Spirituality & The Brain (Home Page)
Dr. Michael Persinger replies to critics. (08 Jan 1999) (edited)
Link to Original and Unedited (archived) posting
Reply to God Helmet Critics | Reply to neurotheology critic
Reply to critics of his Tectonic Strain Theory of unusual events.
I asked … (Dr. Persinger): “Some have stated on the lists that your research has been used for non-consensual mind-control experimentation and that calls into question your integrity. I’d like to offer you an opportunity to respond to that and perhaps clarify your role, if any, in mind control research.” I also copied a thread on Earth frequencies and asked Persinger to comment on their possible bioactive effects.
Dr. Persinger’s response:
Dear Mr. T_____
Thank you for the e-mail … regarding the evolving technology of electromagnetic field effects upon cognition. My students and I wonder why the myths and irresponsible speculations about me and our research appear to propagate so easily and without challenge. I would be happy to answer your inquiries. You may also wish to access our web page.
1. I am not involved nor have I ever been involved in any “mind control” studies. All of our research involves protocols that have been approved by Ethics Committees and requires the signed consent of the participant. Our research indicates that although experiences can be affected by applied complex magnetic fields, there is no evidence that specific thoughts can be “controlled”.
From a quantitative context, the most powerful form of “mind control” is the limited access to data and information. The range of ideas that a person is allowed to express and the types of data that a person is allowed to view are limited significantly by the constraints of the communication media and what is considered acceptable or not acceptable by the powerful groups within the persons’ culture.
2. My research has not been “funded by U.S. interests”. All of the money for our human research for the last 30 years has been from my personal income as a professor. The only funding ($10,000) we ever obtained from the U.S. was from the U.S. Navy, thanks to Eldon Byrd, to evaluate the effects of 0.5 Hz rotating magnetic fields upon the degranulation of mast cells in the rat brain. The effect was small but statistically significant. Traditional sources of funding, especially the Canadian Research Agencies such as NSERC, have ignored or trivialized our requests to study these important problems. My laboratories have been graciously supplied by Laurentian University and the work has been completed by dedicated and interested graduate and undergraduate students.
3. In order to minimize the potential inappropriate application of our discoveries we publish our work within the public domain, i.e., scientific journals. The history of science has shown that protection of the public requires free access to data.
4. In principle and from the perspective of our empirical observations, derived from about 1000 subjects tested during the last 15 years, there is evidence that complex, weak magnetic fields can evoke specific experiences. The type of experience is related in general to the temporal pattern or “time signatures” of the field and the cerebral hemisphere to which it is applied.
When the fields are applied to the right hemisphere (particularly the parietal/temporal regions) the most typical experience is that of a sensed presence, or entity. We hypothesize that this presence, which is extremely common historically and cross-culturally, is the awareness of the right hemispheric equivalent of the left hemispheric (linguistic) sense of self. We also suspect that the presence is the prototype to religious/mystical experiences. The details of the experience are strongly determined by the person’s beliefs which are supplied by the culture.
We hypothesize that UFO or extraterrestrial visitation experiences–and the many variants of these themes, are the contemporary more secular equivalents of the historical experiences attributed to “visitations”. Although the intensity of our experimental fields range between 0.1 T and 2 T (1 milligauss or 1000 nT to 20 milligauss), we suspect that significant bioeffects can be evoked with even smaller intensities if they are applied for longer periods of time. For example, we found that odd vestibular experiences increase within our experimental setting if there has been a global geomagnetic disturbance of more than 25 nT the night before and the global geomagnetic activity is still above 25 nT. Our experimental work with rats who display enhanced electrical lability within the limbic system have shown that only one hour exposure to 7 Hz sine waves whose amplitudes incrementally increase and decrease in successive 30 sec increments between 10 and 50 nT (much like the earth’s magnetic field) can evoke significantly neuroelectrical discharges.
Modern neuroscience indicates that any experience is due to specific electromagnetic patterns within the brain. There are also likely to be many different stimuli that can evoke the same or similar electromagnetic pattern and hence experience. Our experimental procedure is one method. However, there are very likely to be many stimulus sources that evoke similar experiences.
5. The focus upon finding “the frequency” that affects all aspects of the human brain is counterproductive. It is similar to trying to find “the drug” to treat all ailments. There is no “frequency”, unless the intensities are so high they induce significant neural electric current, that evokes experiences. What is important is the temporal signature of the applied fields. The situation is analogous to the temporal shape of a sound wave with a pure frequency of 1000 Hz. Until it achieves magnitudes of about 90 db you may or may not respond.
On the other hand the complex sound wave for the words “help me” which would involve several hundreds of successive pixels with different amplitudes, can be very informative and effective at magnitudes a million times less intense. Consequently, if there are “bioactive” magnetic fields in the environment, classical spectral analysis and other techniques that extract simple redundancy, would never discern their presence.
