Archive for June, 2012

Top 7 Misconceptions About Intelligence and Intelligence Testing

Top 7 Misconceptions About Intelligence and Intelligence Testing

The following are just some of the faulty beliefs that keep people from taking intelligence tests:

Misconception # 1: A Person’s Intelligence Level is Fixed.

Not true. A person’s level of intelligence is actually fluid; it can go up or down. Consequently, the same person can have different IQ test scores during the various stages of his or her lifetime.

While heredity determines a person’s range of intelligence (that is, some people are genetically disposed to reach higher intelligence levels than other people), intelligence still depends on a person’s learning and experiences.

Consider this:

Political Studies professor James Robert Flynn discovered what is now known as the Flynn effect: the finding that since the early 20thcentury, IQ scores all over the world increase at around 9 points every 30 years! Many explanations have been put forward for this phenomenon: better schools, more conscientious parenting, increased access to audio-visual media. But whatever the reason is, it’s environmental! If intelligence is purely genetic, no such dramatic changes in IQ scores would occur over the years!

Which brings us to the good news: you can become more intelligent!

Misconception # 2: There is Nothing You Can Do to Be More Intelligent

Many fear taking an intelligence test because they think: “Well, what’s the use? If I’m not bright, I’m not bright. I’d rather not have it confirmed!”

As mentioned previously, intelligence is fluid rather than permanent. And there are many things that we can do to be more intelligent!

Studies have shown that people who do what they can to maximize learning, who constantly practice skills related to various aspects of intelligence e.g. critical-thinking, and who have an attitude open to input, experience steady increases in their level of intelligence. Some strategic school interventions, such as student-centered teaching, also help.

This is an important finding!

We know how a person’s intelligence level can help him or her function better in life. Intelligence can help a person succeed in school, at work, or at any hobby or pursuit. It’s therefore liberating to know that you can grow in intelligence – and that you can feel more confident, more capable and more empowered than you do right now!

That we can increase our intelligence is actually the best reason why we should take IQ tests. If we can get our intelligence level assessed at an early age, we can immediately diagnose areas where we need improvement – and consistently work at those areas.

If we’re struggling with a task for example, wouldn’t it help to know early that our IQ could be a factor, so that we can do what we can to lessen our difficulty? Why would we let ourselves continue to struggle when something can be done? In the meantime, we can make reasonable accommodations to make sure we are supported as we work on our IQ level. It would then bring such a feeling of relief that our struggle is temporary, and is of no fault of our own.

More so, taking intelligence tests regularly can help us evaluate whether the techniques that we are doing are actually effective in unleashing our utmost intellectual potential. IQ scores over a period of time are actually a good gauge in assessing the effectiveness of teaching styles, study habits and learning methodologies. More so, adults can assess whether one’s lifestyle is actually contributing to the enrichment – or the deterioration! – of one’s intelligence.

Misconception # 3: Intelligence Can’t Be Tested

While there are those who dislike intelligence testing because of fear of being boxed in, there are others who dislike them, well, because they’re skeptical! They don’t really believe that something as complex as intellectual capacity can be measured by a simple pen or paper test, or a 30-minute hands-on simulation.

To some extent, this is true. One can never really 100% measure intelligence; it’s an abstract rather than a concrete concept, no different from a feeling or an attitude. You can’t measure intelligence in the same way you can’t measure how much another person loves you, or how creative your boss actually is.

But you can take a sample of intelligence: measure it based on how it is applied or manifested. You get a good idea of how much another person cares for you through the way they communicate their concern for your well-being. You can measure your boss’ creativity by giving him or her problems to solve. While the test items don’t capture the totality of what is being measured, they’re still good enough scales for an estimate close to accurate.

After all, intelligence is correlated to both potential for learning and actual learning. By measuring these two, a reliable measure of intellectual ability may be obtained. More importantly, since IQ scores are based on a comparison with how the rest of the population does with the same questions or problems, the measure of intelligence provided by IQ tests are actually more scientific than some people give it credit.

Misconception # 4: IQ Tests Don’t Measure Intelligence

This one is related to the previous misconception discussed. There are those who don’t like getting their intelligence tested because they think that IQ exam items don’t really measure what it’s supposed to measure.

Psychologists have different ways of coming up with standardized examinations; and these ways are all rigid and controlled. In fact, it took decades of research and study to come up with the principle behind many of the intelligence tests used today. All of these ways are designed to increase IQ tests’ validity (ability to measure intelligence) and reliability (ability to measure the same thing over time).

