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This is one in a periodic series of episodes with Alex Gomez-Marin, exploring how the arts and humanities can impact (neuro)science. Artistic creations, like cinema, have the ability to momentarily lower our ever-critical scientific mindset and allow us to imagine alternate possibilities and experience emotions outside our normal scientific routines. Might this feature of art potentially change our scientific attitudes and perspectives?
Frauke Sandig and Eric Black recently made the documentary film AWARE: Glimpses of Consciousness, which profiles six researchers studying consciousness from different perspectives. The film is filled with rich visual imagery and conveys a sense of wonder and awe in trying to understand subjective experience, while diving deep into the reflections of the scientists and thinkers approaching the topic from their various perspectives.
This isn’t a “normal” Brain Inspired episode, but I hope you enjoy the discussion!
0:00 – Intro
19:42 – Mechanistic reductionism
45:33 – Changing views during lifetime
53:49 – Did making the film alter your views?
57:49 – ChatGPT
1:04:20 – Materialist assumption
1:11:00 – Science of consciousness
1:20:49 – Transhumanism
1:32:01 – Integrity
1:36:19 – Aesthetics
1:39:50 – Response to the film
Eric 00:00:03 The idea behind Aware was to go to six radically different impressions or, or types of research unconsciousness from all over the world.
Frauke 00:00:20 Obviously, materialistic science hasn’t answered the question of consciousness, so, so we were looking for people who were at least open to look into all sorts of directions.
Alex 00:00:34 I, I see documentaries, they have this potential, and, and of course, science fiction does this all the time. They’re kind of in the future. They, they just bring things. We are still not ready to talk in seminar rooms, and they make it accessible and touchable by anyone. This is brain inspired. Oh, wow.
Paul 00:00:56 Oh, wow. The noise as well. That’s my line. Alex <laugh>, this is brand inspired. Uh, I am Paul and I’m here today with my co-host Alex Gomez Mari. Um, so Alex, uh, has been on the show before, uh, back with Michelle Bit Bull, uh, when we talked about phenomenology, uh, and Alex, uh, and I had a conversation with two filmmakers. Um, so this is kind of a special episode, or if it works out, it might become kind of a mini-series. Uh, the two filmmakers of FKA Sandi and Eric Black, and they created the film, uh, aware Glimpses of Consciousness. Um, and you can find that, uh, firstname.lastname@example.org and I will link to it in the, uh, show notes at brand inspired.co/podcast/ 168. So, like I said, Alex, uh, you’ve been on the podcast before and you and I had, uh, kind of kept in, um, in touch with each other. And, you know, even your first episode was kind of a special episode because it was looking at, uh, an alternative kind of a, an approach to, um, studying consciousness and minds in general, that being phenomenology. And, uh, like I said, since then we’ve, we’ve stayed in contact and we’ve kind of gone back and forth about doing a special podcast episode or series. Um, and roughly the theme of of that series is how art and imagination can inform and possibly affect our science. Would you, uh, concur that that’s a, an apt description?
Alex 00:02:29 Yes. Yes. You’d become, comes from this need that I have to entertain ideas and perhaps the sense that, um, in seminar rooms and in in scientific articles, one can do that to a certain extent, uh, because the, the beds there are quite precent, you know, there’s some limits to, to how to entertain those ideas. And I, when I watch documentaries, especially if they’re good, good ones, I felt that that creates a space to, you know, even forgetting about fiction and fantasy to, to just use imagination and, and see where that can lead us in terms of, of, of the sciences we’re interested in without losing rigor. And there are quite a few documentaries out there, and this was, this one was, uh, one that we picked to begin with because it touches directly on, on consciousness. And so, so that was the idea. Can we have a conversation with those who created the documentary and explore things that matter to us? And as neuroscientists from a another angle, from a slightly different perspective.
Paul 00:03:38 So we’ve talked, uh, just personally, briefly, kind of about your aims and intentions, but I, I was reflecting on this and I thought one of the, okay, so well, I’ll start here. So you are kind of a, uh, I was gonna say classic, but you’re a case of someone who, and correct me please if I’m wrong, who sort of, uh, came into science with the, what you call dogmatic thinking of like science is the way to understand things. Uh, and it’s the only way to understand things. And of course, in this paradigm, I’ll say that we currently live in where, uh, the brain is a computer or machine metaphor, that current paradigm, which dominates computational neuroscience and the neurosciences w at large, and of course, artificial intelligence, et cetera. Um, but I, I say that you, okay, so here’s, here’s the way that I kind of see it and correct me, uh, please.
Paul 00:04:32 That often people go, go into their, uh, neuroscience careers. Me, for example, you know, wanting to study consciousness, uh, but, and thinking that, okay, this is, this is the way to do it, this is the way to understand it, and the best way. Uh, and then over like the evolution of trying to study things like consciousness or anything really, um, often in people’s careers, they start to reflect and think, well, maybe there’s a, a a different way. And I, I think that you, your career has sped up that reflective process, or you’ve begun reflecting perhaps earlier in your career. Is that a fair assessment of the trajectory of how you’ve gone?
Alex 00:05:13 Yes, yes. And it’s difficult to describe to me even cuz I, I feel I’m, I have this scape velocity where I enter a way of thinking more orthodox, and then I start poking into, let’s say, embodied cognition. And I become a bit hetero paradox. But then I still carry this acceleration and this pushes me further and things happen fast. And yes, I’ve been reflecting and not just reflecting, I’m actually studying those things to the best of my abilities. And I’m more and more interested in consciousness from other sides. I call them the edges of consciousness, how to look at human consciousness specifically, um, in places that are marginalized, but also in a way frontier. And, and that’s a, that’s a strange situation, right? Because there, you, you start to walk in, in, in a territory where it’s not so clear what is going on, whether you are a scientist, a philosopher, or even doing some oo stuff.
Alex 00:06:14 And, but in a way, i, I care less and less, you know, Paul, I, and I don’t wanna make this too dramatic, but I almost died two years ago, a few months after having got tenure. And that was like a double slap in my face. Like, what are you gonna, like, avoiding me? Said, what are you gonna do with, uh, 10, 20, 30, 40 more years? You have, uh, given that you have a decent intellect and more than decent conditions to, to pursue your interests. So, okay, so I’ll do it. So I’m just following what, what interests me, but in a, in a serious way, meaning not just what’s fun or cool, but questions that I feel are also at the heart of the humanities that have to do with our own ex existence and experience. So, so that’s where I, where I’m now, and yes, it’s, it’s, it’s difficult to, to give a comprehensive account. As, as John Krakower once told me, he said, look, Alex, you’re doing all these things, all these dots in the sky, but, but, but where’s the line? Right? There seems to be no clear path. And I, and I agree, you’re right, John, maybe, maybe it’s a constellation, like when you’re doing astrology and you need to just see what al those, those dots mean, and I don’t know, I’m just pursuing it.
Paul 00:07:24 Alright, good. Well, so I don’t want this intro to, to be too long and I don’t wanna keep you, but, um, the point was to kind of introduce, um, the idea behind our special mini-series if it becomes that, um, and you know, of course to let people know where they can find the film, which we, uh, discussed more in, in the conversation, but also then to just get maybe your reflections on how you think this first, uh, conversation went and maybe where it might be going.
Alex 00:07:55 Yes. Huh. Well, it was an experiment also for us, right? Because I sometimes have conversations and I’m the host, I’m so sometimes the guest here, I was kind of in a super position state. I was both kind of a guest of your show and hosting the conversation with, with our guests again. And we are trying to find out whether that’s a triangle or what there is. So that was already valuable to me to see how we can have this conversation from many sides Now, in terms of content and what happened, um, I think we touched on many things. Some were more grounded, some were more in the air. Maybe I was thinking how to summarize it. Well, I heard this description, this metaphor of a kite, maybe of a kite and a kite needs, uh, this structure so that it can be in the air, but it needs a string. It needs a string so that it doesn’t just, yes. So it felt like it was a kite. Some places were more in the air and other places were more grounded. And it’s perhaps finding a, a balance between the, the string and, and the, and the upper part of the kite that we are struggling to find. I dunno if we made it Paul, and I dunno, when people listen to it, whether they’ll, they’ll, it’s not even about liking it or not whether they’ll find this balance in, in their own minds, but it’s an experiment.
Paul 00:09:12 You happen, another band, the Hudu gurus.
Alex 00:09:15 I don’t.
Paul 00:09:16 Okay. So I’ve been having, uh, this song of theirs coursing through my head, and one of the lyrics is, uh, every kite has got to have a string for it to fly. Yeah. So there you go. So that was an app analogy, <laugh> for the timing for me.
Alex 00:09:29 Lovely. That can be, that can be your motto.
Paul 00:09:31 Oh, yeah, there you go. Um, okay. Well, um, perhaps we shouldn’t keep, um, people any, any longer, but I enjoyed the conversation and I look forward to having more. And, uh, I’m also curious just to see how my very science oriented audience will find these kinds of conversations. But in any case, the, the film itself is excellent, um, uh, from a scientific perspective as well. And so you don’t need to be, uh, woowoo or on the fringe to enjoy the film and, uh, which, which tracks our ongoing attempt to study this mysterious phenomenon we call consciousness.
Alex 00:10:12 Yeah.
Paul 00:10:13 Okay. Well, without further ado then, do you have anything else to, to, uh, wrap up?
Alex 00:10:18 Oh, thank you, Paul, for doing this.
Paul 00:10:20 All right. Look forward to another one. All right. Here are, uh, FKA and Eric, so this, this is kind of the brainchild of Alex. Um, I reached out to him and asked like if he wanted to kind of do a special series, uh, kind of, of his choosing. And, um, we went back and forth a little bit and he ended up settling on thinking that it would be interesting to speak with you guys. And well, well, Alex I’ll just let you explain because you’ll do it more clearly than I your intention behind this
Alex 00:10:49 <laugh>. Well, thank you, Paul. I’ve recently been very interested by what documentaries can do, by what art forms can do for science and podcast will be precisely one medium, which I think is very interesting to, to convey ideas, but not only to communicate, also to think them through. And so I came across your documentary and I felt, well, I’m so interested in, in consciousness, so interested. That’s what I’m doing. I would say that’s what I’m researching. And there’s certain ideas or even certain questions that are really hard even to entertain in, in scientific environments, in academic environments. But here you have a documentary and it’s beautiful to watch, and it’s entertaining as it should. And at the same time, it felt it open a space to really be a scientist of consciousness and ask those questions, not so much try to provide answers. And so that’s why Paul and I were talking. Well, wouldn’t it be interesting to have conversation with conversations with those of you who create these documentaries and, and see what, again, what documentaries can do for science and what science can do for documentaries and back and forth. So that’s a little bit the spirit of this quest. Okay. So
Paul 00:12:13 Just to give a little background, and I don’t know if, we’ll, maybe we’ll just keep this in. So, um, the film that we’re gonna focus on more is called Aware Glimpses of Consciousness, but it’s the second in a series of three films, I believe. And, uh, maybe I’ll ask you in a bit what the third is and when it is coming. But the first film is called Heart of Sky, heart of Earth. And so, um, I don’t know if you guys wanna talk about just the, the arc of these kinds of films to, to start off, just to give us a background of, um, of what we’re talking about.