However, that does not mean that these complex stimuli could not be detected. Once the temporal sequence or class of sequences is isolated experimentally, much like isolating a long base-pair sequence of DNA, then the consequences of the sequence can be inferred by programming the sensor to extract that temporal sequence. Appreciation of the complexity of the temporal pattern of the applied electromagnetic field and the (neural) information contained within that complexity is critical to understand the potential influence of applied sources (natural or contrived).
Our data with a newer device that produces counterclockwise rotations of pulsed signals around the (major axis of) cerebrum indicates that consciousness may be affected by energies much less intense than suspected. Consciousness is not a continuous process but appears to be recreated transcerebrally every approximately 20 msec to 25 msec (the 40 Hz binding factor). We suspect that interfering with the end of one phase and the beginning of another phase once every 20 to 25 msec may allow the brain access to external information that typically it would never obtain.
6. We have also learned that some people are more sensitive to weak complex magnetic fields than the majority of the population. These individuals are usually the more creative people such as artists, writers, and musicians. The sensitivity appears to be markedly increased during nocturnal periods between midnight and about 0400 hrs. The sensitivity is analogous to the allergic responses that some people display when they eat certain foods. Whereas the normal population may eat peanuts without consequence, people with allergies to the chemicals in this food can become ill following consumption of very small quantities. We have been attempting to define the characteristics of the people who are sensitive to weak, complex magnetic fields.
7. Our field data indicate that the ubiquitous and unprecedented amounts of “electromagnetic noise”, from cell phone systems to satellite communications, may be producing an entire secondary matrix of “beats” and complex patterns within which all human brains are immersed. When a critical number of these signals intermix, they begin to generate pixel durations in the order of milliseconds rather than microseconds or shorter, i.e., they begin to exist within time frames that can generate information into the brain.
8. The Tectonic Strain Theory regarding odd luminosities and UFO reports is not related to our work with weak, complex electromagnetic field effects. The relationship between the increments of time and increments of space to perceive a phenomenon is relatively predictable. To measure picometer space one requires picosecond time; to measure meter space one requires time in seconds. For example if one measures luminosity of the lunar surface every 1 sec for one year then the data are too excessive to perceive the phenomenon of lunar phase. If the luminosity is measured in increments of 1 month, then the changes over the days would be averaged to a constant. When the optimal increment, e.g., 1 day, is employed, the concept of a phase, or luminosity changing sinusoidally over time can be appreciated. John Derr and I have been systematically evaluating the relationship between odd luminosities (that constitute about 90% of all valid UFO reports) and geophysical variables. Our data clearly show that most of these luminous phenomena are very likely to be natural events that primarily precede earthquakes within the geological region. With the exception of the most strange reports from the Hynek-Saunder’s data base and those that are spurious observations, the classic UFO reports (odd lights, with unusual movements and rotational-like feature with colorful subsets) have been strongly correlated for decades with the amount of seismic energy release within the region. When we applied the multiple regression equation (composed of weightings of earthquake parameters), to the years before 1945, the predicted peak years for “UFOs” were the same ones in which the “airship invasions”, “mysterious planes”, and “serpentine luminosities” were reported. These results suggest that the phenomena have remained but the labels employed by the culture to explain them have changed. The optimal increment of analysis, which is about 3 months to 6 months (that is the temporal window to view the data to perceive the phenomenon), is consistent with the hypothesis that the phenomena are transient manifestations of forces that are distributed over much larger areas of space. As strain increases slowly over these large areas, extremely localized and transient concentrations of these forces result in luminous displays. One analogue might be the occasional spikes of sound (cracks) that occur in large mines as the stress, always present, slowly increases over months. The practical application of this relationship is to help predict stress/ strain within an area. You may wish to consult our summary of the TST.
I hope this letter has answered some of your questions. I do not wish to engage in a debate concerning these issues. …. In my opinion the internet, despite its heterogeneity of expertise, is probably the last mode of expression for free thinkers.
Dr. M. A. Persinger, Professor
Other Pages On This Site:
The God Helmet | Shiva Psychic Technology
Shakti – Magnetic Brain Stimulation
Stimulating My Brain As A Spiritual Path
Origins of spirituality in Human Evolution
Role of Mystics and mysticism in Human Evolution.
The Gay Male Brain in human evolution
The Evolution of Human Belief in God
Consciousness | Darwinian Reincarnation
Articles on neurotheology, (or – spirituality and religion meet brain science).
Enlightenment And the Brain
Deja Vu | Meditations from Brain Science
Romantic Love and the Brain
The Sensed Presence | God in the Brain
Spiritual Aptitude Test | Sacred Lands
The Spiritual Personality | Archetypes
Out-Of-Body Experiences | Visions
Odd Experiences – Online Poll Results
Podcasts on Neurotheology
OFF-SITE PAGES (OPEN IN NEW WINDOWS).
Different spiritual practices have different effects on the brain.
NDEs in Thailand – Discussion | Thai NDE Case histories
Near-Death Experience Screensaver (Entering the Light).
Epilepsy And Near-Death Experiences
Glasses For Enhanced Visual Acuity
A Diet For Epileptics?
Sex & States of Consciousness
Hippocrates on Epilepsy
The Terrorist Brain