The cynicism really lies on how a pen and paper test can measure an abstract concept. And the answer discussed in the previous section applies. The test may be pen and paper, but they employ sampling – that is, sampling of questions most other people of the same age and background can accomplish without any hitch.

So, no. “Academics” don’t arbitrarily create questions out of the blue, to discriminate against those who think differently. Instead, it’s still the general population who determines which IQ questions make the cut, and which are eliminated.

Misconception # 5: Intelligence is A More Diverse Concept than What IQ Tests Can Measure

Some don’t like IQ tests because they’re limited.

This one is actually true. At the moment, theorists are still debating whether intelligence is just one general thing, or is it a combination of many different components. For example, Howard Gardner who coined the term Multiple Intelligence believes that intelligence isn’t just composed of language and math capabilities; musical ability, sports ability, and interpersonal ability among other things, are also part of intelligence. Both sides of the issue have valid points, that the right thing to say is that both sides are correct. In practice, many IQ tests have subscales, and resulting IQ scores can be general IQ scores or IQ scores particular to one subscale of intelligence, e.g. verbal, numerical, memory, etc.

You can choose the IQ test that fits your needs. Some IQ tests measure general intelligence; others measure subscales. Different tests have different subscales depending on the intelligence theory where the test had been based. Pick based on your objective for being tested.

Misconception # 6: Educators and Employers Use IQ Results to Keep People in Line

Ah, the system.

There are people who distrust intelligence tests, not because they don’t find them valuable, but because they’ve had a bad experience with IQ tests in the past. Perhaps you felt pressured in school, because your teacher expects too much/ is not expecting enough from you based on your IQ score. Perhaps you felt that the reason why you didn’t make the cut for a promotion is because of your intelligence test results. Or maybe you were identified as a person with special needs because of an IQ examination. For sure, bad experiences like these can leave a bitter taste in people’s mouths.

It helps to know that IQ tests are just instruments; that is, how well they work depends on how people use them. Ideally, those who administer, score, and interpret IQ tests must know how to use IQ results properly and ethically. Being a psychometrician requires a license, a proof that you went through the rigorous training required to administer psychological exams. Because used correctly, intelligence tests are actually constructive for an individual’s personal, academic and professional development.

Misconception # 7: It’s Better Not to Know One’s IQ

Lastly, many people are hesitant to take IQ tests because they feel that doing so would just result in a self-fulfilling prophecy: that is, if you knew your IQ is lower compared to other people, then you would not bother trying as hard as you can; if you knew your IQ is higher than most, you also would not feel motivated because you think you already have it made. And if your score falls within the norm, well, being average is said to make people complacent.

Hopefully, the refutations of the first two misconceptions -that (a) intelligence level is permanent, and that (b) you can’t do anything to increase your intelligence – are enough to cancel this misconception out too.

What a person does with his or her IQ score depends on them. Certainly, they can result to poor self-esteem and low motivation if they are interpreted negatively. But definitely they can lead to great things, if used correctly – and approached with an open, positive attitude! So, do get your IQ Score tested right now!

Joe is the creator of many popular online IQ Test sites including IQTestForFree.com.

Article Source:
http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Joe_Royer

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Dream World Science: We Will Need to Discard Materialism to Find a Theory of Everything

The hallmark of science is its willingness to discard outmoded theories when a better, more explanatory model comes along. But today, science practices this principle only within the paradigm of materialism. By this term I mean a model of the universe based upon the assumption that matter came before mind, that the universe and all living things are nothing but particles in motion, and that the world we see, from the tips of our fingers to the farthest galaxy, exists independently of the mind and operates beyond its control.

This materialistic model brings us the Big Bang theory, dark matter, dark energy, reductive materialism, and the search for the “God” particle in atom smashers and for the origin of life in test tubes.

Modern scientists use the model of materialism because they believe it is necessary to practice science. For example, in a classic article on quantum physics, entitled, “Can Quantum-Mechanical Description of Physical Reality Be Considered Complete?” the authors, Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky, and Nathan Rosen, write, “Any serious consideration of a physical theory must take into account the distinction between the objective reality, which is independent of any theory, and the physical concepts with which the theory operates.”

