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You're smarter when you don't think

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posted on Apr, 19 2006 @ 12:18 PM
I read this article, somewhat by chance, in the newest issue of Discover magazine and found it intensly interesting. It says that apparently our subconcious mind is far more capable of problem solving and handling complex issues than our conscious mind. In addition our subconcious's computing speed is far faster than our conscious mind. The article stated many examples, including the problem Baseball pitchers have when they begin "aiming their shots" or in other words, thinking too hard about what they're doing.

According to the article your consious mind is better suited for menial tasks such as tapping a beat on the table, this in turn frees up your subconcious mind to ponder greater things. Perhaps it's why many muscians play better while tapping the rythm with their foot as their subconcious doesn't stumble over their concious mind.

I've often found this quite true for myself, when I find myself facing some mental delema, whether it's how to fix a television, what's wrong with some chunk of code or even what to write here on ATS I get a feeling as if I already know the answer. Out of nowhere the answer appears in my brain and it's right, I think this is part of the reason I scored so well on tests in school even though I never studied or took notes. Since this is the science section I will only touch on some of the odder things that thinking with my subconcious has done but often times I can pick the numbers to a randomly generated sequence such as the Pick 4 lottery. Often times I'll see that they're doing the drawing and four numbers will pop into my head, then at least 2 out of 4, or sometimes all 4, of those number will pop up on screen. I've done the same thing with certain card games yet I have no clue how it happens. The only problem is I can't do it when I think about it too much.

Unfortunately I can't post the entire article here but the magazine is still on newstands and you can stop by a bookstore and read it for free.

Blinded by Science
by Bruno Maddox
DISCOVER Vol. 27 No. 05 | May 2006 | Mind & Brain

The jolt was buried rather far back in the newspaper, given its importance: That once celebrated human activity known as Thought, also known as Thinking, is apparently not that useful after all. And that was that. The adjacent article was on another topic entirely, and the space adjacent to that one was an advertisement for women's shoes.

It was a whimperish exit for a tradition with roots stretching back to Descartes, Plato, and presumably beyond. Had you taken either of those two gentlemen aside—not to mention any of the billion souls who have ever stared up at a star-filled sky and taken a moment or two to mull things over—and told them Thought would one day be downgraded to just another human attribute like hair, or nostrils, or jealousy, they would have called you a liar to your face. Thought is what makes humans human, they would have explained. It's the luminous spark of reason that grants us lordship over the animals, endows us ...

Link to Article

posted on Apr, 19 2006 @ 03:01 PM
Good post, Shadowflux. I wouldn't know, but my gut tells me there's something to what this article, and you, suggest here.

It's common to most of us, but when I'm working a problem and beating my head against the wall (I code a lot, too
), the solution often comes readily after a good night's sleep. It's gotten to where many times when the solution is bigger than I am, and I know I'm just spinning my wheels, I simply put the problem aside in my mind and do something else, confident that it will come once I've had a chance to "sleep on it". It's amazing how often it works.

IMHO this area of study has enough merit to pursue it further. I find it intensely interesting, as well. Thanks for the excellent post!


posted on Apr, 19 2006 @ 03:13 PM
Indeed. As you said, this is a consistent result with extra sensory ability.

Precognition, telepathy, telekenesis, etc. A common complaint is that people who have noted ability seem to lose it when focused, only to have it return when distracted. I myself have found the best way to operate the skill is to first focus intensely on the matter at hand, and then intentionally distract the concious mind until it is not an active thought process. It's tricky, but when successful the desired result occurs almost always right when it leaves concious thoughts.

The subconcious mind processes and stores every single bit of data our senses present it with, every thought our concious minds generate, and every emotion our brain gives us. It influences the flow of our concious thoughts, and provides the connections that form the function of memory. The subconcious is truely the final frontier.

posted on Apr, 19 2006 @ 03:26 PM
"Spinning my wheels" is a perfect wording of what I think happens, to me at least. If I keep mulling over a problem I end up just repeating it to myself, coming to the same failed solutions I came up with before. Often times the soltuion to a major problem comes to me right before I fall into unconscious sleep, it comes to me as a realisation of somthing I already knew. It's the weirdest feeling.

The weirdest part is that often times I can almost hear my subconcious going over a million things at once, almost like my subconcious acts on it's own. Consistant with the theory of distracting the concious mind I find it easier to think out an issue, make connections, and understand somthing when I type it out. Part of the reason I love ATS so much. 99% of my posts are me just sitting at the keyboard and typing away with no planning or anything before hand and I actually end up learning more about a subject that way. I think it's because while I type my concious mind is too busy moving my fingers across the keyboard to get in the way.

