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Altered States of Consciousness: There’s Nothing Supernatural About It

From the video description:

Transcendent experiences that were once attributed to gods, angels, muses, or even possession, are now being demystified by neuroscience. Jamie Wheal, Director of Programs at the Flow Genome Project, explains that each culture has unique rituals and narratives when it comes to non-ordinary experiences of consciousness or ‘altered states’, whether that’s mediation, flow state, psychedelic experiences, or others. A farmer in India, a peasant in Mexico, and a coder in Silicon Valley will all have vastly different ways of approaching altered states, and will give vastly different descriptions once they come out the other side – perhaps they saw a vision of Ganesh the elephant God, received a message from the Virgin of Guadalupe, or produced a brilliant line of code while in a Matrix-like binary blur. However, those experiences are more alike than we think. Jamie Wheal and Steven Kotler devised a functional framework so they could compare non-ordinary experiences across cultures. Here, Wheal explains that they identified four common elements of altered states of consciousness, which they coined as STER: selflessness, timelessness, effortlessness and richness. Jamie Wheal and Steven Kotler’s book is Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work (goo.gl/m3Quy0).

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Do We Live in the Matrix?

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Tests could reveal whether we are part of a giant computer simulation — but the real question is if we want to know…

By Zeeya Merali via DiscoverMagazine.com

In the 1999 sci-fi film classic The Matrix, the protagonist, Neo, is stunned to see people defying the laws of physics, running up walls and vanishing suddenly. These superhuman violations of the rules of the universe are possible because, unbeknownst to him, Neo’s consciousness is embedded in the Matrix, a virtual-reality simulation created by sentient machines.

matrix-red_02_250pxThe action really begins when Neo is given a fateful choice: Take the blue pill and return to his oblivious, virtual existence, or take the red pill to learn the truth about the Matrix and find out “how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

Physicists can now offer us the same choice, the ability to test whether we live in our own virtual Matrix, by studying radiation from space. As fanciful as it sounds, some philosophers have long argued that we’re actually more likely to be artificial intelligences trapped in a fake universe than we are organic minds in the “real” one.

But if that were true, the very laws of physics that allow us to devise such reality-checking technology may have little to do with the fundamental rules that govern the meta-universe inhabited by our simulators. To us, these programmers would be gods, able to twist reality on a whim.

So should we say yes to the offer to take the red pill and learn the truth — or are the implications too disturbing?

Worlds in Our Grasp

The first serious attempt to find the truth about our universe came in 2001, when an effort to calculate the resources needed for a universe-size simulation made the prospect seem impossible.

matrix alternate reality_250pxSeth Lloyd, a quantum-mechanical engineer at MIT, estimated the number of “computer operations” our universe has performed since the Big Bang — basically, every event that has ever happened. To repeat them, and generate a perfect facsimile of reality down to the last atom, would take more energy than the universe has.

“The computer would have to be bigger than the universe, and time would tick more slowly in the program than in reality,” says Lloyd. “So why even bother building it?”

But others soon realized that making an imperfect copy of the universe that’s just good enough to fool its inhabitants would take far less computational power. In such a makeshift cosmos, the fine details of the microscopic world and the farthest stars might only be filled in by the programmers on the rare occasions that people study them with scientific equipment. As soon as no one was looking, they’d simply vanish.

In theory, we’d never detect these disappearing features, however, because each time the simulators noticed we were observing them again, they’d sketch them back in.

That realization makes creating virtual universes eerily possible, even for us.

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How “The Matrix” inspired Conspiracy Theorists (and Vice-Verse)

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by via The Soap Box

In 1999 one of the best (and perhaps strangest) science fiction films premiered in theaters. That film of course is The Matrix.

matrix alternate reality_300pxThe film itself was visually stunning, it’s fight screens were so awesome that other films have duplicated the same style in their fight scenes, and it had that was really unique story line… and made anyone who watched the film not sleep for a few days.

The film itself also had multiple concepts in it that many conspiracy theorists tend to use in their beliefs.

In fact many concepts from the film have either inspired conspiracy theorists in their and terminology and their beliefs, or were inspired by conspiracy theories and conspiracy theorists, such as:

The world as we know it is a lie.

The first concept in “The Matrix” that many conspiracy theorists hold near and dear to them is that the world as we know it is just one giant lie, and that everything we know is fake and intentionally constructed in order to fool the masses.

matrix eye_250pxIn the movie Neo is told that the world is a lie, and is eventually shown that the whole world that he knew is a computer generated simulation. While most conspiracy theorist don’t go as far to say that our world is a computer generated simulation (although some do) many do think that everything we know is just one well constructed lie, and that all of our history has been guided and constructed by some force that we don’t know about.

Only people who “wake up” can know the “truth”.

In the movie Neo is told that in order to know the truth about the world that he would basically have to “wake up”, which is something that conspiracy theorists tell people all the time that they need to do (especially when they express doubt in the conspiracy theorist’s claims).

Whether the concept of “waking up” came from the movie or not, anytime one argues with a conspiracy theorist (especially on the internet) often the conspiracy theorist will tell the person to WAKE UP to the “truth” (whatever that may be for the conspiracy theorist).

People must choose if they are to “wake up” or not.

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Half way through the movie Neo is given a choice about whether he wants to find out what the Matrix is in the infamous “blue pill, red pill” screen. In the screen Neo is given the choice of taking a blue pill and continuing life as he knows it, or taking the red pill and finding out the truth about the world.

This screen is so infamous that many conspiracy theorists now commonly reference to the blue pill and red pill when trying to convince someone that the conspiracy theory that they are promoting is real, and that the only way that the average person can learn about what is really going on in the world (at least from the conspiracy theorist perspective) is that they must “choose” to “take the red pill”, or that they must choose to “wake up”.

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