Your Friday Dose of Woo: In which I am given a woo-ducation in neuroscience

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As I usually do on Thursday nights, I was perusing my legendary Folder of Woo looking for just the thing to be interesting and entertaining to both me as the blogger and you as the reader. As happens occasionally, nothing was really doing it for me. Nothing was getting me fired up to launch into yet another installment of Your Friday Dose of Woo. I thought about going back to the well of Life Technology (believe it or not, there is still some woo there to which I have not yet applied my special brand of Respectful Insolence™), but somehow I just wasn’t in the mood. Let’s face it, after over a year of doing Your Friday Dose of Woo, in which I’ve missed only three or four weeks total, it all starts to sound the same. It takes a special brand of woo to get me really fired up these days. (Does that mean I’m suffering woo burnout? I certainly hope not!)

Then I came across it again.

It had been stored in the Folder of Woo several weeks earlier. I couldn’t remember where or how I had come across it. I did, however, remember that it inspired me as a bit of the most delicious woo. It inspired me because it taught me things I never knew about cellular biology and neuroscience. Morever, it totally took me by surprise, because at first glance it just looked like typical New Age spiritualist B.S. But do not be fooled. Disguised under that veneer of references to “divine primordial energy” and “hidden secrets of the soul” was the most ludicrous bit of “science-y” sounding stuff I’ve heard in a while. Little did I know that I was about to enter a world of brand new receptors that no neuroscientist had ever heard of, much less described, before. But first, here’s the prelude, which should make you see why what followed took me completely by surprise:

Benefits: learn hidden secrets of the soul, expand your connection with primordial divine energy, learn the function of hidden universal forces, explore the secrets of a Sacred Order of Monks who know how to generate the Human Body of Light.

PUBLISHED IN DIGITAL FORMAT ON CD-ROM

Most of the true secrets of spiritual growth and wisdom have not been released in the West.

To date, we know that human beings use only 1-3% of their brain capacity. We also know that most of the brain capacity that is utilized is contained within the unconscious mind. These secret texts, released for the first time to those who can find it, reveal some of the secrets of the spiritual function of the unconscious mind. We plan to offer a series of these texts on our website. These books are designed to help the seeker expand and accelerate their spiritual growth through access to hidden and sacred knowledge. Access to hidden and sacred knowledge is the secret to real spiritual growth and evolution.

See what I mean? Standard New Age blather. Nothing particularly interesting there. Besides, this sort of “spirituality” is basically just religion watered down to make it palatable to Western woo-lovers. I could sit here and point out that it’s a myth that humans use only 1-3% of their brain capacity (or 10%, which is the other figure frequently bandied about), but what fun is that?

Then the woo went into overdrive:

Each of these texts are designed to stimulate and activate different types of unconscious receptors in the human brain. Stimulation of these receptors causes an energetic reaction in the brain that allows for the release of dormant proteins that are necessary for accelerated spiritual growth.

Wow! You mean that there are “unconscious receptors” in the human brain that can be stimulated to release dormant proteins that are necessary for “accelerated spiritual growth”? Before I go on, for those of you who don’t know what receptors are, here’s a quick lesson. Basically every cell in the body makes proteins that are (usually) embedded in the cell membrane with part of them facing the external environment. These proteins can do many things (cell adhesion to surrounding collagen and other proteins in the extracellular matrix), but one class of these proteins (receptors) has a very special function. These proteins bind to special proteins or other molecules in the surrounding fluid, and this binding causes some sort of change in the receptor that leads to a reaction (often the addition to a phosphate group to a protein) that ends up transmitting a chemical signal. This signal leads the cell to do things, be it move, grow, turn on genes, turn off genes, what have you. In the brain, some of these receptors result in the opening of ion channels and the transmission of electrochemical impulses, the very stuff of brain activity.

Of course, the above is a very simplified discussion (some receptors, such as the estrogen receptor) are inside the cell, rather than on the cell surface, but you get the idea. Receptors having different functions are ubiquitous and essential to ceullular function. The idea of coopting a very scientific concept to this form of woo is brilliant, and, boy, I’ve never seen it done with such chutzpah:

There appears to be a variety of receptors within the unconscious mind that are designed to receive and process the energy released from the deep energy of the universe. These receptors are not normally active during the waking state. Science has not yet discovered their existence.

They haven’t been discovered by science yet? Then how on earth does the writer even know they exist? Never mind. It’s just my lack of credulity asserting itself. My apologies. Let’s hear more:

There are many different types of receptors within the brain that have yet to be discovered. Conscious receptors are easily discovered using the available technology widely spread in our world. They are better known as chemical receptors. They process neurotransmitters, proteins, amino acids, and other chemicals that are used to power the chemical processes of the human mind. Conscious receptors are discovered via techniques used by the conscious mind of the investigator. Even while we sleep, certain of these receptors remain active and their function to a large extent has been documented and measured by our scientists.

Unconscious receptors function at an entirely different level of reality. They may only be measured by machines which detect and evaluate the unconscious energy created by the mind.

“Unconscious receptors function at an entirely different level of reality”? At least they’re honest.

This sounds like a budding woo-meister who took a couple of courses in cellular biology that did not stick. He clearly learned the terminology but the reasoning, methodology, and scientific method definitely passed him by. For one thing, I’ve never heard anyone divide receptors into “conscious” and “unconscious” receptors before. (Is an “unconscious receptor” a receptor that doesn’t do anything when its ligand–the molecule that stimulates it–binds to it?) Of course, it does make perfect sense. Scientists are (usually) conscious when they do measurements that reveal the existence of and characterize receptors, although this is not a 100% hard-and-fast rule, as anyone who has ever been a graduate student or postdoctoral fellow (or a surgeon doing research in a lab) knows. This also begs the question of why some of these unconscious researchers falling asleep at lab benches while doing long, dull assays have never uncovered evidence of these “unconscious receptors” before. But I digress.

