Copyright (c) 2023 Darryl E Berry Jr
Darryl E Berry Jr
Several years ago, someone I knew announced that the world was flat. I had heard of people who believed that the Earth was flat. It seemed so fanciful that I accepted it as satire. However, this person presented me with someone sincere in their belief.
I listened as he explained his reasoning, all the “evidence” he had found, and all the “flaws” with the globe he had also found. Then, he encouraged me to watch flat Earth videos to learn more, and they were fascinating to watch. It was easy to see the threads that weaved through every logical fallacy and incorrect notion.
Perhaps had these folks had an education, they would be knowledgeable enough to recognize the emptiness of the flat Earth position. Perhaps with authentic scientific training, they would have developed the critical thinking, reasoning, and investigative skills to research sufficiently, draw valid conclusions, and appraise claims about the world properly.
That people believe the Earth is flat is perhaps one of the most profound indications of the importance of education. Not everything ever taught in college has indeed been accurate. The flat Earth position was the established position at one point. However, while there may be things we soon learn are incorrect or can use some development, the Earth’s spherical shape is one of those things with a myriad of overwhelming evidence to support, and the flat Earth is something that has been unequivocally disproven many times over.
That something in today’s world so established can be mistaken demonstrates how far afield from logic, reason, and facts we can stray without proper knowledge and ability to think and reason. As I pursue my college degrees, it is apparent enough that any thinking person who attends a college physics class, or astronomy class, cannot help but learn enough to think and investigate at a level high enough to establish the shape of the Earth. Furthermore, beyond that, what we can do with education is extend our knowledge and ability.
For years, I have noticed that flat Earth believers have been stuck in the same place, having the same arguments based upon the same baseless positions – well, almost the same. At one point, they made explicit enough claims that they could be disproven. Now, most flat Earth believers make amorphous claims, and even then, they deny and try to avoid admitting that they made a claim. Perhaps with an education, they would appreciate the principles of honesty in discourse and research and the falsifiability of claims. Perhaps they would understand and appreciate the role and establishment of evidence and not fall for delusions that others or they concoct.
I remember an instance of telling this person that I saw the International Space Station (ISS) come around twice in the same night. I asked him to explain that. The information was new to him and took him aback. However, he very quickly countered with, “They could have airplanes that are landing and taking off one after another to make it look like the ISS is coming around like that. We don’t know what they have.” So, to clarify, all of space technology is a conspiracy per the flat Earth believers.
I informed him it seemed he just made that up just then. He acknowledges that. I asked him if he had known that the ISS came around at that pace. He did not. I asked if he had any evidence of this series of airplanes conspiracy – which would have been odd given that he had just made up the scenario as an ad hoc refutation of new evidence. As expected, he did not have any evidence of it. However, for flat Earthers, if they can make something up that they can believe refutes evidence against their position, then in their mind, they have refuted that evidence. Imagine where the world would be today if we accepted whatever we wanted to imagine about a situation as fact.
Consider boarding an airplane that the engineers and manufacturers decided was viable without designing, calculations, or testing. Moreover, consider a future without educated people, still citing flat Earth believers as an example. People have asked flat Earthers for a working map of the supposedly actual flat Earth. However, of course, they cannot present this. Usually, they do everything they can to change the subject.
Nevertheless, here we are, with people believing the Earth is flat for years and having no progress in any practical way. If most people were as uneducated as flat Earth believers, we would have no maps, no electricity, no cars, no airplanes, and no phones. There would be no technology whatsoever. We would be living like cavemen, while also blabbering to ourselves about inane absurdities while imagining we are geniuses.
By and large, the world’s educated people have moved the world forward. Nevertheless, we know that even today, college-educated folks have not made all discoveries and inventions. However, even those intellectual titans who did not earn a college degree had the necessary knowledge and analytical skills to discover what they discovered and invent what they invented, and in that sense, they were well-educated. Sans natural talent and ability in these skills and fields, it seems that a college education is among the best ways to develop these skills.
Having interacted with several flat Earth believers over the years, I have found that they target the ignorant and uneducated in their recruitment. The basis of their recruitment tactic is sowing doubt and distrust through exploiting the ignorance of the person to whom they are speaking. They make claims that they know to be false. When this is addressed, they might acknowledge the falsity before trying to approach with something else. It became clear then – and from seeing recordings of other conversations they had – that they were presenting a known inaccuracy that had I not known better, they would have continued with me none the wiser. It occurred to me to consider what the flat Earthers who fell for these cons thought when they found the dishonesties. However, it seems they fall easily into the template and forward such inaccuracies themselves. The flat Earth “movement” seems very much like a cult, based on my experience with and research on cults.
A solid education is a potent inoculation against charlatans and misinformed people who would push notions like flat Earth on the ignorant and unsuspecting. It seems certain that education-inoculated youth have less chance of falling prey to such nonsense and, through education, are better prepared to understand the world and contribute to our understanding and progress.
