Getting into Gamma Brain Waves

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np3_changes_brainwavesMost of the brainwave entrainment products out there focus on meditation and deeper states of consciousness. That’s fine. In fact, that’s great. We Westerners tend to operate on fast forward too much of the time. It’s nice to take a break from our normal beta wave waking consciousness once in awhile and explore the deeper realms of consciousness. However, there are times when it’s valuable to ramp up the brain waves. That’s where getting into gamma brain waves comes in handy.

I’m writing this because I had a remarkable experience with a Transparent Corp  session the other day. I’ve been trying to devote at least 10 minutes a day to writing a book, but with all my other writing work to do, it’s not easy. I sat down at about 6pm to write and was so tired, I could hardly think. After writing a paragraph, I decided to see what the Brainwave a Day was that day. It turned out to be a 20 minute gamma session. I downloaded it, started listening and went back to work. 10 minutes or so into the session, I went back to that opening paragraph and started rewriting.

What had been a single paragraph describing the little house I stayed in while building our home in Cambodia turned into a far more descriptive series of paragraphs that brought that important phase of my first year here into sharper focus. It was in that tiny house that I was introduced to the resident ghost and had my life threatened by a possessed girl. It was also there that the spirit of her deceased sister was made to leave her body. Of course I was going to write about those occurrences, but in rushing to get to them, I failed to fill in the bigger picture. Without that, the rest makes little sense and sounds too unbelievable.

Anyway, what started out as a listless attempt to write ended up lasting for a very gratifying 2 hours. Then hunger overcame me, so I stopped and went out for dinner.

The gamma session on Brainwave a Day was random, but if you’re interested, you can download NeuroProgrammer 3 for free and try it for 2 weeks. I recommend trying a range of sessions and if one doesn’t seem to work for you, try the meditative sessions designed for restless individuals who have a hard time entering into trance states.

If you really get into it and want to learn all about brainwave entrainment from the experts, there’s a live webinar coming up from September 23-26, 2013. You can find the details here.

Rather than explain gamma brain waves here, I’ll let this infographic from Transparent Corp explain it to you or you can go directly to the Transparent Corp blog where it originally appeared.

By the way, if you do purchase NP3 or another Transparent product, I’ll get a commission. Thanks in advance.

A Free Brainwave Entrainment App

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I don’t do a lot of advertising on this website. Aside from some books, my only sidebar ad is for Transparent Corp’s Neuro-Programmer 3. That’s because so far it’s the only product I can wholeheartedly recommend. I like it because:

  1. It works. This company has Brainwave Entrainment (BWE) down cold. Those bazillions of other BWE tracks and programs out there usually use Transparent’s software to make their tracks.
  2. It is BWE pure and simple. As I mentioned in Diving into Delta Brainwaves and several other blogs, Holosync was my introduction to brainwave entrainment and I eventually dumped it because everything about it except BWE was, in my opinion, a scam.
  3. It’s cheap. I spent over $500 on Holosync and if I’d stuck with the program it would have cost thousands. You can test drive NP3 for free and if you like it, you can download it for only $59.99 or get the Ultimate Edition that allows you to create your own tracks for only $89.99. These prices are of this writing of course. Check out their products page for current prices and don’t forget — you can try it for free for 2 weeks. No credit card needed.

The only thing that was lacking until now was an app you could use on your mobile device. Just the other day, I learned that Transparent Corp had finally released an app. It’s called Brainwave a Day and that’s exactly what it is. Yesterday I listened to a mellow alpha session. Right now I’m listening to one called Caffeine-Free Energy for the 2nd time.

Brainwave a Day is only available for Android devices at present, so if you have an iPhone, you’ll have to wait. It’s a free app and is also refreshingly free of hype. There are enough links for you to find them if you want to, but not so many that you feel sullied by shameless advertising.