The late Ernst Mayr, one of history’s leading biologists, expressed the subject this way:

“Despite the openness of science to new facts and hypotheses, it must be said that virtually all scientists-somewhat like theologians-bring a set of what we call “first principles” with them to the study of the natural world. One of these axiomatic assumptions is that there is real world independent of human perceptions. This might be called the principle of objectivity (as opposed to subjectivity) or common-sense realism. This does not mean that individual scientists are always “objective” or even that objectivity among human beings is possible in any absolute sense. What it does mean is that an objective world exists outside of the influence of subjective perception. Most scientists-though not all-believe in this axiom.”

Even though the objective-world model is a popular viewpoint — since everyone wants there to be a “real world independent of human perceptions” — it does suffer from one notable flaw: no one has ever shown it is either true or necessary. Indeed, no one has shown that science cannot be practiced within a different conceptual model. If there is one criticism modern scientists deserve is that they have convinced the public at large that only within the materialistic model is the practice of science possible; using any other approach, they announce, veers off the road into unscientific religious dogma and new-age hocus-pocus.

Another drawback of the materialistic model is that it has forced modern science down a series of dead-end streets as it attempts to piece together a complete theory of the cosmos while being shackled by its own model. Here is a short list of the conundrums material science now faces:

The origin of the matter and energy that exploded in the Big Bang
The mechanism for inflation
The source of the laws of nature
The character and existence of dark matter and dark energy
The difficulty of reconciling the particle/wave duality of quantum physics with objective reality
The incompatibility between quantum physics and gravity
The origin of life and the DNA molecule
The origin of consciousness
The manner in which nature’s laws appear fine-tuned just so life can exist.

Despite these deep quandaries, modern theorists give no thought to the notion that the source of the problem might not be their incomplete understanding of a mind-independent material world, but rather the very model of materialism.

Would scientists be willing to try a new model of the universe if it explained more but made them discard many of their materialistic-based theories? Or, are modern scientists so wedded to the model of materialism that they would rather practice science within this comforting — but ultimately false — model rather than try something different that might ultimately explain more and lead to a better theoretical framework?

Suppose we took the view that matter emerged from mind rather than the other way around? If this alternative viewpoint is in fact true, should we ignore the world’s make-up and go on practicing science only within the materialist model, or should we at least determine whether science can be practiced in this mind-generated, dream world and see where that leads us?

What is Science?

Science is commonly defined as “any system of knowledge that is concerned with the physical world and its phenomena and that entails unbiased observations and systematic experimentation. In general, a science involves a “pursuit of knowledge covering general truths or the operations of fundamental laws.” Empirical science,

“seeks to explore, to describe, to explain, and to predict the occurrences in the world we live in. [Scientific] statements, therefore, must be checked against the facts of our experience, and they are acceptable only if they are properly supported by empirical evidence. Such evidence is obtained in many different ways: by experimentation, by systematic observations, by interviews, surveys, by psychological or clinical testing, by careful examination of documents, inscriptions, coins, archeological relics, and so forth.”

Another feature of science is that seeks to furnish natural explanations for physical phenomena, as opposed to supernatural or immeasurable, untestable, or unverifiable explanations. This feature helps explain why scientists generally prefer Darwin over Genesis for accounting for the variety of life-forms present on the Earth: Darwin offered an explanation verifiable by observation; Genesis simply says God did it, without explaining how. As we will, we will not need to discard any of these features of science if we change to a mind-created or dream model of the cosmos.

Why the Independent World Assumption is False

There are several critical problems with materialism’s assumption of a mind-independent world. But while modern scientists show no hesitation in questioning theories and ideas framed within the materialist model (such as string theory, multi-universes, or the many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics), they never once question the underlying assumption of their own materialistic model. This is the critical error of modern science.

The materialistic model is implausible for three fundamental reasons:

First, the history of philosophy teaches us a threshold fact about the mind that most people either ignore or have never thought about. This fact is that the mind is only capable of knowing about itself. Even under the tenets of modern science images of the (assumed) external world ultimately form in the mind; since we can only know the mind, we must assume that an independent world exists outside of the mind that is the cause of the mental ideas and images that form in the mind. Some view this question as a matter of sanity: how can someone actually question whether a world outside the brain exists? But this framing of the question mis-states the issue: We may not be able to tell the difference if the mind, instead of passively receiving images of an external world as in Locke’s famous blank tablet, actively projects the external world like a grand, 3-D movie projector.