Frauke 00:12:45 Yeah. The first film, I mean, which we consider to be a trilogy, um, of the, uh, is Heart of Sky, heart of Earth. It is about the Maya in Mexico and Guatemala, uh, the Maya of today. And, um, somehow this film inspired us, um, to think about consciousness because, um, the Maya, like many indigenous people have a very different understanding of spirit, of consciousness, of the natural world than we have usually in the Western world, and, or yeah. Or in the white world, or whatever you will call it. So, um, for, for the Maya, like for many other indigenous people, everything in the world is animated, has a soul, has spirit, has consciousness, has a mind. And, and so when we were filming, um, one of our protagonists, who is a woman, Mayan spiritual leader, confronted us and she said, well, for you, um, in the West, and for you whites, um, everything is always separated.
Frauke 00:13:52 Like, here’s the house, here’s the tree, here’s the animal, and here are you. So, and for us, indigenous people, everything is always interconnected. And I think this is, um, what inspired us a lot to think about our worldview and to think about these interconnections of, of spirit and nature. And, um, <laugh> the idea there, there is an interconnection between spirit and matter, and it’s might not be separated things. So, and that inspired us to, to think about aware glimpses of consciousness, um, where actually we try to connect this, the scientific view, because we actually invited, um, um, six people who five of them are real scientists. Oh, my one philosopher, one, um, a brain researcher, a okay, a Buddhist monk, but who is actually a bio who, who has a PhD in bio
Eric 00:14:56 Molecular biology. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I think Franco maybe froze, Meka froze. I mean, yeah, I, um, okay, let me try to pick that up. The, what we tried to do with Aware is that we really, in essence, we turned the cameras around on ourselves. I mean, not literally as in focusing on ourselves, but when you’re with the Maya, and we spent three years with the indigenous Maya, and they would constantly ask us, you know, what are you doing on your spiritual path in the same way someone else might ask, you know, how are you gonna go shopping on, on Tuesday? And, um, this happened to us often, and we, we thought, well, let’s, let’s look at our ideas about consciousness, or as the Maya would call it, Cosmo vi. And this film was really an attempt to get under not only ours, I mean, but as an, as a journey for ourselves also into the world of consciousness.
Eric 00:16:11 Um, which is something that I, the, I mean, the beauty of of documentary is that all of a sudden you get to focus on something. It’s like getting a PhD. All of a sudden. Everything you read, everything you’re thinking about is, and it, you know, it’s a type of focus that I, you know, normally don’t have or get to, to indulge. And the idea behind Aware was to go to six radically different, um, impressions or, or types of research unconsciousness from all over the world. One was still Amaya, as FKA said. One was a Tibetan Buddhist monk. Another one is, um, crystal K, who is, and Alex, correct me if I’m wrong, probably the most famous neuroscientist in the world who heads, who heads up. Well, he also has the Fian contract. I mean, he was given an unbelievable amount of money by Paul, Adam, Paul Allen, Allen, to map the human brain.
Eric 00:17:18 So he certainly shows up in the news more than, more than most. And then, um, there’s a philosopher, and then, um, probably the most famous is Roland Griffith, who heads the psychedelic studies on psilocybin at Johns Hopkins, who we followed over three years. And I’m sure I missed somebody, I always do. Oh, Monica, who we call the, we call her the Jane Goodall of plants that she did for plants, what Jane Goodall did for animals. And I, initially, we thought that these would be very disparate views about consciousness. And I think the greatest surprise was that we found that in spite of the fact that we intended and, and went out of our way to find radically different perspectives, it was, they were remarkably similar. In the end, we had this idea, we used the metaphor of the six blind men in the elephant, which is an Indian parable about the blind men who go out and come back with completely different descriptions in, of an elephant in the middle of the night.
Eric 00:18:38 And only when you hear all six of them, do you understand that it’s an elephant? Well, that’s the metaphor we used, and we pretend to use it all the way through the film, but actually it doesn’t hold up. Actually, what they all had to say about consciousness was remarkably similar. And I, I think no one was as surprised as I, frankly, by the fact that we, we ended up not with a vague, um, I, I’m not gonna use the word understanding, but an image of consciousness, but actually a rather concrete mosaic in terms of putting together these disparate views. And I’m gonna leave it at there for a minute. Foca, are you back on online there?
Frauke 00:19:24 Yeah. I don’t know what threw me out.
Eric 00:19:26 No, you were frozen. You froze.
Frauke 00:19:29 Yeah, no, I was really thrown out of the zoom conference. I dunno. I see. But but you’re editing it anyway, Paul, right? So it’s like, yeah,
Paul 00:19:35 Yeah, yeah. We’ll, we’ll edit all your parts out, don’t worry.
Eric 00:19:37 So you can get,
Alex 00:19:42 So lemme ask you about these coherent views, because I also felt like that there are different, all these glimpses of consciousness, like the subtitle of, of your documentary reads, but all these views are very different at the same time. They’re very coherent and they seem to challenge, if not at least question what I call the unholy trinity of mechanistic reductionist materialism. So they all seem to be pointing there and offering a different path that, again, I don’t think we hear very often in academia, which could go under different names. I would like you to tell me what you feel about that. Could b could go under return to animism or maybe, uh, an embracing of spirituality within science or simply a panist view. Well, there, there are many ways to express it, but all these glimpses seem to point to the same place. Maybe that was an unconscious peak on your side and then seeing it reflected. Um, I’m just curious about any thoughts you have on, on why that happened?
Frauke 00:20:48 Yeah, I mean, one of our early ideas when we were still in the concept phase was, um, to, um, pair our protagonists and couples. So we had, because we thought that consciousness is the only, um, subject better in science, um, or in general that you can approach from inside as well from outside. And so we, we try to, um, find protagonists, um, like there is the brain scientist who tries to research the brain from outside. And the monk who is trying to explore the main, uh, the brain from inside there is the plant researcher who is trying to do scientific experiments with the cognition of plants. And there is the Mayan plant healer who is communicating with plants in another way. And then there is the psychedelic researcher, Ron Griffiths, who is, um, se sending out the psycho knots on, on trips into the psychedelic universe.
Frauke 00:21:54 And then there is the philosopher who is participating and having this experience from inside. So we have like these three couples in the film, and we thought that there would be also a very contrarian view in the end. And we were surprised ourselves, especially with course, of course, the brain scientist because, um, we expecting Tim to have a much more materialistic view, and we were very surprised that he came up with, um, this pan psychic view. Mm-hmm. And will with Monika, it turned out that she has also very shamanistic ideas. And it is not only the, the lab scientist, not at all. I mean, we knew a little bit about it from her writing, but we were surprised to what degree this is the case that she agrees very much with a holistic, um, and animistic worldview of indigenous people and actually seeks to collaborate with indigenous people in her work. So, um, I do have a feeling that there is a new, um, era where science and indigenous ancient knowledge could approach each other. And, and that could be a very, um, I don’t know, a very meaningful approach because I think what, what also Monica Galliano always says was missing in science is, um, the sa the view of the sacred or the view of, um, for example, plants and animals as subjects and not only objects you research.
Eric 00:23:30 I I would, you know, just to confirm Alex, what FKA said, no, we were very surprised. I mean, when you see a documentary, it all looks like it’s sewn up. And, you know, that’s, I mean, hopefully that’s the process of good editing. We did not expect that at all. And even the, the phrase or no, the sentence in there from Max Plunk that we used over in, you know, we, I, I never expected all six of our protagonists or five of them to agree with plunk Max Plunk said in 1928, this is the, for people who, I mean, I, most people will know this of course, but Max Splunk is the father of quantum mechanics. And, um, in 1928, he said that towards the end of his life, he said that, um, that he considered conscious to be fundamental in the universe and everything else to be secondary.
Eric 00:24:31 And, you know, there’s a lot of ways to interpret this, this quote, um, including what Max Splunk actually meant. But, you know, this is a, a devout, I mean, first of all, an impeccable scientist and material scientist on one hand, and on the second, a devout Christian espousing something, which is essentially Hindu in my mind more, more than anything else. But it was a, a big surprise that, that including Matu Ricard, who had never heard this quote before, and who was just enamored of this quote, Christo Kolk had never heard it either. Christoph Kolk like yourself, pH originally studied physics, had never heard this from Mark Splunk. And, um, it was, it was quite, it was had this, this quote had a, a sort of a story in itself. But I think, you know, I know in your talks with, uh, Rupert Shere, you were talking, uh, he was talking about how many times he had thought that the materialist, the strictly materialist view of science was changing, but in fact it didn’t change and then it would change again.
Eric 00:25:42 He thought it, and it didn’t change. And I still think that it is changing. And I think it’s because in my view, that the materialist view of science isn’t leading to the things that we need to be answered, period. And I, to me, that’s why, I mean, and I have an enormous amount of respect for Christoph Cook, partly because, and in our film, amazingly enough to my mind why we are filming him, he concedes that he does not think we are ever going to find the origins of consciousness in the human brain. I mean, now that’s quite something to say if you’re heading, you know, by far the most expensive research project in, in neurobiology or neuroscience. Um, but I think that we’re, we’re ready. You call it a paradigm shift. I think you could also call it a dialectical shift, because we have to, we, I think we could get into this in the, in the podcast as well. I think that that has to shift or we may not even survive.