Speaking of hype and transparency, it’s only fair to tell you that my affiliate ID is attached to all the links to Transparent Corp on these pages. That means I’ll get a commission if you end up buying any of their products. Thanks in advance.

Amygdala Research still catching up with TDA Lingo and Neil Slade

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The following comes courtesy of Neil Slade’s newsletter. You can subscribe via his site, neilslade.com.

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Tickle your amygdala and see what happens – image from Wired article cited here

It must be pretty frustrating to be way ahead of your time. TDA Lingo died many years ago, but Neil Slade, his friend and former student, has been bucking the tide of conventional scientific wisdom prejudice about the function of the amygdala for decades since. If I hadn’t stumbled across his website a decade ago and had the simple technique he calls “amygdala tickling” not worked so spectacularly well for me in spite of my doubts, I’d probably still be amongst the skeptics, too. At least I was open-minded enough to try and the rewards have been enormous.

After I discovered firsthand that we’re not pawns in the neurological game of chess and can actually take control of our thoughts and emotions with a simple flip of a switch from reptilian thinking to advanced frontal lobe thinking, I turned to science to see if there was any evidence that the amygdala was anything but the fear center of the brain. To my surprise, there was plenty of evidence, but the majority of scientists were still digging in their heals and saying the amygdala had one function and one function only: to instill fear and the “fight or flight” response. I’m sure that’s still the case and will continue to be so for awhile, but a new study should help put a few more cracks in the wall of scientific dogma.

Study: people without brain’s ‘fear centre’ can still be scared was published in Wired, oddly enough, but the study made its debut in natureneuroscience, a respected scientific journal, so the results may pique the interest of some in the scientific community who might possibly learn something from it if the authoritative inner voice of their all-wise all-knowing former university professors don’t intrude. In a nutshell, the study was done with a group of patients who suffered from a rare disease that damages the amygdala. The assumption was that these people would be fearless, but when exposed to carbon dioxide gas, they not only got scared, they had panic attacks, unlike the control group. This led the researchers to speculate that:

“the fact that the amygdala lesion patients seemed prone to panic (responding at a rate similar to patients with panic disorder), suggests that an intact amygdala might actually inhibit panic. This raises the question of whether some sort of amygdala dysfunction may contribute to panic disorder.”*

Now I’m sure nobody in the scientific community is going to apologize for snubbing TDA Lingo, Neil Slade and those on the fringes of the scientific community who have been saying the same thing for decades, but at least this is an indication of progress.

On a similar note, while you’re here, have a look at my recent article, Explore Your Brain with Brainwave Entrainment. Admittedly, it’s a plug for you to try some products (for free) and I’ll appreciate the commission should you decide to buy, but there’s another reason why I plug Transparent Corp, too. Brainwave entrainment works in ways the hucksters don’t know about and the scientific community refuses to admit.

*Quote taken from Wired article cited above.

A Virus Called Fear and How to Overcome It

FEAR-2It’s been a long time since I blogged here, but I can’t think of a better place to share this video. Before I do, though, let me share my 2 cents worth of minor criticism. Richard Dawkins is featured in this video and as I mentioned in another blog, I’m not his biggest fan. Rather than repeat myself, I’ll just refer you to that blog: Richard Dawkins — the Evangelical Atheist.

With that out of the way, there is something to be said for science and this short documentary takes a scientific look at fear. Guess what? It comes to the same conclusion TDA Lingo came to over a half century ago when people like B.F. Skinner (who is also featured in this video) were preaching that the amygdala was associated with fear and there was nothing we could do about it because we were just “mechanisms.” Well, the conclusion the psychologists interviewed in this video come to is that “awareness” is the antidote to the “virus called fear.”

Different people cultivate awareness in different ways. As I’ve said elsewhere, amygdala tickling works for me because you can do it anywhere, at any time. It is an easy way to jump out of the trance states of fear and worry we seem to get into so easily and see the bigger picture. Other ways might include repeating:

  • Be Here Now
  • Who am I?
  • Hare Krishna
  • Hail Mary

The only thing I have against the last 2 is that they come from and lead to limited belief systems.

