New Civilization News: The Scientific Case Against Materialism    
 The Scientific Case Against Materialism
19 Jun 2007 @ 17:14, by John Ringland

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Here is a story told through quotes, comments and links related to commonsense (naive) realism, epistemology, materialism, information theoretic metaphysics, consciousness, empirical science, mysticism, holistic science and also system theory. There's some fascinating links to profound experiments into the nature of consciousness if you don't already know about them... (The PEAR REG/GCP experiments)


Skepticism "is the application of reason to any and all ideas - no sacred cows allowed... Ideally, skeptics do not go into an investigation closed to the possibility that a phenomenon might be real or that a claim might be true. When we say we are 'skeptical' we mean that we must see compelling evidence before we believe." (

Furthermore "To some degree skepticism manifests itself in the scientific method, which demands that all things assumed as facts be questioned. But the positivism of many scientists, whether latent or open, is incompatible with skepticism, for it accepts without question the assumption that material effect is impossible without material cause." (The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia

So materialism is NOT a skeptical position to take - because it is based upon the unquestioned assumption and belief in the primacy of matter. If people were to question it and not simply assert their beliefs it could be a skeptical position but any deep questioning soon shows it to be unable to withstand such questioning.

Commonsense (Naive) Realism

"Naïve realism is a common sense theory of perception. Most people, until they start reflecting philosophically, are naïve realists. This theory is also known as "direct realism" or "common sense realism". Naïve realism claims that the world is pretty much as common sense would have it. All objects are composed of matter, they occupy space, and have properties such as size, shape, texture, smell, taste and colour. [It is assumed that] These properties are usually perceived correctly. So, when we look at and touch things we see and feel those things directly, and so perceive them as they really are." (

In its most common form a naive realist thinks "I ... am a human being. There is this one physical world, the space where everything exists and the time in which everything happens. There are many things in this physical world, each largely separate from the other and persisting over a span of time... My senses give me direct knowledge of reality. If I see a chair, it is because there is a chair physically where and when I see it. There are exceptions, like when I am dreaming or watching a movie, but these are rare and obviously not real. I can know things through my senses, through thinking about things, and through communication with other people. Other people's beliefs may be correct or not, but beliefs of people I respect, and beliefs held commonly by most people in my society, are usually true." (

It is a general tendency of naive realists to be unaware that their beliefs are in fact beliefs. They consider them to simply be obvious facts about the way things are. This is because they have not yet questioned their beliefs. They are naive believers but they often also believe that they are skeptical. It is a habitual credulous state of mind and the habit can be very hard to overcome.

"Karl Popper (1970) pointed out that although Hume’s idealism appeared to him to be a strict refutation of commonsense realism, and although he felt rationally obliged to regard commonsense realism as a mistake, he admitted that he was, in practice, quite unable to disbelieve in it for more than an hour: that, at heart, Hume was a commonsense realist. [And] Edmund Husserl (1970), saw the phenomenologist in Hume when he showed that some perceptions are interrelated or associated to form other perceptions which are then projected onto a world putatively outside the mind." (

I.e. objects which are assumed to comprise the "external world" are really objects of perception. To attribute them with external reality is an act of belief for which there is no rational basis.

Matter and Information

"Let us now return to our ultimate particles and to small organizations of particles as atoms or small molecules. The old idea about them was that their individuality was based on the identity of matter in them... The new idea is that what is permanent in these ultimate particles or small aggregates is their shape and organization. The habit of everyday language deceives us and seems to require, whenever we hear the word shape or form of something, that it must be a material substratum that is required to take on a shape. Scientifically this habit goes back to Aristotle, his causa materialis and causa formalis. But when you come to the ultimate particles constituting matter, there seems to be no point in thinking of them again as consisting of some material. They are as it were, pure shape, nothing but shape; what turns up again and again in successive observations is this shape, not an individual speck of material..." (Erwin Schroedinger)

