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Edge Science Magazine No 6 Jan--March 2011

Edge Science Magazine No 6 Jan--March 2011

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Published by: cardinal761831 on Feb 18, 2011
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Current Research and Insights
Number 6 January–March 2011
A publication o theSociety or Scientifc Exploration
Hear ts Minds
Speaking rom the HeartMind o the PlaceboReal Drugs orImaginary Diseases
EdgeScience #6
January–March 2011
EdgeScience is a quarterly magazine.Print copies are available fromedgescience.magcloud.com.For further information, see edgescience.orgEmail: edgescience@gmail.com
Why EdgeScience?
Because, contrary to publicperception, scientic nowledge is still full ofunnowns. What remains to be discovered — whatwe don’t now — very liely dwarfs what we donow. And what we thin we now may not beentirely correct or fully understood. Anomalies, whichresearchers tend to sweep under the rug, should beactively pursued as clues to potential breathroughsand new directions in science.PBSE: The Society for Scientic ExplorationET: Patric uyghe ASSATE ETS: ic Blasband,ominique SurelBk EEW ET: P.. MoncreifTBTS: enry Bauer, Jim Schnabel,kenneth Smith, ominique Surel, Floco TausinES: Smythtype esign
The Society or Scientifc Exploration
(SSE)is a professional organization of scientists andscholars who study unusual and unexplainedphenomena. The primary goal of the Society is toprovide a professional forum for presentations,criticism, and debate concerning topics which arefor various reasons ignored or studied inadequatelywithin mainstream science. A secondary goal is topromote improved understanding of those factorsthat unnecessarily limit the scope of scienticinquiry, such as sociological constraints, restrictiveworld views, hidden theoretical assumptions,and the temptation to convert prevailing theoryinto prevailing dogma. Topics under investigationcover a wide spectrum. At one end are apparentanomalies in well established disciplines. At theother, we nd paradoxical phenomena that belongto no established discipline and therefore mayoffer the greatest potential for scientic advanceand the expansion of human nowledge. TheSSE was founded in 1982 and has approximately800 members in 45 countries worldwide. TheSociety also publishes the peer-reviewed
Journal o Scientifc Exploration,
and holds annualmeetings in the .S. and biennial meetings inEurope. Associate and student membershipsare available to the public.To join the Society,or for more information, visit the website atscienticexploration.org.PESET: William Bengston, St. Joseph’s ollege E-PESET: Bob Jahn, Princeton niversitySEETA: Mar rban-urain, Michigan StateniversityTEASE: John eedEPEA AT: Erling Strand,Østfold ollege, orway
opyright © 2011 Society for Scientic Explorationover mage: Eraxion/iStocphoto
Would Amnesics Make Good Psychics? 
Jim Schnabel
Speaking from the Heart 
Dominique Surel
Mind of the Placebo: In Search of the Perfect Medicine 
Kenneth Smith
The Eye Floater Phenomenon 
Floco Tausin
Real Drugs for Imaginary Diseases 
 A review by Henry Bauer of 
Selling Sickness: How the World’sBiggest Pharmaceutical Companies Are Turning Us All IntoPatients
by Ray Moynihan and Alan Cassels
Don’t miss the 30th annual meeting of the SSE!
The program, entitled
The SSE at the Forefront of Science 
 will eaturefve sessions: The Implications o Non-locality; The Science o theSubjective; Consciousness and Living Systems; Practical Applicationso Anomalies Research; and The Sociology o Scientifc Evolution.
 Where: Boulder, Colorado—The Millenium Hotel When: June 9–11, 2011
Invited speakers:
Larry Dossey, Pamela Rae Heath, Robert Jahn,Brenda Dunne, Dean Radin, Rollin McCraty, Larissa Cheran,Francesca McCartney, John McMichael, Walter Cruttenden,Jonathan Schooler.
See the website for updated details: www.scienticexploration.or
ant to be a better psychic? Maybe a bit o brain damage would help. A recent study o patients who have amnesiadue to hippocampal damage suggests that their brains com-pensate by strengthening an evolutionarily ancient, uncon-scious system o perception and memory. My reading o theparapsychological literature is that this ancient system couldbe crucial or ESP—and i that’s so, then its compensatory boosting ater brain damage could well result in better psiability.
Eternal Sunshine, With Chance of Showers
The study appeared last April in the
Proceedings of the National  Academy of Sciences 
, and covered fve subjects whose bilateralhippocampal damage let them unable to make new long-termmemories o experiences. Their condition, anterograde (i.e.,orward-going) amnesia, was recently dramatized in the flm
. But a more relevant depiction appeared in