Meditation is another way to separate consciousness from thought. It takes longer, but as any beginning meditator discovers, seeing thoughts flit through your mind like birds without getting caught up in them is a liberating experience.

Anyway, half the reason I stopped blogging here was because I thought I was starting to sound preachy, so I’ll shut up now and let you watch the video. Enjoy.

Book Review: Tickle Your Amygdala by Neil Slade

Tickle Your Amygdala by Neil Slade coverI’ve been carrying Neil Slade’s new book, Tickle Your Amygdala, around with me for a couple of months now. I take it with me to my favourite café, open a page at random and start reading. It’s an amazing book – in its way one of the best I’ve ever read.

Tickle Your Amygdala is both a “how to” book and a collection of interviews with people who, in the author’s opinion, demonstrate frontal lobes cooperative, creative and intelligent thinking in their daily lives. If the subject is new to you, I suggest you read my article, The Crazy Wisdom of TDA Lingo first and then come back here. I wrote that article years ago, not long after I discovered amygdala clicking (now more appropriately called amygdala tickling).

Okay, now that you’re filled in, I’ll get on with the review. Neil Slade has been talking and writing about the amygdala and its potential role in “brain self transcendence” or just plain positive thinking for over 30 years. His website, neilslade.com, contains something like 2000 entries and has been read by millions. He regularly makes appearances on nationally syndicated radio shows in the U.S. In spite of this, he is not a big name “self help guru” and would probably cringe at the notion of becoming labelled as such.

image from tickle your amygdala by neil sladeTickle Your Amygdala is Neil’s latest effort to show the world how easy it is to tap into the better parts of your consciousness. He does this in a number of ways, including interviews with a variety of people who, in his opinion, demonstrate advanced frontal lobes brain activity in their daily lives. Not only do these individuals not all practice “amygdala tickling” as Neil explains it on his website, some of them don’t practice it at all, but the results of the practice resonate with them.

I was recently asked a question by someone:

I’ve been giving the amygdala tickle a go, but with little success. I can’t seem to envision the actual tickle sensation, and also struggle with the location I should be focusing on. Any tips would be very appreciated!

I’ve been putting off answering it because I don’t know quite how to answer it. The “feather tickling” exercise worked for me originally, but since then, I’ve discovered dozens of other ways to shift my consciousness from the reptilian brain to the frontal lobes. There’s no sense outlining them all, because Neil does a much better job of it in his book. I will, however, offer this quote, which I think sums it all up best:

Brain Radar is a force that manifests through Passive Activity.

Passive Activity is “effortless effort”, to do something with a light touch.

Imagine shooting an arrow into a target. You put your arrow in your bow, you aim, then you let go.

The arrow flies, and meets its destination.

. . . . . .

It’s not the product of doing nothing, but the product of doing nothing special. It occurs as the result of a perfect balance between Doing, and Being.

I’ve sat down and tried to write a review of Tickle Your Amygdala a half dozen times at least. Every time, I find so many quotes I want to use, I’m almost tempted to transcribe the whole thing. This afternoon, for instance, I was sitting in my favourite café here in Sihanoukville wondering, for the upteenth time, why I seem to be one of the few expats in town who enjoys life here. What’s not to enjoy? It’s a friendly town, has great beaches and now that it’s grown, I can even get my favourite Western comfort foods. In spite of this, the majority of expats here live in fear and loathing of the police and seem to think half the population is out to get them. There’s a rather dramatic example of the difference between their perception of Sihanoukville and mine in this post from my Sihanoukville Journal: Sihanoukville Police Checkpoints!

