Category Archives: Consciousness

The brain’s default network: Anatomy, function, and relevance to disease. Plus three other important networks in your brain.

This is a very good and easy to understand article about the Default Mode Network (DMN) in our brain.

It is in the DMN the process of scene construction takes place, a kind of mental simulation of reality rather similar to what William James used to call the “stream of consciousness”.

Also read this article: . About how creativity is implemented in the brain.

In that article you can read about another default network in your brain: the Default Imagination Network (DIN).

The DIN is involved in constructing dynamic mental simulations based primarily on personal past experiences. It provides us with alternative perspectives and scenarios to the present “view”. The DIN is, in turn, dependent on how we are primed (i.e. what we are taught/conditioned to believe and/or how we interpret what we see, hear, experience and so on).

The DIN cooperates with two other neural networks: 1) the Executive Attention Network (EAN), and 2) the Salience Network (SN).

The EAN is all about attention vs. inattention. It helps us to focus and concentrate – or stop focusing/concentrating.

The SN tags the events (both external and/or internal) that we experience (become aware of), either consciously or unconsciously, and tells us how relevant (= salient) any information is with regard to solving the task at hand.

All three networks can, of course, be influenced by how our brains are primed. That’s why a believer in demons or angels interprets his experience as evidence of existence of spiritual other-worldly religious beings, whereas the UFO believer is convinced he has had an encounter with aliens.

Emergent Cognition Project

A shared human experience is our active internal mental life. Left without an immediate task that demands full attention, our minds wander jumping from one passing thought to next—what William James (1890) called the “stream of consciousness.” We muse about past happenings, envision possible future events, and lapse into ideations about worlds that are far from our immediate surroundings. In lay terms, these are the mental processes that make up fantasy, imagination, daydreams, and thought….

While remembering, envisioning the future, and conceiving the mental states of others are different on several dimensions including temporal focus (e.g., past versus present) and personal perspective (e.g., self versus another person), they all converge on similar core processes (Buckner & Carroll 2007). In each instance, one is required to simulate an alternative perspective to the present. These abilities, which are most often studied as distinct, rely on a common set of processes by which…

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Blogger’s GPS: Pets With Whom We Live. Or: Do other animals behave like us? Or: Are we (just) like other animals?

I chose to reblog this article because the blogger, my friend Charles Rogers, tells us about pets who act in a many different human-like ways.

Just some examples:

We are introduced to Oliver the Dog, who is a “social eater” who hates to eat alone and therefore always invites his stuffed animal friends (toys) to join him at the dinner “table”.

We get to know Koko, a western lowland gorilla, how has been taught ASL, the American Sign Language, and now has learnt, by her own, by using grammar, syntax and word construction, to combina different signs to form new meanings ans expressions..

We ca read about the extraordinary wolf Twenty-One, kind of the Einstein of wolves, seemingly had a ToM, Theory of MInd, thereby being able to understand how his actions and behavior would be perceived by other wolves.

I myself would like to add to this list of human-like animals also a bird, Alex the Parrot. Read about him here: .

What could be better for an animal behavior researcher to study than a bird talking tha same language as the scientists themselves do?

All this makes it necessary to pose this relevant question: Are there any

Are there any traits or characteristics left to be regarded as unique and special for humans?

In this article, , ten human characteristics are proposed to be typical of moderns humans. Bur is it so? It’s up to you to decide.

The ten traits are: Speech, Upright posture, Nakedness, Using hand to make tools, Using fire, Blushing, Extraordinary brain power, Clothing, Long childhood, and Having a long life after the children have grown up and moved away from home.

There are many reasons to doubt those ten listed items. And even more reasons to doubt if we humans really are created in the image of an Almighty Creator God “Person”.

BTW, I hope you remember the news that all of us, at least outside today’s Africa, have a lot of Neanderthal genes in our genome. Why did God create Adam with those genes taken from the Neanderthals? It bewilders me a lot and I feel frustrated by not being able to understand why God used kind of second-hand genes to create a completely new being “in imaginem Sui”.

