This week I wish to bring draw attention to a couple of new pieces of research that directly impact our understanding of what it is to be human. The first is the incredible new link discovered between the brain and the immune system. This discovery has literally overturned decades of teaching. Researchers have discovered vessels connecting the brain and the immune system directly.
The old textbooks insisted on no direct connection but the new discovery actually maps the vessel connection between the lymphatic system and the brain. This provides an entirely new avenue by which immune responses can be studied. With direct pathways, the mechanism itself can be observed. In the words of Dr. Jonathan Kipis, professor in the University of Virginia’s Department of Neuroscience, the discovery, “changes entirely the way we perceive the neuro-immune interaction. We always perceived it before as something esoteric that can’t be studied. But now we can ask mechanistic questions.” 1
There is no doubt that not only will all sorts of new treatments for diseases such as autism, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s emerge from this new discovery, but perhaps we will actually find the magic behind the placebo factor. Imagine a world where the immune system can be augmented by mimicking the placebo effect itself.
Okay, the next issue that changes how we view the human condition may well come from new work in the physics laboratory. I have often addressed the issue of free will—do we really have it? fMRI studies have conclusively demonstrated that most of our decisions are actually carried out in the non-conscious and it can take several seconds before the conscious mind becomes aware of the decision. Now the latest twist from the quantum suggests the future is already known, and if so, then what happens to free will? In a new study published in Nature Physics, time appears to move backward. Quoting from SecondNexus, “Things may exist in multiple states, and a tree fell in the woods not only may depend on whether anyone ultimately saw it, but also on whether something somehow knew it would be seen.”
Time Runs Backwards
Using a truly creative and novel design to examine the thought experiment of John Wheeler, which asks the question, exactly when does a photon decide to become a wave or a particle, Australian researchers discovered that this all depends on something in the future. Again, quoting from the article, “…it was as if the helium particle ‘knew’ whether there would be a second grate some time in the future at the time it passed through the first. The possible future presence of that second grate appeared to be determining the past state of the atom as it passed through grate #1. Whether it continued as a particle or changed into a wave depended on something that might happen in the future.”
You may ask, “How is that possible?” and the answer is unknown. Nevertheless, the fact is, the future somehow decided the action which begs the question once more, “Where is free will?” 2
For most of us, our entire lives have been filled with answers. The earth came into existence some 5.4 billion years ago. Evolution explains the miracle of life on earth and homo-sapien is just the latest in the higher thinking nature of the evolutionary tree. Maybe these things are true. We have also been taught that thalidomide was safe, Columbus discovered America, Edison invented the light bulb, DNA was hard-wired, brain cells begin dying in your thirties and are never regenerated, etc., etc.—all of which are false! Will it also turn out that free will is an illusion, that our futures are already somewhat programmed, that disease is an error in thinking and correcting that error turns on our so-called placebo powers and heals us without the need of medication?
Thanks for the read,
NY Time Bestselling Author of Choices and Illusions