So I’m sitting there with these thoughts in the back of my mind when I open the book and have a Duh! moment (A Duh! moment is sort of like a Eureka! moment, but the flash is so obvious you feel a little dumb when it comes). The reason why I’m happy here and so many are not is because they still perceive Cambodia as a dangerous, corrupt and frightening place. In other words, they are stuck firmly in their reptilian “fight or flight” fear based brains while I, probably thanks to “amygdala tickling”, can see the positive side of life here.

My “Duh!” moment still didn’t help me with my other dilemma, which was how to answer the question, “How can I make it work for me?” Well, I opened the book for answers and once again, I was tempted to transcribe the whole thing. Then I had another “Duh!” moment. It went something like this:

That’s a question Neil Slade and those he interviews answer best in Tickle Your Amygdala.

I happen to be one of the people Neil interviews, but that’s beside the point.

If this sounds like a sales hustle, let me assure you, I am not compensated financially in any way if you buy the book. My compensation comes from the satisfaction of knowing I’ve given the best possible advice.  Here’s the link to the Tickle Your Amygdala purchase page. Note that it’s not a tiny url and doesn’t have an affiliate ID tacked on to it.

I’ve been on a roll today. This is the second review I’ve written. If you’re interested, check out this article on my Writing Resources blog: How to Learn Positive Writing.

A Brainwave Entrainment Primer

I could save myself a lot of typing by simply copying and pasting this great article explaining how Transparent Corporation’s Brainwave Entrainment Software works. Instead, I’ll quickly outline it in my own words and pinch a few illustrations from the article, but if you’re new to bwe, I encourage you to read their article and continue on to some of the links within it. In my opinion, Transparent Corp knows more about the subject than anyone else and their software is the best value on the market. They may not be as sexy as the others, but they know what they’re doing.

Brainwave Entrainment from a Surfer’s Perspective

I’m kind of proud of the fact that the concept of brainwaves as carriers of consciousness occurred to me long before I knew what brainwave entrainment was. It happened while I was sitting out in the water waiting for a wave. Two things came to mind as a small wave passed underneath me:

  1. The actual wave was composed of pure energy. As the energy ‘wave’ or ‘pulse’ passed through the water, it caused the water to swell, giving the illusion that a wave of water was travelling across the sea.
  2. Brainwaves are waves of electromagnetic energy. Their only tangible substance comes from the consciousness that ‘rides’ them like a surfer rides a wave.

Those two thoughts gave rise to an entire novel in which I explored what might happen after a near death experience, when one ‘flatlines’ and experiences no brainwave activity at all. Soul Surfer was a pretty terrible novel, but writing it was a great experience. But I digress.

Surfing brainwaves (click image to visit Transparent Corp)

When we’re wide awake, we ride waves of relatively fast ‘beta’ brainwaves. When we daydream, meditate or start to fall off to sleep, we experience ‘alpha’ brainwaves and corresponding changes in perception (often a switch from verbal thinking to imaginative or pictorial thinking). ‘Theta’ brainwaves take us deeper still, into the realm of dreams and lucid dreams. Most of us don’t experience anything at all when we’re in the slow delta state, which is associated with deep, dreamless sleep, but with luck or practice, we can experience waking deep sleep.

Kelly Slater, the world's best surfer, surfing a perfect wave

Brainwave entrainment is a lot like surfing. An audio or visual stimulus comes to us from outside and our brains respond by picking up on the frequency and recreating it through a mechanism called the frequency following response. In turn, our consciousness ‘rides’ the brainwave frequency created by this response.

Any surfer can tell you that the downside of surfing is that the waves you want to ride aren’t always available. Wave pools were invented in order to create surfing waves of different sizes when nature lets us down. Brainwave entrainment software is a lot like that. You can pick and choose the types of brainwaves you want to ‘surf’ just by picking a track that matches that frequency.