Finally a bonus: Read about Mike the Rooster a.k.a. The headless chicken: .
If Mike hade lived today, I think he could have been a celebrated GOP member, a primus inter pares (the first among equals).

Charles Clanton Rogers


Oliver has three guests for dinner – see story below. [1]


My Swedish correspondent, bbnewsab,  has encouraged me to relate some anecdotes about some of our furry family members.

To you who have not lived in the home of cats or dogs, you must first accept the concept of anthropocentricity.  “Beyond Words, (Safina) will have a profound impact on many readers, for it elevates our relationships with animals to a higher plane. When your dog looks at you adoringly, even though he or she cannot say it, you can be assured that love is being expressed as you can when hearing any human declaration of eternal devotion. Most of us already knew that, but have withheld ourselves from a full surrender to its implications.”[2]

With gene mapping from genome studies of humans, dogs, and chimpanzees, all of our genetics are remarkably similar;

Our differences are quantitative; not qualitative!

When Zhai and colleagues…

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Just face the facts, there is no soul, there is no afterlife. It’s your wishful thinking that deceives you.

In the autumn of 2014 Dr. Sam Parnia’s long awaited AWARE study about the authenticity of Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) as evidence of a surviving soul was published.

Dr. Parnia’s study can, at best, be described as very disheartening and depressing for those believing that NDEs are evidence of a soul that survives the bodily (physical) death.

Almost exactly a year ago I posted this blog focusing that interesting subject, see:

Now, a year later, I think it’s about time to have a new look at the NDE phenomena and how they can be explained without involving religious bullshit concepts like god(s), soul(s) or afterlife.

Let me start by asking you this question: Are you acquainted with a blog named “Imperfect Cognitions”?
Anyhow, it’s a site where all kinds of delusional beliefs, hallucinations and distorted memories are discussed:
In today’s newsletter from “Imperfect Cognitions” I found this blog post, written by Hayley Dewe, a PhD student from the School of Psychology at the University of Birmingham. The title is: “Debunking Dualist Notions of Near-Death Experiences”.  You find her article here: .
Hayley Dewe’s research is based in The Selective Attention and Awareness laboratory, directed by Jason Braithwaite. Her research focuses on the neurocognitive correlates of anomalous (for example hallucinatory) experience, specifically pertaining to the ‘self’, embodiment, and consciousness.She explains NDEs in the following way:

NDEs are striking experiences that typically occur when one is close to death or exposed to life-threatening situations of intense physical and/or emotional danger (first coined by Moody 1975, Life after Life. New York: Bantam Books). This unusual experience includes a variety of aberrant components such as: sensations of peace and vivid imagery, bright flashes of light, the sensation of travelling through a dark tunnel towards a bright light, a disconnection from the physical body (a shift in perspective: the Out-of-Body Experience), and the sensation of entering a light / visions of an ‘afterlife’ etc.

And she continues:

From a parapsychological (or survivalist / supernatural) perspective, NDEs are understood as mystical and spiritual experiences that expose the individual to another world (or afterlife). This is taken as evidence for the survival of bodily death (i.e. dualism); that the mind/consciousness is not dependent on the brain.

In stark contrast is the scientific/neuroscience perspective. Here, it is argued that NDEs are hallucinatory phenomena, generated by a disinhibited and highly confused, dying brain (known as the ‘dying brain account’).

After this introduction she argues that:

#1: There are a host of logical fallacies and methodological discrepancies within the parapsychological literature.
#2: There appears to be no objective study validating the presence of an entirely inactive human brain with the simultaneous occurrence of an NDE!
#3: Even if there were evidence of a completely inactive brain, and subsequent recollection of an NDE, how could one pinpoint the precise time frame during which the NDE components occurred? That is, the NDE itself may well have occurred before levels of brain activity became ‘inactive’ (or ‘flattened’), or even experienced and recalled afterwards, during recovery.
#4: No component of the NDE is actually unique to the ‘near-death’ experience.
#5: As a matter of fact, you needn’t necessarily be ‘near to death’ to experience NDE phenomena.
So the only reasonable and likely conclusion seems to be: Dualist / Survivalist arguments of NDEs are, at the very best, flawed.
And I myself want to add here: They are not only flawed. They are completely wrong, built as they seem to be on wishful magical and religious bullshit thinking .
In short: THERE IS NO SOUL! Forget what you’ve read or heard about that religious bullshit concept.
And if souls don’t exist, the corollary must be: YOU’D BETTER FORGET ABOUT THE BELIEF IN AN AFTERLIFE, TOO.
For more details, see: (Towards a Cognitive Neuroscience of the Dying Brain), and:  (Occam’s Chainsaw: Neuroscientific Nails in the Coffin of Dualist Notions of the Near-death Experience [NDE]).
In the coming weeks or months I hope to have time to blog about the non-existent soul and non-existent afterlife.
But for the time being I have to confine myself to recommend all (true) soul believers – that is those who refuse to abandon their bullshit ideas of soul and afterlife – to study the contents in blog posts like these: , , and .
Need I say more? Yes, I think I also need to say that true believers are not so easily convinced that soul and afterlife are typical religious bullshit concepts. Sacrosanct beliefs, anchored in religious faith, are unfortunately extremely difficult to eradicate. For more details, see: .


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Feeling sad today? Then have a look at Rosa Rubicondior: The Wit and Wisdom of Deepak!

Rosa Rubicondior: The Wit and Wisdom of Deepak!.

This is hilarious reading. Thank you, Rosa! You made my day!

A QUOTE: It has been said by some that the thoughts and tweets of Deepak Chopra are indistinguishable from a set of profound sounding words put together in a random order, particularly the tweets tagged with “#cosmisconciousness” [sic!]. This site aims to test that claim! Each “quote” is generated from a list of words that can be found in Deepak Chopra’s Twitter stream randomly stuck together in a sentence.

Why not take the test yourself?

See if you can pick out the genuine Deepak Chopra quotes taken at random from his twitter feed, from the randomly generated fictional Deepak Chopra quotes from this site.

Enjoy sentences like: A compassionate heart, tapping into the inner ocean of unconditional acceptance, flows in waves of love.

Oh yeah! Peace & Love upon that. 

What about this one: Each one of us is created with an inherent light within – a light made up of limitless spiritual power.

Oh yes! Halleluiah! Amen to that.


Filed under Blogs I follow, Consciousness, Humorous reading, Science vs. pseudoscience, Soul, Woo

Explanatory Theories of Religion And Religious Thoughts (by Cris Campbell)

Have a look at  Explanatory Theories of Religion ( ). I found that article on Cris Campbell’s blog. 

There are many explanatory and evolutionary theories of how magical and religious thoughts (and different religions) emerged among our ancestors.
In this reblogged article we can read about Cris Campbell’s take on that topic. 

Cris holds advanced degrees in anthropology, philosophy, and law. He’s apparently very interested in the origin of magical and religious thoughts. And he obviously knows a lot – and I really mean a great deal; he’s a scholar! –  about the many hypotheses and theories that try to explain how it became possible for our ancestors to invent divine spiritual beings of different kinds.

His blog readers get a very good resume of how this “religification process” may have looked like. Here are some quotes taken from Cris Campbell’s blog article:

This is not, of course, a simple question and no single theory provides a definitive answer. Since 1990 (i.e., the beginning of the modern era of evolutionary theorizing about religion), scholars have proposed so many different varieties of “cognitive byproduct” and “social adaptive” theories that simply surveying, sorting, and analyzing them is a considerable challenge. Synthesizing them is an even greater challenge and, given their differing premises, may be impossible.

Seeking clarity, last year I decided to conduct an intensive review of all previous theories (i.e., those predating 1990) that could variously be characterized as: (1) explanatory, (2) developmental, and/or (3) evolutionary. The latter category can be confusing because many scholars working within a post-Darwinian evolutionary paradigm tend to conflate biological withcultural evolution. Such scholars may also prefer non-Darwinian explanations, but they are still working within an evolutionary or developmental paradigm. When this occurs, I refer to them as “evolutionist.”

