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View Full Version : Levitation, Telepathy, et al, and Quantum Mechanics...



gzhpcu
2010-Jan-18, 09:39 AM
A friend of mine, at the age of 60, just got his PhD for a work in biophysics. He worked as an assistant of nuclear physics at the ETH. Hats off to him for having managed to get his PhD. His home is full of scientific equipment, spectrometers, etc. Looks like a mad professors's lab. He looks quite the mad professor too... Bald, side hair sticking out, Abraham Lincoln beard, glasses and rolling eyes, hunched over...

He was over for dinner, and suddenly the conversation shifted towards the quantum world, and levitation, telepathy and other phenomena.

He said that unexplained phenomena are explained by the "quanta". I objected that he uses the word quanta and quantum, when this has nothing to do with the standard model. (He has been influenced by Maharishi, a Yogi with a physics degree from the University of Allahabad,... new age esoterics like pulling in quantum mechanics for "scientific respectability"....). He said I was being very narrow-minded in sticking to that which I had learned. I told him that you can not misuse standard model terms to justify esoteric beliefs.

I looked the Yogi up:


In 1976, the Maharishi discovered the principles which were to lead to the TM Sidhi [sic] Program—based on the siddhis or powers outlined in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Those include the technique of Yogic Flying, or levitation ... or “hopping down the yogi trail”:
During the first stage of Yogic Flying, the body—motivated only by the effortless mental impulse of the Sidhi technique—rises up in the air in a series of blissful hops (Maharishi, 1995 (http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0452282667/102-4968178-3736158?v=search-inside&keywords=first%20stage%20Flying)).
“It’s a form of levitation, you’re actually lifted one or two feet by the exhilaration” that some describe as “bubbling bliss,” explained Transcendental Meditation spokesman Joseph Boxerman (Associated Press, 2003 (http://www.rickross.com/reference/tm/tm59.html)).
[Taxi’s Andy Kaufman had a] consuming devotion to Transcendental Meditation ... he believed it had taught him to levitate (Blanco, 2000).
[T]he guru himself announced in 1978 on TV (“The Merv Griffin Show”) that he had enrolled some forty thousand students in this [Sidhi] course! Griffin then asked the obvious question: How many had learned to levitate? Declared the Great Guru: “Thousands!” (Randi, 1982). Repeated attempts by the skeptical Mr. Randi to secure documented and believable evidence of that levitation were unsuccessful. source: http://www.strippingthegurus.com/stgsamplechapters/maharishi.asp

and here he is:
http://www.tm.org/maharishi

I was pretty shocked...

My friend said he does advanced meditation techniques and was able to levitate... Asked him to demonstrate, and he said he can't now because of a bad back...

Told him levitation is not accepted by mainstream science. He said that mainstream science does not want to accept it. I said there is no scientific proof of its existence to date.

He pointed out that there are four types of brainwaves, and called the alpha wave "subconscious" state. I told him the term is contested, and that the alpha wave is just a state of relaxation, which he was arbitrarily terming "subconscious".

He said, that in any case, when you meditate, you activate all four brain waves simultaneously, and how can I explain that? I said, even if true, what is your explanation?

He said that if you activate all four brain waves simultaneously then you are instantly outside of spacetime. This allows levitation and telepathy. I told him this was just fantasizing and how can anybody be in a state outside of spacetime? All brain functions take place during spacetime.

I was surprised that a guy I thought was pretty mainstream and technical could start talking new age pseudoscience.

He then surprised me by saying that the American military uses telepaths in covert black projects, and that he witnessed levitation himself. A person lying on his back, with the body lifting up about 1-2 cms.

He further suprised me by saying he had attended a Maharishi "university" in France and had helped conduct experiments. Said that through meditation he had been able to materialize a purple "Milka" cow... (this is a computer-generated cow for an advertising on Swiss TV)...:shifty:
Am now seriously questioning his sanity...:sick:

He went on to say that in the meditative state, you are outside of spacetime. He began to get pretty agitated when I said there was no such thing, and asked him for proof, and telling him it was all fantastic speculation.

