Author Topic: The Multiplex Mind  (Read 9944 times)

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October 06, 2004, 09:41:20 AM
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Silverdawn

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The Multiplex Mind
Written by Silverdawn

How does telepathy work?

I think we've all covered basic biology and some of my readers might have taken a few classes in psychology. But your teachers never explained to you how your mind relates to what you do as a psion (or even with energy in general). And you probably didn't ask (unless you have one of those kinds of teachers, in which case you are very lucky indeed).

It is the humble opinion of the writer of this document that most psionic training manuals regarding any psionic activity suck. Majorly. To give you an example of how a typical training conversation would go in several communities, I shall flex my creative muscles.
 
Student: "How do I create a psiball, master?"
Teacher: "Envision the psi ball!"
[/font]Student: "How do I make it bigger?"
Teacher: "Envision it to be bigger. Then it will grow bigger!"

If this were really the case, then 90% of the documented psi abilities online would be basically rehashing what has already been said in your introduction to psi: that your willpower has a lot to do with psionic activity, and that you will get better with experience.

These are the same people that light up a room with psionic energy, think that energy is electro-magnetic, and levitate knives. Also, any person that doesn't agree with them has to be wrong, and consequently has to be shot. Twice.

Sound familiar?

We'll take a trip back to the year 1997. The animation series Dragonball Z introduced a new generation of teenagers to the concepts of energy, or more specifically ki. These were entirely different from their psionic counterparts because they were kids who lit up fireballs of ki-energy, levitated knives, and...

Wait a minute.

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, the psi community has been hit by DBZers all over again. Except this time they're armed with scientific mumbo-jumbo and a particular nasty militaristic mindset. I'll go on a narrative leap here and call it radical psi. But better than that, I'm going to tell you a bit about that mind of yours, and how to effectively use it to find your own training methods, and perhaps maintain a firm grip on reality in the process.

 
Brains are fascinating. They are the physical vehicle for minds, which are even more interesting. Minds are (or, at least, give their owners the vivid impression that they are) conscious, and they have (or, at least, give their owners the vidid impression that they have) free will. Minds operate in a world of 'qualia' - vivid sense impressions like red, hot, sexy. Qualia aren't abstractions: they are 'feelings'. We all know what it's like to experience them. Science has no idea what makes them the way they are.

Brains though... they can make progress on brains. On one level, brains are a kind of computational device. Their most obvious physical components are nerve cells, arranged in complicated networks. Mathematicians have studied such networks, and they find that what networks do is to carry out interesting processes. Give them an input and they will produce an output. Allow their inter-connections to evolve by selecting for specific associations of input and output - such as responding to an image of a banana but not to an image of a dead rat - and pretty soon you've got a really effective banana-detector.

What makes the human brain unique, as far as I can tell, is that it has become recursive. As well as detecting a banana, it can think about detecting a banana. It can think thoughts about its own thought processes. It is a pattern-recognition device that has turned its attention to its own patterns. This ability is what lies behind human intelligence. It probably underpins consciousness too: one of the patterns that the pattern-recognition device has learned to recognize is itself. It has become 'self aware'.

This philosophy is also the basis for a serious psionic training: after all, in your search for outside signals you are employing your own mind, and using your own pattern recognition to form new patterns - this input and output of signals is, of course, telepathy. What good is a psi-ball if you're not aware of how you made it? Three lines of visual instructions don't count. I hope you're smart enough to visualize a ball. Being self-aware, that's the key.

Brains operate on at least two levels. On a reductionist level they are networks of nerve cells sending each other incredibly complex but ultimately meaningless messages - like ants scurrying around inside an anthill. On another level, they are an integrated self - the anthill as a personality in its own right.

Confused? I'm not trying to scare you with a lot of psychological stuff, I'm trying to show you the relation between your mind and your brain. To simplify, let's use Douglas Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach as an example.

It includes a sequence where Aunt Hillary (who is an anthill - use the American pronunciation of 'Aunt') has a meeting with Dr. Anteater. When Dr. Anteater arrives, the ants go into a panic - they change their actions. To Aunt Hillary, who operates on the emergent level, this change represents the knowledge that Dr. Anteater has arrived. She is entirely happy to watch Dr. Anteater consuming a meal of 'her' ants. Ants are a virtually inexhaustible resource - she can always breed new ones to take the place of the ones that got eaten.

