From Dr. Basil Hiley, March 11, 2013.
Let me explain how I got involved. I received an e-mail asking me if I would present a lecture at a conference "In Search of the Self: The role of Consciousness in the Construction of Reality", which was to be held in Yelm in 1996 and financed by a private benefactor.
My remit was to present the philosophical ideas of David Bohm who I had been working with for over thirty years at Birkbeck.
I had recently completed a book on the foundation of quantum mechanics co-authored with Bohm. Bohm died in 1993,
just as the proofs were being sent to the publishers. This book was a technical treatise and was to do with 'hard' physics.
Since the book was concerned with what the quantum formalism was telling us about reality, in the last chapter we briefly speculated about whether our ideas might have something interesting to say about consciousness.
This particular unexpected connection reflected Bohm's involvement in wider philosophical questions as discussed in his book
"Wholeness and the Implicate Order". Normally David Bohm, himself, would have been invited to speak.
The question that I struggled with at that time was, "Should I accept such an invitation to talk about a field that was not central to my research?" This was a question that I thought about for some time before making a decision.
The person who approached me, claimed to be a retired Professor of Religion. I cannot recall his name at this moment, but he was unknown to me then. I was sent a list of participants, none of whom were in my field, so I made some enquires and found that some were well known authorities in their fields. After some deliberation, I decided it would be an opportunity talk with and meet with these academics to see their reaction to our ideas. It would also give me an opportunity to present our ideas to a wider audience. At that stage I had no idea of who JZ Knight was.
I am not even sure her name was mentioned. I was told that my airfare and accommodation would be covered.
After some deliberation, I decided I would go, not in an official capacity representing Birkbeck, but in a personal capacity. One factor that swayed me finally to accept was, in fact, personal. I had a nephew whose kidneys had failed and was on dialysis awaiting a transplant.
He lived just outside Seattle. This trip would give me a chance to visit him and see for myself what sort of state he was in and report back to his mother. This meant that if the money for my airfare was not refunded, I would pay for it out of my own pocket and stay with my nephew and his family in Seattle. After all the flight arrangements had been made, I was sent some information about our benefactor,
JZ Knight claiming to be able to "channel". Immediately alarm bells started to ring, but I was on my way-- arrangements were in place.
Should I bale out or continue? I decided to continue. When I arrived at the conference I was horrified to see TV camera crews and the press there. This was not what I had been led to believe the conference was about. I had expected a typical academic meeting where we could discuss some deep questions and exchange ideas in a relaxed atmosphere. This was an entirely new experience for me. Some of the other participants were equally concerned, so we met in the hotel lounge at the end of the first day to discuss what we should do,
if anything. After some debate, a general consensus emerged, namely, that we should continue to exchange ideas in the meeting and try to treat it as the conference it was intended to be.
At no point was I asked to do 'scientific' tests on JZ Knight's claims. At no point did I make any public comment about her claims to be able to
'channel'. I do not know if others were involved in 'scientific testing'. I certainly took no part in any tests, scientific or otherwise.
I went there on the understanding that I was to present the ideas that Bohm and I had developed
under the heading of the 'Implicate Order', and how this notion might be of use in understanding consciousness. This has nothing to do with
'channeling'. I have no interest scientific or otherwise in the so-called phenomena of channeling. At the meeting I was asked if I would write up
my talk and I declined.
Please note there seems to be some discrepancy between the date of the conference, which I attended in February 1997 and the statement that
'scientific studies took place in 1996'. If the studies did take place in 1996, then I certainly was not involved.
Please also note that I retired from Birkbeck in September 1997.
Please let me stress once more, this visit had no official or other backing from Birkbeck, it was a personal decision to go.