Inspired by Nature: Consciousness

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Steve Parish

And many, many others, and again, really, really interesting. I kind of leaned into the discomfort on this and learning about it, but I'm fascinated and grateful to have you on the show today. Welcome, Mark. How are you doing? Shawn Stevenson: Let's dive in, let's talk about your superhero origin story, alright? Because this is kind of a big pivot to what your life would kind of look like, and what it was directed towards, to you getting to write a book like this.

So how did this all happen? Mark Gober: If we had spoken two years ago, I wouldn't have known about many of the topics at all that I wrote about in my book. So I can start from the beginning, and I think this might be helpful to some of your listeners who have possibly a similar background to me. So I graduated from Princeton where I studied psychology, but originally I was studying economics, thought it was based too much on the assumption that people are rational agents. I said, "Okay, something's up there. We're not fully rational.

I even met with the department head about potentially switching into that department, and I ultimately decided against it because I was on the tennis team at Princeton, Division I program, I was eventually the captain of the team, and I realized I couldn't do it. So I studied psychology, and I focused on behavioral economics and judgment decision making.

So wrote my thesis on Daniel Kahneman's prospect theory. He's the author of, 'Thinking Fast and Slow,' on how biases impact our everyday decisions. Mark Gober: In health and otherwise. Pivoted from there into investment banking. So wasn't really using my psychology background ostensibly. Mark Gober: It was having problems on its own, and I was working around the clock. I was in the group that covered financial institutions, so my clients were the big insurance companies in banks.

We were helping them with mergers and acquisitions and raising capital. I wasn't sleeping much at all. So any of the interests I had in college about existence, I didn't have time to do that at all. Eventually left in to join my current firm called Sherpa Technology Group. We do mergers and acquisitions, advisory, and strategic advisory for technology companies and innovative companies.

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That's what I do now, I'm based in Silicon Valley. That's my day job. So now to the book, because we're not talking about consciousness yet. It was two years ago when I first became exposed to these topics, and I'll say that before I got into these topics, I was very nihilistic in terms of my life outlook. I thought life had no meaning at all because if I can now explain why- I probably couldn't have explained it as well back then, but if you think that consciousness is produced by the brain- when I say 'consciousness,' I mean my awareness. I'm sitting here talking to you, Shawn.

The I that is sitting here, that subjective inner experience, that's my consciousness. So if that's produced by my brain, what happens when my brain and my body shut off? Once it's dead, then the consciousness itself should also go away. So I took that very literally. Okay, that means my memories, everything is gone once I'm dead. So what is the meaning in life?

Nature of Consciousness - Alan Watts

I guess I could come up with meaning, but it's almost a rationalization. And I would kind of go back and forth in my mind about this, and I ultimately concluded that life didn't have meaning. So you probably didn't know this if you were talking to me, I was still a happy guy, but I think I had big questions about existence and I had a bleak outlook on life.

I wasn't looking for these topics at all, and I heard some podcasts. Initially it was a podcast on a health radio show, and it was a woman who talked about being able to communicate with other realms. Very out there stuff that I had never heard of before. Didn't sound like she was trying to trick people, so I was a little confused. Like I didn't think she sounded delusional. I had studied in psychology in college, I knew what delusional people were like, she didn't sound like that.

So I was interested enough to explore it a bit further, and at the end of the podcast, there was a discussion about her own podcast, this psychic woman. And so I said, "Okay, I'll listen to her podcast where she talks to other people who do these similar kinds of things. And then it got to a point a few weeks in where I heard enough people describing a similar picture of reality that was totally counter to what I had thought was true, that I realized something was up. Because usually these people were all colluding, or there was some mass conspiracy, but I couldn't reason that was the case. And all the things they were talking about, they just didn't conform to what I had been taught.

So what are some of the things they were talking about? They were talking about psychic ability, so the ability to telepathically communicate, or know the future before it happens. They talked about the idea that consciousness doesn't come from the brain at all, and that when our body dies, consciousness doesn't die. And even further, people were talking about the idea that consciousness actually precedes physical matter.

