Counter My Dear Friend Dr. Sina

Regarding your experienes of seeing a globe of light, let me make it clear that in now way do I wish to suggest that you are lieing about it, or that you are "crazy" or schizophrenic, or in any other way abnormal (same thing for your sister and father, and all other people who report this experiences). These experienes are very normal, and common, and they do not by themseles indicate any pathological condition. It is only their interpretation that I am contesting with you. I am trying to make you aware of an ulternative explanation which fits much better with what is known about how the brain works.

an aside note about science. I keep hearing the argument that science is limited and it doesn't know everything. That is very true, and that lack of complete knowledge is in fact the very driving engine for the progress of science. But, science does know a heck of a lot, and it discovers more everyday. There is certainly many times more concrete evidence to back up the scientific interpretation of such events, than there is for the supernatural interpretation.

Also, the scientific point of view, and the supernatural point of view, are not realy separate. They do not occupy different domains, as some people keep saying. If a supernatural component of reality in fact exists, then by definition, it is no longer supernatural, because it is a true component of the natural reality. As such, it is available for scientific understanding and study. So, if in fact such supernaturaisms exist, science can discover them. But if science has found different explanations which completely rule out those supernatural explanations, then we can logicaly conclude that those supernaturalisms are false.

Now to the main point.
"I think I know the difference between what is in my head and what I see with my eyes. "

The failure in your logic is in this very statement. You do not realize that what is in your head, and what you see with your eyes (or I should say what you think you see with your eyes), are one and the same. There is NO WAY that it could ever be any different, because you see with what is in your head, ie, your brain. Without your brain, you could not possibly see. Without the neurons in your visual cortex at the back of your head becoming active, you could not consciously see anything.

Another thing you need to know about the brain, is that there are two ways in which you can "see" things. One is the normal way, that light enters your eyes and activates photoreceptors, the signal is passed through your optic nerve, over to the optic chiasm, to the thalamus, and onto your visual cortex. Different segments of your visual cortex then interpret the different components of what you saw. Some parts interpret the shape and contours, some parts interpret the color, some parts inerpret the motion. Finally an association area of the visual cortex puts all these components together, and creates a coherent picture for you, and that is what you "see".

There is also another way by which you can "see" - or actually, THINK that you "see". That is by what the brain does all by itself, without any real input from the outside. Or what comes in from the outside, can be very different from what you actually THINK that you "see". I'm sure you've seen visual illusions before, but let me demonstrate a few.

Here is what is called the Ouchi illusion.

Move your eyes around the image. Does the circular middle section appear to separate from the rest of the figure? Does it appear to be at a different depth and even move?

Obviously the image is 2 dimensional and is projected on your computer monitor, but your brain interprets the center circular part as being 3D, and when you move your eyes around, the rectangles inside the circle seem to move. But is that realy there ? Is it only "in your head", or are you actually "seeing" it ? Or is there any difference between the two ?

There is no difference between what you "see", and what is "in your head", because what you "see", is the image that your brain (in your head) creates for you to perceive.

So I hope that was a sufficient explanation for you to realize that first, what you see and what is in your head are one and the same, and that what you see is not always out there in the reality of the world.

you can see more illusions at This site

Here is another interesting example:

In the middle are some red lines. If black lines are added to them then you see, in addition to the red lines, a glowing red disk. A photometer (a device which measures light) would not detect the red disk that you see. That red disk is entirely created by your visual system. It is a product of your Visual Intelligence, which creates all the surfaces and colors that you experience.
The author of the above site has a book about this that you might find interesting. I just discovered this site too, so I'll read it later.

