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Noetic Sciences: Science or Spirituality?

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Here is one type of (what is called) an intention experiment that makes a leaf 'glow' using thoughts, or rather intentions:

1. Take two healthy geranium leaves that are identical in their biophoton emissions in size and number. With a super-cooled digital CCD camera system, you can check if the leaves are identical as stipulated.

2. Punch sixteen holes in each leaf, so they can serve as 'data points' on which to compare the leaves after the intention experiment.

3. Invite a batch of 'disparate' people to participate in a video conference. Show the two leaves to the participants and let them choose one by the flip of a coin.

4. Ask the participants to hold an 'intention' to make the 'leaf glow' for 10 minutes.

5. After the session is over, check the 'intended leaf' and voilà!--all its 'data points' are filled with light, while the other, 'unintended' leaf has only black holes.

By this and similar experiments, the researches at the Website The Intention Experiment - The Largest Mind-Over Matter Experiment in History conclude that human 'intentions' can have effects--visible physical effects.

While there is no doubt that human thoughts are powerful and can influence the three worlds, is this experiment really a valid, empirical, scientific one?

• It might be valid because the results were as predicted: humans thoughts did have physical effects.

• It might be empirical inasmuch as it employed a physical experiment and based its conclusions on the results, rather than the theory of it.

• In what way is this experiment 'scientific'? I can understand calling it a 'spiritual experiment', a 'meditation experience' but how can it be called a 'scientific experiment'?

For this experiment to be called 'scientific', IMHO, there should be a clear explanation as to how the human intentions achieved their physical effects.

• Did a combined and superimposed thought wave transmit from the source to the target to acheive the effect?

• If so, what is the nature of that thought wave, is it physical, cerebral or mental?

• Since the 'data points' of the 'intended leaf' were 'filled with light' after the experiment, biophotons were generated in them. How did the thought wave generate the photons?

• Would it be possible to 'receive' the thought wave, digitally record it and play back so we can 'see/hear/read' the thoughts of the participants?

Similar other questions have to be answered to call the above experiment a scientific experiment.

Dan Brown, in his latest novel 'The Lost Symbol' adored such experiments so much that his latest book figures prominently in some of the Websites speaking about Noetic Sciences. He speaks a lot about the practice and experiments of this new branch of science in his book. We shall discuss a few of them in other posts later.

Here is how the Website IONS - About: What is "Noetic"? defines the Noetic Sciences:

"Noetic sciences are explorations into the nature and potentials of consciousness using multiple ways of knowing—including intuition, feeling, reason, and the senses. Noetic sciences explore the "inner cosmos" of the mind (consciousness, soul, spirit) and how it relates to the "outer cosmos" of the physical world."

Any thoughts about this new kid of science round the corner and about the above mentioned experiment?
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I will accept this experiment as genuine, only if these conditions are also satisfied.

1. Why only geranium leaves? Why the same result cannot be produced with any other leaf?

2. Is it possible for two persons, to simultaneously light up both the leaves?

3. What is the sanctity of 16 holes? Why not twelve or twenty?

4. Is it possible for any individual to do this and obtain the same result?

5. Is it possible to conduct the same experiment with success, in any environmental conditions,
not inside a laboratory or a conditioned enclosed space?

But, to my knowledge, this cannot happen under all the above-described situations/conditions. Mind has certain powers, but of varying degrees, for different individuals. Certainly, not to the level of lighting up a leaf like this, for an average individual.
[For miracles, please refer to my poem with the caption "Arputham" under the thread “The problems with rationalism” (Post # 16 of 27.10.2009)]
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I will accept this experiment as genuine, only if these conditions are also satisfied.

1. Why only geranium leaves? Why the same result cannot be produced with any other leaf?

2. Is it possible for two persons, to simultaneously light up both the leaves?

3. What is the sanctity of 16 holes? Why not twelve or twenty?

4. Is it possible for any individual to do this and obtain the same result?

5. Is it possible to conduct the same experiment with success, in any environmental conditions,
not inside a laboratory or a conditioned enclosed space?

But, to my knowledge, this cannot happen under all the above-described situations/conditions. Mind has certain powers, but of varying degrees, for different individuals. Certainly, not to the level of lighting up a leaf like this, for an average individual.

[For miracles, please refer to my poem with the caption "Arputham" under the thread “The problems with rationalism” (Post # 16 of 27.10.2009)]
namaste pannvalan.

Yes, I agree with your points that this experiment "this cannot happen under all the above-described situations/conditions". But then assuming that the human minds that participated in the experiment did make the geranium leaves glow, how can it be explained scientifically, specially when science associates mind with the physical brain and thoughts with elctro-neuro-chemical reactions? How can such reactions propagate in space from their source to the destination leaf?

This is, I think, the hype, make-believe the emerging discipline of Noetic Sciences trying to create: using spirituality and calling it emperical rather than experiential science.

I have expored this fact this my next post in this thread.
I am aware that some readers of my OP might have thought that I was making a big fuss about a seemingly innocuous experiment. I shall try to explain why we need to take such experiments of Noetics Science more seriously and see the truth in them.

