The following is a conversation with Diana Walsh, a professor of philosophy and religion at UNC NCW and author of American Cosmic UFOs, Religion and Technology. This book is one of the most fascinating explorations of the interconnected nature of technology, belief and the mystery of alien intelligence. Quick mention of our sponsors Element Electrolyte Drink, Grandmotherly Writing, Plug In Business Wars podcast and cash app. So the choice is health, grammar, knowledge or money. Choose wisely, my friends, and if you wish, click the sponsor links below to get a discount to support this podcast.
As a side note, let me say, as I did in the recent video, on how many intelligent alien civilizations are out there, that the nature of alien life intelligence and how they might communicate with us humans is likely stranger than we imagine and perhaps stranger than we can imagine. What is most fascinating to me is how the belief in the communication with such civilizations changes people's understanding of the world.
And as Diana argues, the technology we create, technological innovation itself seems to manifest the mythology in our collective intelligence that turns the seemingly impossible into reality just a matter of years through the belief of individual humans that carry out that innovation. The nature and power of this belief in both technology and extraterrestrial intelligence is mysterious and fascinating, perhaps holding the key to us humans, understanding our own mind, our consciousness and engineering versions of it in the machines we create. If you enjoy this thing, subscribe on YouTube, review it and have a podcast, follow on Spotify, support on Patreon, connect with me on Twitter, Elex Friedemann, as usual.
I'll do a few minutes of ads now and no ads in the middle. I do try to make these interesting, but I give you time stamps. So if you skip please to check out the sponsors by clicking on the links in the description, it is the best way to support this podcast. This episode is brought to you by Element Electrolyte Drink Mix spelled L.. A.. For many years now, my dad has been a low carb one, mostly kiddo, with about 20 to 30 grams of carbs a day.
In conjunction with that, I fast, often either intermittent fasting for like a 16 to eight hour split or one meal a day with a twenty four hour fast. I try to learn a lot about my body. So I do know through some experimentation that this does work for me. And I do also know that it works for many others, both to maximize physical and mental performance to do these days correctly. The number one thing you have to get right is electrolytes, specifically sodium, potassium and magnesium.
That's where Element comes in. It's my go to electrolyte drink makes for avoiding any kind of bad feeling while I'm on the chelo diet. I want fasting also. I drink before running. In fact, electrolytes help with any kind of prolonged exercise. But for me it's essential before long run special teams use it, Olympians use it, tech people use it. As I said, I swear by the stuff as a part of my keto diet. Try at risk free with free shipping.
If you don't like it, they'll give you your money back. No questions asked.
They they truly are obsessed with good customer service. It's ridiculous, really, but I'm pretty sure everyone loves the products. It really doesn't matter. Go to drink, lamented that complex. That's let me try to spell it out.
D-R I N.K. element dotcom slash laks spelled element but pronounced element. Enjoy. Koppa works for you just like it works for me. This episode is also brought to you by Gramley, a service I use in my writing to check spelling, grammar, sentence structure and readability. It's like a second pair of eyes that helps make sure that my writing sounds more like Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and Sea, one of my favorite books, and less like James Joyce's Finnegans Wake, which is a novel of attempted to read several times in college and failed miserably.
As a side note, Grimaldi's doing a test run with this podcast and they're judging us right now. So if you want to support the podcast and support grammar, check them out, sign up to grammar premium, which I've been using and enjoy for many years now. That's based on what they're going to judge, whether they continue his contract or not.
So you know what to do, get 20 percent off grumbly premium by signing up Grammy.com Fleck's that's twenty percent off grumbly premium at Grandma Lee Dotcom slash.
Lex, do I really have to spell grammar. OK, there's two ones in it. It's JRA MRL. Why success in life was defined by how well you do a spelling or the spelling bee competitions. I would be a miserable failure but I would at least try to make it look good. OK, now here's the tricky part.
You have to sign up on a desktop, not your smartphone.
They don't make it easy, otherwise it doesn't count as support for this podcast. So please use your desktop or laptop. This episode has also brought to you by business worst podcast tech entrepreneurs are in an all out race that's hard to say to cash in on our collective addiction to social media. Yes, they are. In the newest season of Wonder is business watchers tick tock versus Instagram. I feel like I should be doing the movie trailer voice. They track the war between two social media giants.
I have spoken about possibly entering the space by helping build a new social network. This is something I struggle with quite a bit because it feels like standing on the edge of a cliff hoping to fly. I want to keep my mind and heart open, fragile. But as I look at the world and think deeply about it, it does seem that the world can too easily destroy such a mind. So I wonder if I'm able to face such destruction.
Perhaps the choice isn't mine to make. Perhaps it has already been made, I think. I'm not sure. But twenty twenty one for my little ant life just might be a pivotal year. Anyways, this podcast season looks at just one heated competition in a space where the game, at least in my view, is not one that makes for better world. Listen to the latest season of business wars, tick tock versus Instagram, an Apple podcast, Spotify or listen, ad free by joining Wanderer plus in the wandering app, as I have as well.
I'm a huge podcasting fan. Fan first podcast or second. This show finally is also presented by Kashyap, the number one finance app in the App Store, when you get it, use Culex podcast cash app lets you send money to friends, buy Bitcoin and invest in the stock market with as little as one dollar. I'm thinking of doing more conversations with folks who work in and around the cryptocurrency space similar to artificial intelligence. There are a lot of charlatans in this space.
I enjoy saying the word charlatan for some reason. I have no idea why, but there are also a lot of free thinkers and technical geniuses that are worth exploring ideas in depth with and with care. If I make mistakes and guest selection and details and conversations, I'll keep trying to improve Karak where I can and also keep following my curiosity wherever it takes me. So again, if you get cash out from the App Store or Google Play and use the Collects podcast, you get ten dollars in cash.
Apple also donate ten dollars. The first, an organization that is helping to advance robotics and stem education for young people around the world. And now here's my conversation with Diana Walsh for Salka. You are a scholar of religious belief or belief in general. So the fascinating question, what do you think is the difference between our beliefs and objective reality? What is real period?
Sure. What is real? Easy question. So first, let me start with belief, so belief is generally there are different definitions of belief just just as there are different definitions of what is real.
OK, so for belief in my field, it would be attitudes toward something that dictate our actions. OK, so we believe the sun is going to rise tomorrow. Therefore, we act as if it will rise tomorrow. All right.
Beliefs can be wrong.
For a long time, people believed and actually some still do that the earth was flat. OK, well, that's obviously an erroneous belief. So beliefs can be wrong.
Now, the bigger question that philosophers ask is, um, is this belief accurate toward what we consider to be objective reality? So now let me go to objective reality. So what is real?
I don't think we can actually obtain a correct understanding of what is real.
And in that sense, I have to refer to a philosopher again, and that would be Immanuel Kant.
So Immanuel Kant is one of the he was basically in the 17th 50s. He wrote critiques of reason and things like that. So he said, well, if you're a philosopher or have any kind of understanding of Western history, you know who he is. And he had this idea that we can actually never get to the thing in itself. So and he called that the numeral the thing in itself. He said, let's take this table, for instance, that you and I are talking across.
So this thing is a table you and I both know that we assume it's real.
We believe in it because we put our water on it and our water stays on it, OK?
However, can we know this thing in and of itself as a table? So that would be what he then would call the phenomenal.
How do we know that that phenomena exists as we know it is?
How do we know we use our faculties so we use our senses and things like that. But again, even our senses can be wrong. So I've been on committees just recently this year, last year for hiring professors in my department who are philosophers and every and we're hiring metaphysicians and, you know, people who are thinking about the nature of reality and basically what I've learned from them.
Yeah, they're very well that and those faculty talks of metaphysics.
Professor, what's funny is that for each one of them, I'm convinced each time they all say different things, but they're so convincing. I'm like, yes, hire that one. Right.
Is it like historical philosophy, you know, to go, oh, what do they have? No, they have an actual belief they're practicing for metaphysicians. Yes.
So what they do is they come and there are usually excellent philosophers from Harvard or, you know, USC or whatever. You know, they come and they give what's called a job talk. That's what philosophy. Well, every academic does a job talk in order to get it. They talk to us about a department, about what they do. And so it so happens that we need a metaphysician and now we're hiring again for one. And so I've I've learned a lot about metaphysics in the last year.
And this is what I've learned, that they use physics as a basis for understanding what we can know about what is real and what is real is really difficult to pin down. And so your question is, what is belief? Well, belief. Does it correspond to reality? That's the question I would ask. And first, we don't even know what what is real. So the table, they would say, how do we know that the table even exists?
Well, how do we differentiate it from the floor, for example? So these are the questions that philosophers are asking. No one else is, of course, but philosophers are asking these questions and they have different answers for it. So I would say that it's very difficult to know what is real. And in fact, what I do usually is I paraphrase my friend and colleague, Brother Guy Consolmagno. He's a Jesuit priest. He's also an astronomer, and he's the director of the Vatican Observatory.
And so he says this. He's a very smart person. He says, well, truth is a moving target, you know, so so basically to know what is real out there, like gravity or something like that, you've got to approximate it.
And as human beings, you know, we have sensors to tell us what at least so we don't get hurt.
You know, we're not going to fall off a building or something like that. We have eyes to see and things like that so we can approximate what reality is. But we're never going to get to it unless we develop better senses. OK, and I think that that is what we are in the process of doing. We're developing better senses. We have telescopes with microscopes. We have extensions of ourselves which are now called technology. And we can get to a better understanding of what reality is and what the objective world is.
And therefore our beliefs can be honed so we can get. Better police, more accurate police, but can we get beliefs that actually correspond to reality? Not in any precise way, but in approximate ways. So I hope that's not like too big a good answer to your question.
What do you think beliefs are in themselves can become reality? I mean, since you've now adopted the. In this little bit of a conversation, adopted metaphysician view of reality, which is the physics, yes. But, you know, we humans kind of operate in the space of ideas, very much so. Like we have kind of in the collective intelligence of human beings have come up with a set of ideas that persist in the minds of these many people, and they become quite strong and powerful in terms of like impact on our lives.
They can have sometimes more impact than this table does then the physics. Yeah, and in that sense, is is there some sense in which our beliefs are reality, even if they're not connected?
Absolutely, yes. Even if they're not real. Yeah. Even if. OK, so yes, absolutely. So our beliefs are tremendously that they create social effects.
There was a belief that I'm going to use this example. There was a belief back in the day and we're talking about when I say back in the day, I'm a historian, so I'm talking about like a thousand years ago, right. That women had no souls.
OK, so, look, I don't know if human beings have souls. I can tell you this, though, that if human beings have souls, probably animals do, too.
That's my own personal belief. That's not a professor belief there. But there was this belief among the Catholic magisterium, which is runs Europe, that women had no souls. So they had to have this big meeting about it, you know, did women have souls?
But that belief had consequences for women. I mean, women were treated and have been treated as if they didn't have souls.
And the soul was really the essence of a human being. It was it's the it's called the animist. Right.
It's what is the the essence of what is is eternal, you know, when women were eternal. Here's another example. OK, this is an example from my own research. All right. So there in the Catholic tradition, there's this idea of purgatory, hell and heaven.
And these are three destinations that people can go to when they die. And if you're great, you go to heaven automatically and you're considered a saint. If you're OK, you go to purgatory.
Right. And you suffer for a time and then get back into heaven. If you're terrible, you go to hell.
Right. OK, well, there was a place that the Catholics determined, and this was a belief for a long time, like a thousand years or more. And it was called limbo. All right.
And limbo comes from the Latin Limpus and it means edge. And it was either on the edge of hell or on the edge of heaven. No one really could determine which it was.
No, historians are like, well, this person says it was on the edge of heaven. Well, listen, this was a terrible first of all, there is no limbo anymore. In 2007, Benedict, the then pope, got rid of the idea that there was limbo. So Catholics kind of went crazy because they didn't really know. They forgot that limbo existed and they thought it was purgatory.
And they said, how could you get rid of purgatory? But actually, he just got rid of this idea of limbo.
So that's a distinct thing from purgatory. It was it wasn't like the people should know. They have a book on purgatory that came before America.
Cosmic. Yes. I wrote a book on Purgatory.
Yet anyway, so limbo is a distinct thing from Purgatory.
Yeah. And the the the types of people who go to limbo happen to be virtuous pagans, OK, like Socrates or somebody like that and children who weren't baptized.
So think of this, think of for like more than a thousand years, mothers and fathers gave birth to babies who weren't baptized and could be buried with their family in these burial. And, you know, they then they couldn't be reunited with them in heaven. Think of the pain and suffering that that caused. And that was nothing. Yeah, no, nothing. Yet the belief in it caused untold suffering. And that's just a small example.
And that was as real to them. It was absolutely real. I mean, the effects were real, it's put it that way. The place itself, not real, but the families themselves.
Do you think they really believe that? They totally believed it because the table is real?
Yes. I've read listen, we have trigger warnings today, right? So don't read. This is going to make you upset. OK, history, primary sources, no trigger warnings. OK, so you're going through like, you know, somebody's diary from fourteen hundred and you hear the suffering and pain that they went through. There were times in my research where I'd have to put my primary source down, you know, and just basically go outside and take a walk because it was so horrific.
I knew it was true because they wouldn't write something, you know, they're not going to write in their diary something that's not true. And it was horrible.
So, yes, these people went through untold suffering for nothing for, you know, because they had an erroneous belief, but they didn't know it was erroneous.
So it's real to them. Yeah. So I don't know if you're familiar with Donna Hoffman.
He has this idea that in terms of. The distance we are from being able to know the reality, which is there, the physics reality is we're actually really, really, really, really far away from that.
Yeah. So I guess I think his idea is that we're basically, like, completely detached from it.
Yes. What's your sense? How close are we to the reality? We'll talk about. A bunch of ideas about our beliefs in technology and beyond. But in terms of what is actually real from a physical sense, how close are we to understanding that?
Pretty far. I'm going to use examples from what I do. OK, so this idea that. We're suspicious of what we actually think is real is not new. Of course, it goes back a long time, thousands of years, in fact. And philosophers, I'm not actually technically a philosopher, but.
I was one. I'm a I'm a professor of religious studies. Yeah, what do you introduce yourself like at a bar when the bartender asks, what do you do?
I never tell people what I do, especially on airplanes. It's a bad idea. So generally, if they push, though, I say, you know, I'm the chair of philosophy and religion, although I stepped down last year, so I'm no longer the chair. But I I've I have like a master's degree in philosophy. And I was a philosophy major and I've studied fly. I still study philosophy, so I integrate it into my research.
All right. So this idea that we can't know we're suspicious of what we know, it's called external world skepticism. That's the official philosophical name for it.
And our faculties and our senses don't give us accurate perceptions of what is there, OK, especially at a quantum level or a molecular level.