I'd be extremely interested to read about how this subconcious mind theory is related to extra sensory abilities and what people who claim to have such abilities have to say in regards to this theory. If anyone would like to provide some info I'm sure I'll aborsb it all.

Also I'd be glad to talk about more of the odder things that've happened to me using this method of thinking if anyone is interested. If anyone has had any more sunconcious experiences like we've been talking about I'd love to read about them.

posted on Apr, 19 2006 @ 04:19 PM
Shadowflux and apc, thanks for the food for thought. Both of your posts show that you have quite well developed conscious abilities. I look forward to knowing more about your deeper, more elusive, hidden talents.

There may be one or two I can add, as well, but I'm in a rush at the moment. I, too, would be curious about the possibility of a link between subconcious activity and paranormal events. Interesting times we live in.

Will check in later ...

posted on Apr, 19 2006 @ 04:46 PM
True, the subconcious does certain functions better, but not all. When I play first-person shooters for instance, I aim better when I go into "subconcious-mode". However, if I want to pinpoint the exact time when the armor comes up, I have to conciously watch the clock.

Prediction is the same (ie. Professor Rhine card test). In a sense, the daydreamer types might actually be more productive, as long as they keep to the task at hand.

posted on Apr, 19 2006 @ 04:54 PM
ESP and associated mind traits are all secondary involantary phenomena. So I would agree in essence of what this article is saying.

Its also what is known as "trying to outsmart yourself" this is a very old term meaning your first thought is usually the most accurate one.

Which is why they do word association tests. I dont know the exact criteria but they look for associative and opposite word formations such as cat you respond dog or shoe and you say foot etc. If you come off with alot of oddball responses then they will try and diagnose what type of paticular disorder you have.

Such as they say boot and you say hair. Words that dont link mean your sub-conscience mind is preoccupied with an event, possibly past trauma etc that is complicating your normal daily activty thus causing to seek therapy for some type of emotional aliment.

posted on Apr, 19 2006 @ 05:04 PM
Shadowflux, your illustration of musicians and tapping into the subconscious was right on.

Stevie Ray Vaughn said "when I play from my mind I get in trouble"

We musicians call it the "groove"; when the music takes on a life of it's own. My analysis of what happens is that a disassociavative state [much like meditation] takes over and you don't have to think about notes, rhythm, changes, etc. A truly trancendental state that a lot of artist, not just musicians, try and place themselves in before starting the creative process.

Being in this state dosen't garantee a positive outcome for the work but from my experience, it helps.

posted on Apr, 19 2006 @ 05:10 PM
Very true, i can relate it to golf.

Whilst chipping or putting the ball close, it is 90% sub concious act. The more you think about it the worse the result.

posted on Apr, 19 2006 @ 05:23 PM

Originally posted by The Links
Very true, i can relate it to golf.

Whilst chipping or putting the ball close, it is 90% sub concious act. The more you think about it the worse the result.

Me too.
The best score I ever shot was my wife's first time on the big course.
I was paying more attention to her game than mine and the low score just happened.

I write books, short stories and tech articles.
It's a strange thing sometimes when you drop into the zone - for want of a better word - and find yourself creating things that are to an extent beyond your conscious mind.
Times like that it's like watching someone else write.

Problems are better solved by not thinking about them.
Giving the subconscious time to work it's magic always brings good and accurate results.

posted on Apr, 19 2006 @ 06:06 PM
It seems we're all in agreement as to the abilities of the subconscious mind. The article stated that in a test they ran they made certain people do menial tasks such as solving simple word search puzzles while they made others do more complex activites such as picking the best deal out of a list of cars. The scientists said that the conscious mind is needed for tasks such word searches so I suppose it's still usefull.

I suppose this could be the reason behind the need for ever more simplistic recreation in more complicated minds. The oddest part of the whole article is that everyone seems to be able to relate it to their own lives, turning off the conscious mind seems to be somthing we all do.......subconsciously......

As an artist I can completely agree with "getting in the zone". When I'm in it I can draw or paint almost with my eyes closed. I stare at the blank paper until an image pops up, it's the completed peice I'm about to do. I see it, whole and finished on the paper, I can feel my hand drawing the curves, I can even hear the pencil on the paper. Though when I'm not in the zone I couldn't draw a stick figure, it's the absolute most maddening thing, I don't know how many times I've sworn off art forever because of it. The problem is, as has been said, you can't force yoruself into the zone.

