Saturday, January 08, 2022

What If Holonomic Theory Informs Clandestine And Military Doctrine At The Highest Level?

archive |  MISHLOVE: You're very well known in psychology and in neuropsychology as the developer of the holographic or holonomic model of the brain. Can you talk about that a little bit, and how it relates to the mind -- or rather, to the mind-body process? I have to be on my toes with you today.
PRIBRAM: Yes. The holonomic brain theory is based on some insights that Dennis Gabor had. He was the inventor of the hologram, and he obtained the Nobel Prize for his many contributions. He was a mathematician, and what he was trying to do was develop a better way of making electron micrographs, improve the resolution of the micrographs. And so for electron microscopy he suggested that instead of making a photograph -- essentially, with electron microscopes we make photographs using electrons instead of photons. He thought maybe instead of making ordinary photographs, that what he would do is get the interference patterns. Now what is an interference pattern? When light strikes, or when electrons strike any object, they scatter. But the scatter is a funny kind of scatter. It's a very well regulated scatter. For instance, if you defocus the lens on a camera so that you don't get the image falling on the image plane and you have a blur, that blur essentially is a hologram, because all you have to do is refocus it.

MISHLOVE: Contained in the blur is the actual image.

PRIBRAM: That's right. But you don't see it as such. So one of the main principles of holonomic brain theory, which gets us into quantum mechanics also, is that there is a relationship here between what we ordinarily experience, and some other process or some other order, which David Bohm calls the implicate, or enfolded, order, in which things are all distributed or spread -- in fact the mathematical formulations are often called spread functions -- that spread this out.

MISHLOVE: Now what you're talking about here is the deep structure of the universe, in a way. Beneath the subatomic level of matter itself are these quantum wave functions, so to speak, and they form interference patterns. Would I be wrong in saying it would be like dropping two stones in a pond, the way the ripples overlap? Is that like an interference pattern?

PRIBRAM: That's certainly the way interference patterns work, yes.

MISHLOVE: And you're suggesting that at that very deep level of reality, something is operating in the brain itself.

PRIBRAM: Well, no. In a way, that's possible, but that's not where the situation is at the moment. All we know is that the mathematical descriptions that we make of, let's say, single-cell processes, and the branches from the single cells, and how they interact with each other -- not only anatomically, but actually functional interactions -- that when we map those, we get a description that is very similar to the description of quantum events.

MISHLOVE: When you take into account that there are billions of these single cells operating in the brain.

PRIBRAM: That's right. And the connections between them, so there are even more; there are trillions of connections between them. They operate on the basic principles that have been found to also operate at the quantum level. Actually, it was the other way around. The mathematics that Gabor used, he borrowed from Heisenberg and Hilbert. Hilbert developed them first in mathematics, and then Heisenberg used them in quantum mechanics, and Gabor used them in psychophysics, and we've used it in modeling how brain networks work.

MISHLOVE: So in other words, in the brain,when we look at the electrical impulses traveling through the neurons, and the patterns as these billions of neurons interact, you would say that that is analogous, I suppose, or isomorphic to the processes that are going on at the deeper quantum level.

PRIBRAM: Yes. But we don't know that it's a deeper quantum level in the brain.

MISHLOVE: That may or may not be the case.

PRIBRAM: Analogous isn't quite the right word; they obey the same rules. It's not just an analogy, because the work that described these came independently. An analogy would be that you take the quantum ideas, and see how they fit to the data we have on the brain. That's not the way it happened. We got the brain data first, and then we see, look, it fits the same mathematics. So the people who were gathering these data, including myself, weren't out to look for an analogous process. I think it's a very important point, because otherwise you could be biased, and there are lots of different models that fit how the brain works. But this is more based on how the brain was found to work, independent of these conceptions.

MISHLOVE: Independent of any model.

PRIBRAM: Yes, essentially independent of any model.

MISHLOVE: So you've got a mathematical structure that parallels the mathematical structures of quantum physics. Now what does that tell us about the mind?

PRIBRAM: What it tells me is that the problems that have been faced in quantum mechanics for the whole century -- well, since the twenties --

MISHLOVE: Many paradoxes.

PRIBRAM: And very many paradoxes -- that those paradoxes also apply at the psychophysical level and at the neuronal level, and therefore we have to face the same sets of problems. At the same time, I think what David Bohm is doing is showing that some of the classical conceptions which were thought not to apply at the quantum level, really do apply at the quantum level. Now, I'm interpreting Bohm; I'm not sure he would want to agree to my interpretation of what he's doing. But to me that seems to be what is going on. So that the schism between levels -- between the quantum level, the submicroscopic almost, subatomic level and what goes on there, and the classical, so-called uncertainty principle and all of that -- that all applies all the way along; but you've got to be very careful in -- how should I put it? You've got to apply it to the actual data, and not just sort of run it over.

MISHLOVE: To the average layman, why would they be interested in this? Is there some significance to people in their everyday lives, or in their workaday worlds, in the business of life?

PRIBRAM: Sure, and this is the critical thing -- that if indeed we're right that these quantum-like phenomena, or the rules of quantum mechanics, apply all the way through to our psychological processes, to what's going on in the nervous system -- then we have an explanation perhaps, certainly we have a parallel, to the kind of experiences that people have called spiritual experiences. Because the descriptions you get with spiritual experiences seem to parallel the descriptions of quantum physics. That's why Fritjof Capra wrote The Tao of Physics, why we have The Dancing Wu Li Masters, and all of this sort of thing that's come along. And in fact Bohr and Heisenberg already knew; Schroedinger talked about the Upanishads, and Bohr used the yin and yang as his symbol. Because the conceptions that grew out of watching the quantum level -- and therefore now the neurological and psychophysical level, now that it's a psychological level as well -- seem to have a great deal in common with our spiritual experience. Now what do I mean by spiritual experience? You talked about mental activity, calling it the mind. That aspect of mental activity, which is very human -- it may be true of other species as well, but we don't know -- but in human endeavor many of us at least seem to need to get in contact with larger issues, whether they're cosmology, or some kind of biological larger issue, or a social one, or it's formalized in some kind of religious activity. But we want to belong. And that is what I define as the spiritual aspects of man's nature.

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