I mean, that's just obvious. So, yes. So I think that you're the person you mentioned is correct in that. I think we're far away from it.
I think you're talking about our direct senses. But, you know, we have tools, measurement tools for microscopes to all the tools of astronomy cosmology that give us a sense of the big universe and also the sense of the very small. Do you think there's some other things that are completely sort of other dimensions or.
There's ideas of Sikhism that consciousness permeates all matter, that there's a fundamental forces of physics were not even aware of yet, like, oh, absolutely.
I do think and this is why I write about technology and I I mean, that's actually what I specialize in, is belief in technology with respect to religion.
So in my opinion, thank goodness for things, for technology, because where would we be without it?
I mean, frankly, I think that it's like Marshall McLuhan was the person who said technology is like an extension of our senses. And I absolutely believe that to be true. I think that we're lucky that we you know, that Prometheus gave us technology, OK, and that we use it and we're making it better and better and better and better. And that makes us more efficient. It makes us more efficient as a species and like. My point is that.
I think that our instruments I mean, I don't want to be a religious technologist, you know, but are our.
Our instruments will save us. I mean, they're already making life better for us. Do you think it's important that they also help us understand reality more directly? More deeply?
I think directly is a is better than deeply.
I think directly more directly is probably a more accurate term for what you're trying to I think, ask me, you know, can we actually I mean, I think you're asking me that question. That comment basically was trying to get at was, can we know the thing in itself? Can we know that?
Can we have, like, some kind of like intense knowing of it's almost mystical?
And I would say that that's where religion comes in. That's when we talk about religion.
And if I may also go back to Immanuel Kant, this idea that he just before he died, just as he died, he was working on he did this critique of reason where basically he believed he he basically talks about can we know what's real? And he basically has this long, you know, the question, can we know what's real? And then, you know, a thousand pages later.
No, I'll just give you the rundown. OK, so OK. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Then he does this other critique and OK, so he does like three critiques, then he does this critique of judgment. OK, well judgment is this other thing altogether and I think that that's what you're getting at. So how do we know things? How can we know things really intensely and intimately. And I think that he thought that judgment was the idea that we can actually know the thing in itself.
And he was working on that as he died. And then he never finished it on a. Another philosopher of the 20th century took it up, took up the critique of judgment and tried to finish it.
Why the word judgment, because judgments think about it when you see a work of art, who judges that to be decent? OK, so there's a there is a group of people who come to the decision that that's rotten or, you know, that's pretty good. You know, like I noticed that you like to play guitar or you choose music that I happen to like to. OK, so you and I both have a sense of judgment, just a sense.
So he said there's a sense that some people have.
Why do certain communities have a similar sense what what dictates that? And so he was working on that. He he thought it had something to do with the knowledge, the intimate knowledge of the thing in itself.
Yeah. So another philosopher that philosophers actually don't like it all, but religious studies people do is Martin Heidegger. So Martin Heidegger has some great essays. One is called What is a Work of Art? And again, he gets to you know, he talks about Van Gogh and Van Gogh's shoes. You know, that picture, the the painting Van Gogh's shoes. It's really a really intense picture. It's just shoes. It's you know, it's it's a it's an amazing painting of shoes.
And I think everybody can agree. That's a cool picture if she is right and say why, you know, the question is why is that a cool picture of Hughes? You know, what kind of knowledge are we accessing to determine that indeed that that works? Right. And in fact, we still like it.
So basically, the nature of knowledge and what does it represent? It can operate in the space of less detached from reality, or can it ultimately represent reality? I guess that's the that's the space and metaphysics that is that. Yeah.
So what can we know is actually called epistemology cosmology. But metaphysics is that is basically what is the nature of reality.
Right. And those intersect. Absolutely. Yeah.
A lot of things intersect in philosophy. We just have fancy names for them.
Another non philosopher that may be considered a philosopher, since we're talking about reality, is Ayn Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism.
What are your thoughts on her sense of taking this idea of reality, calling her philosophy objectivism and kind of starting at the idea that you really could know everything and it's pretty obvious. And then from that, you can derive an ethics about how to live life, like what is the what is the good ethical life and all the virtue of selfishness, all that kind of stuff. So you talk to a lot of academic philosophers. I'd be curious to see from the perspective of like.
She's somebody that's. Taken seriously at all, why she dismissed, as I see from my distant perspective, by serious philosophers and also like your own personal thoughts of like, is there some interesting bits that you find inspiring in her work or not?
OK, so I Rande, I've had so many. Exceedingly intelligent students basically give me her books and basically say, please, doctor of read this book and I'll tell them, yes, thank you. I've read this book before and then want to engage in you know, let me put it this way. They're religious about Ayn Rand. OK, so to them, Ayn Rand represents some type of way of life, right?
Now, why is she not taken seriously by philosophers in general? Well, let me put it this way. I'm philosophers in general tend to get free, I guess you could call it. They're they're kind of scientists, but with words I always call philosophy. When I describe it to someone who's going to take a philosophy class, I say it's basically math problems like word math problems. OK, so that's basically what it is.
So they take words very seriously and they're very formal and definitions very seriously. Yeah. So they all want to get on the same page so they're not. So there is no confusion. So for Ayn Rand to basically say, you know everything and you know and establish ethics from that, I think philosophers automatically say no. Now, that doesn't mean I say no. In fact, we haven't. We have at my university a wonderful business school.
And when you walk into the the dean of the business school's office, Ayn Rand is everywhere.
So it's so I want to say that not all academics are anti Ayn Rand.
And in fact, I don't think philosophers are either, except that they don't teach Ayn Rand. OK, so in one sense, you could say that because they don't teach or they're being exclusive.
And what they teach or very particular perhaps is another way to put it, is hard to know where to place people like her because, you know, do put all come as a philosopher. So I guess what's the good term for that? Like literary philosophers or whatever the term is? It's annoying to me that the academic philosophers get to own the word philosophy because like it's just like people who think deeply about life is what I think about as philosophy.
And like to me, it's like, all right. So I know Nietzsche is another person that's probably not respected in the philosophy circles because he is, you know, full of contradictions, full of I love Nietzsche.
He's my favorite philosopher. Really? Yes. I absolutely love Nietzsche. So he's deaf.
You know, I love people that are full of ideas, even if they're full of contradictions in nature. Absolutely.
And I ran is also that I'm able to look past the obvious ego that's there on the page and the fact that she actually has, in my view, a lot of wrong ideas. But there's a lot of interesting tidbits to pick up. And the same same goes with Nisha.
And I'm weirded out by the religious aspect here on both the people who like worshipping Rand and people who completely dismiss her.
I just kind of see as, oh, can we just read a few interesting things and get inspired by it and move on as opposed to know is there something you find about her work that's interesting to you or her personality or any of that?
Oh, I think she's fascinating. I don't dismiss her. She was a woman who reached a level of success with her mind at a time when that was difficult. So, I mean, she's definitely worth looking at for even that reason.
But also her idea, I guess part of the situation with Rand, first of all, I think that her work is you have to it's misinterpreted, OK? And I think that's the same with Nicha. Like a lot of people think that I'm in fact, it is the case that Neches writing before the twentieth century. So he's got you know, he's somewhat. His rhetoric is sexist and racist and you know of the time period, right, he was a educated philosopher of that time period.
However, his books are amazing and Nietzsche's philosophy is incredible. And I think that I think that's what you're saying about Ranta. And I agree. I mean, I think that that we get caught up. I mean, likely we should and we should contextualize these thinkers in the time period within which they are. We should not forgive them, you know, because there were people during his time that were, you know, feminist and and not racist and things like that.
And, you know, so but each has merit. I mean, I would say Nicha is and I you did ask me to talk about some of the books that made the largest impact on me. And the Nietzsche's gay science is one of them is one of the best books ever, in my opinion.
I do think Nietzsche was. Araba exactly, sexers, he certainly was sexist, but it felt like. He didn't get laid much in his life. No, it felt like it was sexist. I was like, these women are like, all right.
He's pretty angry. He seems frustrated. Yeah. Like, all right, come down, buddy. The fate of philosophers. I just ignore everything she says of all women.
So can we can we talk about myth and religion a little bit? Yes. I mean, can we start at the beginning, which is like myths. How are they born, there's this collective intelligence amongst us human beings, and we seem to create these beautiful ideas that captivate the minds of millions. How is such a myth born? Great question.
OK, so that brings us to terminology again in in my field, which we definitely, I think, try not to distinguish between religion.
And this is going to be controversial, I think, between religion and myth, because we call other cultures, religions, myths.
Right. And then we call our myths religions.
And I guess myth has a bad connotation to it that is somehow real.
Now, what's interesting is that people like Plato, who lived thousands of years ago, two thousand five hundred about, basically made this distinction himself within his own culture, which was Greek.
Right. So Plato is a very famous Greek philosopher. And he would say things like this. He would say that he would make a distinction between the reality of the one God or the one he would call it. He didn't use the word God, but he's referencing a divinity of OK, and he believes in the soul. OK, so but he would also say that the gods and goddesses of the Greeks are just myths. So even he would make that distinction again.
You know, he would say the population is not too bright. So they believe in these gods and goddesses. But he himself is talking to his students and he's basically talking about forms, you know, so, you know, that live and seem to live in these other dimensions.
Like this table does go back to this table that we're talking around right now. He would say that this table is the instantiation of the form table and that there is this table that actually exists somewhere. It's where this place where numbers exist, like the number two. OK, so there we use the number to mathematically, therefore, it exists. But have you ever seen a real one?
Have you ever seen the real two? No. No.
OK, so but where does it exist? So he says that tables. So he was also talking about things that, you know, he says are real, making a distinction between the people. And by the way, he got this from Socrates, his mentor, who was killed by Athens because he would say such things. People don't like to be told that they what they believe in is not real.
Right. By the way, his idea forms. It's just you just make me realize how incredible was that somebody like that was able to come up with that. I mean, that idea became a myth that the idea of forms. Right. That permeated probably the most influential set of ideas in the history of philosophy, in the history of ideas.
Yes. Yeah. I mean, Plato, we know him for a reason, right? Yeah. So let's say that we're not it's a gray area between religious and myth and maybe not even it is gray.
So what how is that idea with like little Plato start and permeate through society.
Oh how does that happen. OK, so there are different ways that religions work.
So a lot of people would call the UFO narrative today like and this is what I talk about in my book like a myth.
Right. The UFO myth. But a lot of people believe in it. OK, so how do these things work? Well, what I did was I took there's a Antonovs at UC Santa Barbara. She's a pretty well known academic who studies religion and she has this building block definition of religion like it builds, OK? And so she says there are there are there are no religious experiences or mythic experiences. There are experiences. And then they get interpreted as religious or mythic.
OK, and so I, I use that with the UFO narrative. So I take and I compare it to the religious narrative. So basically what happens what happens is this, is that a person generally has a very intense experience. It could be with something that they see in the sky, a being, you know, that they see, you know, like Moses in the burning bush or something like that.
They tell other people, OK, and those other people believe them because they say, that guy, let's take you, OK? OK, so you're playing, you know, some of your music. Jimi Hendrix shows up out of the blue. So Jimi Hendrix, who does electric church stuff. Right. The electric church movement. So he shows up.
I was the size for small change. I was I'm not aware of. I apologize if I should be and just know how to play all of the songs. Electric church is this? Yeah, yeah, I noticed Jimi Hendrix's thing, yes, that was like a philosophy of his. It was, yes. Yes. So he thought he was it was like a mission for him, like like he was a missionary and he was like doing the electric church.
It was through his mission of music that he was actually impacting people spiritually. And I think you have to agree that his music is really spiritual. Yeah. Wow.
That's so cool to know that there's like a philosophy there. Yeah. What if he's ever written anything? He's spoken about it many times.
Yeah. To actually do some some research here. Well that adds another level of depth. That's awesome.
OK, so ok, so say Lex is playing. Yeah. One of his songs. He shows up. What's your favorite song.
Oh that's a hard one. I like Castles in the sand. It's a sad one but I like it.
So I'm playing something. Yes.
And I was in boom just like Elvis does for people. Hendrix shows up all right. And then you're amazed and he tells you something that's very, very significant. And he says you need to tell other people this. OK, so then like, OK, I go on social media. Yes.
And you start and because people believe you and because you are a person of, you know, credibility, people believe you. And so all of a sudden a movement starts, OK, and there's the Hendrix movement. It's Hendrix, too, or something like that. You know, we call it something the next iteration of Hendrix. Right. Hendrix lives, but he loses this vibration and only wrecks can like, you know, can can manifest this vibration.
OK, so like this this is how religion started, you know, excuse your audience who are religious. I'm actually a practicing Catholic. So this is how religion starts. They start with, first off, a contact experience.
Not I'm not all of them, but a good portion of them. Peop some person has an experience that's transcendent, sacred to them, and they go and they tell other people and then those people tell other people and then something gets written about it and then it becomes because it's a charismatic movement, people become affected by it. And if if too many people are affected by it, an institution steps in and tries to control the narrative. So this is what you'd call the beginning of a religion or a myth, a very powerful myth.
And so it's almost like a star. A star is born OK?
Yeah, we say institution. Do you mean some other organization? That's a very powerful. Yes. Want to become overpowered by this new movement?
Yes, absolutely. It's usually governments.
So I have a couple of examples. I use the example of the Christian church in my book because I'm most familiar with the history of Christianity.
And, you know, Christianity was started by this Jewish man. And it was a movement that, you know, he was a very powerful, charismatic person. Other people believed in him and then his followers talked about him.
And then other then, you know, usually early Christians before the three hundreds were generally people who were disenfranchised because he had a pretty radical idea that, you know, humans should have dignity. And this was pretty radical during that time. So women who didn't have dignity and slaves who didn't have dignity at the time converted to Christianity in droves.
And so what happened was that all of a sudden it became this belief system that was undercurrent. And then Constantine, who was an elite, had an experience and made Christianity the state religion. And by that time, there were different forms of Christianity, probably hundreds of them.
Well, most likely. And Constantine and the people who were powerful with him decided that their idea, this is the Council of Nicaea now decided that there was one form and they called it universal, the one form of Christianity, and this should be it. And so they they kind of took out all the other denominations of Christianity in different forms of it.
So you can see that a very, very powerful set of beliefs put a culture on fire. Right. And so how did they they had to deal with that fire somehow. And so the narrative is it they decided how do we interpret this? And they interpret it as they wished. But that wasn't the only interpretation of Christianity.
I have another example in the Catholic Church a lot of times, and I'm going to use the example of Faustina. I'm she's she's a nun and she's Polish.
And I think it was in the early 20th century, if not the eighteen hundreds, that she had a very powerful many experiences actually of Jesus.
And she saw Jesus with rays coming out of his his heart and basic.
She called this his divine mercy, and it became a devotion in Poland and it spread the Catholic Church was not not into this at all.