Granted, the scientific validity of extra sensory perception is arguable but I was doing some reading on it and came across somthing that rang as true:

There is the prophetic person who receives a thought as a knowing. He quickly grasps the "total" concept or idea and has no interest in breaking it down intellectually. He is usually sensitive to precognition and his hunches, dreams and knowings have much to do not only with the future or the present, but how it effects others.

This was one of the site's deffinitions for one of the many forms of ESP sensitivity but it was the first part that I could relate to most of all. Quite often I'll be reading somthing, listening to music, playing a game, or otherwise occupied in some mindless activity when I will have what I call "revelations". When all of the sudden somthing clicks and I fully understand whatever it was I was thinking of earlier. Usually it's somthing rather complex, but when I get one of those "revelations" of mine it even feels complete. I never feel the need to analyze it or break it down, I know deep down that it's true. I understand every aspect of it, right down to the most miniscule detail. This has even been true when reading what I can of theoretical physics and cosmology. Perhaps I would understand more of the physics theories if my conscious mind knew more math, but I do get an understanding in a non-mathematical sense, often times I understand somthing without being able to explain it to anyone.

One example that always stands out to me happened in a bookstore. I picked up a small book about haikus and koans and began reading for a reason I have since forgotten. However, the third haiku I read did something to me. By the time I had finished the last line I wasn't in the bookstore anymore, I was standing on the porch the author described, I could hear the leaves rustling across the boards and I could even smell the cool summer's breeze. It was then that I instantly and completely understood not only the purpose of, but the method of creation of a haiku. I knew it completely and I felt it deep inside.

However I'm never able to have such a revelation if I try too hard, I have to almost not be thinking of it before it'll happen. If I try to force it I will come up with an answer, it may be intellectually sound but it still feels as if I'm only telling myself it's right. I've had these types of revelations as I've meditated, as I've been falling asleep, and sometimes (during my more "adventurous" years) under the influence. Because I don't wish to cheapen or devalue the discussion in any way I won't talk about my experiences under the influence unless someone asks.

The last part rang true to me as well, when I'm pondering somthing, usually somthing that does or possibly could impact someone or a lot of people I find it extrememly hard not to see the whole picture. Let's say I'm pondering some new political issue, sometimes I can stay on track and focus only on that one issue, but as is more often the case I can't stop myself from seeing it as it relates to everything. And I mean everything, even if it's an insignificant personal experience my mind naturally ties it together with the rest of the country, then the planet, then our galaxy and then the entire universe. I have trouble placing an earthly value on things because I can't get the knowledge of the vastness of space out of the mental debate. I remember the last worthless job I worked, i wanted to grab my manager by the neck and tell him of how many planets there are in a galaxy and how many galaxies there are and how many cultures and races are out there, I just couldn't see the point of rearranging a few books. I suppose i digress a bit.

Not to turn this completely into a discussion of perception beyond the realm of science but i think it all correlates. If science is willing to accept that there is much more to our subconscious than previously thought then the possibilities, I suppose, are endless. Perhaps, to put it in computer terms, the conscious mind is the operating system and the subconscious is a vast hard drive. We just didn't know the computer could do anything other than surf the web and play games becasue we ignore the hard drive too much. What many of the proponents of ESP seem to be saying is that the subconscious mind is much like a vast hard drive on a networked server and you are able to access the information placed there by someone else. Any thoughts?

Has anyone else experienced these types of subconscious instantaneous revelations?

Can someone who believes themselves to have extra sensory perceptions provide any information on what it's like when they recieve whatever information they recieve?

Edit: Forgot to refernce the site: ESP

[edit on 19-4-2006 by Shadowflux]

posted on Apr, 19 2006 @ 07:03 PM
Supposedly Archimedes discovered the principles of density and buoyancy while he wasn't thinking

I did a little searching and found the story I remember reading a long time ago. I always remember the moral if you will of the story is that sometimes hardwork, concentration etc.. wont cut it and you have to take a break or a bath as Archimedes did

Archimedes was one of the finest mathematicians of antiquity. He derived the formula for the volume of a sphere, and found an accurate value for pi. But it is the story of King Hieron II of Syracuse and the gold crown for which he is most famous.

The king had commissioned the crafting of a crown as a tribute to the gods. He gave a carefully weighed amount of gold to a smith, who produced a beautiful crown within due course. The king became suspicious, however, that the craftsman had not used all of the gold he had been given in the crown. It was a common trick to alloy gold with cheaper silver, but the King knew no way of proving that the craftsman had been dishonest. He called upon his close friend Archimedes to solve the problem.