Now for my pitch: I’ve been using Transparent Corporation’s bwe products for years, ever since I realised I had been suckered by the biggest name in binaural beats. In that time, I’ve seen the company go from strength to strength in its own quiet way, while other more faddish bwe products have faded away. A relative newcomer to the Transparent product line is their Beyond Being meditation audio collection. If you click the link, you’ll be taken to the product description page. If you’re like me, it will be a refreshing experience. Instead of promising you an instant out-of-body experience, it will tell you that:

Most people come to this page hoping to have an out-of-body experience (OOBE), although that is not the sole purpose of this collection. No CD (or any other product) can guarantee that you will have an OOBE. In our experience, some people are more susceptible to them than others. That said, we continually receive reports from people who have experienced their first OOBEs or lucid dreams while using the Beyond Being collection.

The text goes on to say that OOBE or not,  it “will give you a wild mental ‘ride’ and will be a lot of fun.” Go on, give Transparent Corp a try. In the interests of ‘transparency,’ yes, I have an affiliate relationship with them and will receive a commission if you buy their products. Thanks in advance.

 

Neil Slade Tickles Your Amygdala

Tickle Your Amygdala illustrationI was planning on writing a lengthy post about the mysterious energy healing technique I’ve been alluding to in my past couple of posts. I got as far as dusting off my old workbook and placing it in a convenient location for reading, but life intervened and it hasn’t budged since. Just as well, because now I can write about Neil Slade‘s new book, Tickle Your Amygdala.

Neil very kindly sent me an advance copy. Although I still haven’t had the opportunity to read the book in depth, it doesn’t matter too much because the amygdala tickling techniques he tirelessly promotes for no other reason than they work are scattered throughout the book in easily digestible nuggets: perfect for today’s busy people.

Since I’m an amygdala tickling aficionado already, I was less interested in the techniques and the parts of the book that explain in simple language why it works than I was with the interviews. Imagine my surprise when the first one I came across was a snippet from mine. This is what it says:

RS: “…But anyway, one day I was driving along, thoroughly depressed, and I did a little amygdala click and became completely blissed out.

NS: (laughs) “You weren’t taking any drugs, correct?”

RS: “No- no drugs whatsoever, but it was as if I had taken a very strong one- it was that big a change. That feeling persisted for a good six or eight months I guess. A permanent high. Every time I clicked forward I’d get on a big high. It was simply that flip, that simple little flip of the amygdala. This is what is so extraordinary to me, that it happened, and that there wasn’t anything subtle about it. It was just a complete change of outlook.”

Neil interviewed people who are a lot more famous, talented and/or creative than I, but I have to agree that my dramatic example was an appropriate one to highlight, especially since I’m a “nobody.” The beauty of amygdala tickling is that if you have a brain, you can benefit from it, no matter who you are, where you are or what you’re doing. I was working in a boat building factory at the time. It was the worst job of my life, but the magic of amygdala tickling made it not only tolerable, but interesting.

Just below that snippet was Neil’s first amygdala tickling “technique”:

Imagine you have a feather inside your brain.

Use it to directly tickle your brain’s Pleasure Spot.

That’s really all there is to it, but in order for it to sink in, it helps to read about it first and know exactly where to tickle. You can get a lesson here, but I urge you to read Neil’s book. I’ve just received notice that he is going to release it on Monday. As soon as I get the link, I’ll provide it and advertise it here, but I’m not going to advertise the Amazon version in hopes of getting a commission, nor will I ask Neil for one. I want people to read it because I want people to read it: it’s as simple as that. At $16.95 plus shipping for a signed first edition, it’s already a deal and ereader editions are coming soon. You can find the print version here.

Aside from the amygdala tickling “lessons” and interviews, there’s a ton of other fascinating information in the book. Take this for example:

Perhaps an even more compelling case has been documented over the course of fourteen years by Nancy Talbot, who heads a team of a dozen professional university and business scientific investigators at B.L.T. Research in Cambridge Massachusetts. Among other notable cases she has studied are the astonishing abilities of thirty-two year old Robert van den Broeke.

