Friday, February 5, 2010

Sixth Sense

No, I don't see dead people. In fact, often I don't see live people. And sometimes I can't tell the difference.
What I'm going to be talking about is the way we sense things and don't quite know why. We tend to like to put labels on things, as if that explains them. So, for instance, we label something an instinct, as if that takes care of the problem. But it doesn't, 'cause for it to really explain, we have to have a mechanism in place that connects you and the experience. Labels are just labels.
So, let's take a look at the sixth sense. Say you're driving along the highway, daydreaming a little, and suddenly, you come alert, sensing danger. Without thinking, you swap lanes and a giant, huge, 72-wheeler, double-clutching semi runaway goes roaring by in the precise place where you were a second ago.
Saved by your sixth sense, or angels, or the influence of the second star to the left of Antares.
Can you tell I don't buy this? "Well, smart ***," you say, "what did save me?"
Enter James Gibson, whose book The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems, gives us a mechanism. Mr. Gibson will tell you more than you probably want to know about how we humans (and other animals) interact (or don't --consider a jellyfish) with gravity. It's astonishing how much we use gravity as a way of interacting with the world around us.
Back to the highway and the big truck. It turns out that we are extremely sensitive to changes in ambient light (that's the kind of surrounding light that makes it so we can see things). If I'm in my car and there is a change in the ambient light caused by a huuuuge truck coming up on my rear, then I'll react to that, without (and this is the key), actually knowing what I'm reacting to.
Now, you can believe in the sixth sense if you want to, or in angels, or in astrally projected beings from another dimension (expressed as mice (that's for you Hitchhiker's Guide fans)), but I'll stick with Gibson. I think humans are more attuned to their environment than we really know. And I don't think we need posit anything outside ourselves to account for the fact that we've survived as a species lo these many years.

7 comments:

Becky Stauffer said...

I am fully in agreement with you about our perceptions. I think women are thought to be intuitive possibly because we are especially in tune with our environment and notice very subtle signals of all kinds.

But this doesn't explain a phenomenon I've experienced myself, and that is often being aware that something is wrong with one of my children without being anywhere in the vicinity and without having a hint of a message from them. How close do we need to be to the source to receive the message?

Jacqui Binford-Bell said...

Synchronicity I think plays a large part. If you are in sync with the universe you can sense that person around the corner you are about to bump into.

If you are out of sync with the universe you are an accident waiting to happen.

And there are "gravities" and connections that we do not understand yet. I once heard a hard-bitten and very down to earth police detective discuss on TV that our biggest mistake for women was to tell them it was just "women's intuition" because paying attention to our feelings can save our lives.

My uncle, a KC police detective, told me essentially the same thing when I was a teenager. And I had a mother, Becky, that knew when things were going wrong in my life from 650 miles away.

Just because it is our of the paradyne does not mean it does not exist. Per the theory of aerodynamics the bumble bee cannot fly.

As for distance, Becky, I think there are no limits. It is the state of your connection to the universe that counts. May the force be with you.

Catfish Tales said...

I cannot debate what you say, because to argue I would have to show you what is quantum, abstract or perhaps what is even lurking in dimensions unseen to the naked eye, which of course is beyond quantum. Yet, I too have had mystifying experiences that cannot for the life of me be explained in our rational world. And they make me pause and wonder....

Bee's Blog said...

My mother used to say that I had a sixth sense.

Ron I think that just possibly, you're going to dislike what I'm going to say but I'll say it anyway!! Too many things happen to me making it impossible for me to ignore the 'signs' that come my way. Call it whatever you want but for me, the more spiritually 'tuned in' (for want of a better expression) I am, the clearer the 'messages' are. I don't mean that I am a 'spiritualist' but that some times, my spirituality is deeper than at other times - when I don't pray my spirituality is dry. When I'm 'tuned in' the Holy Spirit is my sixth sense.

I don't see dead people - I just dream about them and that recently, has been somewhat disconcerting because they are people I haven't thought about for years. Maybe I need to get spiritually cranked up in an attempt to find out what the message is. Don't think that has much to do with the environment although they were all smokers so probably contributed a great deal to pollution!!

On both your houses said...

Y'know, I like you all, and I appreciate your comments, but all the things y'all say give me the MEGO phenomon (My Eyes Glaze Over). Of course I know when my kids are in trouble no matter how far away they are -- 'cause I worry about them being in trouble all the time. When my ceaseless worry comes true, I say Ahah! I have a sixth sense. As for synchronicity, there are so many things happening at any one time that it would be remarkable if there were not a large number of co-occurances.
Anyway, one does what works.

雪糕 said...
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Bee's Blog said...

MEGO? I like that.
I really didn't think men had a sixth sense. Or male intuition!!!????