Alex 00:26:54 Let me mention one thing about ko, which I fully admire. Of course, he’s arguably one of the greatest or most notorious neuroscientists alive. The remarkable thing about Christoff k I think it’s that there is a Christoff K 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 mm-hmm. <affirmative>, he has changed his mind, but not just his mind, like opinion or theory or approach. His worldview, if you track him over the decades he’s been, he’s been like, nobody I can think of actually at that very, yeah. Notoriety. So I think that that reflects, I would say, a degree of honesty that I’m not saying other people don’t have, but people like great figures don’t change their mind. And, and he has. So one wonder
Eric 00:27:42 Science science changes with one obituary at a time, sort of with, with, that’s Neil’s bore. I think I admire that about Christoph, frankly. And I, I’m sure he catches flack for it, but I really appreciated that about him. And also to talk about his own internal conflicts about being raised to devout Catholic and wanting to go, he says it in the film as well, wanting to go into science to disprove science. Hmm. His, his brother is also the ambassador, German ambassador to the Vatican.
Alex 00:28:19 I didn’t know that.
Eric 00:28:20 Well, we, we tried to film in the Sistine Chapel, but it didn’t like come together.
Alex 00:28:26 But let me share a concern I have with my own, my own way of approaching this, and I’ll put it a bit dramatic, but I think it’s honest at the same time. So on the one hand, I mean, I’m trying to surf the, the, or to walk the fine line between dogmatic orthodoxy mind is nothing but brain activity. But then to tune it, not to go into too much new ages stuff like you go from nothing but to anything goes to, you know, from, from Newman poking to tree hugging,
Eric 00:29:01 Right?
Alex 00:29:02 Ah, right. And, and that also has to do with the reception that, that the, that your film may have had. And also persuasion, I was talking about influence, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I, do you think you are preaching to the choir, or is it, of course it’s high level entertaining as, as, as any documentary probably wants to be. Are you trying to change somebody else’s mind? Is it preaching to the choir? How do you navigate that line between both extremes, if you know what I mean?
Frauke 00:29:37 We definitely try to avoid to be esoteric and, and new age. So that was one reason why we didn’t, um, we didn’t ask, uh, the usual suspects <laugh> and, uh, who always talk about spirituality and consciousness in the universe. Um, um, but we, we really were looking for very serious and acclaimed scientists for this film. So, so we wouldn’t only approach like the crowd who already believes everything is spiritual, so, so we wanted really to reach a mainstream audience, and we were very happy that, um, p b s, um, bought the film in the end and broadcasted on a, on a very popular slot independent lens. So it’s not only in this niche of people who are interested in consciousness as a spiritual form of,
Eric 00:30:28 And the same is true in German public television also. Yeah. Yeah. I, no, I would just reiterate that Alex, is that we tried very, I mean, I went to school at Berkeley in Santa Cruz at the University of California, so the mecca of New Age, you know, I mean, I, I know what that looks like and I, I have an allergic reaction to it and a deep love of science, and I would say in the same breath, and an understanding that science is a method and that science is also limited. And it, and we’ve made it more limited than it needs to be, but still a love of science and a historical understanding of what science is and when, when it arrives in European history also, which is a critique as well, of course. But, um, we re I, when we were trying to, um, get pb these two public big public broadcasters on board, one of the things that we would say is that we want to go into this realm, the investigation of consciousness holding onto the handrail of science as we go into the, the ocean of consciousness.
Eric 00:31:53 Excuse me. And I think that that is really an apt metaphor. The idea and the audience that we’re seeking is not the new age, and it’s not necessarily people who think that that material science has this all wrapped up like billiard balls on the table. I think there’s an enormous group of people who are between those points of view. I, I would say the vast majority of people, as far as I can tell, who you might ask them, they may answer a question scien with a scientific bias, or they might answer it in another more irrational way. But I think that there’s an enormous amount of people who are interested in science and the spiritual at the same time. And frankly, I don’t find them mutually exclusive. And that’s what we tried to bring across cross in the film. You’re hearing my Midwestern accent.
Frauke 00:32:55 It’s actually one what, but Monica Galliano, the plant researcher says, actually, I think it didn’t end up in the film, but it’s one of her main thesis that one of the main tasks for scientists is returning the soul to science.
Alex 00:33:14 I’m curious to know what, how Paul feels about, about this particular issue. I’m sorry to just
Eric 00:33:22 No, good.
Paul 00:33:22 No, that’s fine. Which particular issue would
Alex 00:33:24 I, because I, I, I’m more prone to diving into these waters, but I’m not so much, I don’t know so much what I’m more, if I can call it that, cuz I, I don’t really know your views on that, Paul, but I’m more cons, conservative, orthodox or less eclectic view than mine. You’re asking
Paul 00:33:42 If I have
Alex 00:33:42 Think about Yes. Like, did you feel comfortable with these views or did they feel like, okay, they’re beautiful and or honorable, but at some point they’re not talking about science, it’s more like the way of looking at, at, at the world, but that’s not proper sciences. We would, and and you, you’re, you are constantly talking to, and you are one oneself, you’re, you’re one oneself. But talking to scientists, you know, hardcore scientist, how do you feel about what we’re saying?
Paul 00:34:13 So when I was, um, before I got into graduate school, I was a technician, um, in a neuroscience lab. And I, I got to take a, a graduate course as a technician. And at one point I raised my hand, I don’t know, I don’t know why I did this, I don’t know why I felt brave enough to do this. And I said, you know, are we maybe, uh, not asking the right questions or not understanding what the right questions are or how to frame them? And so I’ve always felt like one of the things that, that this film brings to bear and why it’s so comfortable for me to swim in those waters is, um, you know, many of us get into neuroscience because we’re interested in solving consciousness. But, and only to realize that it’s just forever a mystery. You know, the goalposts are constantly being moved, and then you realize you don’t really understand what you mean by the term.
Paul 00:34:59 Um, and so that becomes slippery. So I’ve, um, I’m very open to the idea of what, what I think a, a large part of this project was, um, for me, for my experience of it, um, was allowing us to reframe the question or to think about what the question actually is. You know, what, what are we questioning, right? So yeah, I’m, I’m probably more conservative than you Alex, I would imagine. Um, and I don’t know if you want to, you had a personal experience also that ha I don’t know if that ha has flavored your own, um, thinking about this,
Alex 00:35:38 But yes, <laugh>, you throw it back at me. No, thank you for mentioning, for talking about you Paul. Um, well, yes. I dunno if you’re, you’re referring, I had a near death experience. I dunno if that’s what you’re referring to, Paul, or, and by the way, death just appears in the documentary as if passing, you know, I mean, you could pull it out, right? Because if you’re asking about consciousness and consciousness in humans, well, the obvious existential question is what’s left off it once our brain and our body dies? Right? What does survive, if anything? So, so death I see is also in the movie reflected and, and well, yes, I I I almost die. And I had, I saw the tunnel and all of that. Um, it’s not that I came back transformed as a new Jesus or anything like that, but this made me wonder many things.
Alex 00:36:32 One was, what, what am I gonna do with this ticket that says you can run for 10 or 20 or 30 or 40 more, more years? Right? That happened when I, when I was about to turn 40 years old. So I said, okay, what are you gonna do with that time, extra time over time? But then of course, it’s back to the nature of the mine and what Paul was saying, I’m gonna generalize, but when neuroscientists and I ask them young neuroscientists when they get into neuroscience, well, why are you doing this? What was the promise? What do you have as a inside you? And why, why are you doing this? What for inside to heal or treat mental disease, you could say or understand intelligence, cognition, consciousness, all of those things are not the same. But, but that quickly dissolves and you need to concentrate on, on the, you know, getting grants and publishing papers.
Alex 00:37:22 And it makes sense. But what I mean is if we are studying the brain is because it has something very important to do with, um, with all these edges of consciousness as I call them. And, and those edges are very intriguing to me. And one is new death experiences. Another one is lucid dreaming, right? Another one could be out of body experiences and so on and so forth, right? And I, I, there’s this quote from Feineman, the physicist that says, well, we should seek to make, we should study those areas that allow us to prove ourselves wrong as fast as possible. Right? And it feels like even consciousness today that’s allowed, it was taboo before the nineties, but now it’s allowed us as a, as a research field. But still it feels quite conservative in, in the type of phenomenon that are studied. And what that brings us back, well, sorry for this long kind of monologue, but this brings us back to mystery, which, which Paul mentioned, and it’s also in the movie. I don’t think consciousness is a, is a cosmic sudoku to be cracked. I don’t think it’s an enigma a problem to be solved. It feels more like a mystery. But what do we scientists do in, in, in, in front of a mystery, right? It seems like, it sounds quasi-religious, but it has to do with that. I think it’s a mystery. We can still study it scientifically, but it’s, it’s more about all and wonder and not so much about curiosity and being clever about cracking the puzzle, I believe.
Eric 00:38:48 Yeah. And we’ve been studying it for 400 years almost exactly. Since Decar, you know, in 1630 is the first thing that we know of, of scientists reflecting on consciousness. And honestly, we haven’t gotten very far at all, which I, I would also say, um, you know, to add an addendum to that, which I think is marvelous, frankly. I mean, I think to live in that way, I really also respect enormously respect. Roland Griffiths, who says at the end, isn’t this wonderful, that it is a mystery. I mean, and hopefully we never solve this because it’s the sense of awe, I think is really the key to the spiritual. It’s right there. I mean, I, it’s not that I don’t want to know, of course I want to know, but my feeling is that we are, are not going to know that this is really beyond this.
Eric 00:39:46 Now this is purely, you know, the world according to Eric Black, but I think that to understand consciousness, it’s a little like we’re gonna have to jump back to some. It’s like trying to unite, um, Newtonian physics with, with quantum physics, you know, that we’re not gonna figure out how those two things together unless we find something even grander that unites them. I would also add, um, in, in what you just said, Alex is, um, Roland Griffiths and psilocybin. Yeah. Which is, you know, another state of mind that is off the charts in terms of what, how people react, who, you know, short of having a near death experience, which I, which I also had at 40 by the way. Um, but in 700 trips at Johns Hopkins, nearly, what is it? It’s, um, I think it’s 70% report that it is one of the five most important experiences of their lives.