Archimedes knew that gold and silver have different densities, meaning that a lump of gold will weigh about twice as much as a lump of silver the same size. The trouble was that no one knew how to work out the size of an irregularly shaped object like a crown. Whilst he was pondering this conundrum, Archimedes went to the public baths to relax. As he slipped into the water he noticed some spilling over the edge, and he had a sudden flash of inspiration. The amount of displaced water must be exactly the same volume as himself. And if you know the volume of an object you can now easily calculate its density. All Archimedes had to do was find out whether a lump of pure gold, with the same volume as the crown, weighed more. The crown would be lighter than it should be if the craftsman had deviously used some silver instead. Archimedes, in a fit of jubilation, leapt straight out of the bath and ran naked down the streets shouting “Eureka!” – “I’ve found it!”. The goldsmith soon confessed and was dealt with by the King.

Archimedes continued with this line of thought to arrive at the principle of buoyancy. He realised that if the weight of water displaced is greater than the weight of the object itself, then it will float.

It is unlikely that there has been another mathematician so devoted to his subject since Archimedes. He was thinking through a problem even when he died. Syracuse surrundered to Rome in 212 BC, but Archimedes was typically unaware of what was going on around him as troops entered the city. A soldier approaching Archimedes disturbed the geometrical diagrams he had been drawing in a sand pit. Archimedes angrily growled “Keep off, you!” and was slain by the soldier, not realising it who it was.


[edit on 19-4-2006 by warpboost]

posted on Apr, 19 2006 @ 07:10 PM

The problem is, as has been said, you can't force yoruself into the zone.

Actually, I think you CAN force yourself into subconcious mode with a bit of practice. I've been trying to hone in on that special type of concentration for about 10 years now, and while I can't switch to subconcious mode instantly, it definately comes faster than it used to.

Try having a conversation while throwing darts for instance, and watch the bullseyes come easy.
Just let the subconcious throw the darts.


posted on Apr, 19 2006 @ 07:15 PM
The best way I have found to force a thought from the conscious into subconscious is to "fill the queue" of conscious thoughts. After focusing on the target thought, begin filling the mind with other random thoughts. In a few seconds, the target thought drops in active priority and "falls off" into the subconscious.

(I think this has probably been the first time I ever correctly spelled 'conscious' ... letters, who needs 'em.)

posted on Apr, 20 2006 @ 09:41 AM
was trying to play online couronne unconsiousley.. was making some really tough shots i usually would not really try.. but finding it a little hard to stay *unfocused*.

posted on Apr, 20 2006 @ 12:21 PM
Oddly enough the story of Archimedes was one of the examples cited in the article, maybe you knew that subconsciously. (que X-Files music)

The article stated that science is still reluctant to admit that the subconscious hides further abilites we are unaware of but I personally don't think it's much of a leap to that conclussion. I'm actually thinking I might start a thread in the paranormal section to try and get some first hand accounts of what claimed extra sensory perceptions are like.

apc's post about "filling in the que" was somewhat mentioned in the article and also greatly mentioned in all the ESP articles I've read. When I was younger my parents would always insist that I didn't do my homework in front of the television, however when I turned off the television it was impossible for me to concentrate on my work. The only way I could do it was if I had somthing rather distracting going on in the background. If I didn't I could be reading a book, my eyes would be moving across the page and I'd be registering what I read but my mind would be elsewhere going over somthing unrelated.

"Filling in the que" also seems to be a well known fact in forms of prayer and meditation. Mantras have been used for centuries and while they've never been described as a distraction for the conscious it could explain why people have such great revelations during prayer and meditation. Even the Christian tradition uses mantras in the form of the Rosary. I attended a very religious/spiritual boarding school for a few years and did all kinds of prayer and meditation and found that I did indeed think clearer when reciting a mantra of some form, or when chanting a prayer.

As for forcing yourself in the zone I still don't think it's possible. I think "the zone" and "subconscious mode" are too different things. I think when you're in the zone you're actively tuned into the creative aspect of your subconscious. I've noticed that when I'm in the zone my artistic abilities are through the roof yet some of the other things suffered slightly as it's often hard to get out of the zone. In fact when I'm in the zone I don't eat, sleep, or go outside because I can't think of anything other than art. Being in the zone tends to distort your perspective of time as well, I might spend 24 hours straight on a peice and not notice till I pass out. My brother is a musician and when he's in the zone he'll play till his fingers are litterally bleeding and then get mad that he can't play anymore. Granted, playing speed metal on steel strings can tear up your fingers quite well.

While I was surifng through the web for ESP and subconscious related material I came across this It's an online ESP test, it's the classic wavy lines, circle, square cards but it seems to be done in Java script and there are quite a few variables you can test. I tried it a little last night but after writting so much by brain was mush and I couldn't get higher than 4 or 5 out of 25 correct. Still it's a fun test, if anyone gets some crazy high scores let me know.

