Talk:Applied Consciousness Sciences/Archive 1

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Removal suggested by John R. Brews 18:26, 9 October 2011 (UTC)

Editorial Council: Case 2011-002

Opened: --Peter Schmitt 22:33, 9 October 2011 (UTC)
Closed: Page blanked and replaced by text as suggested. --Peter Schmitt 11:50, 19 October 2011 (UTC)


See these remarks on Talk page. John R. Brews 18:26, 9 October 2011 (UTC)

As discussed in detail below, this article is (a) promotional and (b) lacks any expert support. The questions raised there have not been answered satisfactorily. Thus the page should be removed. However, the term is highly advertised by professionally looking websites and therefore I think that CZ should offer information on it and give a short characterisation explaining this situation. I suggest to replace the page by the following text (or some revision of it):

Applied Consciousness Sciences (or ACS) is not a scientific field but the name given to a project or institution founded in 2001 in The Netherlands that claims to guide and teach how to use and develop one's "awareness".

While there are several institutions involved that advertise ACS and refer to each other there is no evidence that they, their work, or the field they present are acknowledged by any third-party reputed expert or institution.

The definition should be replaced by

Term used by several institutions claiming to teach using one's awareness.

(or similar). --Peter Schmitt 22:55, 9 October 2011 (UTC)

I'd gather that this is an article with subpages, and so will have links to the advertising agencies. I'd suggest that amounts to free advertising for what is a marginal activity. John R. Brews 18:38, 11 October 2011 (UTC)

Time sink, again

The problem is not this single article, useless as it is. The problem is that

  1. CZ has no real mechanism to deal with quackery, pseudoscience, conspiration theories and so on.
  2. No expertise is necessary to find out that this is very far from scientific mainstream, but the decision whether to delete is deferred to Editors.
  3. Our rules on Editor rulings have grown such that it is impossible to keep track.
  4. Almost all the times I have been asked to comment as a Psychology Editor, this was about crank stuff, which is not the least bit of interest to me, even if I had unlimited time. At scholarly journals, this kind of articles is handled such that the reviewers don't get to see it. And what if there is no Editor around for a crank article? Will it last forever?
  5. It is interlinked with other articles that should be treated accordingly: Journal of Scientific Exploration, Society for Scientific Exploration.
  6. The few resources that CZ currently has go all too often into such time sinks.
  7. Bringing in the EC may be to the taste of some, but just adds to the bureaucracy around here.

As I have said previously, I think we should make a conscious move to bar those topics (if not generally, then at least from growing beyond lemma stage) until we reach a respectable threshold in terms of content and/ or community (e.g. more than 100 000 Developed Articles). --Daniel Mietchen 20:16, 10 October 2011 (UTC)

(ad 2, 4 and 7) It is not true that Editors have to be involved. But a request to delete an article is bound to raise a dispute if the article's author(s) are still around. If they are not, the request may go unnoticed and be not justified (even if made in good faith). Deletion, or better: removal, of content must not be taken too lightly and therefore, I think, some sort of a formal procedure is needed. Involving the EC is, therefore, not "bureaucratic".
(ad 1 and 6) There is no general "mechanism" to deal with "pseudoscience" -- this can only be handled on a case-by-case basis. This needs time, of course, but creating reliable content needs time and effort regardless of the topic. "Barring" certain topics would not change this because somehow it would have to be decided if a specific article falls under the ban. Moreover, such a ban would have no effect on how many articles on other topics are contributed. CZ has to be open for all subjects and (who know's) perhaps articles on such articles may draw more traffic to CZ and be more helpful than the hundredth article on a well represented subject.
(ad 5) These two articles are much older and a link to them does not disqualify them. But we can check, of course ...
(ad 3) I have to admit that documentation is not optimal, but writing documentation needs work, and, unfortunately, sometimes time and energy are lacking (or there are other jobs to do ...). Moreover, it often is better to see how things work out in practice before trying to describe them.
--Peter Schmitt 23:14, 11 October 2011 (UTC)

First impressions

This article needs revision, but before working on it another issue should be resolved: It seems to be highly (self-)promotional. In a first Internet search I could only find a net of sites referencing each other. Unless there is clear evidence that this field (and its name) are acknowledged by the scientific community this article may have to be removed or completely rewritten to show the true (speculative) character of its topic. Peter Schmitt 09:03, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

Hi Peter, I've rewritten the article in such a way that it's clear that ACS isn't a science as per the definition of the scientific community. It is however considered a holistic science. Something that might not be accepted by the scientific community, but there is a large group of citizens that do accept this. A good example of a holistic science approach being accepted by modern science is Mindfulness. Under 'Research & Development' I've explained what sets a holistic science orientation apart from conventional science. Additionally I've made all the links point to the local site. Could you have a look again and let me know if this is more in line with the Citizendium guidelines? --Carlo Monsanto 16:23, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
Thank you, Carlo, for your changes. However, they did not address my main concerns -- the promotional nature of the article and the lack of an external perspective. What is the view from "outside", i.e., by others other than those promoting it and offering courses on it? --Peter Schmitt 17:21, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
I will get others involved to better reflect this. Homework! --Carlo Monsanto 19:49, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

It's always baffled me that psychology has never <!> considered mental processes (i.e., consciousness) as part of their field of study. If you can't measure it, it can't be a science! Holy smokes!