He got all huffy and pointed out his doctor title. Told him that appealing to authority is not valid proof... I just realized now, that I forgot to ask him at which university he just got his PhD, and am now doubting it was at the Polytechnic.

I looked up more and found this Maharishi gem:


Developments in modern science, in particular in Quantum Physics, have opened new perspectives for a unified understanding of Nature. Historically, the analysis of the microscopic structure of matter began with the idea that all substances are composed of tiny particles, like atoms and their subatomic constituents. With the development of Quantum Theory, however, physicists soon had to conclude that the classical particle picture is quite inadequate for the description of these constituents of matter, and realised that the different elementary particles have to be conceived as specific resonant excitations of fundamental quantum fields. Prior to the development of Unified Field Theories scientists had discovered a variety of separate quantum fields, such as the four force fields (of the electromagnetic, the weak, the strong, and the gravitational interactions) as well as the various matter fields. In the last few decades it was realised that with the progression towards finer distance scales an increasing unification of the Laws of Nature takes place so that previously separate quantum fields turn out to be merely different components of underlying unified quantum fields.
This process of unification culminates in a complete unification at the level of the Planck scale (l0-33 cm) where all the various force and matter fields are unified into one single Unified Field of Natural Law-the holistic transcendental field underlying all manifest creation.
source: http://www.maharishi-european-sidhaland.org.uk/Science.htm
:rolleyes:

I can understand persons with no scientific background falling for this mumbo jumbo, but my friend who was an assistant of nuclear physics???:confused:

and finally I found this (which I will email to my friend...):
http://www.skepdic.com/tm.html


Probably the least believable claim of TMers is that they can fly—well, not really fly, more like hop. TM loudly promoted levitation in its early days.* Television news programs featured clips of TMers hopping around in the lotus position, claiming to be hovering. Apparently, this claim was too easily disproved and now TMers do not claim to be able to fly or hover, but say they believe that they can advance so that some day in the future they will be able to truly levitate and gain other super powers (sidhis) as have many holy ones before them. Note that Maharishi's organization is worth 3 billion dollars...:)

chrlzs
2010-Jan-18, 11:38 AM
...
Note that Maharishi's organization is worth 3 billion dollars...


And, strangely, gzhcpu was never heard from again...





:)








Sorry, couldn't resist.

gzhpcu
2010-Jan-18, 12:12 PM
Feeling watched? Just look up in the sky above you....:)

01101001
2010-Jan-18, 01:18 PM
They redefine "levitation" too.

Straight Dope: Will Transcendental Meditation enable you to levitate? (http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1014/will-transcendental-meditation-enable-you-to-levitate)


The contestants weren't continuously airborne; rather, they proceeded by a series of hops--all this, mind you, in full lotus, the familiar yogic sitting position.

The rest of the world calls it "hopping while holding your body in a stupid position".

Some people can believe nonsensical things, and having a degree is no guarantee they won't believe nonsensical things.


I consider [natal astrology] descriptive not predictive. It does not predict events. It will, for example, show if a person is hot-tempered, superficial, calm, career-oriented, etc. It will show how a person will react to external events. If you consider that predictive, then OK...

megrfl
2010-Jan-18, 02:29 PM
Linked is a video showing some Doctors explaining and demonstrating yogic flying...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFfQuCGU0ZQ

They are not saying you are actually flying, but your mind thinks you are flying, a sort of euphoria, demonstrated by an actual brain wave study.
I wonder if they hooked me up to their brainwave machine, in what other activities would show the same results. Riding your bike down a hill, bedtime activities, massage, a roller coaster, a bouncy house... and etc.

captain swoop
2010-Jan-18, 02:40 PM
Back in the 80s and 90s the 'Natural Law' party contested some elections in the UK.They were going to change the country with Meditation and Yogic Flying. Their TV broadcasts featured film of 'Yogic Flying'. A bunch of guys in a padded room 'hopping' around in the Lotus Position sums it up nicely.