Thanks again for all the great responses, as long as people are still interested in this thread I'll keep it alive as best I can. Would anyone care to share their experience on the weirdest or most surprising thing their subconscious has ever done? What are some of your methods for "filling in the que" or otherwise distracting the conscious?

posted on Apr, 20 2006 @ 12:32 PM
Shadowflux, allow me to direct you to this thread.

I actually posted another java version of the Professor Rhine card test last night, partly inspired by this thread. IMO it's a bit easier to use. I always get way above chance level, and you can really tell once you acheive that special type of concentration. After a while you no longer are guessing the cards... you're telling the program which card is coming next. I've gotten 6 circles in a row for instance.

posted on Apr, 20 2006 @ 12:41 PM
Thanks Kreul that's really neat

You say you get at least 50% right on the test, whats it like when you know what the next card is going to be? Do you just "know" with out really being able to explain it?

Since this thread is about the hidden intelligence of the subconscious and you said you were proficient in programming could it possibly be that while taking the test so many times your subconscious mind actually decifered the code used to make the test and that's where the answers come from? Just a thought based on what we've been discussing, I think both answers are equally amazing.

Having two different tests to take also helps control the experiment. If indeed you have subconsciously cracked the test's code perhaps your score would be different on a different test. I'm going to try both and see on which I get a higher score.

posted on Apr, 20 2006 @ 01:13 PM
Ehh, it's hard to explain. At first I don't get any right, but usually about 15 cards in, I'll start to "feel" what card is going to be next. You've gotta throw out all logic, expectations, imagination, etc. For example, it might give you the same card multiple times in a row. Once you get into the proper mode of concentration, you'll even get those right. It's a bit difficult when you first start out... once you start getting a few in a row you'll laugh at yourself, and the excitement causes you to get some wrong. After getting past that point however, it's quite easy.

I actually did a test with some family members... once I got going, I would say to someone else that they'd get the next one right, and they did. I think being in a group helps even more. Perhaps something about a group conciousness being more powerful than a single conciousness?

It seems as if the subconcious isn't nearly as limited. Like we're all connected at a deeper level. I think the key to expanding esp-type qualities is basically just trying to create a better link from the subconcious part of the brain to the concious part. That's why I say that everyone is psychic, they just don't know how to use the abilities yet.

posted on Apr, 20 2006 @ 01:33 PM
That seems to be how it's working for me as well though I'm not getting the high scores you are yet. When I get a few in a row correct I do get excited and start messing up. The part about feeling what card is next is interesting, once I was in a casino playing a video poker game with a touchscreen. There was a part of the game where you were given five cards face down and had to pick which one matched the one they gave you. By passing my hand over each card I could feel a pull, almost like a magnetic pull, when I passed over the correct card. Sometimes I would pick the wrong card but I would always know which card was the correct one.

Also related to casino games I sometimes have an odd ability to affect the outcome of a roll of dice when I'm playing a board game. So much so that it starts to anger the people I'm playing with and they won't let me roll the dice. Granted my friend taught me a little about trick throwing but I'm no good at it. For example, I can sometimes roll nothing but double 6s. One time my brother and I were playing Monopoly, he owned an entire half of the board save for a few spots. 4 or 5 times in a row I escaped him by getting my self in jail on one roll, and then out of jail with doubles on the next. Then just to test it out I told him I wouldn't go to jail but I'd hop through his properties landing only on the blank squares and I did. Needless to say he didn't want to play anymore and no one believed either of us.

Alot of what I've been reading on ESP confirmed my own theories about neural transmitters and receptors. Since all the information in your brain is carried along electrical impluses that jump an uninsulated air gap I've always thought it would be possible to pick up on these impulses. Some of what I've been reading says that you can tune yourself into other's impulse frequencies and recieve them yourself. It also states that contrary to actual EMF radiation there is no signal degradation over any distance and the reception is instantaneous which seems to coincide with certain theories in Quantum Physyics. The theories state that when two partcles are close enough to eachother they begin to affect eachother and when that happens the distance between them is unimportant.

Being in a group it seems as though you can all begin transmitting in the same frequency range which I believe causes you to be more susceptable to recieving the transmissions of another. Alot of the articles also state that you have a frequency memory of some sort. That you've saved and memorized the frequencies of friends and loved ones thus cuasing you to be more susceptable to recieving strong signals from them regardless of distance. It also says that this ability is a passive, or "always on" ability.

This whole discussion is getting "curiouser and curiouser" as Alice said.

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