The Reality Report

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Episode 97

The fifth episode in a series with Gyrus which sprawls across a variety of topics in anthropology, cosmology, cognitive science and recent political developments. Gyrus continues talking about his evolving ideas about "polar cosmology" leading us back to the topic of egalitarianism and how hunter-gatherer societies allowed hierarchies to develop. Gyrus describes some important work done by radical anthropologists David Graeber and David Wengrow on seasonal gatherings and how these may be key to answering this question. The 12,000 year old site at Göbekli Tepe comes up, leading on to a brief discussion of cave art and Graham Hancock's writings on the topic.



Thursday, 20 July 2017

Episode 96

The fourth episode in a series with Gyrus which sprawls across a variety of topics in anthropology, cosmology, cognitive science and recent political developments. Gyrus talks about his evolving ideas about "polar cosmology" and how there were affected by a story by anthropologist Mircea Eliade about an Australian aboriginal story, and its subsequent debunking by Eliade's successor at the University of Chicago, Jonathan Z. Smith.



Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Episode 95

The third episode in a series with Gyrus which sprawls across a variety of topics in anthropology, cosmology, cognitive science and recent political developments. We continue to discuss hunter-gatherer cultures. Gyrus talks about anthropologists such as Eliade who have sought to reconstruct paleolithic belief systems by tracing back "ancient" (actually quite recent) Greek and Mesopotamian myths to account for the sudden complexification of hunter-gatherer societies 30-20,000 years ago. He brings up the example of the (pre-agricutural) Natufian people before we briefly tangent off into discussing the origins of agriculture and the seemingly related 12,000-year-old temple complex at Göbekli Tepe (in modern Turkey). Gyrus then begins to outline the evolution of his ideas about the axis mundi and "polar cosmology" as it affected early human political structures.



Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Episode 94

The second episode in a series with Gyrus which sprawls across a variety of topics in anthropology, cosmology, cognitive science and recent political developments. Gyrus continues to explain his motivation behind his mid-late-90's journal Towards 2012, and how this led on to the journal and blog Dreamflesh. We then move on to some anthropological ideas as discussed in one of his Dreamflesh essays, these concerning seemingly egalitarian hunter-gatherers and the invisible "political" structures in which they may exist which also include various non-human "persons" (spirits, ancestors, etc.).



Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Episode 93

The first episode in a series with new guest Gyrus which sprawls across a variety of topics in anthropology, cosmology, cognitive science and recent political developments. We begin by reviewing his desktop publishing experiences in the mid-late 90's with a 'zine/journal called Towards 2012, leading to a discussion of Terence McKenna and his ideas, as seen from 2017. Gyrus contrasts my technical/mathematical critique of TM's "Timewave" theory with his own intuitive misgivings based on his understanding of the nature of Taoism and its "most sacred divination technology", the I Ching.



Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Episode 92

The ninth and final episode in a series wherein Mark Taylor talks with me about the mind-body problem and the so-called "hard problem" of consciousness. We wrap up with a discussion of the Penrose-Hameroff "microtubule-based" theory that consciousness arises as a quantum mechanical phenomenon in the nervous system. I'm reminded of a strange story involving "theatrical physicist" Jack Sarfatti who has been pushing for the manufacture of "conscious computer chips" via nano-constructed synthetic microtubules (this involves a telephone call backwards through time from a computer intelligence in the future!).



Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Episode 91

The eighth episode in a series wherein Mark Taylor talks with me about the mind-body problem and the so-called "hard problem" of consciousness. I continue to explain Robin Carhart-Davis's psilocybin research on the human brain's "default mode network", which leads Mark to explain Bernard Baars' "global workspace theory". We then start to wind things up with a (as promised in an earlier episode) an account of the Penrose-Hameroff "microtubule-based" theory of consciousness.



Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Episode 90

The seventh episode in a series wherein Mark Taylor talks with me about the mind-body problem and the so-called "hard problem" of consciousness. We continue discussing the elusive notion of the "self", leading on to a discussion of remarkable studies of people who've undergone neural comissurotomy (severing of the corpus callosum which joins the two brain hemispheres), then Benjamin Libet's groundbreaking experiments on free will. I bring up a possible link with retrocausation in "presentiment" research, and then, in response to Mark's account of how Daniel Dennett sees the brain working hard to preserve the illusion of a unified self, I'm reminded of recent psychedelic research involving the so-called "default mode network" in the brain.



Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Episode 89

The sixth episode in a series wherein Mark Taylor talks with me about the mind-body problem and the so-called "hard problem" of consciousness. We continue discussing Wittgenstein's elliptical remark about talking lions, leading Mark to bring up a recent book about someone attempting to mimic animal behaviour in great detail, which then leads back to Thomas Nagel's seminal article "What Is It Like To be a Bat?". Synesthesia and the various "modalities" of perception come up, as well as wider questions surrounding the whole idea of the "self".



Some relevant links:

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Episode 88

The fifth episode in a series wherein Mark Taylor talks with me about the mind-body problem and the so-called "hard problem" of consciousness. We continue to consider Plato's contribution to the mind-body problem via his theory of ideal forms, touching on Pythagorean and Buddhist concepts of the soul, then move on to Frank Jackson's "Mary the Brain Scientist" (or "Mary's Room") thought experiment. A Wittgenstein remark Mark quotes about talking lions then leads to a tangent involving an eccentric British zoo owner and the Canterbury psychedelic music scene of the 1960s before we get back on track.



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Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Episode 87

The fourth episode in a series wherein Mark Taylor talks with me about the mind-body problem and the so-called "hard problem" of consciousness. We start discussing "qualia" before being interupted by a falling artwork, this leading us into a tangent about experimental Hindu devotion and Dennett's ideas on religion. After returning to qualia, we're then led on to consider parallels between Wittgenstein's attempts to eliminate philosophical confusion and the Buddhist ideal of the boddhisattva who aims to eliminating suffering by propagating "clear perception". By the end of the episode Mark is explaining Aristotle and Plato's early contributions to the philosophy surrounding the mind-body problem.



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Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Episode 86

The third episode in a series wherein Mark Taylor talks with me about the mind-body problem and the so-called "hard problem" of consciousness. We continue talking about disenchantment and Richard Dawkins' role as "unweaver of the rainbow" and as one of the "Four Horsemen of New Atheism". Returning to Daniel Dennett's "zombie problem", Mark then explains Dennett's notion of "intuition pumps" and applies this to Descartes' ideas about the physical location of consciousness. This leads us off on a strange tangent about the pineal gland and Dr. David Luke's DMT experiences with pinecone-shaped entities covered in eyeballs and an artist who has produced some truly extraordinary paintings since being diagnosed with cancer of the pineal gland. We eventually find our way back to the "hard problem" of consciousness and I again invoke Thomas Nagel's seminal paper "What Is It Like to Be a Bat?" as I try to get Mark to explain Dennett's materialist "explanation" of consciousness.



Some relevant links:

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Episode 85

The second episode in a new series of The Reality Report wherein Mark Taylor talks with me about the mind-body problem and the so-called "hard problem" of consciousness. We continue talking about Wittgenstein's influence on Dennett, on Russell's influence on Wittgenstein, then Dennett's "zombie argument", the film "Blade Runner", the "brain in a vat" thought experiment and other issues relating to solipsism.



Some relevant links:

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Episode 84

The first episode in a new series of The Reality Report wherein Mark Taylor talks with me about the mind-body problem and the so-called "hard problem" of consciousness.



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Thursday, 13 April 2017

Episode 83

The ninth and final episode in a series wherein Juliet and I begin by jointly consulting the I Ching (ancient Chinese oracle), getting hexagram 4, "Youthful Folly", and then see where that goes. We consider various ideas about sentience and the balance of living and dead matter in the Universe before bringing things to a rather whimsical conclusion.



