Many people, after having certain meditative experiences or taking certain psychedelic substances (especially DMT), emerge with a strong intuitive sense that they have been communicating with intelligent transhuman beings in some other “dimension”—a dimension quite close-by to us, but normally inaccessible to us due to the nature of our mind-architecture and self-structure.
Some folks, such as Terrence McKenna, have hypothesized that the technological Singularity will put us in touch with these beings (which he whimsically labeled “nine-dimensional machine-elves”!), via allowing us to occupy more flexible mind-architectures and lose the restrictions of the human self…
Interestingly, this hypothesis that we’ll contact such beings after the Singularity is verifiable/falsifiable… we just need to create the Singularity to find out!
If nothing else, this line of thinking serves to remind us that it’s mighty hard to meaningfully chart what might happen after Singularity. After all, if McKenna is right and post-Singularity we will contact these beings and ingest information from them or in some sense join their world—then from that point on the direction of our mind-evolution will be quite independent of any detailed prognostications we might make now…
These ideas seem related to Philip K. Dick’s experiences on February 3 1974, which are nicely recounted in the biography Divine Invasions—and during which he says he received medical information from alien minds, which he would have had no way to find out through ordinary means, and which he later claimed to prove valid via conventional medical examination. (Of course, though, this instance of the mysterious transmission of medical info to Dick—assuming it really happened—could be explained via simpler psi phenomena, not requiring the postulate of alien minds!)
This is weird stuff from a contemporary-Western-culture perspective, and may be best understood as nothing more than strange experiences generated by human brains under the influence of various (ingested or self-generated) chemicals.
However, the Cosmist perspective urges open-mindedness. The universe is a big place—perhaps in senses beyond the ones modern physics acknowledges—and we likely experience only small fragments of it. That certain states of mind could allow some humans to experience chunks of universe inaccessible to ordinary waking human consciousness, is certainly not impossible.
How Real Is Reality Anyway?
After all, the empirical world of electrons and baseballs and such is known to each of us only via inference and extrapolation based on our (lifetime of) sense data.
That is: the “empirical world” itself is, from a subjective perspective, something each of us invents for ourselves, elaborating on patterns we recognize in our sense-data (including linguistic communications from others).
So the question is which of our sense data do we choose to trust—i.e. do we mistrust the data received while under the influence of DMT while accepting the data received during ordinary waking consciousness ... or do we take a more open-minded view?
I’m not saying people should ascribe a profound reality to their every passing delusion, hallucination, etc.
Just that the distinction between reality and invention is not that clear—so we need to be careful about dismissing something just because it diverges from the sociopsychological construct we think of as “empirical reality.”
What is the difference between a “reality” and a “collective invention that evolves dynamically and creates new forms that it feeds back into the minds of the inventors”?
The Puzzling Nature of “Simplicity”
This odd issue of DMT aliens sheds an interesting light on the nature of the “simplicity” that underlies the Occam’s Razor heuristic.
To nearly everyone who hasn’t communicated with these beings themselves, the hypothesis “it’s a drug-induced delusion” seems the simplest explanation for the phenomenon at hand.
Yet, to nearly everyone who has communicated with the beings, the hypothesis “they’re real, autonomous, nonhuman beings of some sort” seems the simplest explanation—because the sense of independence and alien-ness and intelligence these beings project is so powerful, it just seems intuitively absurd that they could be produced by the mere human brain.
A mind’s assessment of simplicity is not independent of its experience base! So, the patterns a mind sees, being dependent on what a mind has experienced, are a function of the mind’s own beliefs, ideas and memories.