The link between the ants and Hillary's 'anthilligence' is emergent - felicitiously, it operates across what we have termed 'Ant Country'. The same action means one thing for the ants, but something quite different, and transcendent, for Hillary. Replace Hillary by yourself - your self, the 'you' that you feel is experiencing your thoughts - and ants by brain cells, and you're contemplating the connection between mind and brain.

Now you've gone self-referential.

Neural networks are what the brain is built from, but there's more to evolving a brain than just assembling big neural nets. Brains operate in terms of high-level 'modules' - a module for running, another for recognizing danger, another for putting the whole animal on the alert, and so on. Each such module is an emergent feature of a complex neural network, and it wasn't designed: it evolved. Millions of years of evolution trained those modules to respond instantly and exquisitely.

The modules aren't seperate. They share nerve cells, they overlap, they're not neccessarily a well-defined region in the brain - any more than 'Vodafone' is a well-defined region of the telephone network. According to Daniel Dennett, they are like a collection of demons, operating by 'pandemonium'. They all shout, and at any given instant, whoever shouts loudest wins (quite a lot of the Online Energy Community has borrowed from this design).

Modern humanity has built a culture around those modules - an idea that we'll explore later - and in doing so has subverted them to new purposes. The module for spotting lions has become, in part, a module for finding new interesting articles on psionics. The module for sensing bodily movement has, in part, turned into one for doing certain kinds of mathematics - those parts of mechanics where a physical 'feel' for the problem may well be precisely that. This also very much applies to your psionic exercises: the current hype on psionic articles at, for example, PsiPog are exploiting that aspect of psionics by emphasizing a 'feel' for your activities ("Feel the psiball between your hands", etcetera) as well as the predator mentality with telepathy (The "hunter-target" exercise, or the precise use of military terms). Our culture has rebuilt our minds, and our minds have in turn rebuilt our culture, over and over again, in each generation.

Such a radical restructuring must have simpler precursors. A key step towards the human mind was the invention of the nest. Before there were nests, baby organisms could carry out only very limited experiments in behaviour. If every time you try out a new game you get gobbled up by a python, novelty will not carry a premium. In the comfort and relative safety of the nest, however, the error part of trial-and-error is no longer automatically fatal. Nests let you play, and play lets you explore the phase space of possible behaviours and find new, sometimes useful, strategies. Further along the same path lies the family, the pack, and the tribe, with certain shared behaviours and mutual protection.

Humans have turned such tactics into a global strategy: adults devote huge amounts of time, energy, food and money to the task of bring up their children. Intelligence is both a consquence of this brilliantly succesful strategy, and a cause. You could call Veritas a nest in the sense that it provides you with a community of people who (mostly) all except the existence of said energy and are willing to join you in the trial-and-error phase of discovering psi, and how your mind works with it.

Many discussions of the mind treat it essentially as a question about the architecture of the brain. The viewpoint is that this determines what brains can do, and then the various things that we associate with minds - the difficult problems of free will, consciousness and intelligence - come out of neurophysiology. That's one approach. The other common one is to view the problem through the eyes of a social scientist or an anthropologist. From this viewpoint the mind's capabilities are pretty much taken as 'given', and the main questions are how human culture builds on those capabilities to create minds able to think original thoughts, feel emotions, have concepts like love and beauty, and so on. It may seem that between them these two approaches pretty much cover the territory. Link them, and you have a complete answer to the question of mind.

However, neurophysiology and culture aren't independant: they are 'complicit'. By this I mean that they have evolved together, each changing the other repeatedly, and their mutual coevolution built on the unpredictable results of that ongoing interaction. The view of culture building on, and changing, brains is incomplete, because brains also build on, and change, culture. The concept of complicity captures this recursive, mutual influence.

