Conscientiology & Projectiology

I received an email earlier today from one Nelson Abreu, who offered a criticism of the experimentally-induced out-of-body experiences that were reported recently, in the hope that I might post a reaction on my blog.

In his message, Mr. Abreu tells me that the studies "reveal interesting things about dissociated perceptions under virtual reality conditions, but [do not] say much about the OBE." He also provides several links to the International Academy of Consciousness (IAC), and suggests I follow them if I want to gain a better understanding of out-of-body experiences.

It only took me a few seconds to realize that the site is brimming with pseudoscientific claptrap. The IAC is a "non-profit organization dedicated to the scientific study of the consciousness (human essence, soul)." Its website "offers an overview...[of] the sciences of projectiology and conscientiology, which study consciousness beyond the brain, investigating psychic awareness and paranormal phenomena as tools to understand the multi-dimensional nature of humanity."

The academy offers courses that will teach you to master your bioenergies, increase your extrasensory perceptions, develop your psychic abilities and sense and unblock your chakras. And the academy's members have their own publication, called The Journal of Conscientiology, in which they publish their research.

I'll wager every chakra in my body that the IAC needs its own journal because the research carried out by its members would never be accepted for publication in a legitimate scientific journal.    

Song lyrics from the Disney animated film Cinderella:

Salagadoola mechicka boola bibbidi-bobbidi-boo
Put 'em together and what have you got
Conscientiopseudoscientiology bibbidi-bobbidi-boo

No. The "-ology" clearly indicates scientific rigor. Too bad for the Physics department.

Hi there. Got to your blog thanks to Nelson Abreu telling about it. About the IAC and its "sciences", well, yes, it probably isn't all the "serious" one would expect. There is a lot of culty feeling, I did a couple of courses with them and none of them was very expansive or deep, either practically and theoretically. I don't think that it's all trash, in fact it's quite interesting, but their work could probably use some really strong scientific methodology, as long as they pretend to work within science.
I think that what they work with, the altered states and anomalous perception experiences are really interesting, but their methodology is lacking.
Anyway, as to their publication in a peer-reviewed "official" journal, I don't think that the fact of being rejected from them is really an argument, because most possible future paradigms would not be accepted in mainstream publications at any time. I know, I know, this leaves the door open to anything, but these kind of experiences anyway are a reality in many people's lives, they don't really need to be accepted by serious current scientists to become more real than they already are. But it would be interesting to see science exploring seriously the possibilities of alternate paradigms. The "multidimensional paradigm" proposed by the IAC may sound totally wacko to a "serious" present-day scientist, but why should the official paradigm be more valid? It's more useful from a pragmatic perspective, and due to sociocultural forces, but that doesn't make a possible alternative paradigm exploration less "possibly valid" than the official one. Why think as "normal people do"? From a scientific perspective, you could mention Ockam's Razor (why add more dimensions when we can do ok with just one?), ok, but what if you already know these kind of experiences beforehand and know that the common explanatory framework won't be enough? Ok, we could be talking about crazy people who are just too highly motivated to find some validation for their bizarre experiences, but what about them being bizarre? It's not an apology of crazyness, I just mean that it's interesting to explore other avenues. For an officially sanctioned scientist (that is, aspiring to work in official science, that is, to be respected and paid for his work) it may be complicated to officially support or consider these alternatives, but really, is it so complicated as a human being?
If you follow some kind of spiritual path with real hands-on practice such as meditation, dreamwork, etc, you know first-hand that there are like "layers" of cognition and possibly reality other than the common one. I know, I'm using the verb "are" in a problematic way... "are" there really other levels? or is it just my belief-injected cognition trying to make some sense out of bizarre perceptions through a new altered/extended linguistic description of "reality" by using the trick verb "to be" (thus magically pretending to alter reality)? When you embark on one of these extension/spiritual paths, you are faced with this new extended range of experience/cognition, and of course you can just stand on the rational/official descriptive level, it's safe, but in a deep level you know that you're just playing safe and not moving on. Probably the best attitude is to explore silence and stop judgment (as Buddhism and other paths propose), and move on. I just want to point out that the official "rational"/materialistic description is not intrinsically safer than any other. It's more politically correct, more officially sustained by more people, but that's all. Probably in a true exploration of the extended range of experience/reality, as a writer I love puts it (Robert Anton Wilson), you need the emblems of the four elements: the fire of courage to move on, the sensitivity of feelings and intuition (water), the razor-sharp alternative of reason and discrimination (air), and the feet on the ground (earth), balanced appropriately.

Science 1 Psuedoscience 0

By skeptic4u (not verified) on 25 Sep 2007 #permalink

If you follow some kind of spiritual path with real hands-on practice such as meditation, dreamwork, etc, you know first-hand that there are like "layers" of cognition and possibly reality other than the common one.

Been there, done that... Subjective experiences are not necessarily a reliable guide the the actual nature of reality - which is why we have science.

If you take fistfuls of LSD you can know all sorts of spurious shit first-hand.

@ skeptic4u, I think you are pulling a simple example out of it's context. It was just ment by example...

I think Jim makes a very serious statement here! Especially in the philosophical sense.
We live within a -present day - paradigm form which it is -always- easy to be critical towards altered points of view about reality. There simply are present day phenomena we can't explain with everyday science within our current paradigm. So yes, you have to dare looking into new probabilities. Is our present day empiricism correct? It feels keen and it works fine as far as we concern. But it doesn't explain it all! Which is reason enough to continue thinking about our so-called valid paradigm right now.

Greets from BE,

With all due respect to the blogger, I would not be so quick to judge about the practices that are done at this institute or elsewhere. Reality is vast and we can only see a portion of it. Therefore, we cannot deny the possibility to explore beyond our physical five senses.I agree that there should be a shift in the actual paradigm because it does not explain all phenomena, and ultimately; any scientist knows that science is not stagnant, it is always evolving and something that was considered silly at one time, it becomes a reality the next day.

By Cristóbal Fer… (not verified) on 13 Aug 2011 #permalink