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 
—whose two lead characters havetheir conscious declarative memories o each other erased, yetretain unconscious, emotion-based memories that inuencetheir actions and bring them together again.Previous studies have demonstrated the existence o thisalternate memory system by showing that anterograde amne-sics can react to stimuli
as if 
they remember them, even whenthey consciously don’t. This study was the frst to highlightthis alternate system not by measuring reactions but by mea-suring the subjects’ sel-reported emotional states even atertheir conscious memories were gone.The fve subjects watched flm clips meant to evoke sad-ness or happiness, and being amnesic, lost nearly all o theirconscious recall or the clips’ content within minutes. But theirnew emotional states, aroused by the clips, dissipated muchmore slowly—in act, stuck around longer than the emotionsevoked by the clips in a non-amnesic control group.Storage o the emotional content o memories is known torely heavily on a limbic region o the brain known as the amyg-dala, which was undamaged in these patients and perhaps hadeven been strengthened to compensate or the hippocampaldamage. The amygdala and other subcortical structures haveoten been linked to the unconscious hal o what neuroscien-tists call “dual stream” systems o perception and memory. Theidea is that one o these streams produces conscious awarenessand identifcation o an object, while the other, evolutionarily older and aster, but unconscious stream localizes the objectand triggers appropriate action (including emotional reaction).Hippocampal damage isn’t the only type o lesion thatcan dissociate these dual-stream systems. In the phenomenono “blindsight,” people with damage to the primary visualcortex lose conscious awareness o the corresponding partso their visual feld—yet can navigate through these “blind”felds quite well, and respond emotionally to stimuli presented within these felds. Researchers have ound that this uncon-scious blindsight pathway intercepts optic nerve signals at thethalamus and bypasses the primary visual cortex on its way tothe rontal eye felds and other processing areas.
The Psi Pathway?
 As I read the paper about the anterograde amnesics, I remem-bered my long-ago journalistic oray into the U.S. govern-ment’s “remote viewing” program. Among the prominentfndings on the research side o that program were that (a)emotional content oten comes through more strongly thanother kinds o content; (b) psi perception oten is inaccessibleto direct conscious awareness when one is in a normal wak-ing state, and instead appears only indirectly—in symbols, inemotional reactions, or in unconscious motor actions such asdowsing or automatic sketching; (c) “top down” cognitive at-tempts to identiy a remote viewing target oten distort or ob-scure psi perception, instead o enhancing it.The connection between these perceptual phenomena andthe unconscious “low road” phenomena seen in anterogradeamnesia and blindsight seemed obvious. O course, to the ex-tent that psi perception truly occurs, it might ow also, oreven principally, through “high road” pathways, albeit not al- ways strongly enough to enter consciousness. I doubt that any parapsychologist has addressed this issue directly. But surely it would be worth investigating whether “low road” pathwaysare the most robust routes o psi perception. A fnding that they are would raise a number o interest-ing questions: For example, do other animals, which presum-ably rely more heavily on such “low road” pathways than adulthumans, maniest psi abilities? Should psi research thereorebe ocused more on lab animals or human children than onadults? Do people with impaired “low road” pathways, or ex-ample rom amygdala damage, have worse psi abilities thanhealthy subjects? And perhaps most intriguingly, would people with damaged “high road” pathways, such as blindsight sub- jects and anterograde amnesics, end up not only with boosted“low road” pathways but with better psi abilities?Incidentally, even i the answer to that last question is
, it seems to me that an anterograde amnesic in other ways would make a good psychic. He would be able to report hisperceptions as they occur, and by quickly orgetting them would keep his mind unusually ree rom distraction. In sodoing, o course, he would orget whatever secret inormationhe had just produced—and thus, in a psychic spying context,might not even need a security clearance.
is the author of
Remote Viewers 
, among other boos.e writes about science and culture at eretical otions (hereticalno-tions.com).
By Jim Schnabel
Would Amnesics Make Good Psychics?

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