My richly rewarding review resulted in a great deal of writing, most of which has appeared here in scattered posts over the past year. Now that the review is nearly finished, I want to gather all those posts and links on a single page. The theorists are listed mostly in chronological order of their appearance. I chose this arrangement not just for convenience. One thing I discovered is that the scholars working within the developmental-evolutionist tradition were fully aware of previous work and were responding to their predecessors or contemporaries. If you read these scholars’ original works in serial order, you will find yourself eavesdropping on a brilliant conversation that lasted for well over 100 years.

BTW, here’s an interesting TED Talk video: .

The speaker is Yuval Noah Harari, author of the book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind”. For a short review of that book, have a look at  

Harari suggests that our ancestors became “human” when they acquired the ability to think in symbolic “terms”, i.e. to create imaginary realities and not only accept the physically real reality. 

As an atheist I especially like Harari’s take on money and gods. Suggest to a chimp that if he gives me one of his bananas, I’ll give him some paper money in return, and the chimp would, maybe, wonder if you’ve gone insane.

The same thing goes for gods and heavens. If you pay tithes to your church, your priest/minister promises you that he’ll do all he can to help you entering Heaven through its Pearly Gates.

A chimp would NEVER buy that concept, that imaginary and creative symbolic idea.

Neither would I.

But many fellow religious True Believer humans seem to accept that kind of deal without any hesitation at all.

How about you? 


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Life is Still Inexplicable – Subjective Versus Objective Characterizations

I just reblogged ONE of clanton1934’s many interesting and intriguing blog post about life and its meaning (if there is any at all).

Now it’s time for me to reblog another of clanton1934’s blog articles. I choose this one because the two fit so well together.

Here’s a quote from this second (by me) reblogged article:

In my view, these objective observations and descriptions do not, however, explain: what is the source and nature of the force which drives the biochemistry and biological systems forward in spite of the natural characteristics of disorder and chaos. Lacking objective answers to this question, we are in the subjective arena. Some scientists believe these replicative forces toward complex structure and function, are the products of an enormous number of random encounters of non-living chemicals over extremely long periods of time.


Several prominent scientist insist that “evolution” does not mean “improvement”. Dawkins proposes that Darwin’s “descent with modification” is explained by random errors in DNA replication with some products having greater survivability than others. In this explanation, we humans are not an improving, higher form of life, just different from our deep ancestors, with, perhaps greater, on average, better survivability . These scientists deny a teleonomic character.

Pross disagrees and believes that both the structure and the behavior of all living things lead to an unambiguous and unavoidable conclusion— living things have an ‘agenda’ (Pross’ word). Living things act on their own behalf. The Pross “agenda”, I believe is an idea which should be in the subjective arena and not in Pross’ objective analysis..

Pross uses an analogy of an automobile without an engine (pre-life) and a car with an engine (life) to describe the replicating entity. “The entity with an energy-gathering capability is now like a car with an engine— it can go uphill too. That means that a replicating system with an energy-gathering capability would appear to have an agenda. It would seem to be acting purposefully, as it would no longer need to be confined to the downhill thermodynamic path, which we interpret as objective behaviour, but rather the path toward systems of greater organization and function, which could involve the equivalent of rolling some way uphill.”

This analogy does not answer the question: where did the “engine” come from and what makes the engine run?

Charles Clanton Rogers


Review: Addy Pross, What is Life (1)

“TV’s  Talking-heads” frequently start their position statement: “I’m not a scientist but….” Then they proceed to inform you, in the manner of a peddler, that he is “right” and you are “wrong”. This is the ageless Zero-Sum Game:(2)  “I win – you lose!” 

Unlike those  sellers, this author is  a scientist and a physician.  What is  unfortunate in this “pseudo-debate”,  looking at both sides of the biological controversy –those from the faith-based discussants  and those employing observations  and reasoning, – each is playing the tired and ancient game: Zero-Sum.  