That the physical world is a product of consciousness. This totally rocked my world. When I heard enough people say this, and this is another important part of it, I decided to explore myself. So I said, "Okay if these people can do things, let me try it out. So I just researched the best people that I could find, and they were able to do things that I couldn't explain.

So the research was lining up with what I was seeing in my own experience, lined up with quantum physics, lined up with a lot of questions that were out there, and I realized that I had to re-think my whole life. I basically drove back and forth for three days straight, didn't go home to see my family, because I just didn't know what to do. I didn't know who to talk to about these things, I didn't know how to think about my life, so it was a very disorienting and jarring experience, and I decided to research it further because I'm like, "Okay I have to re-think all of reality.

And as I was doing that, I was telling different friends about it. People who were sort of like me, come from an either athletic or business finance background, and they were saying, "Well I've never heard of this research you're talking about. And we'll probably get into this, but this is research from the US government, from Princeton, which I didn't even know was going on when I was there.

Mark Gober: Some high caliber people were doing this research, and friends were telling me that it was starting to have an impact on how they looked at life. Just being exposed to the questions was enough for them to start thinking about things. This was a year into my research, last July, July , I was like, "Okay something's going on. I'm really interested in this stuff, it's getting through to people. Why don't I try to write something? And prior to this, I had no intention of writing a book or of being public in any way.

So Fourth of July weekend, it was a four-day weekend last year. I channeled my inner investment banker and said, I'm not leaving my apartment. I'd wake up at AM and write until AM. Books everywhere, did it four days in a row, and I came out of that weekend with more than half the book done, and then finished it over the next few weekends. So I come out of July with a draft of this book, and I knew it was going to have an impact on people, so I really wanted to get it out there, but I was ready to just like publish it. But I got two scientists to look at it, and they said, "Look, you should really get this to a mainstream audience because it's written for a general- a mainstream person.

And I said, "Well how do you do that? So I said, "Okay, that sounds interesting. I think the subject line was, "Manuscript on the Next Scientific Revolution. Mark Gober: I sent him sample chapters and a proposal, and he got back to me the same day and he said, "Here's an agreement. This idea resonates. Mark Gober: So all of a sudden, I've got an agent who I think can really help, and he's very philosophically aligned. He's been a huge part of this process, so I give him a lot of credit for it. Shawn Stevenson: Awesome, man. And I'm super happy for you in going through this process.

And by the way, book deals, this doesn't usually happen like this, by the way. Which you know this now, but at the time you're just like, "Okay, you just get a literary agent. No, a lot of these folks are not even trying to talk to you, you know? But that just speaks volumes about the quality and content of what you wrote, because as you mentioned, there's research from Princeton, there's research from the US government that it's just like when you start to look at this data, it just starts to change your paradigm. And I can see why you have to learn kind of to live again in the way that you're thinking and your perception.

Consciousness - Inspired by Nature by Steve Parish | | -

And by the way, really quickly, you mentioned something, and folks asking those different questions, and that's what it's really about, and that's why I wanted to have you on because I want us to question everything. I want us to have the audacity to ask questions, and not to just accept assumptions that oftentimes are actually not correct, or if anything they have big gaps in them, you know? Mark Gober: Yeah, totally. And that's the way I wrote the book. Hopefully it's just to expose people to the evidence, and people can take that evidence however they want.

It's just a matter of knowing that these things exist, and then reconciling it with some world view. What happened to me was after looking at this enough, and talking to the scientists which I've done, I have my own podcast coming out where I interview people like Dean Radin, Larry Dossey, Nobel Prize winner Brian Josephson who's into this stuff. Shawn Stevenson: So with that said, let's kind of dive in and look at some of the science, and just the fundamental premise about what our science is based on is something called materialism. Mark Gober: Yeah, so materialism is the basic thinking that underlies most of modern thought, especially in the West.