This particular question — can the mind know anything other than itself — was the subject of one of the great philosophical debates of all time, starting with the British empiricist John Locke and ending with the metaphysics of David Hume, Immanuel Kant, G.W.F. Hegel, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Friedrich W.J. Schelling, and others. Even though the analytical inquiry ended with virtually all of these thinkers concluding that the mind can only know itself, the project ended with either solipsism (the world is all in my head) or some form of mysticism. Idealism was unable to solve the problem of the multiple dreamers: if the world is a dream, then do we each live in our own dream world?

If our entire scientific worldview is based upon knowing about a mind-independent world, when it is also true we cannot in fact know that world, then should not scientists at least exhibit a bit more humility when pronouncing their latest versions of the “theory of everything?” If, indeed, it is unalterably true that the mind can only know itself, then we might want to develop a science — a methodological system of thought — that accepts this principle as given?j

The second reason we should doubt materialism is a matter of common sense and leads many people to believe in a supernatural power: where did all this supposed “mind-independent” stuff come from? This very basic question is most directly presented in the Big Bang theory, materialism’s version of a creation story. Under that theory, what we now perceive as the universe of stars began in a fiery blast of matter, space, and time roughly 14 billion years ago. To account for the trillions upon trillions of stars in the sky, scientists assume that at one time all of this matter was condensed into a primordial seed, also known as a “singularity. ” To ask where all the stuff that makes up the universe comes from is the same as asking where the primordial seed came from since both contain the same amount of matter and energy.

Material scientists have done an impressive job of avoiding this critical weakness to the very foundation of the scientific enterprise. When pushed, some scientists talk about “quantum fluctuations” — “vacuum energy”– but these theories themselves also assume some sort of energy field, and most likely an observing mind. Some scientists, such as Nobel prize-winning physicist, Leon Lederman, are more candid on the topic:

“A story logically begins at the beginning. But this story is about the universe, and unfortunately there are no data for the Very Beginning. None, zero. We don’t know anything about the universe until it reaches the mature age of a billionth of a trillionth of a second, that is, some very short time after creation in the Big Bang. When you read or hear anything abut the birth of the universe, someone is making it up. We are in the realm of philosophy. Only God knows what happened at the Very Beginning[.]”

Coming up with a logical, credible explanation for how enough matter to decorate the heavens sprang from the dark void is no simple task, and close enough to impossible to in fact be impossible. And again, that material scientists have no explanation for how this miracle happened should create more humility on their part than it has.

The third reason to doubt seriously the independent-world assumption of material science concerns the laws of nature. The material world, as we know, follows precise and predictable laws, such as gravity, the laws of motion, electricity, gases, and chemistry, which are describable in the language of mathematics, constant and regular. But once science disconnects mind from matter, this mind, the only intelligent force in the universe over which we have direct knowledge, can give matter no help in arranging itself into the laws of nature. The quest for the source to the laws of nature — or the source of mathematical constancy — remains one of science’s greatest challenges.

The Independent World Assumption Leads Scientists Astray

It can be seen that many of science’s more bizarre theories result from its adherence to a materialistic conception of reality. It is as if any twist or contortion to a theory is permissible so long as it is framed within the material science worldview. This practice simply perpetuates a foundational error.

In some theories, such as the Big Bang theory, material scientists simply assume the necessary (near-infinite) amount of matter and energy to fill out the theory. But other theories show how scientists encounter multi-layered puzzles when, after having made the independent-world assumption, they then use it to explain other phenomena. For example, one outcome of the standard Big Bang model is that scientists have no credible explanation — other than plain coincidence — for why the wildly chaotic Big Bang led to a universe that is almost completely flat; specifically a universe in which the repulsive force from the Big Bang precisely cancels out the attractive force of the exploding stellar debris (the “flatness problem”). Nor does the standard Big Bang model explain why vastly separate regions of outer space have exactly the same temperature, when there is no physical means for the separate regions to have shared information. (the “horizon problem.”) Rather than view these two critical problems in their theories as rooted in the unnecessary independent-world assumption, material scientists use them as reasons to devise more complicated theories requiring more ad-hoc assumptions.