""materialism is the philosophy of the subject who forgets to take account of himself." (Schopenhauer)... an observing subject can only know material objects through the mediation of the brain and its particular organization. The way that the brain knows determines the way that material objects are experienced." (

"Noumena (the reality that is the foundation of our sensory and mental representations of an external world) do not cause phenomena, but rather phenomena are simply the way by which our minds perceive the noumena... we participate in the reality of an otherwise unachievable world outside the mind... We cannot prove that our mental picture of an outside world corresponds with a reality by reasoning." (

"Because it is now a scientifically established fact that less than 4% of the universe is composed of matter as commonly understood modern philosophical materialists attempt to extend the definition of matter to include other scientifically observable entities such as energy, forces, and the curvature of space. However this opens them to further criticism from philosophers such as Mary Midgley who suggest that the concept of "matter" is elusive and poorly defined." (

Information is discernible difference and is thus a generalised concept for any discernible feature of existence. It can therefore manifest in any medium and be transformed between any mediums. When information flows in the same information space it produces effects that are 'material' in the current scientific sense of the word. This is the essence of quantum physics where there is only the flow and interaction of quantum information. Information is not 'matter' but what is matter? Can anyone coherently answer that? A simple analogy for the physicality of information is when a computer game character tries to walk through a computer game wall it is stopped in a very 'physical' sense. In this sense information is no less material than energy!

A fairly typical materialist / naive realist rejoinder is:
> Tell me that a solid brick hitting you in the head is merely the flow of
> ideas in your "information space". Does your information space swell,
> bleed and hurt?

The information space doesn't "swell, bleed and hurt" but my head certainly does if the brick and my head exist in the same information space such as that which we naively call "the physical universe"! Information is communicated from brick to head, the bulk transmission (or bandwidth) of this information is what we call energy (i.e. the flow of non-material substance (discernible difference) that produces material effects). The dynamic flow of the communication is what we call causality. The resulting effects of the communication is what we call swelling, bleeding and hurting.

"The old foundations of scientific thought are becoming unintelligible. Time, space, matter, material, ether, electricity, mechanism, organism, configuration, structure, pattern, function, all require reinterpretation. What is the sense of talking about a mechanical explanation when you do not know what you mean by mechanics? The truth is that science started its modern career by taking over ideas derived from the weakest side of the philosophies of Aristotle's successors. In some respects it was a happy choice. It enabled the knowledge of the seventeenth century to be formulated so far as physics and chemistry were concerned, with a completeness which lasted to the present time. But the progress of biology and psychology has probably been checked by the uncritical assumption of half-truths. If science is not to degenerate into a medley of ad hoc hypotheses, it must become philosophical and must enter upon a thorough criticism of its own foundations." (Alfred North Whitehead

“Science, in the broadest sense, refers to any system of knowledge which attempts to model objective reality.” (

But “Empiricists claim that sense experience is the ultimate source of all our concepts and knowledge” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

And because of this empirical science has succumbed to naive realism!

Empiricism (naive realism) vs. Rationalism (scientific realism)

In this discussion I subscribe to the rationalist perspective and most people at present subscribe to the empiricist perspective. If anyone can coherently argue for that position I'd like to hear it in order to explore these ideas deeper...

"Rationalists generally develop their view in two ways. First, they argue that there are cases where the content of our concepts or knowledge outstrips the information that sense experience can provide. Second, they construct accounts of how reason in some form or other provides that additional information about the world. Empiricists present complementary lines of thought. First, they develop accounts of how experience provides the information that rationalists cite, insofar as we have it in the first place... Second, empiricists attack the rationalists' accounts of how reason is a source of concepts or knowledge." (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Traditional empirical science addresses “the epistemological question [what can be known and what is unknowable] by drawing a sharp distinction between truth and empirical adequacy. [Empirical science claims] that a good theory need only provide an empirically adequate description of observable phenomena [it doesn't claim to be able to ascertain any kind of truth but rather it only claims to have phenomenological adequacy]. Any unobservables, such as electrons and quarks, are simply empirical tools for describing the observable world... [hence] our epistemic knowledge is limited to the observables... [However] Scientific realism claims that we can know about objects beyond what we observe with our bare senses, and this knowledge is what allows us to predict phenomena… The realist interpretation [of quantum mechanics] shows that we can make knowledge claims about objects, such as electrons, that are unobservable with our bare senses. This challenges the empiricist claim that quantum objects are simply empirical tools to describe observables. Thus, contrary to what we might at first think, the wave-particle duality of quantum objects provides support for the [scientific] realists. We now know that quantum objects behave differently from everyday objects, and we can make an experimentally supported epistemological claim about the quantum world, a very realist claim.” (A Critique of the Empiricist Interpretation of Modern Physics