Copyright (c) 2022 Darryl E Berry Jr
Personal Identity, Ecsomatics, A Course in Miracles, Buddhism, Science, Philosophy
By Darryl E Berry Jr
Published: 6/13/20 | Updated: 7/14/20
As a kid I began having out-of-body experiences – what were once predominately called “astral travels” or “astral projections”, and what are becoming in fashion to call “ecsomatic experiences”. Most of my experiences early on were spontaneous. And a common occurrence was floating towards the ceiling, and hovering there, my nose inches from the plaster as my physical body slept on the bed below. I was apparently in an amazing nonphysical form that can move through walls and ceilings with an inherent glow that lights my surroundings. It could move about the physical world invisibly – as well as visit various otherworldly or nonphysical dimensions. I could perceive and interact with other people also out of their bodies, as well as various nonhuman entities and otherworldly beings. Amongst my early experiences:
“Multiple Bodied We. One brief but enormous experience was to become conscious hovering in the out-of-body state near the ceiling on the opposite side of my bedroom as a point or field of consciousness. I (as point of consciousness) could see over my bed a nonphysical body floating near the ceiling. On the bed I could see my physical body. I concluded that we travel in (at least) three different forms: 1) integrated into the physical body, 2) as a nonphysical body, and 3) as a point or field of consciousness apart from both the physical and nonphysical bodies. It seems that the consciousness-nonphysical body combo can leave the physical body, and the point or field of consciousness can leave both the physical and nonphysical bodies” (Berry, Travel, 31).
Premise, Question: My experience is that I… “I”… am the point or field of awareness that was hovering in the corner, watching my nonphysical body hovering, and also watching my physical body slumbering, like watching my car in the parking lot, or my bicycle in the living room. So that is my position. Based upon this experience – and others since – I posit that the “I”, the animating, incarnating “I”, is a point or field of consciousness. And here comes the question – in academia is this position considered a philosophical claim or a scientific observation if not hypothesis? When I think if philosophy, or the “love of wisdom” (Hoofard, Intro, 03:00-04:10), I think of pure idea engagement. One might have a philosophy of this or that, and even live by it. But it’s not based upon evidence or experimentation. It may be based upon logic and reason. But what makes a claim philosophical rather than scientific; for instance, Buddha’s claims and position based upon experiences and perceptions through higher states of consciousness (Haecker, 16)?? What I conclude thus far is that the position of the originator is scientific if not simply experiential, e.g., the Buddha’s claims based upon direct experience, and my position based upon direct experience. But generation after generation others add, subtract, embellish, codify, and out comes a philosophy or religion (or both). Or something else??
Another of my experiences:
“The Desert World. I was around 7 years old when I spent a week in The Desert World. I became aware in a world totally unlike the world we physically live in. The entire world was apparently a desert, with sand dunes visible beyond the meagre nearby manmade structures. I worked selling wares and pottery items on an outside table covered by canopy. When not working I lived in a small sand-colored dome and had my own room to one side of the dome, though I don’t remember any adults or parental figures. Initially I was surprised and taken aback at this place. It seemed like a dream I couldn’t awaken from. But after a few days there I thought that this waking physical world was the dream. My waking physical life seemed like some crazy dream so ludicrous to have believed. Things we take for granted, including much of the technology we have, seemed so farfetched and fanciful from my newly acquired perspective of the desert world… After about the seventh night of sleep in the desert world I woke up there, and then I woke up again here. I thought several days had gone by here as well and was frantic to find my parents and let them know I was OK. When I found them, they seemed like nothing happened. School was in an hour. This all happened in one night! But it took several days of living here in this physical waking world to see the desert world as the ‘dream,’ and this world as ‘real'” (Berry, Travel, 27-28).
For instance, I went to school the next morning (in this world), and I knew where I regularly sat, and I remembered everyone’s names and our relationships. I remembered the subjects we covered. All these things came back or were there when I thought of them. But it was like remembering someone else’s life and living it temporarily – like remembering the life of a television character. This world felt strange and remote – like a dream that I couldn’t wake from – for a few days. I can see that when I could no longer remember this reality while living the desert world perspective, I was no longer this person in a very substantial way. This world was a forgotten dream, and that world was reality. I could also say that I was still the same person in another sense, e.g., my attitudes and dispositions and such. Just in a different world, with a different past (both the world and I), and a different lifestyle. But I can/could still recognize the same sense of “I”.
Considering John Locke’s notion that identity is tied with memory (Hoofard, Buddhism (B), 4:30-4:51; 26:00-28:28), from this experience I can see some veracity in that position. Yes, a person born in America would be a different person than if that same person were born in Syria, or Africa, or Spain, or Morocco. Their language would be different, and likely even their likes and dislikes to an exceptionally large extent – informed as we are by those around us. Foods that taste good to us might taste strange to them, with taste buds and eating habits trained to different spices and dishes. Who they think of as family, and country, would be different. Likely also, values and notions of right and wrong, normal and odd, would be quite different. Their religion – something people seem to cherish greatly – would likely be different.