Eric 00:41:01 This is a four to five hour experience in Johns Hopkins, which is one of the most dull u looking universities ever imagined. Um, which would, Roland would say the same thing. And a full 29% say that this experience was the most important experience of their lives, which is, which is, um, just amazing. And these are people who have had no drug experience previously. Now, to me, that is, if that doesn’t set up a feeling of awe, just that statistic, and, you know, and these are normal, you know, New Jersey, its who are participating in these studies, and yet it’s such a universal phenomena to, to come back from this experience and among other things, not being able to even articulate what it is that you have experienced. But knowing that this is something deeply profound, Christoff ca talks about his own experience in the very beginning of our film as well, amazingly enough, um, that seems to come from someplace else other than the purely materialistic world.
Frauke 00:42:26 Uh, oh, I would have a question for you, Alex, regarding the near death experience. I mean, did this change your worldview as a scientist? I mean, did it feel like a new way of knowing or even knowledge in a scientific sense? Or do you years after it maybe see it more like a different type of experience?
Alex 00:42:51 Yes, these are difficult to answer. I don’t think it changed it because I was already going down that path, but it certainly accelerated it or cut worked as a catalyzer, you say, you know, it catalyzed it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>
Eric 00:43:04 Catalyst.
Alex 00:43:05 Yes. Yeah. Like a catalyst to say, well, what do you have to lose? I mean, this is really, this is beyond interesting. This is not just interesting, right. Intellectually interesting to contemplate this is existentially raw and powerful. And so, well, I can do it, I can mean I’m paid to ask and try to answer scientific questions. Well, in principle, any phenomenon should be scientifically addressable if you, if you, if you obey by the rules. So why not? I mean, I, I used to, I don’t do it so, so much, but I used, I speak like I used to study animal behavior com, uhto one sea, then you can make the sea bigger cognition. But then there’s a even bigger sea, which is consciousness. Like all of a sudden, my, my focus kind of shift towards, well, that seems to be a big fish and it’s the most intimate that we have anyways.
Alex 00:44:04 So some people have troubles if you cannot define it and so on. But then they may be zombies. I mean, this is, this is, this is where the humanities and the sciences meet, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it’s a very interesting conversions. And you use, I mean, you use the, the water metaphor well, or visual image so much, right? The blue. I was, I wanted to ask you, it’s not, it’s not to to defer and go, go away, but I wanted to ask you about blue and green. Uh, cuz there’s a lot of blue and green now in the, in the sea where the, the water meets the sand and the land and the air. Well, there is a conjunction there of elements, which I think is also what we’re trying to do here, right? We’re trying to talk science, but also inner experience and worldviews. So well, broken back to your question, it, it accelerated a path I was already heading towards, um, and on, on my everyday life, of course, when I remember that. And I do, because I have a big scar from here to here. So every morning, <laugh> every morning I see it. Um, well, it makes, it makes little moments, um, um, glow maybe a little bit different, right? Because, and it, I don’t wanna, it’s not dramatic or anything like that. Um, it’s, but probably you can have that through other meals. As I always joke, you don’t need to nearly die <laugh> to experience that. Um,
Eric 00:45:32 <laugh>,
Paul 00:45:33 I I have kind of a naive question that maybe you can all reflect on. And, and that is, so the, the protagonists in the film are all, um, over a certain age. And, uh, you don’t find many teenagers coming to have this view of subjective experience that often accompanies getting older and wiser or more reflective. And the question is, why are we so blind to it as, you know, why are younger people often so blind to it? And then why are we also blind to it just on a day-to-day basis, right? Without really, you know, why do we need meditation? Why do we need psilocybin? Why do we need near death experiences to come to form this, uh, um, alternative kind of view?
Frauke 00:46:23 Well, I think Orland Griffith probably would contradict what you just said, because he says, for example, that the, the closest, uh, people who, who are living in pure consciousness and the pure moment and the pure being are probably little children. So I, I don’t think that why. And but,
Paul 00:46:45 But if you ask a, a child to what their thoughts are on, on that experience, they, they won’t be able to describe,
Frauke 00:46:51 Rationalize is Okay, that’s different.
Eric 00:46:55 I, I mean, I think it, I think it has to do, I mean, I, maybe this is too obvious, but it takes a lot, even as a child to maintain that type of worldview, let alone express it. You know, I can think of things that now in retrospect that happened to me as a child, which I didn’t talk about even to my parents, about things that now seem at least semi mystical. And certainly even the idea that everything was alive. I mean, I remember having this affinity for Native Americans here in the United States when everybody else, it seemed to me wanted to be cowboys. And, um, I, things that I simply can’t explain, but I think maybe the greatest example of that, now, it’s not with children, but if we transpose that to science, what I think is really missing is that scientists themselves are not talking about their experiences.
Eric 00:48:00 That it, I mean, I’m not talking about what is some called, sometimes called this or the technicians of science who are doing the, you know, just the mundane things all day long. But looking at the great discoveries of science, they are so often under extremely odd, I would even say mystical or spiritual experiences. And yet that isn’t talked about, because I mean, we can get into why that is, but, and I, and, and the beauty of science, I think is also because in the end, you have to go back and do the work. I mean, you have to, like Monica can have this experience about plants, but unless she does those experiments in her lab, no one’s gonna take her seriously. And that’s, it’s the, you know, I think, I do think that that’s the beauty of science is this ability to reproduce an experiment, but how you got the ex, the inspiration or the insight to do that experiment is rarely talked about.
Eric 00:49:07 And when you do go into it, what you find is that an enormous percentage of the great discoveries or the great thoughts in science come from what we would otherwise call mystical experiences. Rather it’s Einstein on the, you know, on the streetcar. Or rather it’s Francis Crick on a an L s D trip seeing d n a. I mean, how do we explain that when we don’t talk about that? People don’t know about it. It’s, you hear it sort of casually in the background. But the truth is, this is an ongoing phenomena, and my feeling is that it’s almost the majority of great scientific work is touching on the, I mean, I’m always at a, at a loss for a word, but touching on the spiritual, touching on the divine in some way that is inexplicable even to the scientists themselves. Yeah.
Alex 00:50:10 In, in, in the nineties in Spain, we had this TV program called Let’s Talk about Sex. And of course we came from a dictatorship and whatever, and that was a very popular one. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, there are things we, we all like doing, but for some reason we don’t want to talk about it. I, I call this, I’ve called it recently as Schrodinger Closet, you know, like the cut. It’s both that, that, I mean, many of us live in Schrodinger closet, which means, um, we kind of, we are dissociated, right? Like we go to work, we wear a lot coat and yeah, whatever, we sacrifice as many animals as we need, but then we have these animals at home that we love, or we just, we are rationalists on weekdays. And then, I don’t know, love to go to the countryside and, and explore nature and have this kind of quasi mystical attitude towards the natural world and so on.
Alex 00:51:03 And we don’t tell these stories when I’ve started telling them, well, some people that you would never think of come and say, you know what, Alex, this also happened to me, or I had this, this, this, I had this experience, or thanks for saying that because, and you realize it’s, it’s just out there, but because it’s not politically correct, or maybe some people think it has nothing to do with what being a scientist is, as if you could say, well, now I enter the office, I enter the lab and all my, as if all your, it’s like, is this kind of magic trick, like you put your white coat on and it feels like your, your personal history, even your metaphysical assumptions, well, I don’t have any, right? But we, we all carry them with us. Uh, but, but those are, are hidden in Schrodinger’s closet, right? And I think, again, documentaries, they like this one. I can think, I think show to the public that even the most prominent, um, scientists are human beings in that sense.
Frauke 00:52:04 I, I really think the problem is really this idea, which is I think the absolute mainstream sci idea about science is that science has to be objective. And, um, I think that that is already almost the whole problem, because I think there is nothing more subjective than consciousness or the mystery of death or, so I think, I think it’s probably impossible to approach this kind of mysteries, um, with only purely, um, objective means. I think it’s just, um, excluded
Paul 00:52:45 Barka. I think I’ve heard you mentioned that one of the reasons you became interested in this was because of the death of your mother. Am I? Yes. Yeah,
Frauke 00:52:53 This is the second. Yeah, that was the second. Um, the, the, the first, um, time the idea came up was when, when we were with the Mayan people, with the, um, with the film about the Mayan people in Mexico and Guatemala. And then the, the ultimate reason why I started to read a lot about consciousness was when my mother died now actually exactly 10 years ago almost. And, um, I think I was so deeply, um, upset, and I just wanted to know if there’s any chance that anything survives the physical bodily death. And so I just read everything I could find often, of course, this led also to, uh, the idea to research consciousness.
Eric 00:53:47 Hmm.
Paul 00:53:49 Did the, did the making of the film affect you or change your mind? B b both of you, Eric and fka, um, with respect to, uh, you know, did you find your answer? Uh, <laugh> Christ?
Frauke 00:54:00 I think answer that would be, um, too much, I think, but it’s, um, it definitely, um, deepened, um, my idea that there, there might be something that survives. And I think I was always, um, more than to any religious views. I was always drawn to this, uh, idea of what many indigenous people have about the Great spirit, which is actually nothing else but the great consciousness. And I, I find that a very appealing idea that there is not only matter in the universe was no meaning, but that there’s also, um, a dimension of spirit and mind, um, which is an, a constant exchange with this matter. I think this makes much more sense to me now, and even after the experience we had with the film even more.
Eric 00:54:59 Hmm. Yeah, I would say Paul, that, um, definitively not, I did not, I do not feel that I have an answer. I think what it really did for me is that it gave me a, a sense, an even deeper sense of awe at where, at, at, at being human, being on this planet, being in this universe, and how, you know, it’s a place where I feel that words fail me, really is walking in nature. I think even a more, even a more deep respect for nature and the inner connectivity of everything is, um, overwhelming. And at the same time, um, wonderful. I mean, it reminds me, I have a deep love of the desert, and, uh, and being an American, we have this incredible desert out there, and it’s one of my favorite, for me, it’s the most sacred place in my personal repertoire of places to go, is to sit, uh, on a butte and have, you know, a hundred miles or 150 kilometers to yourself alone with a friend maybe.
Eric 00:56:23 And that sense of at the same time being overwhelmed by where you are. I mean, the American desert has been underwater 17 times. You really see the geology of the planet in front of you. I mean, in the case of the Grand Canyon, certainly that you go down millions if not billions of years. And, and the, and the way that the stars look at the same time is just, it’s, you know, you understand the Maya and why it’s called the Milky Way and the, the vastness and, and at the, and the fact that you at the same time are utterly insignificant in this universe. And it’s always the same for me. There’s three days, a three day process where I go out and it’s the first night is like, oh my God. And by the third day I’m completely happy in this situation. It’s like, I’m insignificant and isn’t this wonderful? And I had the same feeling with this film, is that, um, this is a mystery beyond mysteries, and I am extremely grateful for this and, um, and live in awe of it at the same time.
