Friday, November 9, 2012

Proof of Precognition?

One of the advantages of quantum consciousness models is that so far they seem to be just about the only thing that explains some of the weirdness researchers have discovered with respect to the mind and how it appears to interact with the world. A recent example of this can be found in a study by a group of researchers at Northwestern University, who seem to have discovered a rudimentary form of precognition that they have termed "presentiment."

The Northwestern University researchers analyzed the results of 26 studies published between 1978 and 2010 to look into whether humans have the ability to predict future important events without any clues as to what might happen, said Julia Mossbridge, lead author of the study and research associate in the Visual Perception, Cognition and Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern.

Her example is that a person playing a video game at work while wearing headphones can’t hear when his or her boss is coming, but they may be able to anticipate it.

“But our analysis suggests that if you were tuned into your body, you might be able to detect these anticipatory changes between two and 10 seconds beforehand and close your video game,” Mossbridge. “You might even have a chance to open that spreadsheet you were supposed to be working on. And if you were lucky, you could do all this before your boss entered the room.”

She said this phenomenon is called “presentiment,” as in “sensing the future.” However, despite what the name suggests, she and other researchers say they are not sure people are really sensing the future.

“I like to call the phenomenon ‘anomalous anticipatory activity,’” she said. “The phenomenon is anomalous, some scientists argue, because we can’t explain it using present-day understanding about how biology works; though explanations related to recent quantum biological findings could potentially make sense.”

In other words, it's short term precognition - but we wouldn't want to be calling it that because skeptics are mean to parapsychologists and we want to preserve our funding. "Anomalous" seems to be the new term for "psychic," as it was also used by the Princeton Engineering Anomaly Research (PEAR) program that discovered individuals could produce small shifts in the values returned from quantum diode random number generators with their minds.

From a magical perspective, the question then becomes whether or not this ability can be extended further into the future, say with the use of divinatory tools. If we're really talking about a quantum process in the mind that can receive small amounts of information from the quantum field and at the same time alter that field, perhaps what we really are doing when we read Tarot or throw the I Ching or even flip coins is setting up a sort of feedback loop in which an apparently random event can communicate real information about the future over an interval longer than the 2-10 seconds determined by this study.

This also has interesting implications for the free will debate in neuroscience, which is ongoing. The anti-free will side has argued that based on measurable changes in the brain, it is possible to predict what decision a subject will make a few seconds before that decision is made. But what if these same changes are what people who experience presentiment are sensing? The timeframe in which both phenomena have been measured is comparable at the very least. Free will could be completely real and the measured physiological changes could be reacting to the decision you are about to make of your own free will in the future.

So did I just blow your mind?

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Imago said...

Yes, you certainly did blow my mind next week! ;-)

Scott Stenwick said...

I'll be looking forward to that!