We call the brain's internal capabilities 'intelligence'. It is convenient to give a similar name to all of the external influences, cultural or otherwise, that affect the evolution of the brain - and with it, the mind. We shall case these influences extelligence. Your mind is not just intelligence plus extelligence - its inside and outside, so to speak. Instead, mind is a feedback loop in which intelligence influences extelligence, extelligence influences intelligence, and the combination transcends the capabilities of both. Boy, am I on a roll today.

Intelligence is the ability of the brain to process information. But intelligence is only part of what is needed to make a mind. And even intelligence is unlikely to evolve in isolation.

Culture is basically a collection of interacting minds. Without individual minds you can't have a culture. The converse is perhaps less obvious, but equally true: without a shared culture, the human mind cannot evolve. The reason is that there is nothing in the environment of the evolving mind that can drive it towards self-complication - becoming more sophisticated - unless that brain has something else fairly sophisticated to interact with. And the main sophisticated thing around to interact with is minds of other people. So the evolution of intelligence and that of extelligence are inextricably linked, and complicity between them is inevitable.

In the world around us are things that we, or other human beings, have created - things which play a similar role to intelligence but sit outside us. They are things like libraries, books, and the Internet, which from the viewpoint of extelligence would be better named the 'Extranet'. It's all one thing. These influences, sources not just of information but of meaning, are 'cultural capital'. They are things that people put out into the culture, which can then sit there, or even reproduce, or interact in a way that individuals can't control.

The self-sufficient construct, a psionic 'program' if you will that can do its own thing without you worrying about it, is a widely accepted phenomena in radical psi. In reality though, it just raises the old artificial intelligence question: 'Can we create an intelligent construct?' viewed the construct as a once-off object in its own right. The problem, people assumed, was to get the construct's architecture right, and then program intelligent behaviour into it. But that's probably the wrong approach. Of course, it is certainly conceivable that the collective extelligence of all the human beings interacting with that construct could put a 'mind' into it - and in particular endow it with intelligence. But it seems much more likely that, unless you had a whole community of psionic constructs interacting with eachother and evolving, providing the requisite extelligence too, then you wouldn't be actually able to structure the Ant Country of the neural connection of the construct in one complicity and emergence. Indeed, mind is one of the great examples of complicity, and this relates to all self sufficient psionic and even magick constructs. So it's all a lot more complex than you would suspect. Of course, if nobody told you, logic wouldn't be able to stop you from programming self sufficient constructs... or would it?

The internal story of the development of the mind can be summed up as a series of steps in which the key 'player' is the nerve cell. A nerve cell is an extended object that can send signals from one place to another. Once you've got nerve cells you can have networks of nerve cells; and once you've got networks, then a whole pile of stuff comes along free of charge. For example, there is an area of complexity theory called 'emergent computation'. It turns out that when you evolve a network, randomly chosen networks, arbitrary networks, not constructed with specific purposes - they do things. They do something, which may or may not seem meaningful; they do whatever it is that the network does. But you can often look at what that network does, and pot emergent features. You discover that even though its architecture was random, it evolved the ability to compute things. It carries out algorithmic processes (or something close to it). The ability to do calculations, computations, algorithms seems to come free of charge once you've invented devices that send signals from one place to another and react to those signals to send new signals. If you allow evolution you don't have to work hard to create the ability to do some kind of processing. I hear you thinking - he's talking about telepathy! And you would be right. Except we're not quite there yet.

Once you've got that facility we just discussed, it's a relatively short step to the ability to do specific kinds of processing that happen to be useful - that happen to offer survival value. All you need is the standard Darwinian selection procedure. Anything that's got that ability survives, anything that hasn't, doesn't. The ability to process incoming information in ways that extract an interesting feature of the outside world, react to it, and thereby make it easier to evade a predator or to spot food, gets reinforced. The brain's internal architecture comes from a phase space of possible structures, and evolution selects from that phase space. Put those two together and you can evolve structures in the brain that have specific functions. The brain's surroundings certainly influence the development of the brain.

So what about the development of psi functions? The ability to exchange signals without resulting to verbal or visual ways, like a mother duck who just knows where her children are, is known in nature as instinct. In our current culture, we don't need instinct to survive, at least not in the same measure. We need to dodge cars before they run us over, but if we're hungry we go to the local supermarket. Civilization has become our nest, our playground. Instinct transforms into a conscious process, and this process utilizes universal energy. That doesn't explain what psi energy is, but it confirms with nature's laws of the mind.