What’s really hilarious about this article is that, not only does it postulate the existence of invisible, undiscovered, “unconscious” receptors that science cannot detect and that somehow cause an “energetic” reaction in the brain to release “dormant” proteins, but it even classifies them. All you neuroscientists out there, have you ever heard of prosonic, baryonic, and hyperonic receptors? If not, why not? You must be part of the great materialist conspiracy to suppress this hidden knowledge! Become educated in truth!

First, here’s what the prosonic receptors do:

The glial tissues of the brain are the main areas that house the prosonic receptors. These receptors are active at all times but are especially active during the sleep phase. They are also stimulated under the influence of certain types of energy radiation, primary matter, and certain special sacred written passages. These written words were designed to unlock the energy of these receptors.

Perfectly clear, isn’t it? Of course, if I could swallow my credulity long enough, I wouldn’t feel compelled to ask just how these woos know that these “prosonic receptors” are in the glial areas of the brain or how they know that radiation and “special sacred written passages” can unlock their energy. I know, I know. I’ll stop.

No I won’t. Here’s what “baryonic receptors” do:

Baryonic receptors are sensitive to the subconscious energy flow created by the subtle forces of the universe. Baryonic receptors are sensitive to the hidden subconscious energy flows that stimulate the growth and expansion of the functions of higher reasoning, telepathy, and clairvoyance. Baryonic receptors are found within the cells of the cerebellum. As such, most humans do not utilize these energies. The cerebellum is located underneath the cerebral cortex. It contains more cells within its structure than the rest of the brain combined.

Baryonic receptors allow a human to develop the capacity to communicate with the higher worlds in an intelligent manner. The baryonic receptors are active at all times. They constantly receive information from a myriad of worlds and dimensions. This information is stored within the brain and processed during the sleep state. As we evolve, the information gradually downloads itself into the conscious mind at certain times of revelation and insight.

Who knew? I wonder if I could team up with a competent neuroscientist and propose a research project to study these receptors, given that they really do sound way cool. I mean, who wouldn’t want to know how “unconscious” receptors can allow us to receive information from a “myriad” (not just a few, but a “myriad”!) of worlds and dimensions? I know I’m curious. Too bad there’s no information here that would even give me a clue where to start. Damn materialism!

Oh well, there’s only one thing to do, and that’s to go after the last receptor:

Hyperonic receptors are sensitive to the flow of energy released by the universe that operate on the level of the higher mind. Higher mind energy flow, also called hyperonic energy, allows the higher mind to connect and communicate with the unconscious and lower mind areas. The hyperonic receptors are located within the deep gray matter of the brain. These structures include the amygdala, the thalamus, the hypothalamus, and the pituitary regions of the brain. These areas are very active in guiding the function of the chakras and the endocrine organs of the body. They are also very important in maintaining the connection between the higher mind and the lower body.

Through the function of the hyperonic receptors, the lower mind is able to receive the transformative signals of puberty, aging, birth, and death. These energies are controlled and distributed through hyperonic receptors scattered throughout the deep gray areas of the brain.

Baryonic and prosonic receptors are also sensitive to these energies but not to the extent found in hyperonic receptors. This spectra of energy is by far the most powerful of all the energies that we find in the lexicon of the master symbols. Through mastery of these energies, the higher spiritual transformations that mark the transition from human to immortal may be achieved. These areas are particularly responsive to words of power, primary matter, gemstones, and telepathic stimulation.

On second thought, perhaps I should study hyperonic receptors. They sure sound a lot more interesting. However, I do have a quibble here. the “transformative signals” of puberty, aging, and birth, for example, can be explained by those “conscious receptors” and the ligands that bind to them that unimaginative material scientists have figured out through many years of careful observation and experimentation. Death, perhaps, not so much, but if these hyperonic receptors are what receive the transformative signals that make us die, then perhaps a way can be found to block their function. Oh, wait. If we do that, then we would be come insensitive to the energies that result in our spiritual transformation to “immortal.” That would be no good. I wonder how the woos know the right balance.

Of course, if you want a real research project to sink your teeth into, there’s another text that I could purchase:

According to legend, a number of ancient spiritual masters have dissolved their physical bodies into pure energy. Most used special exercises and techniques that had to be applied over a period of years, the results of which were the total transformation of the physical form into a form of self sustaining light energy. The new light form was immortal and indestructible. Somehow, these legends have not made it into our Western lexicon.

…There exists in history many examples of the successful completion of this process. Even in recent years there have been a number of Tibetan Lamas, both Buddhist and Bon-po, who attained realization of the Rainbow Body (‘ja-lus-pa) at the end of their lives and some of these occurrences were witnessed by Chinese Communist officials.

This text is designed to explore one question; is it possible for the human body to evolve into pure energy? Through meticulous research and one-of-a-kind insightful observations, The Human Body of Light explores the real phenomenon of an extraordinary type of human evolution. The realizations that accompany this knowledge has the potential to change our understanding of what it means to be human.

Now, we’re talking! A life as eternal, indestructible, conscious energy, all mediated by hyperonic receptors! That’s what I want to happen to me when it’s finally time to cash in my chips for good. I know it can happen, too. After all, this book tells me it can, and I’ve seen it on Star Trek.