for paranormal effects that seem to suggest some unfathomable intelligence beyond any human understanding (see here and here for examples). 
  • People (sometimes called autistic savants) with very serious brain defects sometimes have astonishing powers of memory almost no one else has. 
  • Dying people commonly report seeing apparitions of the dead (usually their relatives), as reported here, here, and here; people having near-death experiences very frequently report encountering their deceased relatives; and widows and widowers frequently report voices or apparitions corresponding to their deceased spouses -- all just exactly as we would expect if we have souls that survive death. 
  • Many decades ago Leonora Piper was studied at great length for many years by scientists and scholars, and for many years she reported information about deceased people that should have been unknown to her. 
  • Human beings have many subtle and refined mental abilities (such as philosophical imagination, artistic creativity, musical ability, and subtle spirituality) that are inexplicable as results of brain evolution, such things having no value in increasing survival or reproduction. 

All these clues tell us in a very loud voice that we are souls rather than being mere products of brains, souls that can sometimes display (either through their own ability or through interaction with other souls) powers far beyond any neural explanation. Such clues give us every reason for thinking that our memories are not stored in our brains, and that our memories and minds and identities will survive physical death, because they never were products of our brains. But our materialist professors continue to ignore every one of these clues, and believe the groundless idea that our minds are merely the products of brains that store our memories. 

We should not call such professors "clueless," because that might suggest they have not been given clues. A much better term to use is "clue-blind." Should we say that our materialist professors are as clue-blind as the original audience of "The Sixth Sense"? That would not be a very apt comparison, because such an audience had only two clues to which they were blind. But our materialist professors are blind to so many different very obvious clues. 

To get a better analogy for how enormously clue-blind our materialist professors act, let us imagine another movie, one we may call "The Boy Who Saw Ghosts."  The plot might go like this:
  • At the beginning of the movie, a psychologist named R.J. Chenson might get shot by an intruder, not merely in the chest, but shot right through the center of the forehead two times.
  • We might then see an ambulance arriving, and the wife saying, "I think he's dead -- there's been no pulse for five minutes, and the whole bed is very wet with blood."
  • We might then see a visual of Chenson's mother weeping while looking at a picture of her son. 
  • We might then see someone buying a tombstone engraved "R.J. Chenson."
  • We might then see a newspaper headline saying, "Friends Say Chenson Was a Great Guy."
  • Instead of knocking on the door to see the boy who sees ghosts, Chenson might simply walk through a locked door to see him.
  • Chenson might always leave a room by simply walking through a solid wall. 
  • Instead of looking like a regular person, Chenson might always look transparent as he interacts with the boy. 
  • Whenever Chenson talks with the boy indoors, we might see the boy's breath, as if it was almost freezing (it is reputed that ghosts can cause temperature drops).
Now imagine an audience were to watch this movie, and suppose the audience was to ignore all of these hard-to-ignore clues, and still keep thinking that Chenson was a regular physical human as he talked to the boy throughout the movie, believing that idea until the end of the movie when it was revealed that Chenson was killed by the intruder's gunfire. How clue-blind would such an audience be? Such an audience would be like materialist professors who continue to maintain that we are merely accidental soulless products of activity in a brain that stores our memories, despite so many powerful clues telling us that exactly the opposite is true, that we are souls hanging around in bodies that are not essential for our minds or our memories, and residents of a purposeful cosmos.  

Another analogy for our clue-blind materialist professors is the analogy of someone who intends to drive from St. Louis to New York, and drives halfway from St. Louis to Los Angeles, constantly ignoring the setting sun ahead of him which tells him he is traveling west rather than east, and constantly ignoring the road signs telling him he is driving west rather than east.

ignored clues

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