And so they did everything they could to try to suppress fast China's influence, which was growing and growing and growing and growing.
And so they were very successful in trying to keep her quiet. And she died. Years later, John Paul, the second Polish, sainted her and created the Divine Mercy devotion, which is worldwide now, and millions and millions of people.
But you do you see how they they, you know, completely control so far saying that it that it just starts with a single source. Like you said, contact, experience, experience is the key word. And is your sense that those experiences are legitimate. So it's not. Yes. For them artificially constructed, I think for the most part, their legitimate experiences that people have.
Why would someone want to put themselves through what they go through? Like, why would Jesus want to get crucified? I mean, that's a pretty nasty way to die. You know, why would Faustina bring this upon herself?
The people that I meet who've said that they've seen that most of them don't want to be known because of the ridicule that goes along with it.
So I honestly think that, you know, there are people who are maybe not stable and would like the attention, but for the most part, normal people don't want this attention.
You mentioned building blocks. You didn't mention the word God.
Or sort of the afterlife are those essential to the myth, so there's a contact experience, is there some other aspects of myth and religion which makes them viral, which makes them spread and captivate the imagination of people?
Is there a pattern to them? I think that for each era it's different and people have.
First, let's talk about the definition of religion, if that's okay, because most people assume the definitions that we in the West are familiar with, which is that, you know, that of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, monotheistic religions.
And there are that's not I mean, those are just some religions.
There are so many different types of religions. Some religions have no God at all. Zen Buddhism, for example, is a religion that asks you to take away your belief structures like to kind of like in fact, I would call that a Kantian type religion. Right.
And that is basically telling you to get rid of your concepts of what you think about things so that you can actually have the experience like you were talking about earlier, of the thing in itself. And they call that story.
So there are people who believe, you know, they try to they call it meditation, Zen meditation. And it's fairly radical actually, in some monasteries.
I don't know if they still do this, but they'll whack you on the head if you appear to be not focusing and, you know, that kind of thing.
You know, they do things to to basically take you away from your conceptions of reality and bring you into a state of all that is, which is what they call SERTORI.
And that has nothing to do with God. I like this religion and anything that involves stakes and working in order for you to focus better, I'm going to have to join a monastery. So, OK, so so digging into definitions, religion. So, like, what is what do you think is the scope that defines a religion?
Oh, OK. So in my field we have a but a few different definitions of religion, as you can imagine, just like philosophers have different definitions of what is real.
So I take this definition and it comes from John Livingston and it's religion is that set of beliefs and practices that determine that is inspired by a transformative what is perceived actually to be a transformative and sacred power.
Can you say that again? Yeah. So religion is a set. If it's not just belief, it's also practices, both beliefs and practices, because you won't have the practices without the belief.
So you have those together. OK, and it's inspired by what is perceived because we don't know if it's real or not. What is perceived to be of sacred and transforming power so perceived by the followers.
Is this connected to the original sort of experience?
No, no. It well, it's perceived by the followers.
That's a really good definition. So and that's the governing idea, is that there's something of great power.
Yes. Perceived to be of great power to which you can connect yourself either emotionally or intellectually, somehow, you know, to explore the world that is beyond your own capabilities. Yes.
And is a communication also involved or generally. Yeah, yeah.
That's a great definition. OK, so within that falls everything that we've talked about so far, including technology and alien life and so on. Do you think ultimately religion.
Is good for human civilization. Let me maybe phrase it differently is what's religion good for? OK, yeah, that's a great question. Thanks for asking that. Most people don't ask that. And I think it's the question to ask, why do we still have religion? That's the question, right?
Because scientists and others, scholars, humanists even thought that there's this thing called the secular secularization thesis.
And it's this idea that the more we progress rationally and we have better instruments for understanding a reality, the less religious we will be. But that's been found to be untrue.
We're still very religious. OK, so why why is it around? Was adaptive in some way.
In my opinion, many people would not agree with me, but I kind of see it as an evolutionary adaptation. Now, think about religions. Think about Christianity again.
For one, here comes this idea.
When you have this ruthless empire called the Roman Empire, which litters its its roads with crucified bodies, to let you know, don't mess with us, OK.
All right. Here, all of a sudden you have this guy saying God is love. OK, all right.
Well, that's weird. OK, so why why does this take off?
Well, it takes off because we're becoming a a colonial power. That means we're going into other countries. We're conquering them. We are, you know, how do we survive together as as cultures that don't clash? Well, we have to have a belief structure that allows us to. And I think religions function that way. Really.
So the religions help us from the Richard Dawkins meme idea allows us to explore space of ideas and that in itself as the evolution of ideas and just a powerful tool for us. It is.
Yes, because, you know, if if I believe that men have souls, do they? Yes, they do.
OK, well, um, we're trying to figure that out.
You know, why still, in terms of souls do believe cats don't have souls that we'll never will never we'll never be able to confirm that.
Maybe if we get better instruments, you know, the sole instrument you need to come up with that one, please. Oh, cats.
Yeah, not just four cats, but for all animals and people in general, for sure.
You could put them in like a little, you know, soul machine and find out what's the status of their soul.
That's funny. I hope will become a scientific discipline of consciousness. And consciousness is in some sense connected to maybe what the meaning of the word soul used to be. And I think it's a fascinating open question like what is consciousness and so on. Maybe we'll touch on it a little bit. But yeah, we're back to our religions being adaptive.
I think that Christianity probably helped us.
Become better people to each other as we moved into a more global society and also it goes along with my book, which is basically making the argument that belief in non human intelligence or êtes or UFOs UPS, whatever you want to call them, is a new form of religion.
And how does that work with the scientific method? Do you think there's always this role of religion as being in as broad definition of religion, as being a complement to our sort of very rigorous empirical pursuit of understanding reality? Well, there's always going to be this coupling will always define redefine new eras of civilization. Of what? That religion actually looks like so you talk about technology and so on, being the modern set of religious beliefs on that is so is that always going to is religion is religion always going to kind of cover the space of things we can't quite understand or science yet, but we still want to be thinking about.
Oh, I see. You're saying that's a great question. When you say religion, I would I would use the word religiosity because I think that we're moving out of the dogmatic types of religions into more of a I hate to put it this way, but in X Files type religion, where we could say, I want to believe or the truth is out there, but we don't know that it's out there or we don't we don't know yet what it is, but we know it's out there.
So there's this this kind of built-In capacity for belief in something that we don't have evidence for yet. And that's a source of faith. So I would say yes to that question. Absolutely. I think it's adaptive in that way. We're moving into a new I mean, heck, we've already moved into this culture. Most people have not caught up with it yet.
I see that in the school systems, you know, and I think that I'm hoping we can catch up fast because really it's moving faster than we are.
So I mentioned to you offline that of finishing up on the rise and fall of the Third Reich.
I'm not sure if you have anything in your exploration, interesting to say, but the use of religion by dictators or the lack of the use of religion by dictators, whether we're talking about Stalin, which is mostly secular, I apologize if I'm historically incorrect on this, but I believe it's a secular and Hitler. I think there's some controversy about how much religion played a role in his own personal life and in general. In terms of influencing the. Using it to manipulate the public, but definitely the church played a role.
Do you have a sense of the religion by governments to control the populations, by dictators, for example, or is that outside of your. A little exploration's as religious scholar, it's not outside of my framework. Absolutely not. I think that it's done routinely. Propaganda is done routinely, especially. There's nothing more powerful than religion to get people to act. I think.
I have my mother's Jewish and my father was Roman Catholic, OK, from Irish extraction, and so both members, both both great grandparents, came here under duress because they were being what would you call it?
There was an act of genocide on both sides being done by other cultures.
OK, so on the one hand, obviously, we know about the Holocaust. OK, so they came the great grandparents came here to avoid that and they made it. On the other hand, there was an English. Genocide, we just have to say it, of the Irish, it was called famine, but it wasn't one, it was a staged thing. And so millions of Irish left Ireland on coffin ships is what they called them, because they usually wouldn't get here when I happened to get here.
OK, so those that's the context that I'm coming from. So in each case, for one thing, the Irish weren't considered you know, there was Catholics weren't considered, they were considered to be terrible.
And there was a lot of anti Catholic rhetoric here in the United States, which is kind of strange because one of the in fact, the most wealthy colonial family were the Carrolls in Maryland and they were Catholic. So when you look at the United States in our history and you see the separation of church and state, do you want to know where that came from? That came from those guys they convinced George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
I mean, they couldn't vote yet. They had they had they have their names on the Constitution.
Is that not a strange contradiction?
So here here you can see how propaganda works. There was anti Catholic propaganda. There was anti Jewish propaganda and all of and a lot of it was that, you know, these people weren't human. They weren't human beings.
Another thing I'd like to say is that when the Irish did come here, they were indentured a lot of times indentured servants. But that's a that's terminology than what is an indentured servant. So I pretty much.
So in that sense, religion can be used derogatorily derogatorily as a useful grouping mechanism of saying this is the other and you know, it's powerful, too, because behind it is a force of, you know, what people contend to be sacred, a sacred force.
So, you know, it's up to God to decide who's you know, so you have to go along with what God says. Of course. Well, that's basically that's not the contact event.
You know, the contact event is usually some type of very specific, legitimate event that a person has with something that is non-human or considered divine. But when when religions become narrative, I, I would call it by a different institutions. That's when you're in danger of getting propaganda.
You said Nature, one of your favorite philosophers. He said famously, one of the many famous things he said is that God is dead.
What do you think he meant? Do you think he was right? OK, good.
I love this question. No one asks me about nature and I love nature.
OK, so first, actually, I do think and I could be corrected and probably will be in all the comments. Yeah.
Well first Nicha it's true. Wasn't the first to say God is dead. I think Hagel said it OK.
No one retail. He's like so difficult to read.
That is impossible. Same with Heidegger as you mentioned here. He I love him but yeah, he's really hard to read. So Nietzsche is basically said God is dead. And let me give you a context for him saying that he also said this. He said there was only one Christian, he died on the cross.
OK, so he despised Christianity.
And he said that and and the people who practice it. Absolutely. Yeah. But again, he believed in Jesus and he believed Jesus was he didn't believe he was a divinity, believe Jesus was a good man and he died on the cross.
OK, so he believed in the morality. Yeah, he absolutely did. Yeah, he did. And Nicha basically was making a historical statement about God is dead, he said and he was right. He was basically saying that in this in the century in which he lived and he died, I think in nineteen hundred again, I could be wrong about that. So I just want to say that I believe he died in nineteen hundred. OK, so.
So he's writing in the eighteen hundreds and he's basically saying God is dead and we killed him. OK, so he's making a historical statement that at that point in time with science just kind of getting better and industrialization happening. The idea of.
This this thing beyond what we know is material reality is dead, so this the substrate of Western civilization is dead. That's what nature's nature is saying, if that makes sense.
Yes. And he's basically says with that comes the ubermensch, OK, which is the superhuman.
And he says there aren't many of them, he says, but they're going to come.
And he also talks about the philosophers of the future and he's speaking and writing to them is my belief. So he's basically telling you and me because we're now the philosophers of the future.
Yeah, he's basically telling us this is what's happening now and look what it has done. He says now everything is is possible, all manner of of terrible evil because no one has the belief in God anymore. The belief that there's that there is an afterlife. You asked about an afterlife. So with this kind of belief in a morality comes this belief. You know, you can have morals without God. People do. But what Christianity is this idea that you will reap what you sow.
So if people don't believe that anymore, what will happen? And so that's what he's basically saying, is that the the basic anchor for Western Society is now gone. Do you think he was right?
Absolutely. Absolutely right. But then again, what do you think?
If we brought them back to life and he read American Cosmic, your book and you wrote he tweeted about it writing a review maybe for the I don't know what they post for New York Times.
He'd be an editorial writer with a blue checkmark on Twitter.
What what do you think he would say about this idea that you present?
That's a grander idea of religion and, you know, like religiosity.
Like you just form. Yeah. Yeah. Wouldn't that kind of reverse the idea that God is dead?
Yeah, because it would bring up this idea of external intelligences that are not human, which is basically a lot of religions. Talk about that. Right. There are body ciphers. There are angels or demons. You know, there's all these types of non human intelligences that religion makes space for. So what I'm basically saying in American Cosmic is these new things are within the realm of UFOs and ups.
So we know I think that well, I think Neetu would say that that's a progressive adaptation of religion, is what I would hope he would say. Nicha, however, is unpredictable.
I think I couldn't predict him. So I would say that it would be my hope that he would say this is an accurate representation of a move into a new type of religion, and it's adaptive, therefore progressive.
He would probably be uncomfortable reading a book by a brilliant female professor who happens also to be short.
I don't know if you read that. No. Yeah, he's he said some pretty nasty things about short women.
Yeah. I need you. He should be canceled. No, no, please don't cancel Nicha.
You have to take people in the context of their time, although I'm pretty sure in his time he is also an asshole.
He was. But assholes are people too. OK, just bad ones.
You wrote the book American Cosmic UFOs, Religion, Technology. What was the goal of writing this book? What maybe will mention it? We have already mentioned it many times, but in this little space of a conversation, can you say maybe what is the key insight that you've found that lingers with you to this day from the process, the long process of putting this book together?
Sure. Just like with my book on Purgatory, I went into the research thinking that it would be something that it was entirely not. It ended up being something completely different. And I think that's good.
I think that people who do research need to know are very excited actually when the research surprises them.
So I was happily surprised by my Purgatory book to learn that it was a place, you know, and and so I went into American cosmic being a non-believer in UFOs entirely.
And I came out being agnostic, OK? Kind of believer, yeah, so Gnostics sort of open to the mysteries of the world. Yes.
And I didn't think that. First of all, I knew that the government was was part of the situation.
I just didn't know how much. And so I learned that quickly and acclimated to it. Accepted it and. Noted that. Indeed. Horatio, the world is much more mysterious than we think it is, it's more mysterious, there are more mysteries in this life than your philosophy provides for.
So is a sense American cosmic is about the mysteries of the modern life as encapsulated by this the the realm of technology in the realm of alien intelligences.
Yes, I think that I think that I mean, I'd have to go off record as a professor and talk personally as a person.
I do think that there are mysteries of which we have an inkling.
And if it's something as powerful as non-human intelligence, whether or not it's from another planet extraterrestrial or it happens to be from like another dimension or something else, I think that this is going to get the attention of institutions of power.
And indeed, I think that's what has happened.
And although probably. People have had interactions with these things, it appears to me historically for a long time, as long as humans have existed.
I would imagine that indeed this is something that's quite powerful and could change the belief structures of our entire.
Societies are civilization, basically, so it's the same way that talk the structures were strongly affected by religious beliefs throughout history, in the same way this has the potential it it serves as a source of concern for the powerful because it can have very significant effects on a huge populace. Yes.