Some relevant links:

Episode 82

The eighth in a series of episodes wherein Juliet and I begin by jointly consulting the I Ching (ancient Chinese oracle), getting hexagram 4, "Youthful Folly", and then see where that goes. We continue to consider the question of how the phenomenon of biological life can be squared with the laws of thermodynamics (in particular the tendency of entropy to increase). I bring up Luigi Fantappiè's ideas of "syntropy" and life being "caused from the future". Juliet muses further on "entropic heat death" as the fate of the Universe, leading to a consideration of Buddhist doctrine which seems to aim for the elimination of consciousness, and the opposing tendency for certain ultra-rationalists to push for the spreading of synthetic life across the entirety of the "dead" Universe. After a detour into liminography (automatic or "threshold" writing), we return to how "Youthful Folly" could possibly be applied to our cosmological conversation of the previous few episodes.



Some relevant links:

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Episode 81

The seventh in a series of episodes wherein Matthew and Juliet begin by jointly consulting the I Ching (ancient Chinese oracle), getting hexagram 4, "Youthful Folly", and then see where that goes. They continue on the theme of disenchantment and alienation from natural environments before attempting to link the discussion back to its starting point by considering the current state of the Sun from the point-of-view of hexagram 4. This leads to a consideration of the fate of the Sun and then the fate of the Universe as a whole. Current theories of stellar evolution and "entropic heat death" are pondered before Juliet points out the immediate absurdity of thermodynamics as applied to conscious lifeforms contemplating the theory of thermodynamics.



Some relevant links:

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Episode 80

The sixth in a series of episodes wherein Juliet and I begin by jointly consulting the I Ching (ancient Chinese oracle), getting hexagram 4 "Youthful Folly", and then see where that goes. We continue to consider the extent to which various types of energy on the Earth can be related back to the Sun, touching on Thomas Gold's controversial abiogenic theory of petroleum origin, the quest for commercial nuclear fusion and the trapping of stars inside "Dyson spheres" before stopping to consider the Sun from an experiential perspective and the global/historical repository of solar myth and symbol (likewise the Moon). The contrast between these and the "official" numerical data-based descriptions of the Heavenly bodies in question leads to a discussion of disenchantment, re-enchantment and Australian aboriginal songlines.


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Friday, 10 March 2017

Episode 79

The fifth in a series of episodes wherein Juliet and I begin by jointly consulting the I Ching (ancient Chinese oracle), getting hexagram 4 "Youthful Folly", and then see where that goes. This time we continue to explore the extent to which entities can "experience" the world, moving on to human-animal communication, human-plant communication, the problematic dominance of the "machine" metaphor for biological entities, then veering wildly through Buddhist ideas of non-self, solipsism, and the burning of wood understood as photosynthesis in reverse, or a "releasing of trapped sunlight".


Some relevant links:

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Episode 78

The fourth in a series of episodes wherein Juliet and I begin by jointly consulting the I Ching (ancient Chinese oracle), getting hexagram 4 "Youthful Folly", and then see where that goes. Juliet elaborates on her rather startling assertion about the true nature of the Universe as consisting solely of sentient beings and experience. This takes us on a journey through cosmology, scales of physical reality, what it would be like to be a Tupperware box, what Hendrix meant by "Have you ever been experience?", gut bacteria and parasitology.



Some relevant links:

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Episode 77

The third in a series of episodes wherein Juliet and I begin by jointly consulting the I Ching (ancient Chinese oracle), getting hexagram 4 "Youthful Folly", and then see where that goes. Juliet continues outlining Timothy Leary's "eight-circuit" model of consciousness and we consider how this might relate to the fool archetype. This leads to a discussion of neo-shamanic "reality selection", and after we somehow tangent off into considering the exponential acceleration of time and daft fashion trends, she makes a rather startling assertion about the true nature of the Universe!