Alex 00:57:49 Can I ask you whether you would’ve included the Chad G p T craziness? Had you recorded the documentary today? Would it, would this have a place in aware, I suppose Probably not.
Eric 00:58:04 It may have a place in our next film. Oh, there we go. There’s a transition.
Frauke 00:58:08 Yeah. It, it is funny because actually some TV producers asked us when we made aware if we wanted to include, uh, artificial intelligence, and, and we said, no, we didn’t find that very interesting because I think, um, and I actually still believe this, that, um, AI doesn’t have consciousness because I don’t think it has what for us came through as the most simple definition of consciousness is subjective experience. And I mean, there may maybe as much as intelligence as you ever can have, but I don’t think, and I’m not sure if it ever will be possible that an artificial intelligence will have subjective experience and will feel and, um, really perceive from an inside point of view, which is I think the, the key to define consciousness.
Eric 00:59:04 Yes, Alex, I, this may be a bit of a non-sequitur, but I’m also really struck at the same time with this discussion about ai. And, and I, and I do understand that it’s a real danger. And, you know, we can talk about that going back to the, this dialectic in science or who for whom are we working, but I also struck at the same time that we talk about AI so much, and yet there are all of these other systems that are far more intelligent than AI that we don’t talk about. I mean, I, Monica makes a reference in the film, calling it BI is her Joke, which is biological intelligence. Well, it is amazing that here we are, you know, talking so much about something that is manmade or human made. When, when we really look at forests and tree networks or the, or plants or certainly the, um, mushroom, the, the, um, network, you know, the world, the wood wide web, the amount of intelligence that’s involved there, or even in simply in an elephant or in whales, is also more than astounding.
Eric 01:00:31 And we seem to be stuck with this idea. I guess what I’m aiming for here is that I do think that there’s a shift in general to understand that we may not be the most intelligent thing on the planet in any case, rather it’s AI or bi. And maybe we better just get used to that and start cooperating more with other forms of intelligence. Maybe. I mean, ai, I, I have to say I don’t yet know enough to, to about it, but that, I certainly think that cooperating and trying to understand other types of intelligence is also crucial to our survival.
Frauke 01:01:12 But Paul and Alex, I would ask you as neuroscientist, do you believe that AI can become conscious?
Alex 01:01:21 I, I’m not <laugh> qualified enough to, to say things about ai, but I think it’s yes and no. It’s, it’s no because, um, it’s hard to imagine how to imbue that algorithm with the intrinsic perspective that you were talking about. I don’t think it has it. I’m not sure where it’s coming from. Um, at the same time, I tend towards this animistic spectrum of, I mean, I’m not appalled by, by certain ideas on of panpsychism. I, I believe that the world is unsold. So in that respect, and of course, the usual debunkers will pick the stone like Johnson did for Berkeley and say, and say, so that thing is conscious, Alex, stupid conversation stopper. I think more subtle views can be made and experiential views can be made, um, concrete. And so that’s why I’m saying yes and no, I think, I think consciousness or mind, which is not the same thing, but anyways, it’s most likely fundamental principle of the cosmos.
Alex 01:02:37 But I don’t think that these machines that we’re talking about today are gonna be able to have a lot of, any consciousness. I, I was asking that. Well, I also want to hear what, what Paul has to say, and then, and then I want to ask you about human and human extinction and transhumanism, because that’s maybe a crossroads where these leads, right? What are, what are we gonna bet our money? Are we gonna bet our money that the future human is the cyborg? Or are we gonna bet our money that the future human is like, like the shaman, right? Back to, back to the, the, the forest. But first, what, what do you think, Paul, about ai? Cuz you, you speak to a lot of very knowledgeable people mm-hmm. <affirmative> about these matters.
Paul 01:03:22 Um, no, <laugh>, that’s
Alex 01:03:25 <laugh>,
Paul 01:03:26 But, but, um, seriously like that, um, I’m, I’m open. The, the problem with me is the question which assumes that we know what we’re talking about, and if we don’t know what we’re talking about, how are we going to judge, um, you know, something that we build. Uh, so to, to me, there, there’s a, there’s a problem with the framing of the, the question, which assumes a sort of definition that we, we all know what we’re talking about. Um, and like, um, well, I’ll just leave it at that, um, to be brief. So I don’t, because I don’t wanna take us over time either, so,
Alex 01:04:01 Hmm.
Paul 01:04:03 But no, no, the current, current machines not subjectively aware, and I don’t think it’s, I think, um, this kind of technology is missing, um, fundamental principles that would be needed for a subjective experience.
Eric 01:04:20 I, I have a question for Alex if I may. And that is, and this was leading up to something that you were talking with Rupert Shedrick, and that is the assumption on the part of scientists and I, I put the assumption in big letters there that the, all the answers will be found through a material understanding of material, basically. And that why is that? Why is that why It’s not only that we’re afraid, but we, I mean, addressed that way. It seems to me, it really gets at the crux of the matter. It’s an assumption and it’s assumption which we hold so tightly. And yet, and I’m talking about scientists, maybe the society in general, but scientists in particular that we hold onto the science. We ridicule people who do not share it, even when we know that there’s this other side, or, you know, things are not what they seem, especially after quantum physics. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And yet it’s still, why is that? What, what is that serving? Is that part of the, is that part of the underpinnings of corporate capitalism that we’re looking at? Is that what we’re really looking at right there is that we can’t talk about these things because it affects the, the underlying economy to everything we do.
Alex 01:05:57 Yeah. That’s a fascinating question. I think there are many layers I’ll summarize at least as deep as I think I can go. We’ve, we’ve been sold, told that science is synonym with materialism, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, as if I, I make like as, as, as two joints that now are one. And you can only move your arm like this, right? Like, you can’t be a scientist if you’re not a materialist, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But materialism is a metaphysics. Um, so here science is confounded with philosophy, and we’re given reasons for that. Of course, if I hit my head <laugh>, if I damage my bra, my gray matter, whatever, my, my consciousness will perhaps not show up. By the way, we can talk about other ways of considering that very same piece of data through, uh, a model of brain that it’s not productive of consciousness, but permissive of consciousness like William James said more than a hundred years ago.
Alex 01:06:57 But we just don’t wanna listen that. But just leaving that aside, so there’s the first, well, a first, a first layer, um, science equals materialism first trick. But I think that that equation is written because it comes from a previous step, which is materialism equals atheism. And I think that comes from secular humanism. So it’s a, it’s a deep kind of historical Yeah. Political and maybe even theological rabbit hole. It’s this idea of, well, we, we we’re sick of religion, and so there’s not going to like, no God and <laugh>, no purpose, no final causes, no consciousness, just matter, matter, matter, matter. And that’s how scientists are gonna do it. Now, the irony here is that all of the sciences look back at physics as they want to be like physics, right? <laugh>. Uh, but then when it’s time to be like physics, they ignore perhaps the greatest highlights of physics, which happened a hundred years ago, which is that, and I know that’s one possible interpretation of quantum mechanics, but that, in looking into these building blocks, okay, let’s go for matter, matter, matter.
Alex 01:08:11 We realize that perhaps matter is made of mind because when we try to, I always make this metaphor like, uh, the Truman Truman show, when Jim Carrey is just, you know, wants to escape the, the, he doesn’t know it’s all made up. And he, he takes the boat and they turn on the, the, the storm, and then he nearly drones and swims, and then he reaches to the, to the dome, right? Yeah. I think that’s what happened to physics a hundred years ago. Now, molecular biology comes in, they want to really like physics, you know, actually in a way spurred by, by some thoughts of, of notorious phy physicists, as you know. But then it’s like, no, no, no, we are gonna ignore one of the, if not the biggest insight we got from physics. Are we gonna pretend <laugh>? Everything is made of biard balls. Right? But so back to your question, which is a very deep one. It’s like scientism, materialism. Atheism. And so we, you can only work like this, right there. There’s no freedom to explore other, other world use, which is again, what your documentary opens the door to, to us entertaining.
Eric 01:09:17 Yeah. Well, and the social sciences try to be like the hard scientists sciences also. Yeah.
Alex 01:09:25 I think, I think neuroscience today could be in a similar position as quantum physics a year, a hundred years ago. In, in the other way around pursuing mind, believing it’s inside the skull, <laugh>. Well, maybe they can both meet and, and, and then, and then maybe we can, we can heal that, that really horrible marriage between mind and matter, right? That this, and, and of course, another trick, another trick. I, I like detecting all those tricks. Maybe I’m incorrect, but it’s, it’s like a two alternative force choice. The, the kind of things we, we ask our rodents to do in the lab, which is you are now gonna pick between dualism or physicalism, and we all know dualism stupid. Therefore, that’s your only option, right? Yeah. No, it’s not, not, not so fast, right? There are more cards on the table, and that’s why every time I, I love reading and reviewing books, especially if neuro scientists talking about consciousness, and it’s very patent.
Alex 01:10:19 When, when you read, and I can name some of them because they, they’ve written it Antonio Macio, they’re great scientists, and Neil Seth and so on. There’s always a part in the book when they need to strawman, panpsychism, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Right? They just can’t stand it because, because the, the business is set up so that here you have dualism for dummies, for stupid people, <laugh> for, and here you have the only real thing, which is physicalism, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Well, that’s philosophical ignorance, I must say. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> And I stop here. Yeah. I fired up. I’ll stop here.
Eric 01:10:52 Well, Alex, to keep you fired it up.
Alex 01:10:54 No, no, no.
Eric 01:10:55 As I understand it, that what you are looking for and hoping to teach and to, I mean, I, it’s limited what I know about what you’re doing, but you’re seeking to form a new science of consciousness. How do you propose to, I mean, I’m all for it, but I’d like to hear a little about your ideas about doing it.
Alex 01:11:19 Ah,
Eric 01:11:20 Because I think it’s way overdue is my, my feeling.