This seems like a really recent phenomenon, but what about the site and situation studies of religious experience (Leary and Alpert, 1961?)? What about transpersonal psychology? Seems like there's lots of overlap there. Russell D. Jones 20:19, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

Hi Russell, thank you for your feedback. Actually psychology does consider mental processes, but it looks at it as if it's a localized object that can be studied. Mental processes are nonlocal or intangible and thoughts may be local. But, there is so much more than only mental processes when we investigate the subjective. We choose not to look at the content of experience, which religious experience and transpersonal psychology refer to, but we guide in expanding the basis from where we perceive any experience. This can empower people, irrespective of the context in which they develop themselves. We don't offer a complete system with fixed conventions and protocols, but we offer an open system that anyone can contribute to. ACS can be seen as another basis for learning. It empowers learners to breach their own barriers and raise their own awareness by perceiving from a broader spectrum of sensitivity. For all of these reasons I'd like to remove it from the category of psychology or any other kind of therapeutic intervention and leave it in Education and Consciousness Studies. --Carlo Monsanto 12:48, 24 September 2011 (UTC)


ACS guides learners towards contemplative stabilisation combined with liberating discernment or awareness.

This definition is not satisfactory. First, and most simply, it uses ACS in its definition. Aside from employing an undefined acronym, the definition should not contain the words to be defined. All that could be fixed by saying:

A guide to learners ....awareness.

That brings us to a new set of difficulties.

First, vagueness abounds. For instance, "learners" of what, exactly? Probably not learners of skateboarding or stock investing. Maybe learners of ACS? Sounds circular.

Second, "stabilization" of what, exactly? Petrifaction of one's beliefs circumventing all revisions?

And what is "contemplative" stabilization, exactly: a mental withdrawal from upsetting concerns of the material world, thus providing a dreamlike release from the impending implosion of the world economy, maybe?

Third, "liberating discernment or awareness", of what, exactly. I can get that some discernment and awareness is definitely not liberating, so I guess there are large categories of discernment and awareness that are not "not liberating", but possibly a little narrowing of the category would help the reader. Maybe discernment and awareness that one's car has started is liberating in releasing one from the worry that they will be late for work?

Perhaps it can be argued that no definition is perfect, and perusal of the article itself would answer all these questions, but that is not my experience. John R. Brews 14:49, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

I believe a definition using words with simple meanings would go a long way to assure the reader that they are not looking at mumbo-jumbo. John R. Brews 15:25, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

This article should be deleted

The subsection Research and development contains this statement:

ACS is a holistic research method wherein the learner continually observes, senses, experiments, and systematically formulates, tests, and adjusts hypotheses.

Apart from the word "holistic", that sentence describes any science. I take it that the word "holistic" is very important in separating ACS from normal science, the "the third-person perspective assumed by modern scientific inquiry", and is meant to include the "subjective end of the spectrum of experience, the zeroth-person". In other words, are we to understand ACS to include normal science and its emphasis upon acceptance of hypothesis based upon accessibility and experiment, but to go further and include matters that are entirely individual and fundamentally inaccessible except to the individual?

Apparently not, because "The general objective is to describe and formulate general recognizable patterns and characteristics, a ‘language’, by which these patterns can be recognized."

Although my views sound harsh to me, I am afraid that this article is very poorly written. It makes statements that are vague beyond understanding, and other statements that seem to contradict each other directly.

This article should be deleted. John R. Brews 18:05, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

For what it is worth, I thoroughly agree with John Brews on this ... the article should be deleted. Milton Beychok 18:16, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
I can't remember who said this, but I came across a rule of thumb, "Any field that includes 'science' in its name is probably not a real science." Having said that, if sufficient third party reliable sources comment on it I think an article on it could belong here. However that article may not win the enthusiasm of this discipline's "learners". If those references exist, this article would require a gobbledygook-ectomy, and if Carlos isn't committed to that I think it should have to go...
An article on this topic was deleted from the wikipedia. [1] George Swan 03:45, 7 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes, goddledygook, delete. Ro Thorpe 15:04, 7 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes, deletion seems the best way to improve this article. --Daniel Mietchen 22:06, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

outdent ::A search on Google books for the exact phrase "applied consciousness science" turns up no hits. A search on Google itself turns up 18,900 hits. Apparently there is an Institute for ACS founded by Graywolf Fred Swinney (who has associations with psychology) and another outfit called the Asklepia Foundation that does not appear to be distinct from the first. A search on Google scholar turns up only a publication by the Asklepia foundation itself on "Borderline personality disorder and the consciousness restructuring process" as part of their series of monographs. I conclude that whatever the merits of ACS, it has as yet no presence in mainstream science or psychology, although it is an amazing generator of web presence. Cited sources in this CZ article are mainly from the Journal of Scientific Exploration, which has been around since 1987 and specializes in "research on consciousness, ufos, alternative energy, and many more scientific anomalous related topics." In their words, the journal is "committed to studying phenomena that cross or are outside of the traditional boundaries of science and, for these or other reasons, are ignored or studied inadequately within mainstream science". This topic is therefore way out there. For it to be retained on CZ, we need a clear policy decision that CZ is willing to entertain such topics. If that is a "yes", such articles need to be carefully labelled as very speculative. John R. Brews 23:56, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

Is this article totally hopeless?

