Evolved for Higher Consciousness? Evidence Please

A publication came out in Consciousness & Cognition last year by a neuroscience group in Slovenia that starts off speculating that pursuing higher consciousness is “natural to the experience and potential growth of every human being.” They tested this by comparing EEG & genome-wide expression in two experienced meditators to each other & in control & highly transcendent or higher consciousness states. They rely on the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s distinctions of consciousness & the subject’s phenomenologcal descriptions to determine these states.

I’ll be presenting at the American Anthropological Association meeting in Chicago this fall at an Anthropology of Consciousness session called “Brain, Consciousness, and Experience” on why I think this initial presupposition is total crap.  Further, this article reads like a House episode, when they put the patient in a full body scan against the better advice of the doctor & find a whole slough of “anomalies” that have nothing to do with the problem the person came to the hospital for.  They find lists & lists of gene regulation variation between the control & meditation states & between the individuals, as well as some overlap in gene variation between the individuals.  However, they do not rule out variation due to normal things the people do in their lives but choose to speculate that much of it is due to the higher consciousness.

Did this just get thru peer-review because it has a million charts & pretty pictures that none of the reviewers could understand?  Who publishes p-values that go to the 10th decimal point?  Am I just irritated because I found this unnecessarily obfuscating?  Maybe, but I don’t think so…

Christopher Lynn

About Christopher Lynn

Christopher Dana Lynn is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Alabama, where he directs the Evolutionary Studies program.  Chris teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in biological anthropology, human sexuality, evolution, biocultural medical anthropology, and neuroanthropology.  He received his Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology in 2009 from the University at Albany, SUNY, where his doctoral focus was on the influence of speaking in tongues on stress response among Pentecostals.  Chris runs a human behavioral ecology research group where the objectives include studying fun gimmicky things like trance, religious behavior, tattooing, and sex as a way of introducing students to the rigors of evolutionary science.  In all his “free” time, he breaks up fights among his triplet sons, enjoys marriage to the other Loretta Lynn, strokes his mustache, and has learned to be passionate about Alabama football (Roll Tide!).  Follow Chris on Twitter: @Chris_Ly
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