- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: HarperOne (April 24, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062071564
- ISBN-13: 978-0062071569
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 58 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,190,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Brain Wars: The Scientific Battle Over the Existence of the Mind and the Proof That Will Change the Way We Live Our Lives 0th Edition
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“Brain Wars explains why the prevailing brain-mind paradigm is falling apart and why we are increasingly being forced to reconsider the nature of consciousness. The consequences of this paradigm shift are profound, and Mario Beauregard does a magnificent job in explaining why.” (Dean Radin PhD Co-Editor-in-Chief, Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing Senior Scientist Institute of Noetic Sciences)
“Mario Beauregard shows convincingly that the materialistic philosophy of the 19th century is an impoverished framework incompatible with contemporary science, from physics to psychology. The concepts he develops in Brain Wars are required reading for scientific literacy in today’s world.” (Bruce Greyson, M.D. Research psychiatrist, University of Virginia. Co-author of Irreducible Mind)
“In this ground-breaking work, neuroscientist Mario Beauregard cites a range of scientific studies challenging many widely held materialistic assumptions about the relation between the mind and brain.” (B. Alan Wallace, Ph.D. President, Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies)
“The assumption that the brain makes consciousness, like the liver makes bile, and that human consciousness is confined to the brain and body, will not endure because it is unscientific, and cannot account for how consciousness manifests in the world. In this important book, Dr. Mario Beauregard shows why.” (Larry Dossey, MD Author of Reinventing Medicine and The Power of Premonitions)
“Dr. Beauregard describes that our mind/consciousness has a fundamental and irreducible nature, and that it sometimes can be experienced independently from the body because it is not limited to our brain. Brain Wars clearly announces the end of physicalism, reductionism, materialism and objectivism in science.” (Pim van Lommel, cardiologist, author of Consciousness beyond Life)
Provocative and accessible, this book is ultimately less about hard science and more about the mind-body problem and philosophy of materialistic science. (Library Journal)
From the Back Cover
The brain can be weighed, measured, scanned, dissected, and studied. The mind that we conceive to be generated by the brain, however, remains a mystery. It has no mass, no volume, and no shape, and it cannot be measured in space and time. Yet it is as real as neurons, neurotransmitters, and synaptic junctions. It is also very powerful.
—from Brain Wars
Is the brain "a computer made of meat," and human consciousness a simple product of electrical impulses? The idea that matter is all that exists has dominated science since the late nineteenth century and led to the long-standing scientific and popular understanding of the brain as simply a collection of neurons and neural activity. But for acclaimed neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, Ph.D., along with a rising number of colleagues and others, this materialist-based view clashes with what we feel and experience every day.
In Brain Wars, Dr. Beauregard delivers a paradigm-shifting examination of the role of the brain and mind. Filled with engaging, surprising, and cutting-edge scientific accounts, this eye-opening book makes the increasingly indisputable case that our immaterial minds influence what happens in our brains, our bodies, and even beyond our bodies. Examining the hard science behind "unexplained" phenomena such as the placebo effect, self-healing, brain control, meditation, hypnosis, and near-death and mystical experiences, Dr. Beauregard reveals the mind's capabilities and explores new answers to age-old mind-body questions.
Radically shifting our comprehension of the role of consciousness in the universe, Brain Wars forces us to consider the immense untapped power of the mind and explore the profound social, moral, and spiritual implications that this new understanding holds for our future.
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Dr. Beauregard explains how the brain is observable through the scientific method, whereas, the conscious mind is different. The consciousness is commonly thought to be observable only through subjective individual experience. People have reportedly experienced their conscious minds apart from the action of their brains, but could it ever be possible to prove this, or to study the consciousness alone? Dr. Beauregard admits there is a serious connection between the mind and brain. As far as living, breathing people are concerned, the consciousness and the brain are knit together. One would essentially have to be separated from their body in order for their consciousness to be evaluated scientifically, or one would have to at least be able to use their consciousness in a way that would prove it was operating apart from the brain. How would this be done? Could scientists study the effects of the conscious mind on the brain? Do people have the capacity to use just their consciousness without their brains? Have people left their bodies and come back? In this book, Dr. Beauregard explores these questions and claims that it is not only possible to study the consciousness apart from the brain, but that it is observable in an objective scientific manner.
Dr. Beauregard does not believe that the will power comes from the physical brain. He believes that the will power, as an immaterial power of the soul, comes from the immaterial consciousness. The will power includes a person’s belief systems. In order to illustrate this, he begins his analysis with the will power’s effect on the body. Looking at the case of healing through the use of a placebo/nocebo, the question becomes whether the will power supersedes the physical function of the brain. The person must first be conscious of a certain behavior (i.e. taking medicine) and believe the behavior to be effective in some way (will power). Then the body will produce a result the behavior (taking medicine) was believed (will power) to have effected—the belief (will power) being the only thing necessary for eliciting a physical response. The placebo/nocebo effect seems to imply that in many cases, such as those effected by placebos/nocebos, the conscious mind has a physical effect on the body.
