The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'mystical experience'
Alternative operating system of the day: LoseThos. It was written from scratch over nine years, runs on a PC (in ring 0), and has a just-in-time compiler for a vaguely C-like language it uses; the inspirations were the Commodore 64 (whose flat memory map and easy accessibility to the bare metal made it eminently hackable) and the voice of God speaking to its creator (who, by his own admission, is schizophrenic) through random number generators.
There's a MetaFilter thread about it, which the creator has joined (under the name “losethos”), weighing in with technical descriptions of its implementation, justifications for design decisions (in which the kinds of insights about “elegance” and solutions which “smell right” that seasoned programmers have and quasi-theological justifications based on mystical revelation are often inextricably intertwined) and stream-of-consciousness revelations from the God who speaks through random numbers. A few choice quotes:
I wanted to make a souped-up, modern 64-bit, C64 so teenagers could do what I did in high school. I had the book Mapping the C64 and I had hours of fun poking and proding around with all the internals of the operationg system for cheap thrills. I wanted to let people control the hardware directly. I wanted something simple, to get your head around. LoseThos is two orders of magnitude simpler than Linux. LoseThos is 135,000 lines of code including my compiler. It is 100% self contained and complete. When I got Linux, I was disappointed because I thought "open source" meant I would have fun messing with the code. Linux tries to support so many architectures and has a main frame operating system, that it's too complex. LoseThos is way way way simpler. Plus it has many innovative ideas. It is not ASCII source code, for example.
Photorealism is graphic and panders to base nature of humans. 640x480 is innocent. How many of you are horrified by modern games, longing for a more innocent time?As well as numerous revelations from God (whose favourite animals are apparently bears and elephants, and whose favourite band is The Beatles):
The hardest thing in evolution was getting monkey mothers to hold their babies for nursing.
God's favorite thing on TV is soap operas. Read the Bible. ROFLMAO. God likes the Beverly Hillbillies. God said Shakespeare had a vile heart. He said Christian rock was "musical privation". Good word. I like the word "Ambrosial". Go look it up. :-) I'm smug.
Dr. Michael Persinger of Laurentian University, Canada, has developed a magnetic helmet which stimulates religious and mystical experiences in the wearer. A BBC science series decided to put this to the test, choosing the ultimate test subject: militant atheist Richard Dawkins. The score: Dawkins:1, the God Helmet: 0.
Unfortunately, during the experiment, while Prof Dawkins had some strange experiences and tinglings, none of them prompted him to take up any new faith. "It was a great disappointment," he said. "Though I joked about the possibility, I of course never expected to end up believing in anything supernatural. But I did hope to share some of the feelings experienced by religious mystics when contemplating the mysteries of life and the cosmos."
This suggests that openness to religious experience is controlled by temporal lobe sensitivity (something Dawkins scored low on in a prior test), and that this may be genetic. Which suggests that susceptibility to religious belief could be partly genetic. (Though, obviously, not wholly; the environment would have to play a major role.) (via New World Disorder)
Andrew Newberg, a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania, is studying the neurology of mystical experience, by taking brain scans of meditators and praying nuns. His results so far are interesting:
During meditation, part of the parietal lobe, towards the top and rear of the brain, was much less active than when the volunteers were merely sitting still. With a thrill, Newberg and d'Aquili realised that this was the exact region of the brain where the distinction between self and other originates.
The limbic system is a part of the brain that dates from way back in our evolution. Its function nowadays is to monitor our experiences and label especially significant events, such as the sight of your child's face, with emotional tags to say "this is important". During an intense religious experience, researchers believe that the limbic system becomes unusually active, tagging everything with special significance.
So it seems that transcendental experience is all in internal metadata, and mystical experiences are just normal experiences with a "THIS IS IMPORTANT" bit set. Which makes sense.
And then there's Michael Persinger of Laurentian University, Ontario, who has developed a helmet that magnetically induces mystical experiences.
Through trial and error and a bit of educated guesswork, he's found that a weak magnetic field... rotating anticlockwise in a complex pattern about the temporal lobes will cause four out of five people to feel a spectral presence in the room with them... What people make of that presence depends on their own biases and beliefs. If a loved one has recently died, they may feel that person has returned to see them. Religious types often identify the presence as God. "This is all in the laboratory, so you can imagine what would happen if the person is alone in their bed at night or in a church, where the context is so important," he says. Persinger has donned the helmet himself and felt the presence, though he says the richness of the experience is diminished because he knows what's going on.
Of course, religious folks are not too keen on the idea that mystical experience is a purely physical phenomenon, and are quick to draw a distinction between "legitimate" mystical states and "illegitimate" ones (such as those induced by drugs or Dr. Persinger's magnetic helmet).