NorthernBoy
2010-Jan-18, 04:23 PM
I got "Flim-Flam" by James Randi for Christmas this year, and it had a good section on the Yogi, and on his amazingly flexible claims about what they have and have not achieved.

It is all, sadly, new age woo, with not a single demonstration of any of their claims. The best that they ever do is to redefine their assertions so that hoping while "feeling a bit lighter" is what they mean by "levitation". Of course, as soon as they meet a new less skeptical enquirer, they will switch right back to saying that if you pay them they will teach you to actually fly.

grant hutchison
2010-Jan-18, 04:48 PM
The whole "quantum mysticism" thing is rather effectively debunked by Victor J Stenger in his books The Unconscious Quantum and Quantum Gods. Recommended.
The US military's attempts to use telepathy (and other "psychic powers") in black ops is amusingly detailed in Jon Ronson's book The Men Who Stare at Goats, which seems to have spawned a film.
The EEG changes associated with TM have long been known (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/328063) to match those associated with the onset of sleep, but with a bit more coherence in the alpha band: nothing special, but pleasantly relaxing.

Grant Hutchison

HenrikOlsen
2010-Jan-18, 06:51 PM
The EEG changes associated with TM have long been known (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/328063) to match those associated with the onset of sleep, but with a bit more coherence in the alpha band: nothing special, but pleasantly relaxing.
Which can be interpreted to mean that meditation techniques are a valid method of getting pleasantly relaxed without resorting to drugs. A worthy goal in its own right. :)

grant hutchison
2010-Jan-18, 07:08 PM
Which can be interpreted to mean that meditation techniques are a valid method of getting pleasantly relaxed without resorting to drugs. A worthy goal in its own right. :)No argument here. The relaxation seems to have associated health benefits, too; though the epidemiology seems to be a bit fuzzy, and it's difficult to tease out whether TM provides a greater benefit than other forms of relaxation.

Grant Hutchison

rommel543
2010-Jan-18, 07:09 PM
It was explained to me years ago that the meditation that many priests perform can cause a reaction in the body similar to a narcotic drug, much like a lack of sleep can cause a reaction similar to heavy drinking. I would think that if this physical reaction does in fact act like a narcotic drug high and if the person is expecting to levitate, they do feel and visualize that they are levitating.

I wonder what would happen if they expected to see Papa Smurf?

gzhpcu
2010-Jan-18, 07:35 PM
I just found it weird that a guy I really considered down-to-earth and very technic-oriented could be so little critical when approaching these topics. He did a pretty interesting cross-discipline thesis for his PhD, involving quantum mechanics and biology... yet to read it though, since the first version is in French only, am waiting for the English translation.

He also defended the topic like a fanatic, which I also did not expect, but had no proof, other than claiming to have seen and experienced effects himself, getting offended and taking it personally that I was still skeptical.

Fazor
2010-Jan-18, 07:44 PM
I can certainly relate. Back when we had those "Ancient aliens" threads going on, I brought the topic up with my father, a geology major and astronomy buff. I said something just about the topic, not implying one side or the other. Like, "We were discussing the argument about whether or not man could have built things like the pyramids." when he said, "Yeah. I mean it's obvious. No question in my mind. Man had to have outside help for some things. There's just no way they could have done all of that."

Woops, not the opinion I expected. I just offered my quick, dissenting opinion and changed the subject.