Among recent tests given to Robert was a double-blind test in which he could duplicate a hand-drawn image such as a boat or other scene or a random set of numbers drawn around on a sheet of paper. Further, his drawn facsimile was not vague or approximate- it was an exact duplicate in which he reproduced every element in exactly the right size and shape to the source image.

He then goes on to interview Nancy Talbot. It’s one thing to read stuff second hand. It’s quite another to go directly to the source, as Neil Slade does.

Okay, I hope you’re convinced. If not, don’t worry. I’m sure I’ll be quoting from Tickle Your Amygdala regularly, so you’ll get more reminders to check it out.

Of Mice and Men and Empathy

I have a pet mouse. It’s not exactly a pet because it doesn’t live in a cage, but it lives in my office and uses my internet cable as a ladder to the air vents in the wall to enter and leave the house. It does this every evening, so I often see it scurry behind my desk, up the cable and out through the air bricks. Sometimes, my pet mouse stops at just about eye level and turns around briefly to check me out, but if I so much as blink, it races off. I don’t blame it.

As I sit at my desk working or web surfing, I often think about my mouse and what it thinks about when it looks at me. I’m pretty certain it is not burdened with language centres like I am, but is it conscious or is it, as so many learned scientists like to believe, just an unconscious or dimly conscious creature incapable of thought, reflection or random acts of kindness?

Rats in loveOne of our greatest human conceits amongst countless others is the contention that “only humans are capable of feeling empathy or compassion.” Anybody who has a pet dog knows that is nonsense, but now even science is coming to the party. Recent studies have proven pretty decisively that mice may be better “Christians” than we are. In one study, an uncaged rat went out of its way to free a caged rat and had to spend a considerable amount of time and effort to figure out a way to open its cage. Not only that, but it chose to engage in this act of compassion despite the enticement of freely available chocolate, which apparently rats love. To make matters even more interesting, it released its captive before it ate the chocolate and freely shared it with the other rat after releasing it. (Sources: Psychology Today and Science Daily)

Or how about this one, also from Psychology Today, Wild Justice and Emotional Intelligence in Animals:

CeAnn Lambert, director of the Indiana Coyote Rescue Center, saw that two baby mice had become trapped in the sink and were unable to scramble up the slick sides. They were exhausted and frightened. CeAnn filled a small lid with water and placed it in the sink. One of the mice hopped over and drank, but the other was too exhausted to move and remained crouched in the same spot. The stronger mouse found a piece of food and picked it up and carried it to the other. As the weaker mouse tried to nibble on the food, the stronger mouse moved the morsel closer and closer to the water until the weaker mouse could drink. CeAnn created a ramp with a piece of wood and the revived mice were soon able to scramble out of the sink.

On the other side of the equation, just the other night I saw a story on TV about a group of people on a beach in California who stood by and watched a man drown. Even though he was not in deep water and they had the means to save him, not one of them went to help him because they were afraid of the legal consequences if they did. In another segment on the same program, which was exploring just how selfish and brutal we have become (actually it was about America in particular), firefighters came to a burning house but refused to put out the fire because the owners hadn’t paid a $75 fee that entitled them to the firefighters’ services.

battery hensSome animals kill other animals, just like we do, but they don’t tend to torture them or slaughter them unnecessarily. They’re hungry, they kill and they eat. Foxes didn’t invent bizarre torture chambers like these cages for battery hens, for instance. Humans came up with that idea.

Now that I’ve removed us humans from the pinnacle of goodness, let’s take a quick look at evil, because this is where we reign supreme. Those of us who like the triune brain/frontal lobes theory like to believe the frontal lobes are the most evolved parts of the brain and are responsible for our feelings of empathy. There might be some truth to that, but, as I mentioned in an earlier blog and others have written about more eruditely elsewhere, the frontal lobes are now thought to be the seat of the executive centre and only incidentally connected with empathy or compassion. I can’t think of a single “less evolved” animal that regularly and methodically plans and executes the kinds of evil deeds we do. The fact that we undertake them consciously and upon reflection justify and “improve” our torture and murder techniques  just makes it worse.