Is there some broader understanding of how we should think about alien intelligences than like little green men? Yes. That they can maybe elaborate on and talk about?
Yes. This comes directly out of my research in Catholic history. What I found was that let's take, for instance, this idea of an angel. OK, so we all think we know what an angel looks like. Why while well, we've been told what an angel looks like, we see what an angel looks like. Throughout history, people have painted angels and they all look pretty much the same.
But actually, if you go to the primary sources on, you know, either in Hebrew or in Greek or, you know, in whatever language and in Latin, and you look at experiences that people have talked about, you know, where they've written down their experiences about angels and angels don't at all look like what we think.
They they don't look like little cherubs with wings. They don't look like tall, you know, strong. Anthropomorphic, you know, human looking things, they don't they look really weird and sometimes they don't look at all humanoid and they look like strange spinning things, right. With like, you know, eyes and things like that.
They they communicate telepathically with us. OK, so what does that mean for the idea of of extraterrestrials are what we consider to be aliens like?
I do think that. Their first if we are if listen, is I'm not the first to say this, if we're in contact with non-human intelligence, we're most likely in contact with its technology because think about us. Do we send human beings to Mars yet? Some people say yes, but let's put that aside. So, no, we don't. We use our technology.
We send our rovers to Mars. OK, OK. So if there's an extraterrestrial civilization, is it sending. Are they coming by themselves? Are they coming to see us or are they sending their technology? Most likely they either are technology or they are sending their technology.
Yeah, there might be a gray area between what is technology and what the aliens are. Yeah, so but you're saying like basically a robotic probe that would be the equivalent of us.
Our human civilization created technology way more way more advanced than what we could believe to be a. All right.
It's kind of funny to think about like if whatever sort of.
Extraterrestrial creations have visited Earth that we're interacting with some like a dumb, crappy drone through and we're like like we're like building these like myths and so on from like an experience with some, like, crappy drone made by some crappy startup.
So that was correct.
When the actual intelligence is like something much grander. That's that's that's the more likely situation. That's what I like to tell people.
I'm like, no, it's probably a lot weirder than you think.
Yeah. Oh, boy. So what forms can you possibly take? So. Yeah. OK, I really love this idea that.
I tend to be humble in the face of all that we don't know, and I tend to believe that the form alien life forms would take and the way they would communicate is much more likely to be of a form that we can't even comprehend or perhaps can't even perceive directly.
So, like. You know. It could be in the space of, you know, we don't understand most of how our mind works, it could be in the space of whatever the heck consciousness is like. Maybe consciousness itself is communication with aliens or like, I don't know, it could be just our own thoughts is actually the alien life forms communicating like, I don't know, all that sounds crazy, but I'm saying like I'm just trying to come up with the craziest possible thing that doesn't make any sense.
That could very well be true. And you can't say it's not true because we don't understand basically anything about our mind. So it could be all of those things, everything from hallucinations, all the things that are explored through through the different drugs that we've talked about in this podcast in general. Joining us to talk about DMT and all those kind of generic drugs, all of it including love and fear, all those things that could be aliens communicating with us, memes on the Internet, that could be pretty sure humor is alien communication now, I don't know.
But is there some way that's helpful for you to think about beyond the little green men?
Oh, absolutely. It occurs exactly with how I think, actually. So I'll explain. And. I like in American Cosmic, I attained the status of full professor, so I was like, OK, I can pretty much write this book like I want to do it and I did.
So I use a lot of quotes from cool artists like David Bowie. OK, so David Bowie opens the book, OK?
And he basically says and so does Nietzsche, by the way, David Bowie and Nicha boom to two awesome quotes write together.
That's how I open the door opener. Yeah. Do you remember the quotes? Yeah, of course.
So the first the quote by David Bowie. And that's what I'm going to concentrate on in response to what you just said, which I think is absolutely correct. David Bowie said the Internet is an alien life form. And if you've not seen it, David Bowie's interview, where he says that I highly recommend it.
He's so brilliant. OK, so David Bowie is actually quite brilliant about that idea of UFOs. He's also brilliant about the idea of technology. OK, and most people would think that. But I mean, he's pretty darn smart.
OK, so. All right. So I started to think about it. And I also, early on in my research, met Jack Vallet. OK, so he's a technologist. He has a PhD in information technology from a computer science, basically from Northwestern. And he got that back in the day. You know, when I say back in the day, I'm not talking a thousand years ago. I'm talking like in the 60s.
OK, so he's back when computer science wasn't really even the figure was can get a degree.
He has a PhD in it and he's French. He's from France. He lives in Silicon Valley. And he worked on ARPANET, which is the proto Internet. He mapped Mars. He's also an astronomer. I mean, he's just this all brilliant guy. Right. And he's also interested in UFOs.
And most people take those two interests of his as separate interests. And I remember being at a very small conference and listening to him a bit.
And of course, because he's an inspiring person and then thinking, wait a minute, why do people to compartmentalize those two things about him?
They're one in the same. OK, so when we talk about UFOs and ups and stuff, we have to talk about digital technology and things like that.
Now, if we are going back to what? So if I were to say what if I were to believe in and I like I said earlier, I was agnostic, bordering on belief, most likely believer in these this extraterrestrial or not extraterrestrial.
Let me put it another way. Non-human intelligence that's communicating with us. I'm going to tell you how I think they communicate with us.
And I go back to the Greeks again, OK? And the Greeks had this idea of Muse's, you know, the Muse's. So, OK, so there are these things called Muse's, and we tend to think of them as metaphors. Right. But what if they're not or if they're actually non-human intelligence trying to communicate with us, but we're so stupid we can't like, understand like so only people with like, you know, in super amazing capacities like poetic, creative, you know, intelligent, mathematical, whatever, you know, because they tend to do this symbolically.
They tend to communicate with us in symbols form. And so music, you know, symbols. We've got math that are, you know, a symbolic language and so what.
So, OK, so Muse's are probably a good idea for me of what this would be. Now, would Muse's have spaceship's, you know, are those things that we call physical counterparts to what they are? That's another question altogether. But if you know, I, I know why would I think this? Because if you look at the history, there are space programs, both Russian and American. You're going to find some pretty weird stuff. Pretty pretty weird history there.
So you want to get an idea, go back to Czajkowski and read a little bit about what he has to say.
If you look back at the history of our space programs, the viable space programs are both Russian and American, and each has an amazingly strange history because the founders of the calculations that got us up into space, the rocket scientists, basically were doing some pretty weird rituals and doing religious things right.
Necessar, like Jack Parsons on our side was out in the desert with people like L. Ron Hubbard and doing really intense rituals, believing that they were opening Stargate and things like that, and they were really doing that.
OK, so then you go to the Russian side and they had a very specific, non dogmatic, according to Catholics or Orthodox Christianity, idea of what Christianity was.
And they believe that they were interacting with angels, nonhuman intelligences. So if you look back and you see Muse's, you know, you can contextualize them within this tradition. And so when I started to talk to people who were actually in the space program and who were in these programs, that now the government has said, oh, yeah, we do have these programs and they have the same belief structures. They believe that they were also in contact with these nonhuman intelligences and they were getting what they call downloaded information.
And creating sometimes with Tyler D in my book, creating technologies that were real and they were selling them on Nasdaq for a lot of money like, you know, say one hundred million dollars or something like that, undisclosed amounts, but a lot.
And these things are viable technologies that we use now. And and they make our lives better and we progress as a species because of them. Now, that has nothing to do with the scientific method.
As much as I know, as much as anybody's going to get angry at me for saying that. But, you know, sorry, those were strange encounters that created our ability to go into space.
I don't know if they're real or not, but these people believe they were real.
Right. So there's a they have a power in actually having an impact in this world and in inspiring humans to create technology which enables us to do things we haven't been able to do before.
Yeah, and these I like how we were putting like angels, alien life forms, aliens and technology, all in the non-human intelligence camp, which I really like that, because that's that's very true.
It's this other source of wisdom, intelligence, maybe a connection to the mysterious.
Yes, I was really surprised by it.
Can you speak a little bit more to the connection between aliens and technology? That Jack Vallet had in his own one individual mind, that's very tempting to kind of separate us to separate endeavors.
Why did you come to believe that they're one and the same or at least part of the same intellectual journey?
Thanks for asking that again, because nobody asks me that question and. It's central to my project, so Jack was a huge influence, is a huge influence on me. He taught me a lot. I had he gave me access to some of his information. That's that he keeps. But a lot of his information is actually there out there for everyone to read.
He has an academia edu page and he just so he didn't have this, unfortunately, when I was doing my research in 2012 and 2013. So I had to go back and do microfiche type stuff. You know, what I did was I began to read everything that he wrote and he actually gave me a lot of his books, too.
And he told me I remember he dropped me off from this is actually quite interesting, if you'll allow me to tell you a little story. OK, and it also includes ayahuasca.
So everything was I thought, OK, so I was at a conference and it was a small conference of very interesting people in California on the Pacific Ocean. And Jack was there and this is actually opens my book.
This is the book. This is the I go I use the preface to my book. I go on this ride. He takes me through Silicon Valley. I've lived there. Right. My grandparents grew up in the same place that he raised his children in Belmont. And so but we're there. Robbie Graham, who's a great ufologists in his own right and in film theorist, I highly recommend his work. So we are together. And he was taking us to San Francisco, where I was going to meet my brother, who was going to take me home.
And so he took us on this long journey and he talked to us.
And as we got out of the car, he gave me several of his books and one in particular he gave me and he said, read this first.
I was like, OK, I definitely will read that first. OK, so this is how the Ayahuasca figures in.
So we were I didn't take it, nor have I taken it. OK, so we're at this place and in California and Alex Gray and his wife were there and they were talking about their experiences with psychedelics. You know, he's an amazing visionary artist. OK, so he he believes that there's a place that you can enter and he and his wife would enter this space with either, you know, ayahuasca or LSD or something like that. And they would not talk to each other, but they would be having the same exact experience.
So they would it was almost like having the same dream. Right. OK, so so somehow that whole event with Jocke there and then talking about their experiences in these realms of which religious studies, people are quite familiar, by the way, because visionary experiences are what we study. So all of this seems super familiar to me and I recognize that immediately.
That gork. That it hit me like, you know, very obvious that UFOs and these experiences and technology all seemed they were all meshed together and I knew that I had to take them. I knew I had to read everything Jack ever wrote in. The best stuff is written, by the way, is this his little essays that he wrote in the 1970s?
And they were peer reviewed essays about the beginning of the Internet and how a lot of it was based on basically like neural connection with the Internet, like somehow psychic connection through the Internet with others and things like that.
So the mind, the brain is a biological neural network. There's this connection between individual neurons and so on. And that's what ultimately is able to have memories and has cognitive ability and is able to perceive the world and generate ideas. And those ideas are then spread on the Internet, even from the very early days to other humans. So it gets injected or travels into the brains of other humans. And that goes around in there and then spits out other stuff and it goes back and forth.
So it's it's nice to think of the network that's in our mind, individual mind, as, I mean, very much even deeply connected to the network. That is the connection between humans through the Internet. And so in that sense, Jacs, of the Internet as this as this powerful.
As a source of power and wisdom that is beyond our own, exactly, that's external to us like a like, you know, if you could call it autonomous A.I., right? It's non-human intelligence.
The even though humans are a part of it. Yes.
We were invaded by it or, you know, whatever you want to call it. Yeah, right. Is the chicken and the egg. Right. So if I could go on my own experience. Oh yes. I'm not done with that.
So and this is so this is where I come to this idea that we are in this space we're in now a new space of religion, of religiosity.
So what happens is then and it's like a biosphere. And I'll talk about that in a minute. So we so I. So Jack takes us back. We get to San Francisco and my brother, who is your straitlaced person, you know, army guy and everything like that, I get into his car and the first thing he tells me is I took ayahuasca and I was like, oh, he goes, it's going to save humanity.
Yeah. As I mentioned to you off, I talked to Matthew Johnson is a Hopkins professor and he's a really a scholar of most of his history. Most drugs is he's also really deeply studied cocaine, all the stuff of negative effects. And he's focused on a lot of positive effects of the different psychedelics. It's kind of fascinating. So I'm very much interested in exploring the science of what these things do to the to the human mind and also personally exploring it, although it's like this weird gray area, which he's he's masterful, which is he's a professor at Johns Hopkins, one of the most prestigious universities in the world, and and doing large scale studies of the stuff.
And until until he got a lot of money for these studies, even in Hopkins itself, there's not much respect for human respect. It was like people just didn't want to talk about it as a as a legitimate field of inquiry. It's kind of fascinating how hesitant we are as a little human civilization to legitimize the exploration of the mysterious of whatever the definition of the mysterious is for that particular period of time. So for us now, there's like little groups of things like, I would say, consciousness in the space of like computer science research is something that's still like, I don't know, maybe like philosophers kick around for a little longer.
And then certainly extraterrestrial life forms a form in most formulations of that problem. Space is still the other. It's still the source of the mysterious except maybe like Saidee, which is like how can we detect signals from far away alien intelligences that would be able to perceive.
Yeah, it's, uh and psychedelics is another one of those that's like we're starting to see. OK, well, can we try to see if there's some medical applications of like helping you get like other studies of help you quit smoking or help you in some kind of treatment of some disease? And he's sneaking into that. I mean, it's like openly sneaking into some studies of like, how can you expand the mind with these tools and what can the mind discover through psychedelics and so on.
But we're like slowly creeping into the space of being able to explore these mysterious questions.
But it's like it sucks that sometimes a lot of people have to die, meaning sorry, they have to age out like it's like faculty have and people have a fixed set of ideas and they stick by them. And in order for new ideas to come in, then the young folks have to be born with the with an open mind, the possibilities, ideas, and then they have to become old enough and get A's in school and whatever to to to then carry those ideas forward.
So, you know, the acceptance of the exploration of the mysterious takes time. That's kind of sad.
It is sad. I agree maybe to go into my source of passion, which is artificial intelligence.
What's your sense about the the possibility, like Pamela McCormick has this quote that I like I talked to a couple of years ago, I guess already in this podcast that. That artificial intelligence began with the initial wish to force the guards.
So do you think artificial intelligence may become the very kind of gods that. Were the center of the religions of most of our history. Yeah, there's a lot there. So I'm going to start by addressing this idea of artificial intelligence being separate from human beings.
OK, so that I don't think that's actually that might happen, OK?
I mean, it's already happened. But let's put it this way.
Like you're talking about super artificial intelligence, like autonomous, conscious, artificial intelligence or something with artificial consciousness.
First of all, I think she's correct. OK, but also there's an awesome quote.
I'd also like to bring up this writer of fiction, actually, Ted Chang and his one of his essays.
He writes short essays.