Thus, their solution to the critical problems in the standard Big Bang model is the inflationary Big Bang theory. With this convenient modification, the universe just so happened to inflate by a factor of 10E51(the number 10 with 51 zeros after it) in 10E-36 seconds — and then paused to track the normal expansion of the universe predicted by the Big Bang. This wild expansion occurred in an unimaginably brief time — one-billionth of the time it takes light to cross the distance of an atomic nucleus. Inflation allows scientists to maintain the materialist model by using a wildly speculative, ad hoc concept as the solution for the flatness and horizon problems.

Of course if scientists did not make the independent world assumption in the first place they would have no need to make matters worse by resorting to the unrestrained speculation of the inflationary universe model.

A remarkable feature of nature is that its laws appear finely tuned just so life can exist. This observation, known generally as the anthropic principle, strongly suggests that “something is going on:” the deeper scientists delve into the fundamental constants of the physical world, the more it appears as if some force turned the dials to the precise settings just so life can exist.

To escape the mystical overtones of the anthropic principle, some scientists (most notably Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow in their book, The Grand Design) have advanced theories which predict that inflation caused not one but 10E500 universes to spring from the void. (Of, course, so far we have found firm evidence for only one of these many universes, which seems to be enough.) In one of these multiple universes, the authors explain, the laws of nature would have turned out just so life can exist. But, again, if the one universe we see is in fact mind-created, we would have no need to postulate the existence of 10E500 other ones to explain the odd fit between humans and the universe.

Another example of how the independent-world assumption creates untold difficulties for material science theory comes from the field of biology and concerns the origin of life. Having disconnected mind from matter in their theories, material scientists are left to speculate how mindless residue from the Big Bang arranged itself into intricate workings of living cell, including the codes of the DNA molecule.

According to Occam’s razor, the fewer assumptions in a theory the better the theory. Would not then a theory that explained the world without making the independent world assumption be a better theory than one which does make the assumption?

Science is supposed to be the emotionally detached search for truth. If a better theory came along that managed to explain the physical phenomena of the world without the independent world assumption of material science, would not this theory at least deserve a look? In different words, if the metaphysical assumption of material science is not true, it would be necessary to re-work many of its theories, but it would not eliminate the field of science. Instead it would re-orient science upon a stronger footing, while also joining the field of science with philosophy and religion.

Material science is like an extremely slow, diligent portrait artist who insists that his model remain perfectly still throughout the lengthy session; to capture the moment, the artist, like material science, must assume the model is independent of the artist’s creative powers; he is painting a figure of the natural world; fixed, self-sustaining; independent. In the same way, scientists objectify the physical world because they believe doing so is necessary to study it.

In summary, material scientists assume the independence and objectivity of the natural world (e.g., stars, planets, living bodies) to study its composition, movements, and history, and their test results indeed show the unchanging nature of the physical world.

Science Remains the Best Approach for Finding Truth in a Mind-Generated World.

But both of these elements of scientific knowledge remain in place if the source of the external world is the united mind as opposed to some mysterious, energy-generating external force (whatever caused the Big Bang per the creation theory of material science.) Scientists can still assume the independent existence of external objects in order to study them. They can still calculate the regularity of the planetary orbits; falling projectiles; spiraling galaxies; electrical forces; gas pressures; chemical reactions; quantum mechanics; and virtually every other physical force or life process. But in the end the picture they draw is a self-portrait. What changes is simply our perspective and the depth of our understanding.

Of course, viewing the world as a dream or mind-created will alter certain theories of modern science but it will not change the fundamental purpose of science which is to describe the workings of the physical world according to coherent theories. In the end, explanations of the existence and regularity of the external world lead to the mind as the ultimate cause, but it does not change the fundamental task of cataloguing the regularities of nature.

Science in a Dream

If the universe we live in is indeed a dream, then there is no doubt that some theories of modern science will need to be overturned, and others overhauled, while some remain unchanged.

Among the theories that must be overturned completely are those dealing with what might be called quasi-creative processes, such as the Big Bang theory (including the inflationary theory), galaxy formation, dark matter and dark energy. Why each of these theories will need to be overturned outright may be self-explanatory.

For example, the Big Bang would be false because the universe of stars would not have originated from a mind-independent force, but as a projection of the mind. Accordingly, science would have no need to resort to the radical inflationary Big Bang theory in order to account for the present universe of stars. Note here, by the way, that science does not end by simply saying “well it’s all in the mind, so who cares about anything else?” Rather, we look at the stars and wonder how this particular arrangement appeared in the form it did: why did the Mind create this particular universe, rather than another one?