Some relevant links:

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Episode 76

The second in a series of episodes wherein Juliet and I begin by jointly consulting the I Ching (ancient Chinese oracle), getting hexagram 4 "Youthful Folly", and then see where that goes. We continue to speculate mechanics of how the I Ching and other oracles might work (if indeed they do), then Juliet begins to outline Timothy Leary's "eight-circuit" model of consciousness.



Some relevant links:

Friday, 10 February 2017

Episode 75

The first in a new series of episodes wherein Juliet and I begin by jointly consulting the I Ching (ancient Chinese oracle), getting hexagram 4 "Youthful Folly", and then see where that goes. We discuss the "fool" archetype and its variants, particularly as it shows up in the Tarot, and then move on to the speculative mechanics of how the I Ching and other oracles might work (if indeed they do).



Some relevant links:

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Episode 74

The seventh and final episode in which I'm talking to health practitioner Piers Gardner about integral (or holistic) anatomy. We continue our discussion of soliton waves possibly occurring within fascial tubes as yet another type of subtle transport/signalling system within the body. We wind down the discussion with a look at the "biopsychosocial model" and the importance of looking at health issues holistically.



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Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Episode 73

The sixth of seven episodes in which I'm talking to health practitioner Piers Gardner about integral (or holistic) anatomy. We continue our discussion of how, and why, emotional tension can be stored in different parts of the body. We end up discussing the effect of Caesarean sections on the human immune system and the effects of fibrosity and viscosity within the extracellular matrix before moving on to start looking at soliton waves (which are seemingly occurring within fascial fibres).



Some relevant links:

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Episode 72

The fifth of seven episodes in which I'm talking to health practitioner Piers Gardner about integral (or holistic) anatomy. We continue talking about repetitive strain injury and posture, touching on the Moeller technique developed for drummers, then switch to the topic of tensegrity (a fascinating architectural concept), in particular biotensegrity. This leads to a discussion of how, and why, emotional tension can be stored in different parts of the body.



Some relevant links:

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Episode 71

The fourth of seven episodes in which I'm talking to health practitioner Piers Gardner about integral (or holistic) anatomy. We continue talking about problems with thinking about the body as a machine (with replaceable parts, etc.) before moving on to discuss posture and the role of fascia in reinforcing both good and bad posture. Piers brings up the extreme example of an Indian devotee of Shiva who's been holding his arm straight up since 1973 and now can't move it. Tension headaches and repetitive strain injuries are also discussed.



Some relevant links:

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Episode 70

The third of seven episodes in which I'm talking to health practitioner Piers Gardner about integral (or holistic) anatomy. We continue talking about non-western conceptions of "bio-energy" such as chi and prana before moving on to considering the language used to describe tension in the body (and how much of it is related to spring mechanics), then considering interdisciplinarity, medical anthropology and problems with thinking of the body (and mind) mechanistically.



Some relevant links:

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Episode 69

The second of seven episodes in which I'm talking to health practitioner Piers Gardner about integral (or holistic) anatomy. We continue talking about crystalline structures in bone tissue generating piezo-electrical signals, then move on to blood circulation, the role of the "extra cellular matrix" which permeates the body and how some of these ideas may relate to non-western conceptions of "bio-energy" such as chi and prana.



Some relevant links:

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Episode 68

The first of seven episodes in which I'm talking to health practitioner Piers Gardner about integral (or holistic) anatomy. We begin by talking about a type of connective tissue called fascia and its extraordinary role in the total body system, as well as about crystalline structures in bone tissue generating piezo-electrical signals.



Some relevant links:

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Episode 67

The last of nine episodes in which I'm talking about (among other things) symbiosis and mutualism in the natural world with Jim Penny of the Oxford Botanic Garden. We briefly discuss the Lima bean plant's recently discovered ability to call in predators of its attackers using a repertoire of scents, before wrapping up by considering (with reference to some Buddhist concepts) what the implications of all this are for humans on Planet Earth in the early 21st century..