One of them was the basis for the movie Arrival, which if you haven't seen it, it's a really great movie about a UFO and it has a very creative way of proposing an idea of how they might be able to communicate.
Well, first of all, how they appear to us. Second of all, how they may be communicating with us humans.
Exactly. And the author, Ted Chang, has a lot. I recommend his his writings, his short stories.
And one is very short. And it appeared as it appeared in nature about 20 years ago, and it is called I think it's called getting eating the crumbs from the table or something like that.
And it's basically this short essay. And I hate to to do, you know, to to do a spoiler here, but if you don't want to know what it's about, don't listen right now. Spoiler alert.
Yeah. OK, so this is what it's about.
So basically it's about human beings becoming two different species. OK, and one of them is created. They're called metahumans and they start biohacking themselves with tech. Sound familiar?
So they do this and they become metahumans and another species. Right. And, you know, just kind of another fork such that humans can barely understand them because they're so far removed. So in a sense, are they gods, right?
No, they're metahumans. They're super humans or enhanced humans. OK, I see that hopefully on the horizon, frankly. I hope so. Not that we have two species, but that we can use our technology or we can we can become so integrated with our technology that we can survive, OK, we can survive the radiation in space.
We can't go places now because of the radiation in space. Perhaps we can develop our bodies such that we can survive the radiation in space. So there's this idea of these metahumans. Now, there's also this idea that technology is just another form of humans.
We've created it. Right. And so maybe it is bent on surviving, thereby using us, you know, kind of as a meme or a team.
Some people are calling them teams now, these self generating the replicating themselves through us.
OK, I see that also. And I don't think that's terribly bad. Maybe it's just the way that we are evolving. It doesn't mean that the you know, we're evolving all the time, like we're taller than we used to be.
You know, we have different skills.
And so I don't see that as a bad thing. I think a lot of people see it as if we're not how we are now. It's a tragedy, but it's not a tragedy. How we are now is actually a tragedy for most people alive.
Yeah. And we may be evolving in ways we can't possibly perceive. Like you said, that the humans have created Twitter and Twitter may be changing us.
Yes. In ways that we can't even understand.
Now, currently, like from a perspective, if you look at the entirety of the network of Twitter, that might be an organism that this not the organism, understands what's happening from its level of perception. But we humans are just like the cells of the human body. We're interacting individually, but like we're not actually aware of the big picture that's happening. And we naturally, somehow or whatever, the force that's creating the entirety of this, whatever one.
One version of it is the evolutionary process, like biological evolution, whatever force that is, is just creating this greater and greater level of complexity and maybe somehow not other kinds of nonhuman intelligence are involved that we're calling alien intelligences.
Yes, it's just a step back and we'll come back to A.I. because we got a lot of the topic, but.
Through American Kozmic and in general, you've interacted with much of the UFO community, you mentioned UFOlogists, by the way, is that UFOlogists or is it UFOlogists? It's UFOlogists, if she's yes. So, first of all, what is the Ufologist?
And second of all, what have you learned about this community of UFOlogists or also, as you refer to them, as the Invisibles or the members of the invisible college or just in general, people who study UFOs from the different all the different kinds of groups that study UFOs? Sure.
Generally, what I found is that. They are OK, so people who are interested in UFOs from like being a kid, you know, and seeing some cool movie like Star Wars or something, and then they become interested and then they study it as best they can, UFOs or apes. There are generally an honest group of people who are using their tools.
And there are generally two types of them.
There are those who believe in the nuts and bolts like the physical craft, and they believe in that. These are things from other planets. So that's like the etty a hypothesis, you know.
I'm sorry, etty hypothesis is what we call it. Yeah, sorry about that.
So this is like there's an actual spaceship look like something akin, but much more advanced than the rockets we use now. Yeah.
And they have some kind of not necessarily biological but something like biological organisms that travel on these bishops.
So this would be like what to the Stars Academy is trying to decipher, like how, you know, how do they do it? You know, maybe we could use that technology, the propulsion and things like that. They look at the rocket technology.
OK, so there are those and then there are people who believe that it's more consciousness based.
OK, so these are two types of ufologists who are known and these are people who we know about. Then I found that there are people who are quote unquote, I call them The Invisibles, because Jack Veli in the in the 70s, he and I think actually Alan Heinicke, his colleague, quoted this as a Francis Bacon thing. By the way, it goes back to the early modern time period when scientists could be killed for basically trying to go outside with the church or the government institution determined was dogma.
And so they had to be really careful. So they he called that the invisible college. So Heinicke took that term and really reused it or what do you call it?
Repurposed it so that he repurposed it so that they were still talking to each other, though. So what I found to be the case was that there was a group of people who were scientists but were not on the Internet, you know, to people today and students of mine in particular. And my own kids, actually, they think that you only exist if you're on the Internet or something, only exists if it's on the Internet.
And that's, of course, untrue. And so what I found was that there most people who were the most powerful people of our society and are doing things are not on the Internet. You're not going to find a trace of them.
So a lot of these people are what I call invisible people who are studying.
At least their work is invisible. You might find them on the Internet, but you're going to find that they're part of the bowling league or something like that. Right. You will not find that they are actually engaged in research about this topic, OK? And so I called them The Invisibles because I was surprised to find them. And I thought, well, this is no longer the invisible college because these people are not even talking to each other. And that's why I reference this movie Fight Club.
In it. You have an invisible OK. And his name is Tyler Durden. And he's incredible. He does incredible things. He's like a person who should not exist. Right, because he does so many things that are amazing. And so I find a person like that and I call and he's a real person. He's partially on the Internet. But nothing that he does around that topic of UFOs is on the Internet. So I decided to call him Tyler after Tyler Durden.
And so these people I've turned the UFO fight club because they work together, but they don't know.
In fact, his boss doesn't know what he does. They don't talk to each other because, you know, the first rule of fight club.
Same as the second, yeah, exactly. Yeah, you don't know, you don't do it. Why do you have a sense that there's such a I don't want to say fear, but a principle of staying out of the limelight?
I think there's something real, and I think that the use of it could be dangerous for people.
Oh, so you mean something real, like there's actual technology? I don't know what's the right terminology here to use alien technology? Ideas about technology that are being explored, that are dangerous have made public that maybe become dangerous.
So you don't have to call it alien technology. You can call it ideas about alien technology, because I don't know if it's actual alien technology or not. I honestly don't know.
But I do know for a fact because it's a historical fact that Jack Parsons and Constantine Czajkowski, who's Russian, believed in these things and believed that they were downloading this information. Whether or not they were. I don't I mean that they definitely created the rocket technologies. That's true how they did and whether their process was exactly what they said it was, I don't know. So this the same thing today. So we've got some powerful technologies going on here.
And, you know, of course, we have a military and we have the military for a reason every almost every government can use. The military has one. And so they're going to keep this the way they should be. Captain, my interpretation I mean, think about it.
Everybody accepts the fact that we have a military. Almost everybody does. Why are they so upset then that the military keeps secrets?
Yeah, that's that's the nature of things that we can get into that whole thing. A, I tend to I've spoken with the CEO of Lockheed Martin on this. I obviously read and think about war a lot. It's such a difficult question because this space, this particular space of technology, there's a gray area that I think is evolving over time. I think nuclear weapons change the game in terms of what should and shouldn't be secret. I think there's already technology that will enable us to destroy each other.
And so there's some sense in which some technologies should be made public. This is the same discussion of, you know, between companies.
Which part of your technology should you make public through, like, for example, academic publications and all that kind of stuff? Like call the Google search engine works page rank algorithm for how the different deep learning, like there's pretty vibrant machine learning research communities within Google, Facebook and so on, and they release a lot of different ideas. It's an interesting question like how dangerous is it to release some of the ideas? I think it's a gray area that's constantly changing.
I do also think it's super interesting.
And I wonder if you could elaborate a little bit that there's this. Grey area between what's actually real in terms of alien technology and the belief of it. When held in the minds of really brilliant people, that they ultimately may produce the same kind of result in terms of being able to create new technologies that are human usable. Is there in your mind there are one in the same is like believing in alien craft? And actually being in possession of an alien craft, I don't think they're the same, no belief is powerful.
OK. In communities, you know, people think thoughts are things that's been said, you know, thoughts are things you can make them happen kind of thing, believe in them enough.
It is true that if I believe I can run a five, 40 mile, I'll do it OK? And I probably will do it. And I've done it before, actually much younger, but I did it so.
But my coach is the one that is still that belief in me. And so. But can I run like a one minute mile? No.
OK, so I guess that is your question. Like there's only so far belief goes in generating reality. Well, yeah.
I mean, I guess that's what is having this to make it seem like. Reality is not was not as important for the scientific exploration of the concept of alien technology.
I could be wrong, but this is what I think sharks getting at. There are other ways to access places in reality other than what we consider to be physical.
Right. That's this consciousness. OK, so in like I said, so religious studies is, among other things, it is looking at visionary experiences. All right. So people do have visionary experiences. They did without drugs. You know, they did with drugs. They do with drugs. They do many have them without drugs today.
And oftentimes those visionary experiences correspond to each other. Now, how do we how do we make sense of that? So, you know, these places actually exist in a sense. I think they do.
And so I think that, you know, let's take that very famous case of a Virgin Mary apparition in Fadima, where I think there was like a lot of people, thousands and thousands, if not like I think 50000 or something like that.
A lot of people gathered to see what's now called the miracle Fadima, which was the spinning of the sun.
Will a lot of people saw different things, but they all saw some kind of thing. So they all saw a different things. But it was. As something happened. OK, so I guess the question is, what are these places where we access, Nonoy, what I'd call like non physical realities?
OK, where we actually do get information, we get like who could say that Jack Parsons didn't get information from doing these rituals and accessing these?
We have to say that he actually did. Because we see the results of physical results, the same thing with Tyler, and that's why I put Tyler in this camp with a tradition with Jack Parsons, I say that Tyler is getting these what he calls downloads, and you can see the results of them physically. He sells them on the Nasdaq, makes millions of dollars from them.
He they help people. I've seen people who they've helped, OK.
So do you think psychedelics that I just mentioned earlier have a possibility of going to these kind of same kind of.
Places of exploring ideas that are outside of our. More commonplace understanding of the world in my yeah, I think so, absolutely. However, I think we have to be really careful about those because young people or people in general, I should say, absolutely can get hurt by them. I mean, but we get hurt by alcohol.
You know, we drive our cars and we get to kill each other. But psychedelics are really interesting because I know that within the history of of our country, we have used psychedelics in various capacities for our military in order to try to stimulate ideas and access places and information that can't be accessed normally. This is all fact.
Yeah, I talked to Matt for like four hours, so we ran out of time being able to talk where I wanted to talk to him about MKR and Ted Kaczynski. There's so many mysterious things that there's like layers of what's known and what's not known is fascinating. But I think what is interesting is psychedelics were used or attempted to be used as tools of different kinds. That's the point. So like we think of technology as tools to enable us to do things in that same way that psychedelics, like many drugs, could be used as tools, some more effective than others.
I don't think what I'm not sure we can do effectively with alcohol, although somebody thinks somebody's committed somewhere on social media, that I don't know why everyone gives is so negative about alcohol, because I think the person said that it's given me some of the most incredible. It enabled me to let go and have some of the most incredible experiences with friends in my life. And it's true. We kind of sometimes say alcohol is dangerous. It can make you do.
But the reality is it's also a fascinating tool for letting go of trying to be somebody maybe that you're not and allowing you to be yourself fully whatever crazy form that is and allow you to have really deep and interesting experiences with those you love. So, yeah, even alcohol can be used as an effective tool for exploring experiences and becoming expanding your mind and becoming a better person. So.
What the hell was I talking about? Yes, sir, psychedelics and Owyang and MK Ultra is there's something interesting to say in the in our historical use of psychedelics.
I mean, think about it. Why did we start doing that? When did we start using those asatru.
It's quite a long time ago. Right. But OK. But true. But when did our government start experimenting with them with us?
OK, our government is the United States government. Yeah.
OK, so that happened in around the 1950s, OK, after quote unquote the 1940s where we have 47 and we have, you know, this you know, this Rosewell type stuff going on, OK, like crash sites and things like that.
So I think that.
I think there might be a correlation there. I don't know what it is, OK, but I do think actually saying actually there's a lot of interesting things started around that time. Yeah, yeah.
And so Aldous Huxley would say we opened the doors of perception, OK?
And what flew in was beautifully put. It would be interesting to get your opinions on certain more concrete sightings that are sort of monumental sightings of alien intelligences in the history, in the recent history that I at least I'm aware of them. I'm not very much aware of this history, but the most recent one I've spoken with David Favre on this podcast. I really like him as a person. He's a fun guy. But also he's gotten the chance to he's described his account of having an experience with what he and others now termed the Tic-Tac UFO.
What do you think of that particular sighting which has captivated the imagination of many, in particular because there's been videos released of it? Yes, of these UFOs. But I find the videos to be way too blurry and grainy to be of interest to me. The personally to me, the most fascinating thing is the first person account from David and others about that experience. But what are your thoughts?
Those videos have been out for a while, actually, much I think in the mid 2000s they were out. But what you have is you have kind of like this corroboration from a group and also the New York Times involvement in twenty seventeen.
My opinion about the Tic Tacs is that first, I believe the people who have had the experiences I know some of them like, you know, some of the radar people and things like that, they saw them and they're not I don't believe they're making it up OK.
I do think that this is being this is being used as a spin. And I'm just going to say that and the reason I think that is this is because at the time it was released, I was still in touch with many people who were among the UFO club.
And so they had intimate knowledge of these things. And the first thing they said was, we have satellites that can read the news on your phone when you're reading it. So we've got better footage than this.
And this is not good footage at all. Therefore, they believe that it was authentic footage that had been doctored up. Now, why? I don't know why.
So I so I honestly don't know if it's accurate or not. I mean, I believe the people. Absolutely. But was this something out there to fool these people perhaps?
I don't know.
Is it SP1 the people who I know who are part of the UFO Fight Club believe it was real and said this is badly done but real.
OK, I see. So there's some kind of when you say spinning, there's some parties involved. Oh yeah. There's trying to leverage that from the four funds probably for funds for financial interests.
I think so. Nevertheless, it has inspired a conversation and just a lot of people in the world that there's something mysterious out there that we're not fully informed about.
And I was certainly grateful that The New York Times ran the story right before my book came out.
But there's the financial interest that to me, as a person who doesn't give a damn what money, actually, I don't like money is except for when it's used in the context of a company to build cool things. But like, personally, I don't know, I find the financial interesting side of putting, especially when we talk about exploration. Some of the most, like money is a silly creation of human beings.
And it's used to provide temporary like the unfortunate thing with money is that it helps you buy things that too easily allow you to forget.