The moment I heard the name 'Noetics Science' in Dan Brown's novel 'The Lost Symbol' and started reading his overwhelming praise on it--

• as a "new cutting-edge discipline";

• with possible "ramifications across every discipline--from physics, to history, to philosophy, to religion" that would 'change everything soon' (that is, in the forthcoming age of Aquarius (21 Dec 2012 to 4012 CE);

• with the conviction "we are the masters of our own universe"

--I had a vague feeling that something of a make-believe, a hype, is possibly created, to be touted eventually as the ultimate panacea for the ills of the world's religions. Anyone is likely to have similar doubts when coming across the following explanations about the Noetics Science:

• In the "first stage", the modern materialistic science freed the "knowledge of the objective sense-perceived world" from religious and traditional authority, from being "the guarded property of an elite priesthood", and made it public so it can be "empirically based and publicly verifiable, open and free to all". Thus, there is no Russian or American Chemisty, or Hindu or Christian Physics--only science as the "best framework of empirical relationships and conceptual models currently available", and "continuously tested in public by agreed-upon procedures."

• The goal of the "second stage" is to free, or rather distill, and bring to public limelight a "similar body of knowledge, empirically based and publicly validated, about the realm of subjective experience" that is currently lost "in dogmatization and institutionalization, or degenerating into manifold varieties of cultism and occultism".

('What Are Noetic Sciences?' By Willis Harman posted at
IONS - Review #47 (Winter 1998) - What Are Noetic Sciences)

Can a subjective experience ever be made into an objective experiment that anyone can empirically verify, mechanically simulate and repeat?

To put it more plainly, can the techniques of meditation and yoga be learnt and practised scientifically using mechanical apparatus like the treadmill?

Such questions are going to pose the biggest challenges of the Noetics Science, in spite of its ambitious goal in the 'second stage'.

Assuming that it would be eventually possible to simulate the states of altered consciousness using physical means and mechanical apparati, what could be their possible ramifications? Dan Brown describes a couple of experiments in his book:

Weighing the human soul

Materialistic Science questioned the existence of the soul, but a Noetic Science experiment seeks to find the weight of the human soul as it leaves the body:

A super-sensitive weighing machine is designed that looks more like an incubator for premature babies in hospitals. This machine is adult size, and has a long, airtight plastic capsule that sits on top of an electronic gear.

When switched on, the machine displays a weight: 0.0000000000 kg. When a tiny scrap of paper is added, it displays the weight: .0008194325 kg. Thus the balance can display weight down to the precision of micrograms.

Now starts the horrible--interesting, of course, in the scientific POV--sessioin of the experiment:

A dying man with an oxygen mask is placed inside the capsule. Science has certified that he has no way of escaping death. His wife's consent is obtained and she sits to watch the experiment. When the experiment starts, the oxygen mask is removed and the man is left to spend his final moments and pangs of death inside the closed, airtight capsule.

Initially, the machine shows the man's weight: 51.4534644 kg. The old man's breathing becomes shallow, accelerates and then stops all of a sudden, after he takes his last breath. And then it happens: the number on the scale decreases suddenly, as if the man has become lighter immediately after his death. The change is only minuscule, but measurable, with the mind-boggling implication that it was due the weight of the departed soul.

Meditation Machines

After Science discovered in 1966 that liquid breathing was possible by submerging a mouse for several hours in oxygenated perfluorocarbon--a breathable liquid, the TLV--Total Liquid Ventillation was developed, initially for medical purposes, to help premature babies breathe by simulating the conditions of liquid breathing in the womb.

The US military picked up the TLV technology and used it for their ocean-diving teams. NASA trained their pilots in liquid breathing to withstand higher g-forces.

Stories circulated that the CIA used a TLV capsule for torture: the panic associated with drowning brought out truths better than conventional torture methods.

Unaware that he can breathe inside a liquid, when the liquid enters a victim's lungs, he would initially black out from fear and later wake up in the ultimate solitary confinement. With numbing agents, drugs and hallucinogens mixed with warm oxygenated liquid, the experience can give the prisoner--or the practioner, a total sense of isolation from the body. The body lies still and wet, and does not respond to the commands of the mind as the practioner/prisoner realizes when he wakes up after the initial black out. In this state of total disorientation, the submerged practitioner practically lives in his mind, his consciousness floating in space as it were.

In Dan Brown's book, a hardcore Freemason ritualist of mock bloddy rites, wearing only a silky loincloth and tattoos of Masonic symbols all over his body, tortures the hero Professor Robert Langdon in a TLV capsule about which the learned professor has no idea. As he is 'drowned to a horrifying death', Langdon reveals the final piece of the code of the Masonic pyramid that points to the Lost Word, buried deep underground somewhere in the city of Washington.

The book hints at "extreme experience labs" using TLV tanks as "Meditation Machines."


As the Noetics Science progresses, the modern world will have new paradigms of scientific spiritual realization, finally obliterating the 'primeval beliefs' of ancient spiritual and religious pursuits. Primitive religion and spirituality would only be found in history books and historical movies.