Alex 01:11:23 Mm. Well, we need theories, of course, but I don’t, I don’t think we need the kind of theories out there. And the word theory means many things for many people. I have great respect for integrated information theory, and people seem to be very pissed off. But at least, and this is one important thing of, of, of toones theory, they start from concrete experience. So they don’t, I think it’s Christo Cock who makes this analogy between turning the, the water of the brain into the wine mm-hmm. <affirmative> of consciousness. I don’t think that can be done. You need, and he knows that, right? Maybe he also means that you need to start with the wine. What we have firsthand experience, immediate experience is the experience of the world. That this is, this is consciousness, right? And from it, we, we can say things about the world.
Alex 01:12:10 So it’s like flipping the problem upside down. I, I think then if consciousness is a given, then we need to explain matter and the structures we find in the world. So we swap certain questions for certain answers. So we need theories. The other thing I, I think we need to, is to explore what I was saying, this edges of consciousness, those, I call them edges in two senses. First because they’re marginalized. People don’t wanna talk about that, um, because it’s whatever. And then they use all these prefixes. Is prefixes are also tricks. Like, like the ones I was telling you is, is pseudo science is supernatural. It’s parapsychological, right? They throw in all these conversation stoppers hidden in the pre, right? So the, the edges of consciousness, because they’re marginalized, but also because they offer these, maybe these, it’s like in physics a hundred years ago with when a few important details didn’t, didn’t add up. And it’s just by poking those details that you discovered a big surprise. Right? So I would say
Eric 01:13:16 Being
Alex 01:13:17 More, being more free to ex study scientifically those edges and the first person experience. That’s why having, having all these conversations about the future scientist and now the future human, like how is the future scientist gonna look like? Is he, is he or she gonna look more like a computer scientist or maybe more like a, more like a poet? We don’t know. Um,
Eric 01:13:42 I, I think that that’s highly political, honestly. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But I, I don’t think that you can separate it out from the rest of society. And, and, you know, and, and certainly with climate collapse, rather, we’re going to survive. I mean, I, I, because we’re, we’re studying that so much right. Now, I wanted to ask both of you, Alex and Paul, if you, this is something, you know, we’re thinking about looking into for our own third part. I mean, there are many parts of the third part of the trilogy, and we’re really just investigating. But one is that, um, sciences scientists that are researching the consciousness of, of the planet, of the biosphere, you know, of course there’s James Lovelock and his partner who I’m always forgetting, and we actually tried to interview him right before he died. But, um, or experiments or people who are looking at the universe to ask questions about, rather they see any evidence of the universe itself being consciousness. Now, is there selfish questions on my part, but things that we would be particularly interested in?
Paul 01:15:03 Nobody jumps to mind for me. But again, I would, I just have this question like, why does it need to be a single thing like consciousness as if it’s the same for every, it’s either on or off, right? Or the earth has to be conscious, like a person has to be conscious, like a bee has to be conscious. And I just don’t think that those are likely, um, that, that there’s one kind of consciousness, essentially.
Eric 01:15:29 Well, I’m not, I’m not sure that what I said implies that though Paul also, I mean I, you know, especially, I mean, we did do a whole sequence on, on beehives that never made it into the film. And my God, that’s incredibly fascinating. But you’re right. I mean, it’s such a, it’s so different that it’s hard to wrap your, well, it’s all hard to wrap your head around, but be consciousness is infinitely fascinating as well, or Yeah,
Frauke 01:15:59 I don’t think it’s also meant as a entity of consciousness. I think it’s all about this thinking of systems and interconnectivity and interconnections. I mean, if you go from the plant, you come to the, the mycelium network under the ground, you come to the forest, they come to the biosphere, you come to the co2, photosynthesis and, and the whole systems that somehow regulates itself. I mean, as James Lovelock assumed. So it, it is more like this to think about this, um, um, for example, earth Planet as a system of interconnected relations. Yeah. And I think this is more what we are thinking about for, for our next project, which also in the direction it, how could there be a solution for the climate crisis by thinking more in this way of cooperation and interconnectivity. And somehow that would, is the logical consequence of our first film on the Mayan people who are also trying to defend their environment and their surrounding from destruction and, um, the research into what is consciousness and aware. I think that would be the logical continuation. And we are still totally in the development phase of this. Mm-hmm.
Alex 01:17:20 <affirmative>, I would say going, going to other places in space, especially drawing from indigenous knowledge is, is absolutely key. And not to be seen o o only as, oh, how, again, how interesting, how cute. Look at those myths. Cuz that’s how we tend to watch it. I mean, I speak for myself like Europeans, right? White Europeans. Oh, look at these guys. Isn’t it amazing? How funny. No <laugh> indigenous knowledge. Um, and see if we have any chance. It’s like an al problem. You see, Paul, when we speak about the alts of different animals, well, I think we have alts within our own species as humans, right? Sure. How can we, you know, our own, um, meaningful environment or own meaningful worlds, how can we pu push them together? So that may have, perhaps they overlap and we can have some glimpses again, of, of what that indigenous person, how the indigenous person is perceiving the reign, right?
Alex 01:18:21 Something as simple as the reign. That’s one thing I would say, go in space and go in time. Because again, something happened, right? Uh, Eric, you, you were mentioning it’s political. It’s political, it’s sociological, it’s economical, it’s theological, it’s many things. But something happened, and maybe, maybe, I mean, 500 years ago, we didn’t have the mind body problem as I recall. We had other problems in a way, I think we’ve created certain problems that we can solve. And, and that just keeps the, this goal going right? And, and we’ve turned this into habits. Um, and we think we cannot think otherwise. So apart from answering questions, I always have great joy in, in, in deconstructing the questions, right? And like the, the, the, the, even the formulation of the heart problem, forgive me, like how is it that the brain if rise to mind or consciousness, well, excuse me, like if that was a journalist, you, you don’t ask me that question. That’s <laugh>, that’s a new post question, because you are forcing me to assume the premise is in your question. I refuse. Like, if that was a jury, you know, you’d say <laugh>, no, <laugh>, just rephrase the question because you’re, you’re making me answer what you want already in the question. Right? So I think that’s a certain amount of rewinding in, in space and time and, and maybe finding what happened and from there, maybe switch back together.
Eric 01:19:46 I also think, Alex, that I, you know, I, for me, the origin of rationality and, and science, and I, for me, I start with decar because it’s an easy place to, to put the pin, you know, it’s right after we burned all the witches, right? It’s right after the inquisition. And those two things are, are absolutely joined. I mean, we don’t like to think of them that way, but we got rid of all of this sort of extraneous spirituality in order to go into science. I mean, that’s the way it looks in retrospect. But we got rid of this perspective. We got rid of our, in the case of Europeans, we got rid of our indigenous people, we got rid of our <unk> and then we went on this voyage into science at the same time. And it’s, it’s definitely the downside of science is that understanding that history, that these are not coincidences
Alex 01:20:48 Yes. Ful. That there, there’s something I I wanted to ask that I haven’t,
Paul 01:20:52 You, you wanted to ask. I I think about, I think I remember you saying maybe extinction and the future.
Alex 01:20:58 Oh, yes, yes. That was tied to the AI first. Um, but, but without the ai fu it belongs to aware, right? Because it, it’s a, it’s asking you see what we’re talking about death and what survives, but you can ask that question at a personal level. What will survive of me when I die? Um, but what about us as humans? So as a species,
Eric 01:21:25 I guess, Alex, I’m not quite unsure what your question is.
Alex 01:21:29 I’m asking about the future of humanity, if that’s not a <laugh> that’s a simple question.
Paul 01:21:35 Answer it. Yeah.
Alex 01:21:36 Well, and no, lemme, but lemme tie, tie. This is a, you
Eric 01:21:39 Do this as a multiple choice tests
Alex 01:21:42 <laugh>. Yes, yes. The possibilities are going well, going bad. Prefer not to answer <laugh>.
Alex 01:21:51 No, but, but look, look, okay, let me, let me give some context of, of why I’m asking this. There’s this narrative where, and I’ve heard it many times and I’ve even said it myself. I flicker, oh, we humans are this fucking virus on earth, you know, look what we’re doing. You know, we’re doomed, we’re stupid, and so on. But you could also say, isn’t it amazing? You know, we <laugh> we, we we love each other and, and we do the best we can with our families. And, and we, we try to be kind, you know, a more humanist, not in a naive optimist way, but a more like unha way, right? Like, we can forgive and we can hold open. And so I think that’s also within the, the, the, the spectrum of talking about consciousness, maybe that this brings us far away from science, but nevertheless, um, and, and AI seems to be, or transhumanism seems to be the, the, the voice that says, don’t worry, we’ll just hook you up to a machine. Everything will be fine. And whatever it, it remains of you, it’s gonna be great. The upgrade, look, let me, okay, lemme phrase it in another way.
Eric 01:23:02 Matrix. If,
Alex 01:23:04 If evolution happened, which happened, and s something evolved into us, what are we going to evolve into? Right? That’s, that’s the question I don’t hear asked because it sounds like, wait, wait, well, but what are we gonna turn into as humans, do you think?
Frauke 01:23:23 Well, I, I think we are sort of on a, what do you say, crossways cross crossroads.
Alex 01:23:30 Crossroads, yes.
Frauke 01:23:31 Crossroads. That’s what I wanted to say. Um, because I mean, I’m, I’m at the moment, Eric and I, we are both reading a, a book by James Bridal Ways of Being
Eric 01:23:43 Ways. Yeah. Um,
Frauke 01:23:45 Uh, it’s about MeSHs, plants, animals, and planetary intelligence. Yeah. <laugh>. Which I find very interesting because one of the thoughts, um, in the book is that, that everything that brought us into this crisis is, is a certain way of thinking. I mean, you could call it the ego thinking or the psychopath thinking or, um, even the, the fact that all, almost all AI is programmed and, uh, designed to work for big corporations. I mean, if it’s Google or Facebook or big oil companies or whatever, and nobody really tries to recruit this resources of science and developing an AI for, for the good of the planet or for, um, cooperating with nature for interconnection, for, um, dissolving the ego, for dissolving the gre. And I think this is, um, I think this will actually decide about the future of humanity, which path you choose or we choose.
Alex 01:24:55 Mm-hmm.
Eric 01:24:56 <affirmative>. Yeah. I, I would say also Alex, that, um, it seems to me more and more that the elephant in every conversation anymore is corporate capitalism than we cannot deal with all the problem. I mean, and, and let’s just stick with climate collapse, which I think we’re looking at very, I mean, today’s paper, it’s just look like it’s happening even more rapidly also in Spain than anybody ever predicted. And that’s been, but the point is over and over is that also, I, especially reflecting on this in the United States, is that now we’re back to a point in the, from the 1920s on, on progressive taxation, the wealthier are more wealthy than they’ve been forever in this country. And, um, there’s a, a huge lack of democracy. And, you know, I mean, I don’t wanna belittle the point, but unless we can get that under control, it seems to me that that’s really primary.