So what about animals? Do animals have the ability to use psi, or is it simply instict? The actual question should be, do animals have the minds neccesary to perform such an action?

Years ago, I used to have a mantis shrimp called Leo. Me and a group of friends discovered that we could set Leo puzzles. We would feed it shrimps and it would come out and grab the shrimp. Then we would put the shrimp inside a plastic container with a lid and after a little while Leo would like to take the lid off the container and eat the shrimp. And then we put an elastic band around the container to hold the lid on, and Leo would learn to the band off and open the container and eat the shrimp. And after a while if we stuck a shrimp in on its own, you could almost see the mantis shrimp coming out and looking disappointed: 'They haven't set me a puzzle, this is no fun, I don't want to play this game!'. And it would take a long look at the shrimp and then go back into its tunnel without grabbing it.

Although we can think of no way to prove this, everyone got the strong impression that the shrimp was developing a little bit of a mind. Its brain had the potential to do so, and humans had provided it with the kind of context that would help it develop that potential. Wild mantis shrimps don't go out and play with elastic bands, because those aren't part of their environment, but if you give them that kind of stimulus, you change them. Because we've got minds, we also have the capacity to create a little bit of mind in a lot of other creates. So who knows - if you keep practicing telepathy on your dog, maybe one day you'll get a reaction.

 
Mind is a process, or a network of processes, going on inside the brain. It needs a certain amount of interaction with other minds in order to get anywhere. There isn't an evolutionary feedback loop that would train an incipient mind and make it develop unless it was getting somewhere. So where does such a loop occus? Human beings are part of a reproductive system - there are a lot of us, and we keep breeding new ones. In consequence, a large part of the environment of any human being is other human beings. In many ways this is the most important part of our environment, the part we respond to most deeply. We have all sorts of cultural systems, such as education, that exploit exactly this feature of our environment to develop the kind of mind that fits into the existing culture and helps to propagete it. So the context for an individual mind, as it evolves, is not that mind - it's a lot of other minds. There is a complicit feedback loop between the entire collection of minds, and that of each individual. Communication.

Human beings have taken this process to such an extreme that part of that feedback loop has escaped from our control and is now outside us. In a sense, it has a mind of its own. This is extelligence, and we can't do without it. A lot of what makes us human is not passed on genetically - it is passed on culturally. It is passed on by the tribe, it is passed on through our rituals, by teaching, by things that link brain to brain, mind to mind. Your genetics may make it possible for you to do this, it may make you better or worse at it than others, but genes don't actually encode the information that gets passed on. This process is the 'Make-a-Human-Being-Kit'. Each culture has devised a technique for putting into the minds of the next generation what it is that will make them put it into the minds of the generation after that - a recursive system that keeps the culture going.

We are running into problems doing this today, because old-style tribal cultures, even national cultures, are becoming intermingled with an international culture. This leads to clashes between what used to be seperate cultures, triggering their breakdown. Go into any city in the world and you see adverts for Coca-Cola. Global commerce has put things into various cultures that are different from what they would have developed of their own accord. Coca-Cola does not have a huge influence on the Make-a-Human-Being-Kit, though, so it's acceptable to most cultures. On the whole, you don't find religious fundamentalists complaining about the existence of a Coca-Cola bottling factory in their country (well, you do, but generally because it's just a way of saying 'USA out!'). However, if some fast-food chain in Islamic or Jewist countries was trying to sell porkburgers, there'd be plenty of protests.

Extelligence has become so powerful and so influential that nowadaways one generation's culture may be radically different from the previous generation's culture. Second-generation immigrants often have an even worse problem, a culture clash. They've grown up in a 'new' country, and they've absorbed how that country works. They speak the language far more fluently than their parents ever can, but they've still got to please their parents. When they're at home, they have to behave in the manner of their original culture. But when they're at school, they have to live in the new culture. This makes them feel distinctly uncomfortable, and that can break the cultural feedback loop. Once the loop is broken, parts of the culture cease to be transmitted to the next generation: they drop out of the Make-a-Human-Being-Kit.