Regarding the orb of light that you saw, I think I refered you to articles and books describing similar experiences by other people. Susan Blackmore has studied these phenomena, and has written books and articles about them. Here is how she describes the experience of people perceiving an "alien abduction" :

"The experience begins most often when the person is at home in bed (Wright 1994) and most often at night (Spanos, Cross, Dickson, and DuBreuil 1993), though sometimes abductions occur from a car or outdoors. There is an intense blue or white light, a buzzing or humming sound, anxiety or fear, and the sense of an unexplained presence. A craft with flashing lights is seen and the person is transported or "floated" into it. Once inside the craft, the person may be subjected to various medical procedures, often involving the removal of eggs or sperm and the implantation of a small object in the nose or elsewhere. Communication with the aliens is usually by telepathy. The abductee feels helpless and is often restrained, or partially or completely paralyzed."

I know that you said you were not sleeping, but your experience does fit with the others in that "The experience begins most often when the person is at home in bed (Wright 1994) and most often at night...There is an intense blue or white light, a buzzing or humming sound, anxiety or fear, and the sense of an unexplained presence. "

The fact that you heard your sister scream, would indicate that you were in an emotionally charged state. You rose suddenly from your bed and ran to her room, so there was a sudden alteration in the blood and oxygen flow to your brain. You also went from a lit room (you were reading if I remember correctly) to a dark room. All the elements are there for you to have halucinated (please remember that halucinations don't belong only to "crazy" people!). But I'll leave it to you to believe what you want.

As for the out of body experiences, I told Doostdar about recent experiments on Monks that showed that when they meditate, and they experience their out of body perceptions, a change of blood flow is observed in their brains (by magnetic resonance imaging - fMRI). There is a reduced blood flow to the parts of the brain that are responsible for giving us a sense of the borders of our bodies. What happens when there is reduced activity in that part of the brain, is that the individual looses their sense of the borders and confines of their body, and they perceive that they are floating outside of it. I have also felt this when I had high fever. So the conclusion is that this sensation has nothing to do with religion or god or spirituality. It has to do with an altered state of the brain, that comes about through practice and meditation. I cannot induce that state in my mind by meditation, because I don't have enough practice with meditating, but the monks have trained themselves through a lot of practice, to get themselves into that state.

The patients who peceieve that they are floating above the waiting room and seeing their relatives and doctors, could be experiencing something similar to that. I don't know if they had been in the waiting room themselves or not, but if they had, then their brain could be re-creating that image for them. Also, even if they hadn't been to the waiting room before, what they perceive during consciousness, what they remember as having perceived after they become conscious, and what the actual waiting room looks like, could all be different from each other. It is a known fact that memories are unreliable, and when we recal them, they are not always reproduced exactly the same. There is controversy about the reliability of visual witnesses in the court, because what they saw, and what they remember as having seen, could be different. here is an article on that.

Which brings me to your father's dreams. I have to point out that not only are memories unreliable, dreams are even more unreliable. Dreams are complete creations of the brain itself. We dream during the REM phase of sleep, and our brain becomes active in a similar way that it is acative during waking states. The recordings of brain waves are very similar between waking states and REM sleep. The theory is that during REM sleep, the brain is consolidating our memories from short term into long term "storage" in the brain. Dr. Wilson of MIT showed that the same patterns of brain activity recorded in a rat during wakeful exploration, are again recorded when the rat enters REM sleep.

So anyway, dreams are visual perceptions created by the brain. So they are not part of reality, they are only creations of the brain. Now lets say someone tries to remember their dream. We already know that memories are unreliable. Dreams are scatered and sometime incongruent images created by the brain. Now we combine those two things, and we talk about a memory of a dream. How reliable and related-to-reality do you think that memory of a dream could be ?

We remember that dream, and every time we recreate that memory in our mind, it is a little bit different than the last time. We may not have any idea what this dream means, if anything. Then things happen in our daily life. Something that is emotionally charged, for example something bad happening to our child. How realiably and rationally do you think we would think about our memory of our dream, and whether or not it had anything to do with what just happened. Now remember all the elements: it was a dream, we are remembering, or even re-remembering the dream, we are emotionally charged by our experience.

You be the judge of whether or not your father's dreams in fact predict the future or not.

Best Regards.