Some relevant links:

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Episode 66

The eighth of several episodes in which I'm talking about (among other things) symbiosis and mutualism in the natural world with Jim Penny of the Oxford Botanic Garden. We continue discussing a remarkably elaborate mutualistic relationship between brazil nut trees, euglossine bees, tropical orchids and a South American rodent before moving on to the wider philosophical questions surrounding what it even means for entities to be "separate".



Some relevant links:

Episode 65

The seventh of several episodes in which he's talking about (among other things) symbiosis and mutualism in the natural world with Jim Penny of the Oxford Botanic Garden. They continue discussing subtle perceptual biases within the life sciences and how these might affect the long-term survival of our species. They move on to discussing a remarkably elaborate mutualistic relationship between brazil nut trees, euglossine bees, tropical orchids and a South American rodent.



Some relevant links:

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Episode 64

The sixth of several episodes in which I'm talking about (among other things) symbiosis and mutualism in the natural world with Jim Penny of the Oxford Botanic Garden. We continue discussing Richard Dawkins, including his anti-religion campaigning, his dealings with Rupert Sheldrake, and the issue of "scientism", before getting into subtle perceptual biases within the life sciences.


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Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Episode 63

The fifth of several episodes in which I'm talking about (among other things) symbiosis and mutualism in the natural world with Jim Penny of the Oxford Botanic Garden.

This time we're grappling with the worldview propagated by Richard Dawkins' 1976 book The Selfish Gene, leading on to a consideration of whether modern science really is as objective as it tends to claim (its inseparability from cultural and economic forces, etc.) and then to Dawkins' original (pre-Internet) concept of "memes" or units of cultural information.



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Friday, 16 September 2016

Episode 62

The fourth in a series of episodes in which Jim Penny of the Oxford Botanic Garden joins me to discuss symbiosis and inter-species mutualism. We consider ideological biases in how we're conditioned to think about altruism, selfishness and predator-prey relationships.


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Sunday, 11 September 2016

Episode 61

The third in a series of episodes in which Jim Penny of the Oxford Botanic Garden joins me to discuss symbiosis and inter-species mutualism. We consider how mycorrhizal networks in forest ecosystems (as discussed last time) could possibly be explained by natural selection, before embarking on a fascinating tangent involving the Russian anarchist thinker Peter Kropotkin and his against-the-grain application of Darwinian theory to social organisation.


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Saturday, 27 August 2016

Episode 60

The second in a series of episodes in which I talk with Jim Penny of the Oxford University Botanic Gardens about extraordinary instances of symbiosis and inter-species mutualism in the natural world. This time, we discuss mycorrhizal networks (through which different species of plants and trees communicate and share nutrients). Jim also explains how not only are plants and animals colonies of cells, but cells can also be seen as colonies in some sense.



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Thursday, 18 August 2016

Episode 59

The first in a new series of episodes in which I talk with Jim Penny of the Oxford University Botanic Gardens about extraordinary instances of symbiosis and inter-species mutualism in the natural world. We begin by talking about the pollination of figs by wasps and the regulation of this by a parasitic nematode, a thought-provoking three-way interdependence.



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Thursday, 11 August 2016

Episode 58

The last of eleven episodes in which Miriam returns to ramble with me on my mind map. The six topics we randomly generated this time were left- and right-handedness, "cultural self-harm", fractality in nature, MK Ultra, ley lines and Conlon Nancarrow.

We continue discussing the CIA's secret "Project MKUltra" and its precursors, Operation Paperclip and Project Artichoke. After some attempts to make some sense of how these might have emerged from some kind of group mind / collective psychosis, we finally end our ramblings by up talking about fractal patterns in Nature (until the battery dies).



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