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Alan Wallace

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B. Alan Wallace (born 1950) is an American author, translator, teacher, researcher, interpreter, and Buddhist practitioner interested in the intersections of consciousness studies and scientific disciplines such as psychology,

cognitive neuroscience, and physics. He endeavors to chart relationships and commonalities between Eastern and Western scientific, philosophical, and contemplative modes of inquiry.

Since 1976, Wallace has taught Buddhism, philosophy, and meditation in Asia, Europe, North and South America, and Australia. Wallace grew up in America and Switzerland but left college after three years to study Buddhism in India. He has

served as interpreter for many Buddhist contemplatives and scholars, including the Dalai Lama. He is a prolific author of numerous books and essays and has translated dozens of Sanskrit and Tibetan texts into English. Wallace has a bachelor's degree in physics and philosophy of science from Amherst College and a Ph.D. in religious studies from Stanford. He also founded and is President of the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies.

In 2010 Wallace became the Director and Chairman of the Thanyapura Mind Centre, Phuket, Thailand, which provides a blend of contemporary psychology and neuroscience alongside ancient Asian contemplative practices. He is currently leading

two 8-week, residential, intensive meditation retreats there each year. In addition, together with Paul Ekman and Eve Ekman he is leading a 5-week course to train instructors in "Cultivating Emotional Balance," a 42-hour program developed by Dr. Wallace and Dr. Ekman, which was scientifically studied at the University of California, San Francisco. All these retreats and courses are organized in collaboration with the Santa Barbara Institute.


Alan Wallace was born in Pasadena, California, in 1950, the son of Protestant theologian David H. Wallace, and was raised in the United States, Scotland, and Switzerland. Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies

In 2003, B. Alan Wallace founded the Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies as a not-for-profit institution with the interest of furthering our understanding of the nature, origins, and role of consciousness. He proposes that

the nature of consciousness can most deeply be studied from a first-person perspective, and not be limited to the third-person methodologies of psychology and cognitive neuroscience. Optimally, the first-person methods of the

contemplative traditions of the world, such as Buddhism, may be integrated with the objective methods of science to create a new discipline of "contemplative science." Influences on his thinking and research derive not only from Buddhism

and contemporary physics and neuroscience, but also William James, the pioneering American psychologist and philosopher whom he often refers to as one of his "intellectual heroes."

Wallace's beliefs on consciousness have not gained acceptance within the scientific community. Steven Novella, a clinical neurologist, performed an analysis of Wallace's position and concluded there is no evidence for his claims,

I find Wallace’s position similar to the famous “kettle defense” – he seems to be marshaling whatever arguments he thinks he can use to defend his beliefs, but he is not articulating a coherent position. The reason is clear enough –

he is making the classic mistake of starting with a desired conclusion (merging Buddhist mysticism with modern science) and then working backwards. To achieve these ends he tries but fails to make scientific arguments for dualism and he simultaneously tries to fudge the rules of science to sneak in mysticism as evidence to support his side.

Also he utterly mangles quantum mechanics theory in an attempt to argue that – science says the world is weird, and my beliefs are weird, therefore science supports my views. The logic of this argument fails, but it doesn’t matter

because the premise if wrong – quantum weirdness disappears at the macroscopic level. In the end Wallace does no better than anyone who tries to subvert science to support any ideology. —Steven Novella,

Writings Published Books

Published Translations


B. Alan Wallace has written dozens of published essays in the fields of philosophy, psychology, physics, and Buddhism. Electronic copies of his essays are available from his website.

Selected Essays:

Press. 1999.

Other Projects


Wikipedia:Alan Wallace