Any thoughts on this?

I have a friend who is a mortician. I’ve known him for twenty eight years, but I still have no idea what he believes in regards to death. We actually went to a friend’s funeral together a couple of years ago, and the subject still did not come up.

Yesterday, he posted this:

Stuart Hameroff MD is an Anesthesiologist, Quantum Consciousness Theorist and Researcher Professor Emeritus, Departments of Anesthesiology and Psychology Banner-University Medical Center Director, The Center for Consciousness Studies, Colleges of Medicine, Science, and Social and Behavioral Sciences, at The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona

His research concerns consciousness studies, the Penrose-Hameroff “Orch OR” theory, quantum mechanical/general relativity approaches to consciousness, the role of microtubules in brain function including consciousness, molecular mechanisms of anesthetic gas molecules, brain modulation with transcranial ultrasound.

According to Hammeroff (I looked him up), "We know what it is like to be conscious – to have awareness, a conscious ‘mind’, but who, or what, are ‘we’ who know such things? How is the subjective nature of phenomenal experience – our ‘inner life’ - to be explained in scientific terms? What consciousness actually is, and how it comes about remain unknown.

The general assumption in modern science and philosophy - the ‘standard model’ - is that consciousness emerges from complex computation among brain neurons, computation whose currency is seen as neuronal firings (‘spikes’) and synaptic transmissions, equated with binary ‘bits’ in digital computing. But this approach fails to account for the nature of phenomenal experience, and relegates consciousness to epiphenomenal illusion, occurring too late for real-time conscious control of our seemingly conscious actions.

What is the origin of consciousness? The standard ‘brain-as-computer’ approach also presumes consciousness ‘emerged’ from complex neuronal computation during biological evolution, extrinsic to the makeup of the universe. On the other hand, spiritual and contemplative traditions, and scientists and philosophers embracing panpsychism, and the ‘Orch OR’ theory (see below) consider consciousness to be intrinsic, ‘woven into the fabric of the universe’, existing all along in the fine scale structure of reality. In these views, conscious precursors and Platonic forms preceded biology, prompting its origin and driving its evolution.

My research involves a theory of consciousness which can bridge these two approaches, a theory developed over the past 20 years with eminent British physicist Sir Roger Penrose, recipient of a 2020 Nobel prize in physics for his pioneering work on black holes. The Penrose-Hameroff theory of ‘orchestrated objective reduction’ (‘Orch OR’) suggests consciousness arises from quantum vibrations in protein polymers called microtubules inside brain neurons, vibrations which interfere, ‘collapse’ and resonate across scale, control neuronal firings, generate consciousness, and connect ultimately to ‘deeper order’ quantum processes in fundamental spacetime geometry."

I am not an expert on this, heck, I know nothing about it. So for such a scenario, I reference whether it has been accepted by the scientific community, if it has been proven by testing, and criticisms by scientists.

From Orchestrated objective reduction - Wikipedia
Orch OR has been criticized both by physicists and neuroscientists who consider it to be a poor model of brain physiology. Orch OR has also been criticized for lacking explanatory power; the philosopher Patricia Churchland wrote, “Pixie dust in the synapses is about as explanatorily powerful as quantum coherence in the microtubules.”

I also searched for criticisms, and found a lot, many from valid scientists.

Here is one gem, from Allan Steinhardt
Formerly DARPA’s Chief Scientist, IEEE Fellow, Biosensor patent holder.

The answer to any question that begins with “why is xx ignored by the mainstream scientific community” is pretty much the same.

The answer can be framed as another question

“why is the debate between tensor flow and Hadoop open source software platforms ignored by the mainstream Haiku Poet community.”

Therefore, just like believing in a god, I will withhold belief and/or acceptance until legitimate proof is supplied and the majority of the scientific community accepts it…


@David_Killens Indeed. I need to look into it further also.
Thanks for the info!

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@Tia_Thompson This a personal assumption with zero proof.

For those who deal with death on a frequent basis (your mortician friend) or are facing it in the near future, death may become a subject they pay more attention to and ponder what will happen. I am 71 years old, have health problems, and yes, my thoughts do turn to that subject. In my youth I never gave it a moment’s notice.

Sir Roger Penrose OM FRS HonFInstP is a giant in the world of physics. But involving him in this project seems to me (just my opinion) that he is giving deep thought to death and seeking any escape from it. And using his name also appears to verge on appeal to authority. If his name was not attached to this proposition, no one would give a shit.

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What human soul? I don’t doubt for an instant that everything that is human, every atom in our bodies, returns to the universe. Attaching any kind of “Wooo Wooo” to this, requires demonstrable evidence.

We are conscious minds. The idiot answered his own question. Consciousness is a manifestation of mind. No one has yet demonstrated any form of consciousness absent a physical existence of some kind.