Regarding the issue of "empirical adequacy. [Empirical science claims] that a good theory need only provide an empirically adequate description of observable phenomena [it doesn't claim to be able to ascertain any kind of truth but rather it only claims to have phenomenological adequacy]". This means that empirical science is fundamentally unable to address any questions of ontology (what actually is) and it can only address questions of phenomenology (that which appears to the human mind). This derives from the foundations of empiricism where “Empiricists claim that sense experience is the ultimate source of all our concepts and knowledge” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

But scientists generally ignore this fundamental limitation and the general public is unaware of it. This causes empirical science to intrude into questions of ontology where it is totally incoherent and irrational. This leads to Scientism, which is a very crude form of religion - the most obvious denomination of which is materialism.

"Sociologists coined the term "scientism" back in the 1940s, when they realized that many scientists unthinkingly accepted many scientific theories as simple, unquestioned Truths, just like believers in any "ism," and thus we often acted like any prejudiced "believer," especially outside our immediate areas of expertise." (The Archives of Scientists Transcendent Experiences (TASTE)

From a recent article in Nature:
"we have to give up the idea of [naive] realism to a far greater extent than most physicists believe today." (Anton Zeilinger)... By realism, he means the idea that objects have specific features and properties — that a ball is red, that a book contains the works of Shakespeare, or that an electron has a particular spin. For everyday objects, such realism isn't a problem. But for objects governed by the laws of quantum mechanics, like photons and electrons, it may make no sense to think of them as having well defined characteristics. Instead, what we see may depend on how we look.” (Physicists bid farewell to reality? Quantum mechanics just got even stranger

Mysticism and Holistic Science

"The concepts of science show strong similarities to the concepts of the mystics... The philosophy of mystical traditions, the perennial philosophy, is the most consistent philosophical background to modern science." (Fritjof Capra)

Aside from stereotyping, misrepresentation and demonisation of mysticism from political/religious institutions, mysticism is the logical result of deep skepticism and the overcoming of naive realism. Once we stop irrationally believing that the objects of sense perception are material external objects we realise that everything is information in flux - it is all a type of low-level consciousness. This is a profoundly liberating and empowering realisation that undermines all delusional entrenched power structures and mechanistic hegemonies – hence the suppression of mysticism in order to enslave, deceive and exploit vast populations.

Quantum physics is rapidly leading us to a mystic perspective. But most convincingly in terms of scientific evidence, recent experiments provide incontrovertible evidence for the influence of consciousness over physical processes! Since 1979 there have been experiments that incontrovertibly prove that consciousness has direct influence over physical processes, thus shattering the illusion of materialism. Not only has it been shattered by philosophical argument and psychology and information systems theory but now empirical data proves it. These experiments are analogous to the photoelectric effect that signalled the dawn of quantum physics and the end of classical physics. The experiments categorically prove that there is something fundamentally wrong with both the materialist and Cartesian dualist perspectives on reality.