In my view, neither side needs to defeat the other in order to win, with what they are defending. My view is that just as oxygen and nitrogen can occupy the same space, the subjective (faith-based) and theobjective (science-based) are not mutually exclusive. In my view, an intelligent…

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Life is a Journey

Some people sport what I’d prefer to call encyclopedic knowledge. They remind me of polymaths.

And yet they are so humble, so non-egotistic.. They really lack inflated ideas of their own importance and “omnipotence”.

The fact is these polymaths usually know so much that they are able to explore and investigate Nature (and its “sibling” Life) on their own.

During their explorations they strive to build bridges between all the different branches of knowledge that, in a holistic view, constitute Nature and Life.

Knowledge used in that way leads to – and causes – wisdom.

I want do define that word/concept as “the quality of having enough knowledge and life experiences to make good and empathetic judgments, and to give coherent and sensible good advice to people in need of a helping hand.

The other day I came into contact with a blogger called Charles Rogers (a.k.a. clanton1934). His knowledge is of the encyclopedic kind. And his blog is full of both knowledge and wisdom.

That’s why I’m going to reblog two of his blog posts here on my own blog. He definitely is worth following and, of course, being read. He is absolutely worth being listened to.

Here’s a quote from his blog post: Clanton1934 calls it a “Conclusion”. Personally i’d prefer to call it Clanton1934’s credo or statement of belief(s). Anyhow, it’s very nice and inspiring to read:


A parting question: Consider this: the greatest scientists who share Dawkin’s and Hoffman’s solely mechanistic, random-chaos view of the origin of life, have manifested in their encyclopedic study and meticulous manuscript authoring, an enormous motivative force driving their work. This force is not objective. Is not this the inexplicable subjective force of life which science can not explain (but some deny)?

Addy Pross’ conclusion serves to give us sound attitude: “Each individual is part of a nuclear family, which, in turn, is part of an extended family, which is part of a local community, which is part of larger groups of the human organization. The survival of the community requires far more than the individual. Reproductively speaking, individuals are incomplete. Biologically speaking, our individuality is actually non-existent.” That’s why a new pregnancy catches our attention. That powerful and compulsive news resonates with our fundamental selves.

“Just as importantly, we are also emotionally incomplete. Various psychological elements also connect us to the network. We obsessively need to be with others. We think of ourselves as individuals, but we are really just components of a network. Our “lifeboat” is not just many individuals, but an ever-expanding living network. The irrepressible force of life leaves no stone unturned in seeking ways to extend the invaluable larger life of which we are the stewards. We obsessively need to be with others. We think we are separate, but we are one. We think of ourselves as individuals, but we are really just components of a network.”

Life has a purpose; the purpose is the process; the process is the product.

Charles Clanton Rogers

Freedom_train_in_ga7THE FREEDOM TRAIN 1947  “Life is a journey, not a destination” (1)

Not everything that can be counted counts. Not everything that counts can be counted.” (2)

I have had an epiphany about Life. Now I see Life is a Process. The purpose is the process; the process is the product.

Here is a true story which has given me an analogy to this epiphany:  In 1947, a very special train was assembled to contain the nation’s greatest treasures and wisdom, among which was the originals of  The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of The United States.  (3)  The Freedom Train traveled to cities across the country carrying this wisdom-treasure. The train passed through the small towns without stopping. A teacher from such a community, upon learning that these jewels of wisdom would not stop, persuaded the conductor to at least go slowly through their station in order…

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20. What evidence is there that humans have a spirit? Part 2: Near Death Experiences (NDEs)

Very good summary of the NDE delusion. But as always, comforting lies are preferred to unpleasant truths.

500 Questions about God & Christianity

I confess. I once spent a couple of years as an absolute NDE junkie. In my early search for evidence of the soul, NDE survivors seemed to have the proof I was searching for. I read everything I could get my hands on; I was hooked by all the similar and compelling stories… at least for a while.

