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 time isn’t linear. So, 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)
Sounds pretty neat.
Bem’s series of experiments basically reversed two of the fundamentals widely accepted in the field of psychology – namely that studying improves memory and priming facilitates response times. Bem took these fundamentals and turned the timing on its head.
Let’s have a look at one of these studies.
Bem used the priming effect in reverse. 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 picutre.
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.
Paranormally Speaking – What do you Think?
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 the 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 you can leave your comment below. Love to hear from you.