The important things in life and also to forget the difficult aspects of life, to do the difficult intellectual work, of being cognizant of your own mortality, of like fully engaging in life, in the life of reason, to of thinking deeply about the world, all those kinds of things. If you get like a nice car or something like that. And just like, I don't know, all the different things you could do with money is it can make you forget that anyway, as a there's a long way to say that.
Yes. Yes. It's very nice. That coincided nicely with the book.
But also it I think it I mean, like I said, I think it inspired quite a lot of people that, you know, maybe there's a lot of things out there that were like it reminded a lot of people. There's things out there we don't know about. I can agree with you on that.
But can I push back on two things? OK. All right.
The first one is that I was happy to receive money from the book because of the New York Times article.
That's absolutely false. So I published my book with Oxford, which is an academic press, and you don't get paid with an academic press. OK, so money was not it for me. What it was, was recognition that my research was being validated. So, you know, because then people called me and said, well, maybe it's more than interesting, OK, and they did OK.
The other thing about money is just as you say that now I agree with you there, I'm upset about money, too. I think there should be universal health care, a universal income. You know, I don't think people should be in poverty, especially because we are so wealthy as a species, frankly. OK, that said, think about this.
If you are if you don't have money, you can't have a life of the mind either. Right?
One percent. I'm not espousing that like money is the devil. I just think that there is money can be. A drug or I will compare it to like food or something like that, where, like, you really should have enough to nourish yourself. Yes, right. And too much and too much can be a huge problem.
So that's where I come from with the money. And I'm just aware I'm fortunate enough to have the skills and the health to be able to earn a living in whatever way, like I wish of being in the United States, of being able to speak English. So the very least I could work on McDonald's and my standards are I told you I made a mistake. I told your Rogan that I've always had a few money and people are like, oh, no, I was always broke.
What I mean by, uh, I've always had a few money is my standard. What it takes to have a view is those very little I'm just happy with with very little.
But yes, it's true that money for many people, including for myself, is just a different level.
For different people. It's freedom. Yes. Freedom to think.
Freedom to do pursue your passions. It just so happens I am very fortunate that many of my passions often come with a salary if I wished so.
Everything like me, I love programming. So even just like working as a basic level software engineer would be a source of a lot of joy for me. And that happens in this modern modern world to come with a salary. So yeah, is definitely true. I just mean that it can be become a dangerous drug.
So I'm glad I'm glad you are in this pursuit that you are in for the love of knowledge. And that's true. Yeah. So people should definitely buy your book.
I won't be making money off of it. Oh yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Making my next book. Yes. You yeah.
Your sense is there's something as there's some groups of people that may be trying to leverage this for financial gains and, you know, probably good financial I mean, they may have good reasons for this to like, OK, let's take the study of UFOs, OK?
Maybe many people in government that decide who dole out the money, let's put it that way. They think UFOs aren't real. So they're not going to give these programs money. So how do these programs make money? They're going to have to find a way to do it.
So maybe that's how they do it.
OK, so I say this as a way to raise money for for doing the research.
Yeah, I think so.
So let's take a step back to Roswell. We talked about a little bit. What's your sense about that whole time of Roswell, Area 51 and the sightings and also the follow on mythology around those sightings? That's with us today. All right.
So where do I get started? Well, I mean, it is a mythology here, right? The mythology of Roswell, it's it's very religious, like in the sense that there's a pilgrimage to Roswell.
People make and they go to there's a festival there as well, like a religious festival. And you could get a little kitschy stuff like you can get at a religious festival there.
So it's very much like a place of pilgrimage where her raffone occurred. And her off me is basically contact with human intelligence. OK, so non human intelligence is thought to have contacted humans or crashed at this place in Roswell, New Mexico.
Now, what's fascinating is that I begin my book by going out to a crash site in New Mexico.
I have to get blindfolded with my well, to tell you the truth, the story is that I'm with Tyler, who's an invisible, and he wants to show me a place in New Mexico where a crash happened.
And he says that he thinks that I need to see physical evidence because I don't believe.
And so I said, I'll go, but I'm going to bring a friend of mine. And he said, no, you have to go alone. He goes, it's a it's a place that is on government owned property and it's a no fly zone. And when you go, you'll be blindfolded. And I said, I definitely need to bring a friend.
So he said, well, who do you want to bring? I just met this university scientist. He's very well-known and I call him James in my book. And I asked and I had a feeling James would definitely want to do this. And I asked James and he said, I'll go tomorrow.
OK, so I suggested this to Tyler and Tyler say, absolutely not, you know, and I thought, I know he's going to look up James, and he's going to say yes, because if anybody can figure out what this material is that you're going to go look for, it's going to be James.
He has the instruments.
And so Tyler did, in fact, look him up and finally said a. I got to go, so we both head out there and we get blindfold and Tyler takes us out there, it takes about 40 minutes outside of a certain place in New Mexico. So in terms of Roswell, this is what I can say is that according to Tyler, there were about seven crashes out in the 1940s in New Mexico in various places.
We went to one of them, according to Tyler. At the time, I was completely an atheist with regard to anything that had to do with UFOs.
So we were out there. We had specially configured metal detectors for these metals and we did find these OK. And they've since been studied by various scientist, material scientists, so forth. And I believe Jack talked about not those particular ones, but others on the Joe Rogan show. There are no anomalies.
So there are we scientists don't I'm I'm not a scientist, so I can't weigh in on whether I just I just believe the people, these people I believe because they're well known scientists.
What do you mean they're not anomalies?
No, they are not. They are not anomalous. Oh. Now, in terms of the materials that are naturally occurring on earth.
Yes. OK, so that there's some kind of inklings of evidence that that something happened in Roswell in terms of crashes of alien technology. Now, what else is there to the mythology? So there's some. So crashes, right? Yeah, I mean, that's kind of epic. Yeah, and what else like what what are we supposed to take away from this, right? Yeah, so it's weird.
OK, so there's this.
OK, so in religious studies, like I said, we call it a HIROFUMI, which is the meeting of a nonhuman, intelligent thing, whatever it is, an angel or God, whatever a goddess with or an alien with humans.
And that's the place. OK, so the place is New Mexico.
So we so New Mexico becomes folded into the mythology of this new religion is what I call a new type of religion of the UFO.
And it becomes ground zero for this new mythology, just like Mecca is, is the place where Muslims go. They have to go right at least once in their lives.
It's a pilgrimage place now. So this is so in my book. That's how I tell it. Now, what about Roswell in the public imagination? Obviously, according to Annie Jacobsen, who's good, you know, she's a great author, investigative journalist. She's written about Roswell, too. I don't agree with all of what she comes up with, but part of it is that there's a lot of military stuff going on there that is classified and there's a reason why you can't get in and nor would you want to write.
So. So there's a lot of experimentation going on there. I don't believe that it has to do with it, frankly. But in the imaginations of Americans, Roswell is that place. But I went to a different place.
And apparently there are several places in New Mexico now.
Strangely enough, I travel back to New Mexico at the very end chapter of my book. But it's not I don't I don't go there physically.
I go there through the story of a Catholic nun who actually believes that she be located to New Mexico in the gosh, in the sixteen hundreds.
So she yeah, it was very strange. And I was at the Vatican at the Space Observatory when I made that connection, that she probably went to the very well, she believed she went to this very place that I had gone.
Can you can you elaborate a little bit like what does it mean to go to that place? So, yeah, for for her.
I mean, we're kind of breaking down the barrier between what it means to be in a place of time.
Right. I agree with you. This is the field of religious studies. So and again, I don't say it's true in my book. I should say it's a very strange coincidence that I'm at the Vatican Observatory. In fact, I'd finish my book. But while I was at the Vatican Observatory, I was there with Tyler and we were looking at the records.
The cat there called the trial records, but the canonization records of these two saints, each was said to have done amazing things.
One was Joseph of Cupertino, who levitated OK, who is said to have levitated.
The other was Marea of Agritech from Spain, their contemporaries in the sixteen hundreds who were said to have been able to by locate, which is to be in two places at once.
OK, so this is a belief in Catholicism that certain very holy people can do these kinds of things like levitate, which, by the way, is also associated with UFO abductions. You know, people get levitated out of their beds and things like that. So we were sent there by a billionaire who is interested in levitation and by location.
And since I could get in to the Vatican and I knew the director of the Vatican Observatory, both Tyler and I were able to go to the secret archives and look at the canonization records and then go to Castle Gandolfo, which is about an hour from the Vatican where the first observatory, the Space Observatory of the Vatican is.
The second one is in Arizona and has a much larger telescope.
So we went and we and Brother Guy gave me the keys to the archive.
I said, look at anything you want.
I got to see a lot of stuff by Carl Sagan, by the way. And he talked about. Yeah, it was awesome.
So they have a whole section on extraterrestrial, the search for extraterrestrial life, and they don't.
By the way. How awesome is that? It was awesome. Yeah. So we got to stay there. They have a scholar's quarters. Yeah. And so they had to and so Tyler stayed in one and I stayed in the other and my brother guy probably shouldn't have been so nice to me and given me the, the keys because I, I when I got home we were there for two weeks. When I got home I got this frantic phone call from him and he basically said, Diana, he goes, do you remember where you put the original Kepler?
And so I had this Kepler right. And so I misplaced it.
Luckily, I remembered where it went. I was like, oh, gosh, thank goodness I found it. But he'll probably change the. Rules of the Vatican Observatory after my visit, so Maria is she's actually in the history of our country in that she first wrote a cause mammography of what she said was the spinning earth.
And this is in the sixteen hundreds. And she gets her first book and she wrote that. And then she said that she was transported on the Wings of Angels to the New World, and she said that she met a culture of people and she basically told them about the faith of Catholicism.
OK, and then what happened was that the people that and she described the Fana, she described the people and everything like that. And so there were actually missionaries there.
And when they went to try to convert some of the people who already live there, apparently they already knew a bunch of stuff.
And they said, how did you know this stuff? And they said, this lady in blue came and told us and they said, did it look like this?
And they showed them they obviously didn't have a photograph, but they had a picture of a sister, a nun.
And they say, yes, they she wore similar clothes, but she was much younger. Right.
And these guys were, you know, thought that was weird.
But when they went back to Spain, they found that this woman had been doing that in her mind, had been traveling.
I mean, I don't know what to make of it. There's so many things that are sort of forcing you to kind of go outside of, you know, I'm of many minds. I have a very most of my days spent with very rigorous scientific kind of things and even engineering kind of things. And then I'm also open minded.
And just the entirety of the idea of extraterrestrial life forces you to think outside of conventional boundaries of thought, scientific, current, scientific thought. Let's put it that way.
And your story is so freaking you out. Yeah, that's a nice way to put it.
What do you just another person that seems to be a key figure in this in the mythology of this is Bob Lozar. It'd be interesting. Maybe there's others who can tell me about, but.
Bob, who's also been on Joe Rogan, but his story has been told quite a bit, and he's got a I think he said that he witnessed some of the work being done on the spacecraft that was in, you know, that was captured and so on in order to try to reverse engineer some of the technology in terms of the propulsion. So what are your thoughts about his story, how it fits into the mythology of this whole thing and the broader Ufologist Ufologist community?
OK, so regarding Polisar, with respect to his claims, again, I have no way to adjudicate whether or not he actually, you know, encountered this.
I do have friends who are and the people that I know who know his story.
Some know him, believe him. And they have said to me that the most important thing that they think he has said, in fact, one of them, I think made it made a meme out of it or something like that was basically he said.
Maybe the public, you know, I regret making it public, maybe the public isn't ready for this kind of information. And basically they've they emphasized that to me and they emphasized it so much that they wanted me to know.
Right. So that is somewhat creepy to me.
So I think, OK, this poor guy, Polisar, so many people, you know, this is what happens to people who have experiences like this. They're questioned.
Their reputations are put on the line. In some instances, their their reputations are manipulated on purpose to make them look uncredible.
To me as a scientist, it's just inspiring that it kind of gives this kind of I'm not even thinking of it. Is there an actual spacecraft being hidden somewhere and studied and so on? I'm thinking of it like, I don't know. It's a thing that gives you a spark of a dream, you know, to as a reminder that we don't understand most of how this world works and then we can build technologies that aren't here today that will allow us to understand much more.
And it's kind of like almost like a feeling that it provides and it inspires and makes you dream. That's that's the way I see the Bible's our story. I don't necessarily people ask me because I'm might or might people ask me, like the barbers are actually going to meet you and so on? I don't know. And I personally don't care. Like, it's that's not what's interesting to me about that story. To me, the myth is more interesting.
Not interesting, actually, but inspiring.
Yes, because inspiring. You're suggesting that the myth inspires you to create reality. Yes. Yeah, I think that's that's true.
So even if it's like not real, it's also in some sense, just like you said, it does in some sense it it doesn't. Hmm.
So a lot of people know how much I love 2001 A Space Odyssey. So I got all these emails asking like, hey, bro, do you know what's up with the monoliths in, like the middle of the desert or whatever it was? I don't I haven't been paying attention. I apologize.
But you kind of mentioned off line that this is kind of cool. Interesting. What do you make of these models? And in general, are you. Are you a fan of 2001, A Space Odyssey, where monoliths showed up there? Any thoughts about either the science fiction, the mythology of it, or the reality of it?
Yes. OK. OK. And please say more.
Right, so first of all, Kubrick's films are not ever easy for me because they're so weird. Right.
And I don't actually enjoy watching them, but I think that, yeah, it doesn't take away from their incredible brilliance, though, and their visionary merit.
So a 2001 A Space Odyssey is incredibly visionary.
And, of course, all those things that people say, I don't have to restate them in terms of what I have.
It's a subtext to my book, by the way. I didn't mean it to be, but it's almost it's almost a character in my book, 2001, A Space Odyssey. And when the monolith started to appear again, everything went crazy with my everything Internet, social media phone. What's up?
What's going on right now is this disclosure? And I thought, well, you know, I'll tell you one thing is it's this look at the timing of it. It's a cool if it's an art, you know, and then copy art and things like that.
It's actually happening at a really interesting time when all of us are forced to go online, when all of us are for because of covid.
We're completely now invaded by the screen or we're invading the screen like we're living.
Our infrastructure now is completely changed. So the monolith basically, if art is supposed to, like, show us life, it certainly has. If that's an art project, somebody did awesome job with it. But apparently that monolith was there for a long time. Right? I mean, that's the thing. It's been there for a couple of years.
So they said, OK, all right.
That said, if your audience is interested, I think the best theory about the meaning of the monolith is it's Robert Egger or Robert áR. I think it's Robert Egger. He's got a website where he does analyses of films and it's called Colet of Learning or of Learning, and he does the meaning of the monolith.
Everyone should go look at that because I fully agree with him.
When I studied meet different meanings of the monolith in 2001, A Space Odyssey, I was fascinated. OK, so what is this about his? I accepted as soon as I listened to it sue and watched it. So basically he says that the monolith is OK. Can you pick up your your phone here?