HenrikOlsen
2010-Jan-18, 07:49 PM
If he'd been converted before entering his PhD program, it's likely he interpreted everything he was taught there through the filter of the TM interpretation of QM.

rommel543
2010-Jan-18, 07:52 PM
Intellect does not exclude someone from being susceptible to suggestion. I've met some people that were very intelligent and yet fell for scams that I felt were so obvious that a child would disbelieve them. Sometimes people are looking so hard for connections that match their ideas they will believe in anything.

gzhpcu
2010-Jan-18, 08:12 PM
If he'd been converted before entering his PhD program, it's likely he interpreted everything he was taught there through the filter of the TM interpretation of QM.
This is the case. He went to the TM university in France about 15 years ago... Surprising is that he was still working as an assistant at the Swiss Polytechnic up to the age of 60...:shifty:

mike alexander
2010-Jan-18, 08:42 PM
Isn't "hopping down the yogi trail" what Maharishis do when they are visiting theri mistresses in Argentina?

Fazor
2010-Jan-18, 08:55 PM
Isn't "hopping down the yogi trail" what Maharishis do when they are visiting theri mistresses in Argentina?

I thought it was one of the steps Ranger Smith took when brewing his 'Yellowstone Ale'?

Drunk Vegan
2010-Jan-18, 09:11 PM
Flying is easy... all you have to do is jump, aim for the ground, and miss.

Celestial Mechanic
2010-Jan-19, 05:34 AM
They redefine "levitation" too. {Snip!}

The rest of the world calls it "hopping while holding your body in a stupid position". {Snip!}
I call it "gullible fools bouncing on their butts". :D

I won't call it levitation until one of them can reach and hold a height of one meter for five seconds in the presence of someone like James Randi who knows what signs of fraud to look for.

Tobin Dax
2010-Jan-19, 05:46 AM
I thought it was one of the steps Ranger Smith took when brewing his 'Yellowstone Ale'?
I thought it was 'Jellystone Lager,' but I could be mistaken. :)

Fazor
2010-Jan-19, 02:49 PM
I thought it was 'Jellystone Lager,' but I could be mistaken. :)

Ah, shame on me. Bested in my own dojo! My mistake. :)

Lianachan
2010-Jan-19, 05:11 PM
A bunch of guys in a padded roomBest place for them! I remember that now, but had forgotten all about it.

grant hutchison
2010-Jan-19, 09:55 PM
An egregious bit of QM-consciousness twaddle was invoked in last week's New Scientist: Brain 'entanglement' could explain memories (http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18371-brain-entanglement-could-explain-memories.html).
Subatomic particles do it. Now the observation that groups of brain cells seem to have their own version of quantum entanglement, or "spooky action at a distance", could help explain how our minds combine experiences from many different senses into one memory.The rest of the article has precisely nothing at all to do with quantum mechanics or QM entanglement. It's just the coherent firing of neurones, which operates at the completely non-spooky classical scale.
Even by the standards of dumb science journalism, and even this early in the year, it has to be a good candidate for some sort of award. And not in a good way.

Grant Hutchison

Phantomimic
2010-Jan-20, 02:17 AM
Levitation along with the rest of the paranormal is bunk. This field has been evaluated to the point of boredom and no single fire tested claim has ever emerged. Check groups like the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP).

http://www.csicop.org/

Celestial Mechanic
2010-Jan-20, 06:07 AM
{Snip!} Note that Maharishi's organization is worth 3 billion dollars.
Was Shakespeare ever more right than this? -- "The evil that men do lives on while the good is oft interred with their bones."

gzhpcu
2010-Jan-20, 06:54 AM
My friend even started quoting entanglement to explain "holistic" medicine. Quantum entanglement seems to be snake oil for New Agers....:)

astromark
2010-Jan-20, 09:13 AM
Flying is easy... all you have to do is jump, aim for the ground, and miss.

Yes... Douglas Adams had Arther Dent Actually flying... and that was the method. Great stuff... As for this friend of yours that has seemingly lost his mind... its a worry when what we had previously perceived as intelligent, rational, mature sentient beings... Turn out to be as mad as a meat axe welding nurse... or worse. What hope humanity... right up there with Morris dancing and witchcraft... The world is full of strange things. Called people..

slang
2010-Jan-20, 09:33 AM
He worked as an assistant of nuclear physics at the ETH.