Carlo, I looked at your references -- they are almost all off-line.

I made two changes. Two of your references, two that weren't off-line, showed up multiple times in the list of references. I changed how you referenced them, so they each had just a single listing in the references.

Dr Willoughby Britton is a real cognitive scientist, but the reference you supplied to her work is to a video with very poor audio quality. That made it a lot of work to try to see if she mentioned "Applied Consciousness Science" at all. I only listened to the first minute or so. Carlo, I am afraid that if I listened to her whole lecture I would find only that she uses some terms similar to those used in ACS. If she only coincidentally used similar terms to those used in ACS, then she is not an appropriate source to use as a reference.

If you think an article on this topic is worth more work I would recommend throwing out the entire existing article and starting over, from the beginning. Marshall McLuhan said something like, "No author can succeed if their work contains more than ten percent new ideas." None of us here can understand what you have written. There may be something worth saying about this topic -- but not if you can't write about it in a way your readers can understand.

I suggest you start over, with a lead sentence that says something like, "Applied Consciousness Science is an attempt to apply scientific principles to the study of meditation." Then supply good third party references to back up whatever you put in the lead paragraph.

If you aren't aware of good third party references that specifically talk about ACS then an article on this topic is unmaintainable.

If you can find good third party references, do not go farther than what you can back up from them -- even if that means the article is very short, and leaves out most of what you have learned about the topic. It would be much better for you to start with a one or two paragraph article, that was not so self-referential, backed up by good references than a longer article that was poorly referenced.

Best wishes George Swan 16:38, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

Following up on the suggested introductory line "Applied Consciousness Science is an attempt to apply scientific principles to the study of meditation." a reasonable follow-on would consist of a list of clear definitions of any new concepts used in the field, followed by a list of clearly established results. If, however, "Applied Consciousness Science is a form of psychotherapy intended to aid patients achieve a calmer outlook upon their lives and a more clearly focused set of personal objectives, then the steps used in the counseling process can be described and the methodology can be established as useful by identifying its documented successes. John R. Brews 17:08, 7 October 2011 (UTC)
In my opinion, a good place to start would be a proper definition that says exactly, in ordinary words comprehensible to someone with no idea of the field, what ACS is. It would be very helpful if a reliable source using the definition could be found. John R. Brews 17:15, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

The text that replaces the article is speculative and commentaries only view from an "evidence based" perspective

I only recently discovered this talk page and I'd like to give some feedback on this discussion and its conclusions.

First of all, the text that replaces the article about Applied Consciousness Sciences is speculative and the comments on this talk page seem to lack a deeper understanding of non-reductionist or holistic approaches. These commentaries are right from a strictly materialistic, evidence based point of departure and paradigm. And I can completely understand this. In contrast ACS includes both general and individual objectives because it is multi-perspectival. And in holistic science we aim at strengthening what individuals cognize with what is observed from a meta point of view, the greater connection or bird's eye view. Holistic science accepts the third-person perspective of conventional science, but it sees it as just one perspective from where reality can be described. Ask different individuals to describe what they observe in one and the same situation and they will likely give different, sometimes conflicting, descriptions. Holistic science accepts the individually described patterns and those patterns that the individual experiences have in common. It is the opposite of reductionism. From where we look what we see isn't less true. We try to go beyond what can be cognized through the intellect.

When you look at the "Occupy movement" what you see is nonlogical, non-methodical, non-hierarchical, chaotic, new, emerging, non-reductionist, holistic, global, transformational, ... a breakthrough. Look at the uprising in the Middle East. The "Shift movement" and many other movements are slowly breaching through the conventional. How is this related to Applied Consciousness Sciences? ACS describes how one can organize without relying on hierarchy, how to recognize new emerging patterns, how to recognize the power of different approaches and living traditions that practically lead to personal, organizational and social transformation. It doesn't prescribe an externally imposed change but change that comes from a deeper realization, it doesn't even promote a meditational practice. What does it do? It does describe a way of seeing beyond the reality that we have captured in our thought patterns. This is what grassroots movements like "Occupy" and "The Shift" do.

So, Applied Consciousness Sciences doesn't refer to a project or institution or person but is referred to as a Creative Commons Share Alike development that is supported by those individuals and organizations that keep it alive and growing. Some supporting organizations and individuals have started to systemize its body of theories and practices since 2001. But in reality there is not a specific moment in time where ACS was created.

I would like to suggest to completely remove all text, if in your opinion what we bring in isn't something that CZ should publish. --Carlo Monsanto 19:47, 22 October 2011 (UTC)

I think it is better to continue on your talk page instead on an archive page. --Peter Schmitt 11:07, 23 October 2011 (UTC)