Why do We Assume Time is Linear?
The evidence is all around us. It seems conclusive. We reflect on the past, we plan for the future, and we remind ourselves to live in the present.
Yet, science is slowly revealing that it means for time not to be linear. Imagine can we really see the future?
I remember reading somewhere, sometime ago that time (there’s that word and here it comes again), time is God’s way of ensuring that life doesn’t happen to us all at once Maybe there is something in that – but that’s for another discussion.
Anyway, back to the latest from the labs.
“It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards” (Alice in Wonderland)
According to a paranormal study by Daryl Bem we can see the future. Professor Bem is a social psychologist at Cornell University in the States and he has released results of his nine studies which indicate that the brain is able to not only reflect on the past but it can also anticipate the future.
Sounds pretty neat.
Let’s have a look at one of these studies.
Bem used the priming effect in reverse. Apparently (I’m no psychologist), in its typical form the priming effect requires subjects to indicate if a photo is positive or negative. First, they are subliminally shown a word (eg happy or ugly) which is immediately followed by a picture (eg dog or cat).
Typically, in these priming studies, people who are primed with a word consistent with the photo they are shown will be able to categorize the picture quicker as being either positive or negative, by pushing a button.
In Bem’s retroactive priming study, he reversed the sequence by flashing the primed word after the person had categorized the photo.
The experiment went something like this.
People were individually shown a dog picture. Then, they chose whether to push the positive or negative button. Shortly after, they were primed with a word which was a good or bad match. The results showed that somehow people were quicker at categorizing a photo when it was followed by a randomly chosen and consistent prime word.
Thus, the result was the same regardless of whether the priming word was subliminally shown before or after the picture.
It was as if, while participants were categorizing the photo, their brain knew what word was coming next and used this information in their decision making.
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This is so weird, don’t you think? I love it.
It’s weird and wonderful, and totally in sync with what some quantum physicists suspect. According to his webpage, Bem has a first degree in physics so there are no surprises here.
You might like to read the full write up of this research in Psychology Today.
Or you can follow a more technical discussion here on Dean Radin’s blog – he too has a background in physics. Or….
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