Dr. Beauregard regards psi phenomena (parapsychology) as a way to possibly study the consciousness separate from the influence of the body. In his book, he reviews professional opinions and studies regarding psi phenomena. He concludes that remote viewing, clairvoyance, mind reading and other forms of extrasensory perception are not physical abilities. The body cannot sense what is not sensible to it. In this way, Beauregard deduces from what he has observed that humans must have at least potential capabilities outside the range of normal biological sensitivities.
Another similar effect the mind has over brain development can be observed with hypnosis. Dr. Beauregard discusses how hypnosis takes a person into a deep state of highly concentrated self-awareness. In this state, a person can somehow physically separate their own self-consciousness from certain aspects of their body. Whether it be complete pain control in surgery, or otherwise impossible skin damage repair (from burns or genetic disease), the will can allegedly control the body on a cellular level, effecting neurological structures, DNA and gene expression. Hypnosis has been shown to alter the psychophysiological make-up of the brain, and with repeated sessions, certain parts of the brain can either be built up or subdued, leaving permanent changes in the brain (neuroplasticity). Beauregard asserts that the mind can will to physically change the brain.
Other studies of consciousness mentioned in this book seem to indicate that people are more than just organized matter. Out of body and near death experiences; mystical and spiritual experiences; and prayer and meditation all call into question the materialist worldview. Prayer and meditation have been proven to cause substantial and beneficial changes in the brain. The deeper, more intense, and longer the mind is absorbed in prayer or meditation, the better the changes become. Increased and improved emotional control, empathy, concentration, memory and mental skills are just a few of the proven benefits of prayer and meditation.
Out of body and near death experiences (OBE’s and NDE’s) are perhaps the most perplexing to materialists. Dr. Beauregard points out that, despite enormous amounts of evidence, OBE’s and NDE’s often go unstudied simply because scientists refuse to believe they could be possible. He insists, however, that these occurrences happen with enough frequency for researchers to be able to categorize certain patterns. For instance, when people have OBE’s and NDE’s, they report actually leaving their bodies. This is different than being in your body and then seeing a double of yourself. NDEr’s and OBEr’s not only claim to have the full use of all their senses, in most cases, the senses are greatly heightened. They frequently report increased freedom of movement (akin to a spiritual body) and a perception of ineffable knowledge that goes away when they are reunited with their bodies. They can see (even if they are physically blind) everything that goes on around them (even if they are clinically heart and/or brain dead). Many can see things outside the normal range of vision (like on rooftops high above the operating table, or nurses and doctors or family members not present anywhere near the room). They almost always report knowing the thoughts of those they saw while they were in the OBE or NDE.
No matter what the religion, culture or background, the consistency in the reports of transcendence or an awareness of a transcendent reality or being is remarkable. Both OBEr’s and NDEr’s consistently seem to come back from the experience forever changed. Their certainty to the experience is unwavering. They find themselves unafraid of death, more compassionate, under the watchful care of a benevolent creator, and are at peace in the assurance of an immensely pleasurable afterlife. These are just a few of the common denominators of the accounts of OBE’s and NDE’s. And all who report such incidents agree that that their personhood, with all its capabilities and powers, is not dependent on their physical nature, and in fact, may actually be hindered in some ways by it.
In the conclusion of Brain Wars, Dr. Beauregard determines that, based on all his research, the brain acts like a filter, the person actually existing in a considerably higher state while being trapped in a much lower one; mainly, the physical state. Put in another way, he believes that the body allows only a limited experience, and that without it, perception would be infinite. He believes that the physical state allows just a small glimpse of what we actually are, the full extent of which to be realized only after we leave the body. In this understanding, the conscious mind is the true person attached to, incorporated in, and restricted by the body.
This book acts as a good tool for beginners looking to understand the mind/brain distinction. Dr. Beauregard uses both science and philosophy to argue for the existence of the soul, the seat of consciousness. He explores a wide array of studies, scientific works, and witnesses to plead his case. Although his opinions are controversial, the evidence he provides is compelling and difficult to dismiss. He uses his expertise in the field of neuroscience to show how current scientific data is at variance with a materialist scientific outlook. He does a thorough analysis of the most comprehensive and up-to-date research. The book is easy to understand, concise, fast-paced and well referenced. It is enjoyable and educational. I highly recommend it.