And the idea is this, that Physical stuff. When you have enough physical stuff in a big universe, you're bound to get interactions between those atoms. We call that chemistry. When you have enough random chemical interactions, you're bound to end up with a self-replicating molecule. After enough random- you're bound to get that, like DNA. And DNA, as we know, is very critical to the evolution of human beings, and human beings evolved to have brains, and from the brain, consciousness pops out. So materialism says we start with matter, we end up with consciousness.

This is the big kicker that I didn't know was a kicker at the time. We have no idea how that chain of events happens, especially the step of the brain creating consciousness. We don't know how that could happen. Science Magazine has called this question the number two question remaining in all of science. The way they put it is, "What is the biological basis of consciousness?

So this is framing the question how is it that a physical body that you can touch, you just proved it, how does it produce this non-physical consciousness or mind or awareness that we can't touch? That's the big question. We don't know what the biological basis for consciousness is. So that's what my book explores. Number one, and I think perhaps most importantly, exposes to people that this is a question, and a huge question, that affects our existence.

I mean, think about how many advances we have in science. Sending people to the moon, genetically modifying biological organisms, building smartphones, but we still don't know how a brain can produce our mind. In other words, we don't know where our own mind comes from. So this is the big question that I look at.

What I argue in my book-. Shawn Stevenson: Oh, before you do that, I think a good exercise too, because I think a big thing is because our eyes are sitting in our heads, and we're taking in this data through our eyes and also our ears and these other strong senses, we tend to think that we live up here. Mark Gober: That's a great point. We might have a different perspective on where our perceptions are coming from. What if our eyes were at our knees, and our ears? I talk about this a bit in chapter two of my book. That's part of the reason we're anchored to thinking that the brain produces consciousness.

There's another reason, which is that we know there are strong correlations between brain activity and the nature of conscious experience. So let's say someone gets into a car accident, and that person hurts the part of her brain responsible for vision, and she has vision problems afterwards. We can say, "Oh, well obviously the brain is causing her conscious experience because we affect the brain, and her conscious experience is affected proportionally. The problem with that reasoning is we can't know just because two things are related that one causes the other.

In statistics it's said correlation does not imply causation. It's equally possible that there's another explanation. So if we think about- before we get to the explanation, the problem with that reasoning, and I talk about this in my book from Dr. Bernardo Castro. Imagine you have a large fire, you'll have lots of firefighters that show up, and you have an even larger fire, and more firefighters show up.

Strong correlation between the number of firefighters and the size of the fire.

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Do we conclude that the firefighters caused the fire just because they're both occurring at the same time? So that just shows the potential error. I'm not saying it proves anything, but we just have to be mindful. We know there's a correlation between the brain and consciousness. Does the brain produce it? So that's- there are reasons that we think that the brain could produce consciousness, but the problem is we have no idea how it could ever happen.

Shawn Stevenson: Exactly. And so this leads us to another perspective on it, and this is that it's actually inverted, and it's not that matter is creating consciousness, it's actually the opposite. Can you talk about that? Mark Gober: Sure. So this is the upside down thinking that I'm referring to in the title of the book, which is that okay, well we don't know where consciousness comes from, we've established that.

I don't think that's even a controversial statement. It's one of the big questions in science. What if consciousness doesn't come from the brain at all?

Open Question: What is the nature of consciousness?

What if it doesn't come from physical matter at all? What if consciousness almost precedes the physical universe and biological organisms? What if matter is created by consciousness itself, and the body is basically a vehicle for experiencing consciousness? And this is the alternative explanation for thinking about the correlation between the brain and consciousness is the brain- let's say the brain is like a filtering mechanism or an antenna receiver.

We would see the same issues in someone that harms his or her brain. They would have a disrupted conscious experience because the vehicle of experience has been affected, but it doesn't mean that the brain is producing it. So if we use the TV set analogy, which is not a precise analogy, but I think it could help.