My interest in NDEs eventually waned after reading a book by Christian cardiologist Dr. H. Leon Greene.  In his book If I Should Die Before I Wake, Dr. Greene reports having revived hundreds of patients, none of whom ever reported having a single NDE. This, along with his distaste for non-Christians having positive NDEs, led him to write a thorough and critical examination of the NDE. While biased by Christianity, his arguments against the NDE were nonetheless logical and compelling.

Still… all the people who report having NDEs seem so sincere and…

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Q: When does the human fetus become a conscious being? A: When the thalamus is able to connect to the cortical regions of the brain.

I just reblogged two very fascinating articles from the blog Emergent Cognition, see

1) and

2) .

I recommended this site, , too.

Now, if you’re interested in how the human fetus develops awareness and consciousness – I hope and think you should be –  then I strongly recommend you to read this neuroscientific paper, The Emergence of Human Consciousness: From Fetal to Neonatal Life (by Hugo Lagercrantz and Jean-Pierre Changeux, and published in Pediatric Research (2009) 65, 255–260; doi:10.1203/PDR.0b013e3181973b0d .

The full text is available here, .

Here’s the abstract:

A simple definition of consciousness is sensory awareness of the body, the self, and the world. The fetus may be aware of the body, for example by perceiving pain. It reacts to touch, smell, and sound, and shows facial expressions responding to external stimuli.

However, these reactions are probably preprogrammed and have a subcortical nonconscious origin. Furthermore, the fetus is almost continuously asleep and unconscious partially due to endogenous sedation.

Conversely, the newborn infant can be awake, exhibit sensory awareness, and process memorized mental representations. It is also able to differentiate between self and nonself touch, express emotions, and show signs of shared feelings.

Yet, it is unreflective, present oriented, and makes little reference to concept of him/herself. Newborn infants display features characteristic of what may be referred to as basic consciousness and they still have to undergo considerable maturation to reach the level of adult consciousness.

The preterm infant, ex utero, may open its eyes and establish minimal eye contact with its mother. It also shows avoidance reactions to harmful stimuli. However, the thalamocortical connections are not yet fully established, which is why it can only reach a minimal level of consciousness.

They also mention that most neuroscientists argue that consciousness is a progressive, stepwise, structural, and functional evolution of its multiple intricate components.

And the authors conclude, A pending question is the status of the preterm fetus born before 26 wk (<700 g) who has closed eyes and seems constantly asleep. The immaturity of its brain networks is such that it may not even reach a level of minimal consciousness. […]

[Furthermore,] the timing of the emergence of minimal consciousness has been proposed as an ethical limit of human viability […].

Here’s my own conclusion: If you after reading this paper still believe in a soul (brought to us by a divine being), then you seemingly must be a pure (pseudo)religious woo. The concept of soul is a mass delusion a.k.a.magical & religious woo-bullshit thinking.

That’s my humble opinion. ;o)

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Emergent Complexity | Collage: Emergence – The complex, the complicated, and the chaotic

The scientific evidence is on the side of consciousness being an emergent property. Also have a look at



The idea that consciousness is a “fundamental property of matter” is mostly built on pure ontological speculations and wishful thinking that life is a gift from some divine being and thus must have a “higher” meaning and goal.

Emergent Cognition Project

Emergence, as it is used here, is a type of complexity. Which is to say, all emergent phenomena are complex, but not all complex phenomena are emergent.

Complex is also distinct from complicated, and this distinction can be characterized in the context of processes and results. Ordered processes that produce predictable results constitute a simple system. However, a system involving disordered processes that produces predictable results is complicated. A system of ordered or disordered processes that produces unpredictable results is complex. Emergent complexity has typically referred to systems of ordered processes and unpredictable results.

Although there are more technical attempts at defining complexity, it is helpful to remember its dynamic nature. All complex systems involve elements of both chaos and order. Ironically, it is the complementary dimension of order that makes complexity more complicated that chaos.


The complexity of a physical system or a dynamical process expresses…

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