And yet, we can make one solid assertion. No one has ever demonstrated consciousness absent a physical, corporal, existence.

Which is exactly where all the science leads. We believe this because we do not allow the tail to wag the dog. But now we are going to see what happens when we do allow the tail to wag the dog. When we begin with an assumption and then selectivly seek out information to support our assumption. Just like the Creationists…

I see the debunking has already been done by David, I guess that saves me a bit of Internet Surfing.


I wish to add more.

Just because you are a respected and famous scientist, that does not guarantee you are correct on everything. Darwin got a lot wrong, so did Einstein.


Quote from article: According to two leading scientists, the human brain is a biological computer, and human consciousness is just a software program activated by the ‘bio quantum computer’ inside the brain.

Falseability would need to be established for this statement to be “as close to what is true as humanly possible”. And repeatability.
FOR example:
IF the “consciousness is a software program OUTSIDE the “brain” - it could be asserted with as much “evidence” that this supports the “We are living in a computer simulation (video game/scientific model etc)” AND doesn’t “evidence” consciousness once the game is turned off. No more than a “toaster” is still “making invisible toast once it’s unplugged and thrown in the trash”.

Quote: Researchers say that after people die, the soul returns to the cosmos. It does not die.

What “researchers”? Perhaps the two references in the article are postulating this possibly- but “researchers of religion” might make this assertion. (“Soul” :roll_eyes:). BIG leap from “a software program to now a mysterious soul inside a body)

WHAT neuroscientists (researchers of the brain) know Neuroscientists correlate certain kinds of brain activity with certain kinds of experience. We now know which kinds of brain activity are associated with feelings of hunger, pleasure, pain, and so on.

WHAT nobody “knows” is called QUALIA

( Qualia (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) )

This “gap” in scientific knowledge has lead to god/s, religions, panpsychism, quantum weirdness (for everything “consciousness weird”), philosophy, etc.

Quote: The soul’s enigmatic and elusive nature has eluded understanding despite different scientific areas trying to study it.

True. See above “gap” comment.

Quote: It could indicate that the human soul is real and contained in the brain cells’ microtubules.

BIG LEAP without evidence especially…

Quote: This opens a potential Pandora’s Box, but our theory accommodates both these views, suggesting consciousness derives from quantum vibrations in microtubules, protein polymers inside brain neurons, which both govern neuronal and synaptic function, and connect brain processes to self-organizing processes in the fine-scale, ‘proto-conscious’ quantum structure of reality.”

The :arrow_up: Boldest part describes the physical links from one to the other. BUT the suggesting consciousness derives from quantum vibrations in micro tubules is not evidenced.

Ironically - all matter breaks down to “quantum” in the teeniest-tiniest of descriptive reality.

A “soul” is a different descriptor all together. And remembering (to describe an OBE or NDE) is a function of the brain (which is an organ :brain:).

Quote: From a practical standpoint, treating brain microtubule vibrations could benefit a host of mental, neurological, and cognitive conditions.”

Why? If it’s the “soul’s gateway to the body”, how could anyone mess with or “fix” a soul? BUT brain disorders, yes. Physical interferences via chemicals (drugs, alcohol, medications) effect function and so do “damage” (concussions, lack of oxygen, strokes, etc) - affect a person’s “personality” or “thinking/processing abilities”.

To pre-suppose (without evidence) that the quantum holds consciousness and survives death… may or may not be true. No evidence for being true. AND even if it was “true”, good luck linking intelligence, personality descriptors, awareness, etc. to this use of “consciousness/soul”.



I think there is some disparity between the article that my friend posted and the actual aim of the professionals involved in this endeavor. Hammeroff introduces it as possible means to use transcranial ultrasound (TUS) to non-invasively resonate brain microtubules in order to treat mental, cognitive, and neurological disorders. The questions and implications that this theory that both Penrose, and Hammeroff offer still remain. Do “we” exist apart from the physical body?

I couldn’t find any scholarly articles concerning Allan Steinhardt and Orchestrated objective reduction. I did find him on Quora, however so I looked up his qualifications. Allen Steinhardt is an electrical engineer.

Philosopher Patricia Churchland wrote, “Pixie dust in the synapses is about as explanatorily powerful as quantum coherence in the microtubules.”

Even if she is quoted in a Wikipedia article, I am hesitant to take her opinion on quantum neuroscience and molecular biology over a multiple award winning, world renowned laureate professor. The same can be said for Allen Steinhardt. Even his opinion discredits his opinion. He’s an engineer, not a quantum physicist, neurologist, or even a medical professional.

I did happen to find a scholarly article wherein several criticisms of OR are addressed. I have posted it below:

I also found another quora response that lists a few extra interesting things, that I thought that I would share. Keep mind, this is new to me also. I just thought y’all might have input…which you have, so thank you.