What does that look like. Looks awfully a lot like a monolith. Yeah.
OK, so basically that's what he was saying, was that Kubrick was basically the monolith was technology or the screen in particular.
And he basically was saying that the cinema screen, we're being, you know, completely and if you think about it, look at all this.
We live in a screen culture. We have computer screens, iPhone screens. There's, you know, phone screens, we have TV screens. Everything is, you know, and now that covid is come, we're forced to go into these screens and we're forced to live a different material existence than we have lived before. So in my sense, I think that if it's an art project, it's a really good one for that. So it's like that that meaning of a screen screen could take all.
All kinds of forms. I mean, our perception system, in a sense, is a screen between reality and our mind. The screen of the computer is a screen, the the virtual reality worlds that we might be one day living in.
And there will be an interface. I mean, ultimately is about the interface that's interacting with an interface to another another world of ideas. It's also a material change.
It's a change in our mature. I mean, when people talk about augmented reality, I say we already live in augmented reality, don't we? Because this isn't this isn't our grandparents existence. Yeah, and I sometimes you have to pause and remind yourself how weirdly different this reality is than just even like I mean, 30 years ago, the Internet changed so much and social media has changed so much about actually just the space of our thinking.
Wikipedia changed so much about the offloading of our knowledge, the way we interact with knowledge. I mean, offloaded our long term memory about facts onto digital format. So in a sense, that expanded our mind. It's kind of interesting.
I'd be curious to see has just one interpretation.
I wonder if there's corresponded with him. Yes. So over the years, he and I have corresponded and I told him, I said, look, I'm going to be using this in my book.
So I think you should read what I say. And he was he, of course, wanted to see it.
So what do you think about your book? Did you get it? Yeah. Oh, yeah. So he is a non-believer in alien intelligence and UFOs, but he and that's fine.
But I still agree with him that the meaning of the monolith was the screen. But that doesn't mean the screen isn't.
Like what David Bowie said, right, so it's not exclusive, so I could still use this theory but differ from the conclusions in terms a non-believer and believer, there's when you say believer, you also are kind of implying this the that the idea that aliens have visited or had made direct contact with humans in some form. There's also the the exploration, the idea of just alien intelligence intelligence is out there in the universe, you know, the Drake Equation estimating how many.
Intelligent civilizations may be out there, how many have ever existed, how many able to communicate with us?
I mean, when you just zoom out from our own little selfish perspective of Earth and look at the entirety, let's say the Milky Way galaxy, but maybe even the universe. Does the idea that they're intelligent civilizations out there? Something that you're excited about or something that you're terrified about? That's a good question. So basically I would say I'm not so keen on it. I think that our relationship with technology as it is and as it as I hope it will go, will help us survive.
OK, I don't think we're equipped to do it as we stand now, but I think that if we can up our game or let's just put it this way, if technology is an extension of ourselves, which it actually is, it will help us because it'll probably be smarter than us, OK?
It'll help us survive in the ways in which it determines best, OK.
That said, if there are nonhuman intelligences out there and they have more advanced, you know, obviously technologies than us and they actually come from the history of human engagement with, you know, other cultures has not gone well for cultures that are less aggressive.
So you're saying like it's not a good idea? Well, I wonder where we stand on the war, human stem, the full spectrum of aggression.
Well, heck, where are we now, Lex? I mean, we're not too great here. We're still aggressing against each other. No, I know.
But that that will give us a benefit. Right. Like, oh, you're saying I thought, OK, I see. I just have a sense that there may be a lot of intelligences out there that are less aggressive because they've evolved past that. We can assume that.
I know we can't assume that, but if we can't assume it, then I'm going to assume the worst.
Well, that's that's despite the fact that I am Russian and think that life is suffering. I tend to assume not the best, but I tend to assume that there is a best core to.
Two creatures, two people and the creatures that ultimately wins out, I think there's an evolutionary advantage to being good to other living creatures.
And so ultimately, I think that if there's intelligent civilizations out there that prosper sufficiently to be able to travel across the great expanse of. Space that they've evolved past. So the aggression that it's more likely in my mind to be deeply cooperative, so like growth over destruction, like growth does not require destruction. I think, but you see, the universe is ultimately a place where it's highly constrained in resources that are necessary for traveling across space and time, then perhaps aggression is necessary in order to aggress against others that are desiring to get access to those resources.
I don't know. I tend to try to be optimistic on that front.
I think I'm emotionally optimistic and intellectually non optimistic.
Yeah, I guess I'm there. I'm there with you. I tend to believe that the happiness and deep fulfillment in life is found in that emotional place, and the intellectual place is really useful for building cool new technologies and ideas and so on. But happiness is in the emotional place and there it pays off to be optimistic, I think. You said the technology might be able to save us. Yeah, that's also kind of optimistic to say it might kill us, but there's talking to you offline a little bit.
There was a sense that, you know, that we humans are facing existential risks. That it's not obvious that will survive for long.
They have, um, is there things that you worry about in terms of ways we may destroy ourselves or deeply damage the fabric of human civilization that technology may allow us to avoid or alleviate?
Yes, I think that. Any you can choose anything, actually, and it could destroy us. OK, so you know, pollution, you know, here we're in a pandemic, OK? A meteor. OK, so we can use technology or the thing is, is that we we say we use technology, but actually, that's not a correct way of putting it, in my opinion.
So there is a term used by others, coined by somebody I don't know.
And I'm sorry to not give credit where credit's due, but it's called techno genesis.
And it's this idea Heidegger actually had this idea, but he didn't use that term. And it's this idea that we coevolved with technology that we don't actually use it. Most people think it's like a tool we use. OK, let's use technology to do this.
Well, actually, when we engage with technology, we actually engage with it and it engages back with us and we engage with it. So it's this coevolution that's happening.
And in that sense, I think that. As we create more autonomous, intelligent A.I., it will help us survive because it you know, if we coevolved with it, it will need us as much as we need. It is my opinion and how that happens or if that if that bears out to be true. We'll see.
But I don't think the idea that we use technology is is a correct way to put it.
I think that technology is something so strange the way it is today, like digital technology. I'm not talking about hammers or things like that. Those kinds of tools, OK?
Is technology is so far removed from that and our environment is so now conditioned by our technology and the infrastructure we live within the material structure.
I think that, um, it's going to I don't think it's going to be a Frankenstein.
I think it's actually going, you know, like a Mary Shelley type idea of technology.
I think it's actually going to be more Promethean in the sense of, you know, think about it.
We create children and then we get old and we rely upon our children to help us. OK, well, I feel like that about technology.
We've created wealth. We've created it. Right.
And so it's kind of growing up now or maybe it's in its teenage years and we'll see.
What do you think about in terms of this core evolution of the work around brain computer interfaces and maybe neural link and and eOne seeing neural link in particular as its long term mission, as a symbiosis with artificial intelligence so like giving a greater bandwidth.
Channel of communication between. Technology, A.I. systems and the biological neural networks of our human mind.
What do you think about this idea of connecting directly to the brain right in the eye systems?
I mean, OK, I've I've listened to your podcasts with law and I've listened to Alan before. He's very intelligent, obviously super smart guy.
And I think this is very I mean, not in the specific ways that he is doing it, but I think we are already doing that. OK, and I can give you some examples and there are really trivial examples, but they do make the point and this is one of them, so.
Before he started this research on UFOs and ups and technology, I actually was looking at the effects of technology and in particular media on religion.
And what I did was I was lucky to be asked to be a consultant for various movies. And one in particular I learned a lot from, and that was The Conjuring. So I was a history consultant for The Conjuring.
It happens to be my field. It's Catholic studies. Right? And you've got these people who are real people and they're exercising demons and things like that.
OK, so I thought, wow, this is a great example for me. You know, I didn't do it for the money. It doesn't pay well, but I did it to learn.
So I work closely with the screenwriters who I work with now all the time with I work with them all the time now.
And what I found was this.
I found that as the most interesting part of the creation of this movie was the editing process, because they would use it would go through editing and they would use test audiences and a lot of the test audiences and would be that, you know, there's like these things where they test their flicker rates and things like that, the eye flicker rates and so and the and when it goes really intense, they go to UC Irvine and they do this thing called cognitive consumption, which is basically or I'm sorry, cognitive consumerism, where they basically hook test audiences up to EKG's and they read their brains and they figure out which scenes create the most arousal.
Yeah. And so they cut out all the other scenes. OK, so what we're getting is we're getting like this drug when we go to the movies or video games and we watch, we're literally physiologically responding to our technology.
So we're already there. We're already interfacing with them physiologically.
So that's my example.
Now, the kind of thing that he's doing, Musk is doing with neuro link, I say go for it. That's awesome.
I hope he does it. You know, I'm fascinated. I want it to happen. Why do I want it to happen? Because I think that well, first, it's inevitable that it's going to happen. I also want to point out that Yorkville was trying to get this done back in the 60s. In the 70s, he was writing papers about, in fact, the ARPANET, the proto Internet, was called augmentation of the Human Intellect.
So we've been doing this for a while.
OK, so props to Elon Musk, but we've been thinking about this for a good time. We've even been visioning it.
OK, so there was a really interesting Jesuit priest who's French Atelier de Chardon. I don't know if you know who he is. If not, he's fascinating. He was a he was actually a soldier before he became a priest. And so he believed he also saw what he called a biosphere.
Now, this guy is talking in like the early 20th century, like the nineteen seventeen, you know, that time period. And so basically, he he said and wrote about this thing called the noosphere, and he basically said there will be a point when we merge with our technology and it's going to be somewhat like some kind of a biosphere. We have this atmosphere and then we have the stratosphere and it's going to be this biosphere and we're all going to be hooked into it mentally.
So we'll be able to communicate in a way in which we don't communicate now. So, you know, that sounds so similar to the singularity.
So after I read him many, many years ago, but when I read the Kurzweil book about the singularity, to me it read just like religious language, like it read like, you know, because he in fact, it's so much like revelation to me when I read it that I even assign it to my students in my classes.
I'm like, this is this is it.
You know, this is like a really great book of the singularity, you know, the singularity and this religious event, because it seems like it when he writes about it, he says, I felt it before I even understood it.
You know, he I mean, Kurzweil, Kurzweil, Yakkers.
I mean, what are your feelings about feelings, thoughts, feelings, too, about the idea of the singularity?
Do you think it's ultimately the thing that echoes throughout the history of ideas?
Is this like moment of revelation like this, this almost mythological religious moment, or is there something more?
Physical to this idea of concrete, concrete about the idea of the will come a point where our technology there would be like a phase shift between the the basic fabric of like humanity, of how we interact, you know, how evolution brought us to be this biological interaction, that our technology crosses some kind of line of capability, that the world would be more technology than human to where it leave us behind. Sort of, oh, yeah, I don't think it's going to leave us behind, I think it's going to take us a long.
But it will be I mean, I guess they did a singularity, first of all, isn't the idea that singularity is like we can't possibly predict what's on the other side of the singularity? These are the senses. Like this is like the world will be fundamentally transformed.
Yes. OK, so. Right. And then it was you know, this was characterized in various movies like Lucy and stuff like that. You know, Lucy being the first human that we so kind of replicating. This is going to be the next iteration of humans is the singularity.
And I actually don't believe that, frankly. However, and the reason I don't believe it is because we're material beings and technology has to have a host. So we're not going to, you know, become something super abstract, like it's just impossible to do. There's nothing like that.
Or people would be listening to this podcast one hundred years from now and laughing at it because they'll be all in a virtual reality will be all information as opposed to material meaning connected to some kind of concept, the physical, physical reality. I don't even know the right words to use.
You see, that's because there are none, because there's no place for there's no view from nowhere. There's no non material.
Like we have thoughts, but they're connected to us right there in our you know, they're somehow OK as far as as far as you know, listen, platonic forms, I think is about is is, you know, close to what we're talking about is possible, like this place where these things exist. And then there's like a physical instantiation of it, not busy work.
The question is, from the perspective of the platonic form, what is our physical world look like? You know, I'm saying like, you know, say your creature existing in a virtual reality, like if you grew up your whole life.
In a virtual reality game, like what is it in somebody in that virtual reality world tells you that there actually exists the physical world? And in fact, your own you think you're in this virtual world, but it's actually you're in a body and this is just your mind putting yourself and there's a piece of technology like what will they how will they be able to think of their physical world?
Well, they sound exactly like you just sounded a minute ago saying like, well, this really who cares if there's a physical world? It's the entirety of the perception and my memories and all of that is in this other realm of of like information. It's just all just information. Why do I need some kind of weird meat bag to contain?
So there's a great again, I always, you know, return to something for your audience to read or you. There's a great, very short article online for Free by David Chalmers. Do you know him?
He's the philosopher of consciousness. Yeah. Interviewed him on this podcast. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
I used to I was friends with his best friend for a while and when I was in grad school, he probably has some weird friends.
Yes, he's a philosopher.
OK, so I like his fashion choice and his style to hang out with the movie, but it's a great gift.
OK, so he wrote this article, which I use a lot. I love it because it's accessible to undergraduates and it's called Matrix as metaphysics. And basically it's it's an answer to external world skepticism, which is basically how do we know there's an external world.
Right. How do we know that we're not in a matrix right now?
And so basically, he's using he's he's also he even references he uses a religious reference. Even he says you could think of the matrix of the movie as a new as the new book of Genesis for our new world. Right.
And I thought, yeah, that's absolutely correct, because, you know, we don't know and we don't we won't know for sure or for certain.
Therefore, what we know is what is real to us.
And so he goes through these scenarios and within philosophy is called there's a this is different from that. But it's like this brain in a VAT, right?
If you're a brain in a VAT and some not so kind scientist, just like recreating this world for you just to see, you know, and you think you're this awesome rock star.
Right. And you're living this awesome existence, but actually just this brain in this VAT. OK, but there's still a brain in a VAT. OK, so his idea in The Matrix says metaphysics kind of takes out the brain in a vat like this. I don't know if this is possible. So I've read critiques of this that, you know, what you're talking about is a non dualism.
Like there's like, you know, or it's not necessarily a non dualism.
I just I mean, information in and of itself. Has to have some kind of material component to it. I mean, it's that that when taking it outside the realm of human beings, because dualisms kind of talking about humans. Yeah. In a sense, it's just possible to me that there could be creatures that exist. In a very different form, perhaps rely on very different set of materials. Yes, that that may perhaps not even look like materials to us.
Yes, I agree. Which is why I like information. It could be even in computers.
The information that's traveling inside a computer is connected to actual material movement.
Right. All right. So there it is ultimately connected to maturer movement, but it's less and less about the material and more and more about the information.
So I just mean that it's possible that you think the singularity is basically like sloughing off our material existence.
I don't know. I can tell you that this has been the hope of philosophers and theologians forever.