The REG (Random Event Generator) experiments at the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research lab prove beyond doubt that consciousness has real measurable effects on physical processes and that roughly 80% of those tested, all 'normal' people, had a measurable influence on the output of the REG's. These effects are not attenuated by distance and they have the same strength whether the events are simultaneous with the intentional influence or whether the events are in the past or the future! They are magnified by psychological bonds such as love and by cognitive discipline such as focused non-agitated awareness (e.g. via meditation). The measurable effects also arise without intentional influence and can be used to monitor the coherence of the ambient field of consciousness. There is currently a network of machines monitoring the moment by moment fluctuations in the global consciousness; the overall statistics for the Global Consciousness Project (GCP), after nine years of data accumulation, indicate a probability of about one in ten million that the correlation of the data with the specified global events is merely due to chance. These aren't vague crackpot experiments, there is NO DOUBT about the data, the only thing in contention is the interpretation of the data. There has been resistance to interpreting these experiments because core materialist beliefs are fundamentally challenged by them.

The results are "empirical facts that are anomalies from the perspective of standard (mainstream) scientific models." (

The PEAR REG experiments: (The modern equivalent of the photoelectric effect)

First some background

REG Experiments: Equipment and Design (A brief abstract)

Details of the methodology

Paranormal Meets Physics (General non-scientific article)

Then some data

List of PEAR Publications (Over 50 available directly on the net)

Correlation of global events with reg data: An internet-based, nonlocal anomalies experiment - Statistical Data Included

The MegaREG Experiment: Replication and Interpretation

Field REG Experiments of Religious Rituals and Other Group Events in Paraná, Brazil.

Analysis of Variance of REG Experiments: Operator Intention, Secondary Parameters, Database Structure

The Global Consciousness Project: (GCP or the Electro-Gaia-Gram EGG)

Main GCP website


The primary results

EGG data archive


The ultimate test of the holistic efficacy of any world view is the impact that it has on our lives and the world at large over time, and empiricism has produced unbounded unstable growth of exploitative monstrosities that are on the verge of destroying all life on this planet as well as the human spirit within each of us. Politicised religion was no better either. Both are empiricist delusions, one dressed up as science and the other dressed up as religion – neither is true science or true religion. It is empiricism and naïve realism that is their fundamental flaw, which is protected by orthodoxy and denial. Mysticism destroys illusion and overcomes this flaw; it conceives of the Whole and our place within the whole and thereby keeps things in balance and harmony.

"Indeed, to some extent it has always been necessary and proper for man, in his thinking, to divide things up, if we tried to deal with the whole of reality at once, we would be swamped. However when this mode of thought is applied more broadly to man's notion of himself and the whole world in which he lives, (i.e. in his world-view) then man ceases to regard the resultant divisions as merely useful or convenient and begins to see and experience himself and this world as actually constituted of separately existing fragments. What is needed is a relativistic theory, to give up altogether the notion that the world is constituted of basic objects or building blocks. Rather one has to view the world in terms of universal flux of events and processes." (David Bohm)

"In contrast to the mechanistic Cartesian view of the world, the world-view emerging from modern physics can be characterized by words like organic, holistic, and ecological. It might also be called a systems view, in the sense of general systems theory. The universe is no longer seen as a machine, made up of a multitude of objects, but has to be pictured as one indivisible dynamic whole whose parts are essentially interrelated and can be understood only as patterns of a cosmic process." (Fritjof Capra)

This is the fundamental world view of mysticism and so too with system theory - the two are almost identical in their fundamental principles and they differ only in the language and analogies used to express them. It is mainly this parallel between system theory, quantum physics and mysticism that I explore in my work. I do what I can to cross-fertilise them, to build a conceptual bridge between them and to distil the best aspects of all of them to help create the foundations of a holistic science.

"There is this hope, I cannot promise you whether or when it will be realized - that the mechanistic paradigm, with all its implications in science as well as in society and our own private life, will be replaced by an organismic or systems paradigm that will offer new pathways for our presently schizophrenic and self-destructive civilization." (Ludwig von Bertalanffy)

The latest essay describing the work is:
Information Systems Analysis of Mind, Knowledge, 'the World' and Holistic Science

And the general website is:

Best Wishes :)
John Ringland

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