Dark matter, another peculiar theory, also goes by the wayside. Dark matter is an add-on assumption used to account for the observed lack of the necessary gravitational mass to hold galaxies — and thus the universe — together. Dark energy, another unobservable force, would also be unnecessary. This mysterious force has been presented as a means to account for the observed accelerated expansion of the universe. The problem with dark energy, like dark matter, is that scientists cannot observe a physical source for the repulsive force. But again, if the universe is mind-created, the fact that far-away galaxies appear to be drifting away at an accelerated speed may show, among other things, the mind in a constant state of creation, or in fact nothing at all.

Now the point here, it must be remembered, is not (yet) to prove that in fact the world is a dream, but to remove any resistance against “dream-theory” based on a fear that science can no longer be practiced. No such thing happens. Instead, viewing the world as a dream simply eliminates many of the unnecessary assumptions of modern science and dispenses with its most bizarre theories.

In addition to eliminating materialism’s beginning-of-the-world theories, dream-theory also eliminates materialism’s end-of-the world theories. These theories are based upon the sun running out of fuel and dying, the universe reversing its expansion and retracting into a Big Crunch, or some other theory modeled after an aging machine. Now, if the world is instead mind-created, the “out-of-fuel” scenario is no longer valid because the sun and other stars in the sky are ultimately fueled by the mind’s desire to live and dream, not by the quantity of hydrogen in the star’s core.

Medical science is another field of material science that will have to undergo dramatic modification if the world turns out to be a dream. This one we should rejoice over. As noted, the underlying assumption of material science is that the physical world exists outside of the mind and operates beyond its control. This supposed independent physical world includes the human body. As most of us know, medical science, contrary to quite a lot of evidence, assumes that the human body operates on its own accord and is unaffected by any positive or negative thought in the mind. This is why science tells us that no matter how much we believe otherwise, we are doomed to wrinkle and die; and, of course, if the human body is a machine independent of the mind, this thinking is likely true.

But if the world is a dream, then the entire physical world, including the human body, would be a projection of the mind, and therefore controlled ultimately by the mind. This simple fact would explain the workings of the “powerful placebo,” and the long history — though mostly anecdotal — of how strong belief heals.

Now on this point, one would need to question why a material scientist, and for that matter anyone, would at least not consider the truth of dream theory. Like Pascal’s famous wager that it is better to believe in God than not, just in case one really exists, so one might want to place a few chips on the space marked “dream theory” just in case the world really is a dream. Upon further thought, it might even be wiser to go “all in” on dream theory, as the rewards may very well be limited only by the imagination.

So science can indeed still be practiced if the world is really a dream. Therefore, if the main (perhaps unspoken) reason you have rejected the thought that this world may be a dream is because science would cease to exist, then some reconsideration is necessary. It seems better to build a worldview upon the correct metaphysics and then carry out science, rather than to assume one must believe in an erroneous world model as the price for carrying out a logical, systematic, objective study of the world.

Mind – Part One

Mind – Part One

No study is more fascinating or of greater benefit than the subject mind. It has engaged the most powerful intellects of all ages, from the days of Aristotle down to the present. However, during the last two thousand years, that is with the exception of the last one hundred years, not much progress has been made in this department of science. Anatomists and physicians have studied the brain and ignored the mind, while psychologists have studied the mind and ignored the brain. The human mind cannot, by itself, become an object of investigation; it needs the medium of an organic apparatus.

It is mind which distinguishes man from the animals and man from man. While there is not much difference between one cow or one cat from another, the difference between one man and another is vast. In man the scale extends from the lowest point of idiocy to the highest endowment of genius. On the one side you have a Newton who can solve the most abstruse of problems, and on the other a man who can scarcely grope his way through ordinary life.

The world has always recognized and paid tribute to greatness of intellect. A man is measured by what he is, and not by what he has.

“What is the difference between the brain and the mind?”

It is astonishing how many people believe the brain and mind to be synonymous and use the terms interchangeably. While the relationship between the brain and mind is intimate, there is not the slightest similarity either in appearance or function. Their composition and activities differ as widely as the radio from the ether waves. The brain is a human radio, a receiving station or instrument. The mind is analogous to the ethereal atmosphere surrounding it.

Yet another comparison. The brain is the organ of the mind just as the eye is the organ of vision, or the ear of hearing. Naturally, the perfection of seeing or hearing will be in relation to the perfection of its organ. The same analogy applies to the mind.