The Hindu sacred science of Ayurveda that was the mode of treatment at no or nominal cost by our sages until 200 years or so back has today become a posh and expensive treatment and a way of relaxation in the spas and swimming pools of five star hotels and holiday inns. The name Ayurveda is retained because it sells today. Even the simple practice of the Hindu dorbiH karaNam (toppu karaNam) has been 're-invented' and copyrighted as the Superbrain Yoga.

In the near future, Noetics Science would teach our successive generations to use the term 'Entanglement' for Brahman, and 'perceiving one's entanglement' for Self-Realization--to give a couple of examples--and words such as 'soul, Self, God' would become taboo.

Aldous Huxley's novel 'Brave New World' starts with test-tube babies moving in conveyor belts in state controlled laboratories getting hatched outside wombs and the infants getting trained as the state desires them to be. Society is divided into four 'classes'--alpha, beta, gamma and delta. People who still practice primitive religion are moved to barbaric colonies outside the limits of the modern cities.

Today's Material Science and tomorrow's Noetics Science are IMSO, moving in the same direction, aiming at widespread rational knowledge but having no controls on how it might be used.
It is my firm conviction that a soul cannot be measured by any yardstick, weight, volume or whatever.

Therefore, I reject the experiment of weighing one's soul as mere rubbish.

Here, I wish to share one of my personal experiences, not related though.

When I went to Solapur in 2001, I took a house on rent, in which the owner's daughter and her family were also living.

Since the portion occupied by me was newly constructed, there was no separate electric meter fitted for our portion. But, the landlord promised to get it done very soon. It however took 3 months.

In the meantime, the electricity bill for the month in which I occupied the house came.

The son-in-law of the owner brought the bill to me and showed it to me. It was for the entire house, including his and my portions.

He also showed me the previous month's bill. Then he started explaining to me:
"Look, this latest bill for July, 2001 shows Rs.2,200; but, for June, 2001 the bill was only for Rs.950. Therefore, whatever is the difference is to your account, because that much is the power you have consumed". (At that time, I hadn't even brought my TV or Fridge from my previous station - Mumbai).

I was irritated at first on hearing this stupid logic from him, but I could not help appreciating his shrewdness, in passing on his burden to me. (Ultimately, I had to pay what he demanded, because he was not willing to listen to my explanation pointing out the hollowness and irrationality in his logic.)

Why I am narrating here is, it is quite similar to the conclusion reached in the experiment you have quoted - whatever is the difference in the weight measured before and after the patient's death was that of his soul only.

I wish to say it umpteen number of times:

'Soul is very, very subtle; it cannot be perceived with any of our senses
nor can it be measured with the help of any instruments or tools; nor can its location be traced to a fixed/finite location".
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namaste pannvalan.

A very humourous experience you have narrated--the difference, indeed!

I am afraid you have not understood the picture: you and I and all of us might protest loud and clear at the silly experiments that are and will be conducted in the name of Noetic Sciences, but the day is not far off when the voices of believers and spiritualists will be drowned in the hype and make-believe that the powerful Western vested interests are building up about the new branch of science. It's a huge network of government, politics, science and the creative and entertainment media.

Everyone knows the hype about the consumer products sold in the market today; yet we are left with no choice but to use them repeatedly, straining our purse strings. It's the same with popular medicine such as the cough syrups, headache tablets etc. And the industry is trying to take over agriculture with genetically engineered produce, bribing the politicians, policy makers and governments.

Thus our daily worldly life is meted out to us by the corporate and scientific establishments. Sooner or later, our religious and spiritual life would also be subjected to the invasion of ideas, paradigms and products from these two sectors with the powerful backing of politics and government.

Therefore, it's high time that we seek to know about the selfish designs ruthlessly worked out in the corridors of power and knowledge, and try to evolve a practical defence, armed with the knowledge of science and spirituality waiting to be discovered by US in the texts of our Vedic religion. We should try to motivate the youth we are related to and acquainted with, to take up a serious and in-depth study of our Sanskrit texts and evolve alternate and holistic set of paradigms that can save and redeem the world.
Dear Saidevo,

Don't unnecessarily worry about all such things. Dharma will withstand everything;
ultimately, truth alone triumphs.
are we going to have some voodoo classes?

Can I suggest somebody to initiate a thread on Sabarimal makarajyoti? The light phenomenon enjoyed by millions of Ayyappa devotees? It will be more worthwhile.

to Pannvalanji, Your experience on electricity Bill was like my experience, when I came to Chennai and a small portion of a house was fixed by my sister, she told me the House owner is a very good person and I should pay as per submeter reading, nearly 3 years I was paying as per submeter reading, 1 tube light, 1 60W bulb and a Tablefan was mine, one fine morning on a sunday I went the owners Hall and found the mainhall,onebedroam,and his kitchen was conneted with my submeter,since his son was an electrical engg student and I asked about this he cooly asked me to vacate,I understood from others that is his style of giving for rent. s.r.k.
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