In this sense, extelligence is out of our control. It escaped our control when it became reproductive: extelligence being used to copy (bits of) extelligence.

The key step was the invention of printing. Prior to written language, extelligence was passed on by word of mouth. It still lived in people's minds: it was what the wise men and women of the village, the old people, knew. And all the while extelligence resides in human memories, it couldn't grow, because one person can remember only so much. When you could write things down, extelligence expanded a bit, but there is only so much you can write down by hand. And it can't spread very far. So mostly you get things like the Egyptian monuments - the history of some particular ruler, his greatest battles, excerpts from the Book of the Dead...

Kings wrote down laws. But when they put their rights and obligations down on paper, they were implicitly constraining their own actions. The citizens could read what was on the paper too. They could tell if their king was suddenly assuming rights or obligations that were not on the piece of paper. The whole effect of law on human society started to change when you could write the law down, and anyone who could read could see what the law was. That didn't mean that kings always obeyed the law, of course, but it meant that when they disobeyed it, everyone knew what they were doing. That had a big effect on a the structure of human society. One minor aspect of it is that we always appear to be nervous of people who write things down...

At that point, extelligence and intelligence began to interact complicitly. Once an interaction becomes complicit, there's no way for an individual to control it. You can push things out into the extelligence, but you can't predict what influence they will have. What's out there is growing in a way that may be mediated by human beings, but - for example - the people printing books were largely printing them independently of their contents. Early on, anything in print would sell.

All words had power. But written words had a lot more. They still do. This is why the power of the written word is emphasised so much in psi and magick rituals and exercises: it is a process of the mind, an idea turned into law.

So far we've talked as if extelligence is a single unified external thing. In some sense it is, but what is actually important is the interface between extelligence and the individual. This is a very personal feedback loop: we meet selections from extelligence through our parents, the books we read, the teachers who teach us, and so on. This is how the Make-a-Human-Being-Kit works, this is why we have cultural diversity. If we all responded to the same pool of extelligence in exactly the same way, we would all be the same. The whole system would suddenly become a kind of monoculture rather than a multiculture. There is no such thing as interpreting signals without your brain influencing what you feel or see. Analytical overlay is always there in some form because psionic activity means you are interfacing. When this overlay becomes too extreme and your signals are no longer pure, you are starting to experience psionic noise.

So where does the noise come from?

Human extelligence is currently going through a period of massive expansion. Much more is becoming possible. Your interface to extelligence used to be very predictable: your parents, teachers, relatives, friends, village, tribe. That allowed clusters of particular kinds of subculture to flourish, to some extent independently of the other subcultures, because we never got to hear about the others. Their world view was always filtered before it got to you. In Whit, Iain Banks described a strange Scottish religious sect, and childred who grow up in this sect. Even though some members of the sect are interacting with the outside world, the only important influences on them are what's going on within the sect. Even by the eyend of the story the cahracter who has gone into the outside world and interacted with it in all sorts of ways has one idea in mind and only - to become the leader of the sect and to continue propagating the sect's views. This behaviour is typical of human clusters - until extelligence intervenes.

Today's extelligence doesn't have a single world view, like a sect does. It doesn't really have a world view at all. Extelligence is becoming "multiplex", a concept introduced by the science-fiction writer Samuel R. Delany in the novel Empire Star. Simplex minds have a single-world view and know exactly what everyone ought to do. Complex minds recognize the existence of different world views. Multiplex ones wonder how useful a specific world view actually is in a world of conflicting paradigms, but find a way to operate despite that. This is the perspective a psion has to take when his viewpoint forces him to integrate intelligence with extelligence - all signals he receives are subjective in their own right, but manage to take on properties of the self - the mind - that receives those signals. Data is always transformed before you can interpret it, like a tape that has to be put in a DVD drive. In this translational process, it is important that you can convert the data without having to lose too much of the original signal.

Suppose that your target would look at a dead animal carcass - a dog, for example. The experience is pleasurable for him, for whatever sadistic reason. How would you receive this data without automatically getting sick at the image itself? After all, you're trying to preserve all data - information and meaning.