But what was the job description? Was he actually involved in the scientific process? Or perhaps an administrative type? Janitor? Assistant could be anything.

jokergirl
2010-Jan-20, 09:49 AM
I heard an account by someone who claimed to have witnessed such a levitation; I always wondered what he *really* saw.

He described it as the guru rising up a few inches from the ground, then crashing "because he had learned how to levitate, but he hadn't learned how to land yet".

;)

gzhpcu
2010-Jan-20, 04:22 PM
But what was the job description? Was he actually involved in the scientific process? Or perhaps an administrative type? Janitor? Assistant could be anything.
He graduated in nuclear physics (but so did Stanton Friedman...:))... recently he was working on his thesis, which was on using light to heal skin diseases...

NorthernBoy
2010-Jan-20, 07:03 PM
He graduated in nuclear physics...

Moving the topic slightly, why is it that the general public think that nuclear physics is the big one when it comes to advanced fundamental research?

I mean, it's an interesting field, but it's several steps down the road towards chemistry when viewed from the standpoint of High Energy Physics.

Back when I was picking my specialisation at University, it seemed that the only way to go if you wanted to be pushing the frontier in terms of the "Big Question" was either cosmology or H.E.P.

Am I alone in this view?

And it's important to add that this is not to say that other areas are less worthy (I am tempted to go into Chaos if I return to being a working scientist), but that I am just left uncertain why, from all the areas, it is nuclear research that is used as shorthand for the exciting or challenging area.

Sam5
2010-Jan-20, 07:19 PM
My friend even started quoting entanglement to explain "holistic" medicine. Quantum entanglement seems to be snake oil for New Agers....:)

I’ve seen one of these kinds of “holistic” guys lecturing on PBS TV. He always has a large audience of people who seem to be very interested in what he is saying.

I’ve carefully studied what he says and he says basically nothing but a bunch of new-age phrases, mixed with generalized science phrases, such as “quantum entanglement”, “relativity”, “energy field”, etc. I don’t understand why he is on PBS.

NorthernBoy
2010-Jan-20, 07:23 PM
I’ve seen one of these kinds of “holistic” guys lecturing on PBS TV.

Was he this bad?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqlDPeNibHU

Strange
2010-Jan-20, 07:32 PM
I am just left uncertain why, from all the areas, it is nuclear research that is used as shorthand for the exciting or challenging area.

I always thought it was Rocket Science that was the new Brain Surgery.

Sam5
2010-Jan-20, 07:35 PM
Was he this bad?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqlDPeNibHU

He was talking the same mumbo jumbo.

What these people are doing is using a lot of miscellaneous science phrases that average people hear on TV. But the people in their audience don’t know enough about science to realize that these people are talking nonsense.

megrfl
2010-Jan-20, 08:17 PM
No, there's something more to it, the audience isn't a bunch of brainless idiots.

My general impression of folks who attend/buy into this kind of mumbo jumbo, is that of people searching for peace and acceptance, they're bored and lost.

In the case of the OP, the man may have a PHd, but that doesn't mean he is satisfied with himself and his relations.

I was invited to attend a meditation group, I went, I never went again. I literally got a little freaked out, I wasn't interested in being too terribly familiar with strangers.

If I ever want to bounce around on my butt with a bunch of people, I would say I probably have gotten a little lost.

Sam5
2010-Jan-20, 09:45 PM
No, there's something more to it, the audience isn't a bunch of brainless idiots.

My general impression of folks who attend/buy into this kind of mumbo jumbo, is that of people searching for peace and acceptance, they're bored and lost.




I agree. But they are misled by the pseudo-science terms.

astromark
2010-Jan-20, 11:23 PM
Elsewhere here a fellow is asking about a starship plan...He talks of selecting people from across the globe... Yogi jumping...had better not be contagious... I think megrfl in post 37 has encapsulated this well. Them's people have to much idle time... minds with not enough to do...Having a vast comprehensive education does not give you inelegance to use it. the fact that some of us worry about it could be good thing...