Journal of Scientific Exploration
In presenting the data concerning altered states of consciousness in an even-handed manner, I have found that I cannot at the outset assume that materialism is the correct theory of reality. As demonstrated by survey data, the beliefs about consciousness and reality of academics and scientists who could write about consciousness in the academic literature range along a material-transcendent dimension from materialist through conservatively transcendent to extraordinarily transcendent positions, each with its corresponding notions of consciousness and proper methodology. Scientists need to undertake a process of self-examination in order to determine their personal beliefs and learn to set them aside in order to be free to examine the evidence. A materialist position cannot be presupposed at the outset, given that some altered states phenomena suggest that consciousness may be non-local. Given the subjective nature of experiences in altered states of consciousness, the acquisition of introspective skills on the part of the investigator may be a necessary methodological extension of science, along with a concomitant development of personal integrity, determination of physiological and behavioral correlates of subjective experiences, evaluation of judgments of certitude with regard to the reality of subjective events, and development of the ability to interpret the meanings of symbols. Experiences with psychedelic drugs and, more forcefully, transcendent events raise the possibility of the presence of a mode of understanding superior to sensory perception and ratiocination. In effect, extensions of science could involve various degrees of self-transformation of the scientist herself in such a manner that, in some cases, the science of the future may be more art than science.