But from the same experience I can see or recognize that there is something endemic to both experiences – both the desert world memory perspective and this world memory perspective. Even having completely forgotten this world, and having identified completely with the desert world, but looking more closely at the state of self I experienced in both, I can still recognize an essence of “I” that was there before the desert world, existed in the desert world, and remains afterwards.
This experience – and others of mine – at the least suggests that there’s some facet or core of identity that remains despite a complete or partial, intentional or accidental, shift or transplant of memory identification or disidentification (CrashCourse, 5:04-8:26), apparently able to access at least some degree of identity or memory even across lifetimes. Could this be the consciousness that I referred to in my first experience, and is it the infamous “soul” or “atman” of various Eastern and Western religions and philosophies (Haecker, 4)? My hypothesis, if I can call it that, is yes. And again, I ask: From the perspective of a professional philosopher, is this a scientific hypothesis or a philosophical claim??
“Perhaps the most profound metaphysical experience thus far was experiencing the entire universe disappearing. That’s right. I was applying [A Course in Miracles’] thought system to a cherished idol of mine, and when I really established the unreality of the idol, I must have starkly destabilized an underpinning of my identity. The world disappeared and for a “time” there was only being, and then a discernable “I” re-arose. “I” was able to perceive from afar the individual self that I apparently am now, and I and all the activity around it (the world, the universe) seemed as meaningless activity. And according to [A Course in Miracles] the entire universe is an illusion, projected by one universal mind that in the end doesn’t exist either. The stark fear at realizing that this individual self that seems so real and so “me” is in truth ‘meaningless activity’ along with all the world – along with a quiet recognition that the mind perceiving it all is meaningless too – condensed me back into an experience of being an individualized “me,” in a body, within a seemingly boundless external universe” (Berry, Classes, Introduction).
So, what is to be made of this experience? It seems quite like experiences had by great sages such as Siddhartha Gautama the Buddha (Hoofard, Buddhism (A), 25:15-27:23) – apparently except that instead of maintaining some manner of identification with this universal perspective, whatever level of “I” tucked tail and ran back to individual “I” perspective (and sometimes with greater fervor than before “I” focusedly decided to undo my individual self). So, when Professor Haecker points out that “when, in a deep state of consciousness, Buddha ‘looked’ at himself, he did not see Atman. Instead he saw what he came to call ANATMAN, literally ‘Not-Atman’” (Haecker, 16-17), I can relate. From the perspective of the universal mind that is dreaming the universe, the individual consciousness that seems so real when we’re identified with it is instead recognized as an illusory projection. The atman is not real; the “I” is not real. The incarnating, animating field of consciousness is not real. And so is everything else in and of the universe not real, whatever the frequency or dimension. To me the realization is quite frightening – clearly, I have some growing to do. But this claim doesn’t to me seem to be a philosophical claim, but simply an observable fact – if one can manage to observe from the perspective of universal mind. But again, as a professional philosopher, I ask you: Is that seen as a philosophical claim? Or being that it’s a position based upon direct experience, does it then become a scientific observation if not a scientific hypothesis? My interest is in bringing these things more into a scientific light. Or being that these are all “subjective” observations do they fall outside of the standard scientific definition of an observation – even despite at least some corroboration?
“Arguments Against Personal Identity: Crash Course Philosophy #20”. YouTube upload, CrashCourse, 11 Apr. 2016, https://youtu.be/17WiQ_tNld4
Berry Jr., Darryl E. Classes on A Course in Miracles: Contemporary Pure Non-Dualism, 1st ed., (Version 3 2019), Darryl E Berry Jr / Next Density Center, 2016, p. 27-28, 31.
Berry Jr., Darryl E. Travel Far: A Beginner’s Guide to the Out-of-Body Experience, Including First-Hand Accounts and Comprehensive Theory and Methods, 1st ed., (V4 2020), Darryl E Berry Jr / Next Density, 2015, p. 27-28, 31.
Haecker, Dorothy A. Adventures in Philosophy: A Study of Ideas That Change the World, edited by Peter Van Dusen, 4th ed., Dorothy A. Haecker, 2020, pp. 4, 16, 17.
Hoofard, Nathan Michael. “Buddhism & Personal Identity (A))”. YouTube upload, 10 Jun. 2000, https://youtu.be/hYD4ZHnf2rA.
Hoofard, Nathan Michael. “Buddhism & Personal Identity (B))”. Loom upload, 6 Jun. 2000, https://www.loom.com/share/fd93c79dc0324dc985b670909120261a.
Hoofard, Nathan Michael. “Intro (A)”. YouTube upload, 2 Apr. 2000, https://youtu.be/-FHfayETo2c.
Schucman, Dr. Helen. A Course in Miracles (ACIM), 3rd ed., Foundation for Inner Peace, 2007, Text Chapter 6. Section I. Paragraphs 11 & 13; Text Chapter 21. Introduction. Paragraph 1; Text Chapter 27. Section VIII. Paragraph 9.
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