We frontal lobe lovers like to lay the blame for ego and evil on our reptilian brains, but that really doesn’t hold water, either. Crocodiles don’t torture their prey and they certainly don’t go to elaborate lengths to invent horrible ways of killing others just for the sake of gaining, say, some oil-rich land.They kill, they eat and then they sleep or make baby crocodiles. There’s nothing inherently evil in any of that, so calling the reptilian part of the brain “reptilian” and saying it’s the seat of evil is kind of an insult to crocodiles.  Besides, our “reptilian” brains work tirelessly to keep us breathing, so we should show them a little gratitude.

Okay, I know you can come up with stories about cannibalism and infanticide in the animal kingdom. I’m not saying they’re all ascended masters or saints – just that an objective look at the facts seems to indicate that we are very far down on the evolutionary ladder (if there is such a thing) when it comes to stuff that really matters, like love and empathy.

So if evil can’t be so easily explained away, where does it come from? Well, I’m way above my self-imposed 500 word per blog limit, so I’ll save that for another post. Or you tell me. Thanks for visiting.

Were the Pyramids Built by Aliens?

I don’t know, but I proved my point.

I’m really pleased with myself this morning. In my last post, my primary point was to suggest that, in so many words, if we put our heads together cooperatively, we could come up with solutions to problems. I used a couple of examples to illustrate my primary point, which was that in nature we see examples of brilliant engineering and cooperation towards reaching a desired goal without having to sit down and work it out on paper, whereas, it seems to me, we humans have become a fractured species.

I also wrote about the building of the pyramids. I knew that by putting forward the aliens argument I was heading for trouble and wrote:

When you read that I found it more plausible that aliens helped make the pyramids above, did you heartily agree with me, laugh and cancel your subscription to my newsletter or something in between? Had it been something in between, we could have started a dialogue.

Well, my two comments illustrate what I was getting at perfectly. In the first one, Neil Slade took the time to rationally explain another, even more rational solution to the aliens-in-charge theory. In the second one, a reader just whipped out a couple of insulting sentences, calling me a “cosmic schmuck.”

One thing I did leave out of my argument was an interesting tidbit about the building of the pyramids that I read someplace and that was that graffiti has been found etched in some of the stones. The graffiti strongly suggests that the builders of the pyramids were not slaves, but willing and enthusiastic workers working together towards a common goal.

As for the comment about the “great Anton Wilson”: yes, he’s a really interesting guy, but I’m not sure that putting him on a pedestal and suggesting that he would have sent me a searing rebuttal is the best way to go about making your point. The “great” Alfred Korzybski, who came up with the system that’s come to be known as general semantics, suggested something very similar to what I suggest about “in my opinion.” This is how they put it in the Wikipedia entry about him:

His system included modifying the way we consider the world, e.g., with an attitude of “I don’t know; let’s see,” to better discover or reflect its realities as revealed by modern science. One of these techniques involved becoming inwardly and outwardly quiet, an experience that he termed, “silence on the objective levels”.

Anyway, in my opinion, Neil Slade gets an A+ for his comment while Rowdy Mason gets a D-.

The Battle of the Brains

16 December: Please read the follow-up post, Were the Pyramids Built by Aliens, after you read this post. You may be surprised by the answer!

I received a much appreciated article length reply to a recent post from Neil Slade, so drop everything, go to A Fresh Look at the Split Brain and the Frontal Lobes, scroll down to the comments and read what he has to say.This post is only randomly connected to his comment, so don’t consider it a summary or a critique – just vaguely connected thoughts.