Thought does not originate in the brain, nor is it created by the brain. And it is the mind which remembers, not the brain cells. It is the Ego, the “I,” which thinks; mind is the substance which “I” uses, and thoughts are the tools. Thoughts are transmitted to the brain from the mind, and it therefore follows that the brain influences and determines the type and quality of thoughts received.

The matrix is unalterable. We know we have the same identity we had as a child, and throughout eternity we shall be the same.

Furthermore, the brain is physical and subject to evolution. The mind is spiritual and already perfect. The brain is personal and individual. The mind is universal. These distinctions are of primary importance for a correct understanding of mind.

We shall not burden you with a description of the brain. For our purpose here, merely let us state that the brain is the term applied to that part of the central nervous system which in vertebrates is contained within the skull. The brain readily lends itself to analysis and examination; not so the mind, although some philosophers have gone so far as to say mind is a product of matter. This is another error made by those who seek a material basis for all mental phenomena.

“What is the nature of mind?” Mind is a substance similar to the ether, which is the finest form of matter known; or it can be compared to a vast field of magnetism. This substance pervades the entire universe, and all particles of matter are held together by it. The molecules of the body never touch, but remain quite a distance from each other, and are also held in place by it. There are forces of repulsion between them which prevent contact, and they move freely in this ether or mind substance.

The ability of states of matter to interpenetrate and exist within other states is one of the great secrets of Nature. Higher states come into contact with the lower, and are harmonized into one single organism. Man cannot combine the lower forces with the higher, but Nature can, and this makes living organisms.

This is also the explanation of the so-called fourth dimension, which means the ability of a higher state of matter to interpenetrate and exist within a lower state. The fourth dimension is not measured at angles, length-breadth-thickness, but proceeds directly through matter.

In reality there is no definite line of demarcation between matter, mind and spirit, as they are the same substance at different rates of vibration.

Emerson gives us the clearest and most concise description of mind.

He says:

“Mind is an ethereal sea, which ebbs and flows; which surges and washes hither and thither, carrying its whole virtue into every creek and inlet which it bathes. To this sea every human house has a water front. But this force-creating nature, visiting whom it will, withdrawing from whom it will, is no fee or property of any man or angel. It is as the light, public and entire to each, and on the same terms.”

“Where is the mind located?”

There is considerable diversity of opinion on this score. Many believe that the mind is within the skull. We said previously that mind is a universal substance permeating the universe. Emerson spoke truly when he said: “No man or angel has a monopoly on it, but is equally free to all.”

The sum total of mind is fixed, although, like matter and energy, many changes can take place within itself. All the knowledge that ever has been or will be in the world is in it now. Our inventions and discoveries are but reinventions, rediscoveries. Truly, there is nothing new under the sun. It is man’s duty and privilege to develop his instrument, the brain, and draw unto himself whatever knowledge and power he desires.

Mind cannot be separated or divided, although in appearance it may seem so. Each individual mind is connected with universal mind. Every mind is in constant contact with all other minds and its Divine Source. That one mind is ever separate from others is pure illusion and the major cause of man’s suffering. Everyone knows how contagious thoughts are and how easily communicated. All are living in this vast ocean of mind where the waves of other minds are passing on all sides.

“How is the mind connected with the body?” Practically all philosophers and thinkers have believed the activities of the mind to be in close connection with the brain. But that the brain is the sole seat of the mind is as erroneous as the belief that the mind is in the skull. There is no clearly defined spot of which we can prove that here, or there, at this place, the mind comes into relation with the cerebral organ. The mind exerts its influence through the parts of the brain, which differ according to the muscles or functions to be employed. All the parts of the brain are connected, but there is no common center through which all these activities pass.

The brain is the primary, but not the only vehicle of mind. The brain is the physical instrument without which no mental act is possible in a material world. There are no faculties so purely mental as to have no connection with the body. The primary seat of consciousness is in the brain, but there is a secondary one in the solar plexus.

Mind is dependent on the body, not for existence, but for the power of acting in the material world. Mind can function without the body, but not the body without the mind. In reality the mind functions much more actively and freely without the impediment of its physical instrument. This is demonstrated during the dream state, hypnosis, trance and astral traveling. “The mind, though intangible, is the real structure, like a field of force,” says Stromberg, the famous scientist and astronomer.

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