Eric 01:26:07 Rather it’s in the sciences with the dialectic about materialism, or rather, it’s what decisions are being made. Rather we’re going to go try to make Mars into a beautiful planet when we can’t even get this one back on track. That we don’t even talk about carbon, um, sequestering, which is to me should be on the top of everybody’s mind, because if we don’t get carbon under control, there is no future. Um, but these decisions are not being made by us. I think that that’s, and that’s the same problem as ai. It’s that it’s being developed by Google and Microsoft and these other corporations, not with the idea right from the beginning that this is for the public good. I mean, it’s, it sounds so cliche, but the problem is that it is cliche. It is being done for the profit of corporations for the more money to the extreme wealthy, and less and less choice and ability to, um, to make decisions for the rest of us.
Eric 01:27:22 And I think that that is the crux of the matter on all of these discussions anymore. And you start to sound like a broken record, I realize. But the problem is, that’s, is the problem, really. We know how to deal with climate change. We could, we could initiate things tomorrow about climate change that would make radical differences. Um, that information isn’t reaching people, rather it’s, well, I mean, the, the most obvious thing to me, and I just think for, specifically for young people who need something to do to make, you know, to keep this planet habitable, apparently 51% of all carbon is generated in the production of meat, the production and transportation of meat. Well, that’s not talked about. Why? How can that possibly be that we’re not talking about that front and center, whether you wanna be vegetarian or not. You need that fact to even think about what’s happening to your planet. Is it worth all of this? Is it worth giving up everything that we love for this? Um, again, when I talk about this, I feel like I’m on a diatribe, and yet I feel like someone really has to say this loud and clear, particularly to young people who are getting so much misinformation. And unfortunately, I think that ai, which has a capacity to do wonderful things, is not going to make the situation better at all to the contrary because of the way that was set up in the first place.
Alex 01:29:07 So what are we gonna tell our kids that we didn’t know? That we are helpless, that we, that this thing happened while we weren’t aware and now it’s too late. Plus, I have a gap there because my, my older daughter is seven mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and perhaps my, my youngest friend is 33 <laugh>. I have no clue what’s going on between seven and 33. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, I don’t even know what they want. We, we may think that’s, that they need these and that, but, um, these young people we’re talking about, I don’t know what they want, what they need, what they, what they hear, and also what they will tell us. Um, and we’ll say, well, did you know that this was happening 20 years ago, 10 years ago? And what did you do?
Eric 01:29:53 And I, and again, I think this carries right over into the sciences too. They’re not immune to this at all. Yeah.
Alex 01:30:02 So how can we, as scientists or as, as film producers or as you know, um, outreach, what can we do? I, I don’t, I don’t usually, usually like the let’s find five bullet points and go home satisfied and we are gonna make change. Right. No meaning, well, perhaps like, at least conversations like this can bring awareness. Like if you’re moving movies aware, can bring these things on the table and who knows who will solve them or how, but at least we need to like that TV program, right. At least we need to talk about sex
Eric 01:30:36 <laugh>. Right.
Alex 01:30:38 At least we need to talk about it. Cuz if we don’t talk about it, well, things happen. We don’t. And
Eric 01:30:43 Then Spain got Almo gava after that. Right. You
Alex 01:30:45 See? You see, there
Eric 01:30:46 You go. Yeah. So there is hope
Alex 01:30:49 <laugh>. Yeah.
Frauke 01:30:49 Yes. And I do think that, that the gen there is a general audience that wants to be aware of these things. I feel, I I can only say we never got so many, um, letters and emails, um, ever for any film, uh, as for aware after it was broadcast, for example mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it was amazing how many people totally strangers wrote like, wow, this film really changed my life. I see the world with different eyes now. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I mean, I’m sure you can do something with your science as well. I mean, that, that just changes people’s worldview changes people mind as, as long as there are some scientists like you who, who insist there is not only matter and there’s, there are maybe other things to consider.
Alex 01:31:42 Yeah. Well,
Frauke 01:31:42 So that is already something. I mean, I could, I could imagine, I mean, sounds like you could really cooperate with Monika. I mean, researching the plant world and you researching maybe the animal or the human world. And I think there could things, there could be big synergies in, in all different directions.
Eric 01:32:02 You know, one of the things that I’m just so impressed with was the integrity of some of these, or all of the scientists in our film. I mean, I, Monica I mean, to stand up to the type of ridicule that she got, you know, and, and do these very basic experiments and hold to them and also talk about where these ideas came from in a way that’s absolutely, um, upset other biologists in the extreme. I mean, as she says in the film, they didn’t say that my, my science was wrong. They said, this cannot be true. The other person who really has affected me personally enormously is Roland Griffith, who is a consummate scientist in the material world. And yet what really changed his mind was Buddhism. We didn’t know this. And also to answer your question from before, we had no idea that Roland was a Buddhist when we started out.
Eric 01:33:09 And I, you know, personally as in, excuse me, he’s had an enormous effect on me personally. And I think he’s had an enormous effect on the, on the whole world. I mean, in the United States alone, there are a hundred cities contemplating decriminalizing psilocybin. Now, when we started this film, you could never have convinced me of that, never mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and yet simply keeping his integrity and, and his vision throughout. I mean, he was being observed by 11 different federal agencies. I mean, you can imagine the first person to be able to research psilocybin since Nixon. Um, what that would take in terms of having this enormous amount of integrity as a scientist to be able to get that through. And, and also with, with, what’s incredible about Roland, I find too, is his, his modesty. Um, at the same time, his humility. And I think he’s moved the world a step in the, in the right direction as a scientist mm-hmm. Very much as a scientist. Mm. As did Monica. And I would even say that in the case of Christoph Kolk, his ability to admit conflicting opinions simultaneously, I think is brave. I mean, I really do. I find that that has an enormous amount of integrity for me, and we need to hear more of this. He
Paul 01:34:55 Has pretty good job
Eric 01:34:56 Security though, as well. He does. Yeah. But you know, on the other hand, he has 300 scientists working under him. And to say something like that, I mean, I’m sure he did not, that didn’t just go over perfectly well in the Alan Brain Institute when he said it, it’d be a lot easier not to have said it.
Alex 01:35:18 Yeah. There are all these soft, they’re not even soft skills. But you mentioned all these temperamental qualities, right? Like humility and creativity. I mean, they, they, we should char cherish them more instead of selling this image of a scientist as this kind of humble hub hubs, you know, like, well, we don’t know, but we, but we know in the end, just give us more, more funding. We’ll, we’ll crack it. And also the, the canceling aspect is, I, I think it’s vital. Like there all these flowers growing and the moment you see the flower growing, you go and step on it. Like perhaps the case of Monica is one of them, right? Like, look at this beautiful flower. Okay? Do we just step on it? The, the, the counseling cannot go on in society, nor nor in even worse in science, I would say. But at the same time, the, the victim, I was gonna say before, the the victim mentality, victim mentality doesn’t help.
Alex 01:36:08 Right? Um, because is this situation where you, you are the victim and this is the perpetrator. Um, and to, and, and to add another layer to it, we haven’t, men, we’ve mentioned a bit of ethics, but who we haven’t mentioned aesthetics. Maybe that’s too late. But you see different, look, I I, I have a philosopher friend who told me, um, maybe he was teasing me, but, but he said, look, I go to these meetings, I meet poets, I meet artists, I meet, I meet scientists. Well, the scientists are the most boring of all. And he says, and if they’re, and that’s gonna sound sound like an insult to, to perhaps some listeners, but if they’re materialists, they’re, they’re quite boring. And they’re, they’re aesthetics is quite dull. What I’m trying to say is that there, there are other worldviews and we can choose, and some choices entail different ethics and different aesthetics. Like if you imagine that the universe is just like inert, unconscious, dull, billionaire balls bouncing on each other for no reason.
Eric 01:37:10 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>,
Alex 01:37:11 No, the color, it’s quite different than if you think it’s steaming with life and purpose and so on. Right? So we could also say, well, I, I picked the second one, and it’s not just I pick what com what what I prefer, and then I’ll try to make the science fit into it. Course signs also guide you. But there, there are these choices of worldviews, and for some reasons, and we, we’ve said, we, we’ve mentioned a few, if you try to <laugh>, you know, push forward certain worldviews, they, they’re squashed as not scientific enough. That’s, that’s truly unfair. And we, we need those views. I think,
Eric 01:37:46 I, I would add too, and and very strongly that I don’t think that materialist science is holding up. I mean, it’s not simply a matter of we’re going to choose, it’s unable to answer many, many things. And it does many things extremely well as we know, and we could list them all day long. But it is a method in the end. And people need to remember that it is a method. It is not a religion. It, it, sometimes it seems like it. Um, but it is, it is a method which has capabilities like any other method. Um, yeah, I, there are two books I also went into, you probably know them both anyway, but I just started this, which is Michael STRs, the Knowledge Machine, how Irrationality created Modern Science. You know, I, I assume you know this book, but I don’t, I don’t know that it holds up to scrutiny. But, and I enjoyed this enormously, I would say too. And, um, I asked Roland Griffiths about his opinion of that. He goes, yeah, I’m all over this. He said, you know, this is, and this is his view as well, which is a case for the humanities being as important as the sciences. And in terms of integrating this entire worldview back to us.
Alex 01:39:16 And I, so I started the Future Scientist series with this new one by Jeff Kreel, the super. That’s, that’s I strip, I strip off the, the, the covers of the book. I like them. Like this is even a, a, uh, stronger case. It’s the case for the sup super for the super humanities.