He starts off with a title, RIGHT BRAIN versus LEFT BRAIN, hence the title of today’s post. However, the battle I’m referring to is the battle that goes on between separate brains – yours and mine – and how to perhaps end it. Neil writes:

As humans figured out how to make better spears, armor, and other technology that allowed small numbers of people to control vastly larger numbers of people and creatures, suddenly, the advantages of left brain mechanics looked mighty tempting.

What I can’t understand and what nobody has adequately explained to me is what motivated people to invent weapons of mass destruction in the first place. What instigated this disastrous shift from right brain to left brain thinking and how did we function before we became so entrenched in our left brains?

In The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, Julian Jaynes speculates fairly convincingly that until about 3000 years ago, individual consciousness in humans didn’t exist. Until then, our right brains ruled and we did things unconsciously. Just as our hearts beat and our blood circulates without our conscious intervention, we ate, slept, built stuff and even created elaborate myths and legends without even thinking about it. He cites early versions of texts like the Iliad that are written very differently than more recent versions or more recent additions to prove his point.

There are holes in his theory and it remains a controversial one, but that may have something to do with his definition of consciousness and perhaps a lack of recognition of a transition period or the possibility that just as a few people today have “paranormal” abilities, a handful of people back then may have been as freakishly self-centred as we are today. At any rate, my cursory reading of Jaynes’ opened up worlds of possibility to me.

Let’s take the pyramids, for example. The rational explanations for how they were designed and built are pathetic at best, especially when you consider the weight of the stones and the consistent geometrical patterns that occur in pyramids throughout the world. It is more rational to believe that they were built under the supervision of aliens than it is to believe that some big honchos got their engineers to design them and then forced tens of thousands of slaves to build them. Think about it. Wouldn’t ten thousand slaves require a hundred thousand soldiers to keep them in line?

aliens in egypt?

Aliens in Egypt?

It’s also more rational to believe that left brain (or left brain style) reptilians who had already messed up their own planet came here and messed with our DNA either just for fun, as an experiment, or because they wanted to dominate us and use us for their own nefarious purposes than it is to believe that the right brain – left brain switch just happened all by itself.

If I remember correctly, Julian Jaynes speculated that a cataclysmic event forced the switch, but I don’t buy that. The right brain is far more equipped to deal with the unexpected than the left brain, which can only operate from one known to the other.

Spider webDoes it sound implausible that the pyramids could have been built without extensive planning and design work or that an epic poem or song could arise spontaneously? All you have to do is watch a spider build a web or listen to a bird sing a song and you’ll see that it’s entirely possible. Is it possible for a bunch of people to work together in harmony without rules and regulations imposed from above? Think about the incredible achievements of an colony of ants or bees and you’ll see they are far more efficient workers than we are. Speaking of bees, did you know that they are suffering from “bee colony collapse disorder” thanks to our wonderful pesticides and other chemical goodies? That’s the most plausible theory, anyway.

At the beginning of this post I promised you a possible way to end the battle of the (individual) brains. Well, here it is. I try to make it a point to insert “in my opinion” in all my, well, opinions, no matter how dear to my heart they are. For example, it hurts when I stub my toe and I form a firm opinion that the stone is a more solid object than my toe and is therefore able to hurt me. However, as Einstein pointed out, “Reality is an illusion, albeit a persistent one.” On a molecular level, there isn’t much substance to either my toe or a stone.

A big termite mound

A BIG termite mound

When you read that I found it more plausible that aliens helped make the pyramids above, did you heartily agree with me, laugh and cancel your subscription to my newsletter or something in between? Had it been something in between, we could have started a dialogue. It wouldn’t be as good a solution as simply knowing, like mound building termites know exactly what to do even when they’re not within shouting distance of each other, but it would be a start in the right direction.

When we realise that our opinions and those of others are just opinions and nothing more, we become humble and open minded. This automatically puts us in a cooperative frame of mind and perhaps, if we practice it enough, we can shift back into having a symbiotic relationship with one another instead of fighting all the time.