Yeah, well, I don't I think we're living through a singularity. I don't think I think this world just just like as you said already.
It has been already transformed significantly. It keeps continually being transformed. Yes, and we're just riding this.
Yeah, we are big, beautiful wave of transformation. And that's why it's both exciting and terrifying.
From a scientific perspective, they're like. We're so bad at predicting the future and the future is always so amazing in terms of the things that has brought us. I mean, I don't know if it's always will be this exciting in terms of the rate of innovation, but it seems to be increasing still as really exciting. It's exciting to you. Yes, it's terrifying because obviously we're building better and better tools for destroying ourselves. But I on the optimistic side, believe that we also can build better and better tools to defend against all the ways we could destroy ourselves in this kind of this interesting race of innovation.
Yeah, books are great. Of course, the greatest book of all time. Two of the greatest books of all time are yours.
But besides those, what what books, technical fiction or philosophical, had an impact on your life or possibly think others might want to read and get some insights from. And what ideas did you pick up from them?
Great. OK, I really enjoy Nicha. OK, so anything by nature. Frederick Nicha, he's a philosopher, actually hated him when I first read him in my early 20s.
I think the opposite of most people's experience. Right. They usually love them in their 20s and then they throw them to the curb later. Yeah. Yeah.
I think he's totally misrepresented and misinterpreted. He grows on you. Well it happened in one night.
So let me just describe it because it's kind of funny. Happened on New Year's. So I had friends and when I was in my 20s and they were kept they kept telling me, you have to renege, you have to read Nietzsche.
And I tried, OK, but again, you know, no, I didn't like I was not into how he described the philosophical concepts he was trying to get across.
So but they were they weren't giving up. I'm very persistent friends. So one of them gave me the gay science and I had it on my bookstand and it was New Year's Eve. And I'm actually not a big part. I'm actually an introvert. I'm I'm a geeky introvert, OK, so I don't go out and party a lot.
It was your New Year's Eve. Even that can get me out to go party.
So I just wanted to go to bed. Yeah.
And New Year's Eve here.
And everybody went out and I was asleep and they woke me up and I was like, darn, they woke me up. I might as well read this book by nature.
OK, so I picked it up.
And lo and behold, I turned to a page that was exactly about it was called Sanctus Januaries, which is basically Saint Jan, and it was about New Year's Eve. And I thought, wow, what a weird coincidence. And it was a really it was also super Catholic and it was a really beautiful little aphorism. It's actually a book of aphorisms which are kind of religious right. And so it's really just the genre is really just put it that way.
But he's not. So basically, he says today's the day when people are supposed to make these resolutions. Right.
And he says from here on out, I will never say no. I will only say yes, OK, I look away.
If something is horrible, I'll just look away from it. I won't get angry at it. And then he also says, I will be like Saint Jan and say Jan is actually the saint whose blood is in this place in Italy. I think it's in Italy or and and every year it turns it turns to blood again.
So it's like dessicated is, you know, since this miracle says my blood is now, it flows again. And I was like, wow, that's really beautiful. And I said, and a strange coincidence because it just turned, you know, twelve.
So it's like New Year's Eve. I pick up the book. I read this aphorism. I said, strange coincidence that and then I turn the page and the pages about coincidences. And I was like I said it and I thought, this is weird.
And I felt like she was alive. I felt like the book was alive and each was speaking. So I had a like experience, an engagement with Nicha. Yeah. And so after that I couldn't put his stuff down. It is engaging, fascinating everything. So. Yeah. So that's one book The Gay Science avoided.
What did you pick up from from the Gay Science Fair. From Nietzsche in general. There's some ideas there. Yeah. Yeah.
The idea is basically that truth. He's got awesome one liners, you know.
So truth is a woman so OK, what does, what does he mean by that. Truth is a woman basically she's going to lie to you. She looks real attractive. Yeah. But she's not going to tell you the truth.
So, OK, so basically I'm not saying that that's true about women. I'm obviously a woman. So he's so basically what he's saying is that truth is not is like what I say, brother. Guy said it's a moving target. OK, we started this whole. Obsession with what's real, right? So I should have just gone straight into have not you heard struth is a woman, you know. OK, so truth is women. All right.
Say that. And also and you know, fuko this other philosopher, a French philosopher, actually takes up this idea and create his own framework called geneology from it.
So the genealogy of morals so that we only believe certain things and we, we sediment to them into truth. So we say, you know, truth told. Who said that? Was it Lenin or Stalin? A truth told enough times. I mean, a lie told enough times becomes the truth. Yeah. So that's basically Nishan right there. OK, so that's Nicha.
So Nietzsche also is a huge critic of Christianity, which I'm actually Catholic. I'm a practicing Catholic, so I appreciated his critique. I thought it was actually quite accurate. And he's a critique of religion in general. And and he's fascinating. And also, I find that his he talks about altered states of consciousness and he calls them elevated states. And he I think through his book, you can actually experience elevated states.
So, yeah, nicha thumbs up. So what are the books. Yeah. OK, so honna rent. She is a philosopher that not a lot of people know about, but she's a Jewish woman during the Holocaust and she was interned, interned at Bergen Belsen, which was basically Auschwitz for women and she escaped. She came to the United States and she had worked with Heidecker, even though he's supposed to be anti-Semitic and a Nazi and everything, but they were lovers.
OK, so she comes out and she's at Columbia University and she teaches philosophy there and she writes this. She writes two books, which I recommend. One is called Eichmann in Jerusalem, where she attends the Nuremberg trials. And she basically makes this really astute observation about evil. And she says Eichmann is one of the people who sent the Jews to the concentration camps, who ran the trains, OK?
And she said the thing about Eichmann was that he didn't seem particularly evil. Actually, he seemed to be quite a nice guy. She said what was interesting about it was he seemed incredibly thoughtless and stupid. And she said and used a lot of stereotypes like Meems. So she actually wrote about Meems before we had them. And now people just use Meems and they're actually used against us.
Even there's even a segment of warfare called nomadic warfare. All right. So, Meems, are something that can sway a whole population of people.
So she wrote about Meems before they were even in existence. And that's why Eichmann in Jerusalem. I think she also has some really amazing things to say about evil, is that when people remain thoughtless, she has another book called The Life of the Mind, which is gigantic.
And I don't think anybody will read it. But frankly, it's one of the best books I've ever read and I've read it many times. And basically the life of the mine in the life of the man. She asks a very simple question. She says, Why do people do bad things? Why are they evil? And what she says, she wonders if it's she says that bad people sleep well at night contrary to, you know, how the saying how do you sleep at night?
Well, that's only because you're a good person that you're asking that question because you actually have a conscience and a conscience. Is this dual kind of you fight with yourself about the consequences of your actions. And she says bad people don't seem to have a conscience, so they actually sleep well at night.
And so she goes through the whole history of philosophy about evil. And that's really a good one, too. But I've also have to recommend this one, too. There's one more so I know I recommend to. But just from the same philosopher, my friend Jeffrey Christl, he's at Rice University and he's in my fields religious studies.
He wrote he's written several books. I mean, he's written a heck of a lot of books, let's put it that way. But he's his I think his best book are the one that impacted me the most is called Authors of the Impossible.
And his book is his writing is very much like his writing in the sense that he it's almost as if he reaches out of the pages and he grabs you and kind of slaps you around and says, think about this, you know, and you can't help but be changed after you've read it. And he's got a great chapter in there about Jack Villy.
Oh, so he covers a bunch of different thinkers and authors that are that somehow are what is that? Renegade is a message to revolutionize America.
They're thinking the impossible. There's a great one he's written called Mutants and Mystics, where he talks about the comic strips, the gosh, I can't remember the name of the person.
He just died. Stanley, he talks about the history of the comics by Stan Lee. And they're all paranormal. They all start off super paranormal. And it's fascinating.
On the topic of on a rant, yeah, I rent a rent, so I haven't read her work, but I've vaguely touched upon sort of like commentary of her work.
And it seems like some people think her work is dangerous in some aspect. And if you can comment on. Why that is because it feels like similar with Ayn Rand or something like that, yeah, we're like this is not dangerous, but controversial. Yes, it is.
Yes, they think it's controversial. This is the reason I believe I've heard of the controversy. The controversy is that she didn't she first of all, he is Jewish and she did escape a concentration camp. And yet she's called it she's been called anti Jewish. And I think part of that was that she basically was saying something.
That I believe that a lot of normal people are like Eichman and evil things are done by people who just follow the rules and they don't think about what they're doing. And that's one of the most pernicious forms of evil of our time.
So we talk quite a bit about the definitions of religion. And what are the different building blocks of religion?
So one of the I don't think we touched on a little bit with afterlife, but in the sense I don't know if you're familiar with Ernest Becker work and all the philosophies around there about the fear of death and how the fear of our own mortality, our awareness of our own mortality and its fear is in case of Ernest Becker, is a significant component in the psychology in the way we humans develop our understanding of the world.
So what are your thoughts in the context of religion or maybe in the context of your own mind about the role of death in life or fear of death in life? And are you afraid of death? We cover everything in this case is covered.
Wow, OK. OK, I so happen to have benefited perhaps from living with an older brother who seemingly had no fear of death while growing up.
And he did everything OK. So he was he climbed mountains. He was a rock climber. He jumped out of airplanes. Of course, he had to be a Green Beret and go into the special forces where that type of thing is a requirement. Right.
And so because of that, I did a lot of things outside of my comfort zone and which probably I shouldn't have done and hope hope to goodness my kids don't do them.
OK, OK, so do you. So I do I fear death.
And I think about death a lot. Actually, you may not know this about me, but in my field I was the head I was the co-chair of the death panel.
It's called the death panel there. It's like it's the panel to think about death in religious studies.
And I was that for many years. So I've thought about it a bit.
A bit. Let's see. I think that people are a little too confident, I think, about life in general, that they're going to kind of live all the time and not die. I happen to I mean, I hate to say it. I'm super positive. And most people would consider me to be too happy, almost. Right.
And so it's odd then that I spend a lot of time thinking about death, but I wonder if there's a connection there.
Yeah, I'm happy to be alive.
That's kind of what the thinking about death does is.
It makes you appreciate the days that you do have. Yeah, it's a it's a weird contrast.
I don't believe that the fact that this life ends gives each day a significant amount of meaning. So I don't know. It seems like an important feature of life. It's not like a bug as it seems like a feature that ends. But it's a strange feature because I wish it I call the good stuff. You wish it wouldn't end.
Well, you know, it's interesting, Lex and I do point this out to my students because we cover in a lot of the basic studies courses I teach. We cover all religions or as many as we can like the major religions.
And so take Hinduism, for example. And now this is an ancient religion.
OK, so you and I are here talking about how we enjoy living life and things like that.
Well, the goal of Hinduism is basically never to get reincarnated again is basically to not live OK and to get off samsara, which is the wheel of life and death.
Yeah. So escape the whole. Yeah, exactly.
I can think of that. Conditions are so different that you and I and my students are happy to be alive, but they're back in the day. You know, thousands of years ago when they wrote, when they actually didn't write it, they spoke the Vedas, which were the sacred traditions of India.
They wanted off. They didn't want to come back. Life was terrible. That's what people don't have the adequate understanding of history that for the majority of people, life is really hard.
Right. And you and I and your audience are among the lucky.
Yeah. That we actually life like life.
We want to live most of the time. Yeah, most of the time.
What do you think the biggest since we're covering every single topic for me is the biggest one, the unanswerable one from the perspective of alien intelligence or from the perspective religious studies or from the perspective of just Diana, what do you think is the meaning of the existence of this life of ours?
OK, so all right. So well, of course, I have to my philosophical training as an undergrad always makes me think about, like, what's the assumption in your question? There's an assumption there. It's like there is a meaning.
OK, that's the assumption I meaning what do you mean by life? You define the terms. No, no. But listen, OK, I'll answer your question. I'm just going to say that there's this assumption that we should have meaning to life. OK, well, maybe we shouldn't. Maybe it's just all random, OK? However, I believe that it's not. And in my opinion on the meaning of life, in my opinion, is an intrinsic I enjoy living.
I want to live sometimes I don't enjoy living. And when I don't enjoy living, I change my circumstances. So it's intrinsic. And I think that certain things are intrinsic and like love, love of your children is kind of well, it's actually physiological, but it's also intrinsic.
You know, there's something about it that that is intrinsically desirable.
So I think the meaning of life is like that intrinsic. Highly desirable. So it's something that just is born inside you based on what makes you feel good. No, that's hedonism.
That's about what? Where do you place love, love, love of your children? Yeah. So basically love your children, by the way, is not always easy because they do things that they shouldn't do. You have to discipline them. That's one of the worst things about parenthood to me is disciplining my children. I don't like to do that.
I love them. So a lot of things that I do that I feel are good are not easy. So there's an intrinsic sense that like, OK, let's take animals. OK, so we have dogs and cats. OK, so you might not. But I do. Have I told you about them.
You can you can you share their names. If I share their names I will share their names. OK, so we have a cat and it has red fluffy hair and so we called it Trump. Well when we got our dog we figured that it needed a companion, so we called it puton. So we have Trump and Putin is the greatest pet names of all time.
So there's and maybe you will be able to share a picture of your cat, because this is awesome.
It is really cute. Very photogenic.
I mean, is this something that's whether whether we're talking about love or the intrinsic meaning, do you think that's something that's really special to humans or if there is intelligent alien civilizations out there, do you think that's something that they possess as well? Maybe in different forms, like whatever this thing, that meaning is, this intrinsic drive that we have. Do you think that's just a property of life, of some level of complexity? There we will see that everywhere in this universe, in my opinion, and this is just my opinion, I, I do think that it is, but I also think that it could take different forms.
So if there is like think of gravity, right. Gravity kind of like makes stuff stick to it. Right. It tracks stuff. Well, what is left you that does that to. Right. So people who are we call them charismatic charism. It means love charism means light and love.
So a charismatic person is a person who attracts people to them like the sun does. Right. Like, you know, so.
So I think that whatever this property is that's intrinsic is like gravity and most likely takes different forms in different types of life forms.
Yeah. Can't wait until like Albert Einstein type of figure in the future will discover that love is in fact one of the fundamental forces of physics.
That would be cool.
And this is one of the favorite conversations I've ever had. It's truly an honor to talk to you. And thank you so much for spending all this time with me.
Absolutely. It's been fun. Thank you. Thanks for listening to this conversation with Diana Ross Salka and thank you to our sponsors, Element Electrolyte Drink Gramley writing plug in Business Wars podcast and cash app. So the choice, health, grammar, knowledge or money? Choose wisely, my friends, and if you wish, click the sponsored links below to get a discount to support this podcast. And now let me leave you some words from Carl Sagan. Somewhere something incredible is waiting to be known.
Thank you for listening and hope to see you next time.