If you think about damaging an antenna on a TV set, the show that you're watching, all of a sudden it's a really scratchy show. It's muffled. But we don't conclude just because the show isn't coming up right that the TV set is what produced the signal. The signal actually exists outside of the TV set and the antenna is picking it up. So I argue that the brain is more like a filtering mechanism or an antenna type process that is a lens through which consciousness is having an experience.

So in terms of identity, this is a reversal of, "I'm a body that has a consciousness," to, "No, I'm a consciousness that's experiencing a physical world through a body. Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. So what brought you to the belief? Which first of all, a lot of things in our current paradigm with science, they're just not accurate. If we're basing materialism and this idea of consciousness through materialism of a huge unknown, right? And everything is preceding off of that. We don't know how consciousness comes from matter, but yet all of our sciences are approaching it like that.

That's terrible. It's a foundational screw-up. And so, but what led you to believe the difference? What led you to having the strong association that consciousness is actually creating matter? Mark Gober: I would say it comes from a variety of phenomena that point in that direction. So these things are difficult to prove, if not impossible to formally prove, but we can look at evidence and say that it points us in a direction that's more likely to be true than another.

And I'm always open to new evidence because I can be swayed in other ways, too. But it's really the amount of evidence. And so what kind of evidence? First if we look at physics. So most of our day-to-day life is based on Newtonian physics. You drop an apple, it falls to the ground.

Gravity makes sense. Newtonian physics has been really successful in predicting how things work in the universe, but we know that it's only an approximation. And there are a lot of things that are approximation. Our vision, for example. We can only see a small percentage of the electromagnetic spectrum, right? There's a huge- infrared light, x-rays, we can't see them, we know they exist. So our perceptions are already limited. Relating that to physics, there's a whole branch of physics called quantum mechanics, or quantum physics, that really provides a more accurate world view than the Newtonian approximation.

So when you say, "Okay well this is the physics that's been proven since the early s, it's well-established that this is real, and it doesn't conform to our common sense like Newtonian physics does. That's part of what points us in that direction, and there's a phenomenon in physics that addresses consciousness explicitly. Mark Gober: The layman's version of that is the act of observing is affecting the physical world around us. So if we think about that, that means consciousness potentially is playing a role in the physical world.

So it doesn't prove that consciousness creates matter, and the studies don't necessarily prove that either, but what they teach us is that maybe consciousness is involved. And we already know that this Newtonian view of common sense reality isn't working, because I wouldn't think that consciousness, or the mind, or an observer could affect reality. If I use my common sense, I would think that, "Well the table is there whether or not I'm looking at it. And what we see in this experiment is that a particle behaves like a wave, which is meaning it's probably a percentage possibility that it's here, potentially here, and when you observe it, it becomes a particle.

It becomes located in one place.

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So when we're thinking about, "Okay, what led me to this? It doesn't prove anything, but I think it's a good framework. Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, and the Observer Effect is what you're referring to, is well-known in science and physics. It's just one of those things that's very, very difficult, if not impossible to try to explain. But we do know that human awareness does affect the world around us. Do you know about this one? Shawn Stevenson: So what he did was he took- they had a vacuum, which when you are doing experiments with the vacuum, basically we're taking out all of the particulate matter.

There should be nothing in the vacuum. And so- except biophotons, these little packets of light that you can't really get rid of. They're everywhere. It's kind of the stuff that existence is made of.


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Inspired by Nature: Consciousness Inspired by Nature: Consciousness
Inspired by Nature: Consciousness Inspired by Nature: Consciousness
Inspired by Nature: Consciousness Inspired by Nature: Consciousness
Inspired by Nature: Consciousness Inspired by Nature: Consciousness
Inspired by Nature: Consciousness Inspired by Nature: Consciousness
Inspired by Nature: Consciousness Inspired by Nature: Consciousness
Inspired by Nature: Consciousness Inspired by Nature: Consciousness

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