Seperating these two kinds of data is not smart. You can never be a good telepath if you cannot open your mind enough to interpret the mindset of your target - intelligence meets extelligence, clarity meets chaos, ying meets yang.

If you want to become good, you have to learn how to become self-referential.

Telepathy always happens on multiple levels, and one level is the feedback loop of observing the process while it happens. Others cannot monitor it without an additional form of interference, which is why you need to learn how to do it yourself. This will keep the amount of noise low, and get you clearer signals.

 
Realizing that telepathy is more than simply 'visualising a cord' between yourself and your target and that an understanding of the mechanics is neccessary to become better and achieve a clarity of mind is your first step on the way of leaving 'radical psi'. Just because you can think of a method doesn't mean you figured out how to do it. Are you performing a breathing exercise and becoming calm just because that's what the psionic site says? Would you use a different method if no one had told you? Never fall back to lazy thinking and always stay open to what your own mind tells you to, and never fully rely on extelligence. It's the edge where both aspects meet that you can define your methods and truth, and take the first steps on the way of becoming a psion.

 
-Silverdawn

 
Silverdawn would like to express his gratitude to I. Stewart, J. Cohen, S. Delaney, I. Banks and D. Hofstadter for their greater minds.

October 06, 2004, 12:40:41 PM
Reply #1

Alhireth-Hotep

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Brilliant.  It's so very heartening to see somebody around the forums with a grasp of cognitive science.  I'd just like to add that the feedback loops aren't just brains on the one hand and the world on the other; rather, intelligence is critically constrained by--'complicit' with--the structure and the physics of the physical body.  Have you read Damasio's second book, The Feeling of What Happens?  It relates to your comments about consciousness arising from self-reference.

October 06, 2004, 02:01:03 PM
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icegallion

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Silverdawn, this was a masterpiece.  It may have been a tiny bit lengthy but you certainly got your point across.  If you have any more on your opinion of the human mind post it cause this was awesome.
I have gone to search for myself, if I should return before me, please tell myself to wait; tell him I'll be back whenever.  :doggie: *takes dog to help search for self*

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I...AM....LEAFY MAN!!!!

October 06, 2004, 04:08:53 PM
Reply #3

][bG

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so true about the 2nd generation immigrants, im experiencing that right now, at home bulgarian, outside - american.... anyway, great article

:edit: spelling
2+2=5

October 06, 2004, 05:20:26 PM
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Friggin' hurrah. Finally an article that doesn't focus on meaningless externalizations. I've been tip-toeing around basing my responses on a non-energy based model for a while now. Now, hopefully, more people will consider a larger aspect of what is happening when they use psi.

"I'm not touching you."

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Numquam perdito.

November 08, 2004, 08:20:39 AM
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mesmer_14

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Wow, great article. I think I might go through and read it again to understand it all.
No... I'm not 14. Never put your age in a username.

November 13, 2004, 10:01:25 AM
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Silverdawn

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Thanks guys. I'll be writing a follow up and hope to have it published before the year ends. :)

November 25, 2004, 02:50:34 AM
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Falcon

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I really like the concept you are trying to get across. I like the idea of the anthill, and I think it would be really good if you could make your own type of anthill but with constructs. Can't wait for the next one
Finding some things difficult and need a extra hand, Apply for a mentor that's what were here for http://forums.vsociety.net/index.php?topic=9706.0

June 04, 2006, 03:42:40 PM
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Drew Iza

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This is the most well written and helpful article that I have found on Psi period.

I appreciate the time spent to write this and you have opened my mind to viewing Psi on a whole new level.

Thank you.
If I pose a question already answered point me in the right direction. Ignorant reactions don't help me in my pursuit for knowledge.

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September 26, 2006, 11:40:03 AM
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Nalos

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By far, the greatest article I have ever read and one that for once got me thinking.
Now the next task on my agenda is to open my neural pathways, through doing puzzles, and other mental activities.  Hopefully allowing my brain to for more connections, so that I may gain more use from my thought process
« Last Edit: September 26, 2006, 12:01:03 PM by Nalos »