February 07, 2004
I knew science would explain this.
13 years ago
I think this study is a bit too specialized in it's approach to explain the entire concept of sixth sense away. What about people who have a feeling that something is wrong with someone who is far away? What about people who know when the phone is going to ring? That kind of stuff.
...a newly discovered mode of conscious visual perception...
Both mind and sight appear to be involved here, but it may well be that most people have this ability, even if they haven't learned to apply it or dwelt on a (possibly) vague impression something has changed. Some of us are more and some less attuned to apperceiving visual input, it seems. Calling it a sixth sense, though, seems uncalled for, since the sense involved in 'mindsight' is vision, one of the traditional five senses. Seems to be more about mental awareness than a new sense. Besides, the mind is the thing that imposes meaning or interprets, isn't it? Fascinating, Gyan, thanks.
Kimberly, I think that "superstition" (in the psychological sense, not the pejorative!) explains that sort of sixth sense pretty well. We monkeys correlate positive coincidence much more strongly than we do its absence. Nobody ever has a "sixth sense" of
the phone won't ring in the next hour
my wife hasn't called me in two days, but she's fine, really
, I think what the researchers meant is that this ability is what people mean by "sixth sense". They are not positing a new sense,
Wondering now if we may not have more than
sixth sense? Have you ever had the sensation you were being stared at from behind, and turned around only to find that, indeed, a person across the room or the road is gazing at you intently? Is that a form of mindsight? Perhaps our mind continuously receives a barrage of sensory data, but we manage to ignore most of it out at any given time, simply in order to focus out awareness on some particular task. Otherwise it seems we might always experience a state of constant sensory bombardment, making it very hard (if not impossible) to focus on any one thing. Just speculating here, and curious, for I'm appallingly ignorant about the workings of the mind.
We already know we have more than five senses
We have five senses in which we glory and which we recognize and celebrate, senses that constitute the sensible world for us. But there are other senses - secret senses, sixth senses, if you will - equally vital, but unrecognized, and unlauded.
(links directly to a page in
on amazon, so you'll need an amazon account to see the page. Sorry)
It seems that what's at issue here is that the mind works very quickly and not very consciously. So we process things we don't
we're processing. But it's still the processing of the senory data we're used to, the five senses, internal awareness of body stability and balance, that kind of thing. I don't deny that sometimes we feel like we can sense visual things behind us. That's the interesting study to be done here. I personally doubt that deprived of all other sensory clues (primarily sound) a experimental participant could tell whether someone was looking at her/standing behind her. This study, though, doesn't seem to tell us anything we didn't already know. On preview: Thanks for that, dng. I highly recommend to beeswacky and anyone else curious about how the mind works (and isn't that all of us?) anythign written by Oliver Sacks. He's a great writer and the material he deals with is deep beyond my ability to convey. (Also, I hadn't thought of linking to pages in Amazon books. Useful, that.)
The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat
Perhaps our mind continuously receives a barrage of sensory data, but we manage to ignore most of it out at any given time, simply in order to focus out awareness on some particular task. Otherwise it seems we might always experience a state of constant sensory bombardment, making it very hard (if not impossible) to focus on any one thing. Just speculating here, and curious, for I'm appallingly ignorant about the workings of the mind.
Umm, there are ..ways.. to confirm this.
Otherwise it seems we might always experience a state of constant sensory bombardment, making it very hard (if not impossible) to focus on any one thing.
Lucretius (and other ancients, materialist and otherwise) describe all objects as radiated images of themselves, and we perceive these as they pass through the atoms of our mind. Now that we understand how sight (and other senses) work a lot better, it's harder to use theories like this. (Lucretius uses this sensory theory to explain ghosts (and memories) as the persistence of these images.) (Lucretius was a Roman poet, not particularly original in his ideas, but extremely adept at adapting the natural and moral philosophy of Democritus and Epicurus to a palatable form.) And now I'll be quiet.
Thanks to all for your suggestions about Mr. Sacks' work. And again, thanks, Gyan.
Another book suggestion:
Mind Wide Open
Hmmmmm Maybe my sixth sense is right. Every time I read a MoFi post, I have a distinct feeling someone is looking over my shoulder. But when I turn around to look, all the monkeys are scratching, picking fleas, or playing with their bananas. It makes me nervous.
Seriously, interesting stuff, Gyan. Not sure if I buy into all of it, but it's worth pondering. (You monkeys! Cut that OUT!)