What if There Really Is No Spoon?
By Ben Bartee - January 17, 2024

Originally published via Armageddon Prose:

I’m starting to think the eunuch child prodigy spoon-bender from The Matrix got it right.


I first became hip to the concept of the mind influencing, and perhaps even determining, physical reality back in ’06, at the ripe age of 19, when my friend insisted that I watch the documentary “What the Bleep Do We Know?”


The New Age cliches that abound throughout that film aside, I dismissed the basic premise — that quantum physics teaches us that reality is unfixed externally and malleable by simply observing and imbuing it with intention — out of hand because:

a.) I was deep into my New Atheist Sam Harris/Christopher Hitchens/Richard Dawkins materialist kick and;

b.) I reveled in discounting any possibility of deeper meaning beneath the surface of things as self-delusional wishful thinking. As a committed nihilist, the sadistic glee that I derived from denigrating any source of transcendent meaning was directly proportional to the importance that adherents ascribed to it — the more comfort it provided to the afflicted, the more I hated it and the juicier the target looked to me.

As time went by — and I relaxed my militant opposition to anything transcendent, and the luster of Sam Harris’ pseudo-intellectual materialist, atheist schtick wore off, and I opened myself to new information — I became less certain we are all just “floating accidental-like on a breeze,” as Forrest Gump might say, in a deterministic, cold-blooded universe.

But we need not, in my view, leave the mysteries of the universe solely to mysticism and mythology. Let’s survey what bona fide science  — actual science, as opposed to biomedical Science™ designed not to discover novel truths but to create pretexts to sell new drugs — says about Mind Over Matter.

The infamous double-slit experiment

I’m no quantum physics surgeon by any means, so I’ll explain this concept, as I understand it, in the simplest terms possible, and any savants in the Armageddon Prose readership can correct what I get wrong.

Scientists can shoot electrons (constituent particles of atoms, along with protons and neutrons) out of a little electron cannon and through a double-slit pane with two windows.

When researchers make no observation of the electrons passing through the holes, they act like waves — something physical matter isn’t supposed to do. In so doing, they interfere with each other and create an “interference pattern,” landing on multiple locations on the wall behind the slits like one would expect waves interfering with each other to do.

However, when the researchers plant a monitoring device to detect which slit the electrons passed through, they collapse on a single pathway — no longer behaving like waves, but like particles.

The mere act of observing changed the physical behavior of the electrons, the implication being that reality is not wholly objective — something “out there” waiting to be discovered — but rather fundamentally related to the person or thing perceiving it.

By logical extension, it is plausible that the observer has the capacity to influence said reality instead of merely being a spectator of it.

Here’s a more technical explanation for the more scientifically literate.


Meditation counters COVID-19

I’ve been doing vipassana meditation recently — perhaps not as effectively as I might with more practice, but to a noticeable calming effect nonetheless. In any case, I’ll persevere and maybe have more to say about it as experience accumulates.

It appears the practice may, among other benefits, reduce the severity and length of COVID-19 by modulating the immune system.

Via Science Direct:

We found a significant inverse correlation between length of meditation practice and SARS-CoV-2 infection as well as accelerated resolution of symptomology of those infected. A meditation ‘dosing’ effect was also observed. In cultured human lung cells, blood from experienced meditators induced factors that prevented entry of pseudotyped viruses for SARS-CoV-2 spike protein of both the wild-type Wuhan-1 virus and the Delta variant. We identified and validated SERPINA5, a serine protease inhibitor, as one possible protein factor in the blood of meditators that is necessary and sufficient for limiting pseudovirus entry into cells. In summary, we conclude that meditation can enhance resiliency to viral infection and may serve as a possible adjuvant therapy in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Wim Hof tamps down immune response

The Iceman, as he is known, to whom I owe the discovery of the benefits of breathwork and cold exposure, singlehandedly rewrote biology textbooks as few years ago when he and his “disciples” demonstrated that the so-called “autonomic nervous system” is not so autonomous after all.

Via Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America:

Hitherto, both the autonomic nervous system and innate immune system were regarded as systems that cannot be voluntarily influenced. The present study demonstrates that, through practicing techniques learned in a short-term training program, the sympathetic nervous system and immune system can indeed be voluntarily influenced. Healthy volunteers practicing the learned techniques exhibited profound increases in the release of epinephrine, which in turn led to increased production of anti-inflammatory mediators and subsequent dampening of the proinflammatory cytokine response elicited by intravenous administration of bacterial endotoxin. This study could have important implications for the treatment of a variety of conditions associated with excessive or persistent inflammation, especially autoimmune diseases in which therapies that antagonize proinflammatory cytokines have shown great benefit.”

RelatedOn Cold Exposure, Its Health Benefits, and Discovering Transcendence Through Voluntary Discomfort

By conscious adulteration of his breath and meditation, Wim Hof demonstrated the ability to acutely tamp down his immune system reactivity to the point that it did not produce a cytokine response — the same immune reaction, by the way, that kills people infected with coronaviruses and other pathogens — to a bacterial endotoxin that otherwise universally induces it in the untrained.

… To be continued…

Ben Bartee, author of Broken English Teacher: Notes From Exile, is an independent Bangkok-based American journalist with opposable thumbs.

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