Eric 01:39:34 Okay. I’ll read it. I love the, I love the flip. Yeah. I actually put my covers back on so I could show you them. So <laugh>. So I guess I lose,
Alex 01:39:44 So Paul, how do we, how do we start wrapping this up? <laugh>. Everywhere. We’ve gone everywhere. That’s
Paul 01:39:49 Okay. Oh, I, since we’re, um, I, I mean, I don’t know, we can just kind of naturally wrap it up, but I was going, you know, Alka you were saying that you had, um, never heard from, so many people received so many emails and letters of appreciation from the movie, aware. Right? And you have both said that you were careful not to go woowoo or too mystical with the film, which you did a great job of, by the way. But did you receive any backlash, um, from people who thought, well, you know, the physical sciences do have something to say. Um, you know, and, and you, you know, did you receive any backlash that maybe you were presenting a, even though, you know, you intended to have multiple different stories, and you said that they kind of converged into one, um, and a and a unified view. But did anyone, uh, disagree with that unified view and say, oh, you’re, you’re doing a disservice to science? Surprisingly,
Frauke 01:40:44 Not so much. Okay. Actually, I think we had enough hard science in the film Yeah. To, to please the, the fans of science. I mean, because actually almost all the protagonists are scientists mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and they actually do real experiments in real universities and real laboratory. So this aspect is not missing in the film, actually, it’s a main part. So, so actually no. And, and I can’t, I can’t think of any actually.
Alex 01:41:14 No.
Paul 01:41:15 But one of the messages is that the film deepens the mystery and, uh, it, it makes it deeper instead of bringing it closer to a solution, which is a sci, you know, very scientific.
Frauke 01:41:25 Uh, and actually, I, I agree with Monica, what she says at the end of the film, that the mechanistic view is dying and we need a more unified view. And I think that’s what we were trying to mm-hmm. <affirmative> support mm-hmm. <affirmative> support point, but I see what mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah.
Alex 01:41:41 So I, I see where Paul, Paul is going. So let me, let me insist a bit on this point to, to be not even critical with you, but you could say, well, you can always speak mm-hmm. <affirmative>, those hardcore scientists that are gonna deliver the message that’s delivered in the movie. Right. But, and, and I, I really like the pair with pair with pair, right. Brain from within mine, from within. And then, um, looking at the plants from the outside, from the inside and psychedelics. So there’s this also this, these nice symmetries, like you spoke about the six characters in pairs and so on. But what would’ve happened, maybe that’s a bad choice as a film director, if you would. And, and you said, well, you didn’t expect they would converse if you had five plus one dissident, you know, like a minority report. But from, from the Orthodox view, if one of the characters was, was somebody just sticking and saying, no, it’s all made by the brain and there’s no mystery.
Alex 01:42:40 And Right. How, how would that, if you are cooking a dish, what would that ingredient have done to the meal? Because that ingredient is, in a way, it’s not in the documentary, the the six main figures are all going in one direction. And I, if you didn’t reply any, if you didn’t receive any complaints, let’s put it this way, that’s fine. But it, you could have easily had, and and I’m sure Paul has interviewed many of them, and who will say, well, no, <laugh>, I actually, I actually am looking the completely the other way, and these are my reasons, and these are my data, and mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you see
Frauke 01:43:16 Actually, and I know what you’re aiming at. And actually, we did expect, uh, Christ Co to have a much more pure materialistic view than he did at the end. So actually he was our materialist scientist we planned for, and that he, uh, that he opened up to all these other, to show all his other sites. That was actually a surprise to us. But, but it’s also true, at least from my side, um, that I, I would find some purely materialistic views, really boring. I mean, I really, I, I, it’s like a little bit like with ai, I do wouldn’t know where it would lead to, because obviously materialistic science hasn’t answered the question of consciousness. So, so we were looking for people who were at least open to look into all sorts of directions and not have just a one-sided view. This is, uh, just produced by neurons, and that’s it. So yeah, that is of course, a choice. We did, we made, and
Eric 01:44:19 We weren’t ex we weren’t expecting that from Roland Griffiths either. And, but also I think, you know, what I hear is that of course, you can go find scientists who say that, you know, the, the brain is simply a computer made out of meat. I mean, we’ve all heard this, right? Well, frankly, I find that really stupid. I mean, I, I really do. I mean, I, and it’s saying in the future, we will find this. Well, I, I don’t think that’s good science, frankly. You know, I, um, you know, these, these prophecies about what science is going to find or not going to find. I mean, how many times have we broken that mold? You know, starting with Max Splunk, who was really himself trying to seal up, um, Newtonian physics, and at the same time, and, you know, in the 1890s in, in Berlin and Germany, physicists were telling their students, don’t continue in physics.
Eric 01:45:22 We’re gonna have this all sewn up by the turn of the century. Right? And then Max Splunk comes around and he thought the same thing. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I mean, it’s only thanks to Mark Splunk’s integrity that he didn’t even falsify his data because everything he thought he was doing, he thought even, you know, even 20 years later, he was trying to put Pandora back in the box. It wasn’t someone who thought, oh my God, isn’t this great? I’ve discovered quantum physics. It was quite the opposite. Anyway, I mean, it’s often been said. Uh, so I’m always very skeptical of hearing prophecies about what science is going to discover, because the, the beauty of science is that it’s practically never that.
Alex 01:46:11 Yes. And that’s the, that’s your choice, right. In a way. So you choose whoever you want to have in, in your documentary. Totally. I was just trying to imagine how would it look if one would steal man Ds absurdity of that position? And I’ve been very critical with pro promissory materialist, I call it promis omics. It just, it’s always conditional and future, right? Yeah. But, but, but perhaps there that could have been in, in a parallel universe in another documentary. Well, I figure, I figure that embodies that to the best
Eric 01:46:40 We did expect this, this booth call, actually. Yeah.
Alex 01:46:43 Yeah.
Eric 01:46:44 It depends on, as you say, which day you talk to him. <laugh>.
Paul 01:46:49 Alex, let me, let me see if I can, um, start to wrap this up by maybe bringing us back to the beginning. So, um, and the intention, uh, that you had in, in having this conversation in the first place, one of the things that the film does really well, or did really well for me is highlight and, um, celebrate a reverence and sense of awe for the mystery that is a subjective experience. And it’s great that it does. So through the lens of, uh, veritable scientists and thinkers and, and and so on. And Alex, I mean, one of the reasons why you wanted to have this conversation was because, uh, of the possibility and the role of things like documentaries Yeah. Uh, to the sciences and what kind of, and, and allowing the documentary in this case, um, to kind of swim and let your imagination swim in those waters for a while. And, uh, whether that will have an effect on your science. Um, do I have that right? First of all in Yes. In in what you’re thinking? Yes. And then, I don’t know, maybe you can just reflect on, on that, um, after having had this conversation.
Alex 01:48:00 Yes. That’s a good way to, to wrap it up end. So, of course, science provides material to the arts, but I’m very interested in how the arts can be used by scientists and, and the general people, people too. But like some, what, what strikes me is that some of these conversations are really hard to have in seminar rooms, even in places where you’re starting consciousness now, while you sit down and watch a documentary, it feels like you shut down some defenses, some filters, and you let the colors, we haven’t spoken about the, the visuals of it, right? That these images of, of the, of the water, with the sun being reflected, they, they’re, they’re quasi psychedelic, right? So they put you in an emotional state and in a state of mind that allows to entertain certain ideas. And I think that’s very powerful. Again, it’s not just entertainment, it entertainment in the sense of just relaxing.
Alex 01:49:06 I, I see documentaries, they have this potential, and, and of course, science fiction, <laugh> does this all the time. They’re kind of in the future. They, they just bring things. We are still not ready to talk in seminar rooms, and they make it accessible and touchable by anyone. And, and, well, that’s what I propose, Paul. We could do, we could talk to some people that, that film these beautiful documentaries. And there, there, there’s others in, in the list. And, and there’s a dial there. Once some can go more, more, you know, flaky and others can go more, more <laugh>, stubbornly, stubbornly, dogmatic. But in any case, the, the, the arts, the point is that the future scientists, I think, will need the arts not as a hobby. And that’s why I mentioned the poet and so on. I, I, I’m kind of imagining like that this branching of science and philosophy and the humanities and the arts needs to just coincide, um, at some point in the near future. Otherwise, I’m, I’m not sure how we’re gonna, how we’re gonna make it.
Eric 01:50:15 Well, I, I wanted to say something too, is that, you know, of course you see this both through your own filters and, and rightfully so. I think for me, as important as anything else, and I think this is what Alex is partially hitting on, is that really above all else, for me, this film was meant as a provocation. You know, you have 90 minutes, which is nothing, you know, if you’re writing a book or it’s very little time. And the provocation was to have people investigate consciousness for themselves. And it’s meant to take you. Yes, it is meant to be put you on a voyage, but it’s, as you, as you both pointed out, it, it doesn’t give you answers. And we don’t expect answers. But in the end, what we want people to do is take their own voyage and not listen to us, you know, to really be open to these experiences, these, um, other types of consciousness, if that’s a good word.
Eric 01:51:25 And it always, I always come back to, um, and this is really new age, you’ll have to forgive me, but is Krishna Murti, who after everybody tried to pigeonhole him, he is a, was a Indian guru who, I mean an incredible history, but he said, and I’m paraphrasing, he said, if you find a path in the spiritual woods, don’t take it. It’s not yours. You have to make your own. And I to mean that is the, you know, one of the main, the keys to this film is not giving an answer. It’s, it’s a provocation.
Paul 01:52:08 That’s well said. Well, guys, uh, fka and Alex, I know it’s very late for you. I appreciate you staying up late and Fka and Eric, thanks for having this conversation, taking the time. I’m glad we finally made it happen. Well, thank
Eric 01:52:19 You. Thank you, Paul, for, for doing this and setting this up, and very good questions.
Alex 01:52:24 Very
Frauke 01:52:24 Much. I really enjoyed this conversation. And the only thing I could add is because Alex, you said he would like to invite the arts into the world of science, but I think also to, to, you talked about will humans become a cyborg or a shaman over the scientist become a cyborg or a shaman? And I think, I mean, I would tend to the shaman, I mean, I would tend to, to have scientists who are also open for a dialogue with the natural world of subjects instead of, um, trying to examine objects.
Eric 01:53:01 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>,
Paul 01:53:03 I actually had on, you know, Alex, how we have to, you know, like those, uh, 32nd or two minute where you have one slide thing, what it’s called a lightning rounds, where you have to present what you do. Um, I had in my future cyborg <laugh> from studying, studying consciousness at the beginning. And then there was some stages in that I was a cyborg. So maybe I’m, maybe I’m the, uh, not the shaman, or maybe I’ll change my tune.
Eric 01:53:26 <laugh>.
Paul 01:53:29 Well, thank you guys for the conversation.
Eric 01:53:32 Thank