"There are two primary reasons for this cold shoulder. First, the use of a mystery to explain a mystery (i.e., Quantum Physics to explain Consciousness) is frowned upon for good reason, but ORCH-OR is defensible here, and I will support this in the following text. The second reason for the cold shoulder is it pushes back the goalposts for AI.

To defend the latter reason first, the current mainstream view of the brain as a computational system shows 10 to the 16 operations per second at the neuronal level, while ORCH-OR postulates the brain performs 10 to the 26 operations per second at microtubule level. While this disappoints and even annoys the AI community, it is not without validity, two examples should be mentioned. First, the OpenWorm project mapped out the entire neural network of C. Elegans and as Anthony Movshon of New York University describes, “I think it’s fair to say…that our understanding of the worm has not been materially enhanced by having that connectome available to us. We don’t have a comprehensive model of how the worm’s nervous system actually produces the behaviors. What we have is a sort of a bed on which we can build experiments—and many people have built many elegant experiments on that bed. But that connectome by itself has not explained anything.” This could be due to an incorrect interpretation of the number of operations available to the C. Elegans, as illustrated by Orch-OR. The second example is that single cell organisms, such as paramecium, have no synaptic computation and yet they can swim, find food and mates, learn, remember and have sex.

Now, as far as using a mystery to solve a mystery claim, I think this is a false equivalence. Especially because most theories of consciousness are not falsifiable, while ORCH-OR has specific and testable predictions that can be falsified. Furthermore, one of the most important distinctions of the theory is the suggestion that certain aspects of consciousness, such as understanding, are non-computable, it follows that the non-computable area would have to lie where our physical theories are fundamentally incomplete (i.e., Quantum Physics and the ‘Measurement Problem’) and at a relevant scale pertinent to brain operations.

The ORCH-OR theory directly acknowledges that some completion is needed for quantum mechanics to be applied to a true theory of consciousness, but the Diosi-Penrose proposal for an OR scheme underlying quantum theory’s R-process could be a definite possibility. (The Diosi-Penrose proposal states the objective physical threshold providing a plausible lifetime for a quantum superposed state.)

Here is some additional evidence I find very interesting:

  • In 2011, Bandyopadhyay found a series of coherence resonance peaks in single microtubules ranging from 12 kHz to 8 MHz.

  • EEG is the best measurable correlate of consciousness and it does not derive from neuronal firing.

  • Drugs altering consciousness such as psychedelics and anesthesia interact with microtubules.

  • Memory and Alzheimer’s disease relate to tau proteins and microtubules.

David, you may be right about my friend. He has never shown the slightest inclination to talk about the concept of soul or afterlife.
I have respected him in this.
In fact, it sort of startled me that he would be interested in such an article.
Perhaps, his occupation has brought the subject into greater interest over the years.

I think I feel more prepared to talk to him now. Thank you.

@Whitefire13 Definitely food for thought. Thank you!

You can’t do what you do not know or do not think of. The only reason I drew a completely new species of flower is because I’ve seen flowers before. Thinking up a possible alien species that was actually reasonable was still slightly based off of some of the things humans and other animal species do.

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You’re 71? I thought you were 58, to be honest.

Also, I constantly think about death. It’s strange that others do not, to me, to be honest.

Drew, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you need a better hobby.

I do lol. It’s just, the moment the thought that I could die at any time got in my mind, my brain has gotten so paranoid, I now have a fear of death…though I used to never be afraid of death, lol. Thanatophobia has become a new meaning to me…

Is is actually death or the process of dying that you would identify as the primary component of your fear, or is it the fear of fear? Or perhaps the fear that if you do not think about it that it will occur and you will miss the whole thing?(Not that these are the only available options)
I assume you do no have the God-related fears some are afflicted with.
While I do not recommend hallucinogens, they played a role in identifying the nature of some of my fears when I was a young adult. While they did not provide answers, they broke down some of my defenses to self examination and introspection.
If you accept that you could die at any time, then recognize that within that realization is the fact that “any time” has to include 60 years from now or ten minutes from now, and since you have no way of knowing which, then just go with the 60 years and fucking live it up dude!

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The fear of death itself, though also somewhat the process.

No, I always have been an atheist. In fact, if he (or she or whatever it is now these days) turns out to be real, I’m slapping that bitch in the face.

For you, and anyone that wants to see my art: (I do not have the flower yet, but I will post it on here once I get a picture of it)

(I need to take a picture of the finished version of the one above)



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Asking the question is not the same thing as providing evidence for the question. Demonstrate a mind without a body. The existence of a mind separate from a physical entity. THE ASSERTION MUST BE DEMONSTRATED.

@Cognostic I believe that is what Penrose and Hammeroff are attempting to do.

Although I have been voted “Most Aware Jackass” three years in a row, I am not aware of any such demonstration to date.