Skepdude

From the creator of Video Skepdude

We can all see the future-just not too far ahead!

Psychics beware, humans can see into the future, well at least according to one scientist.

Humans can see into the future, says a cognitive scientist. It’s nothing like the alleged predictive powers of Nostradamus, but we do get a glimpse of events one-tenth of a second before they occur.

Researcher Mark Changizi of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York says it starts with a neural lag that most everyone experiences while awake. When light hits your retina, about one-tenth of a second goes by before the brain translates the signal into a visual perception of the world.

Scientists already knew about the lag, yet they have debated over exactly how we compensate, with one school of thought proposing our motor system somehow modifies our movements to offset the delay.

Changizi now says it’s our visual system that has evolved to compensate for neural delays, generating images of what will occur one-tenth of a second into the future. That foresight keeps our view of the world in the present. It gives you enough heads up to catch a fly ball (instead of getting socked in the face) and maneuver smoothly through a crowd. His research on this topic is detailed in the May/June issue of the journal Cognitive Science,

Hmm, we see what will happen before it happens? I don’t know if I buy this one. Even if it does happen it must only be limited to certain circumstances. I can understand the baseball example. Just like a computer that can calculate a trajectory, so the brain could in fact do the same for a 1/10 of a second if enough information is available. In other words if you’re already looking at the baseball being thrown you’ll be able to make such projection. You still won’t be able to avoid the baseball smacking you in your head if you have no idea one was thrown towards you. So I guess it is plausible, but I would like to see more consensus in the scientific community before I embrace this idea.

Very interesting stuff indeed. Of course, this is just a hypothesis, not a theory as the article says, not in the scientific meaning of the word theory anyway. But quite intriguing indeed.

I can’t wait to see how the “psychics” and the “clairvoyants” will jump on this news, if at all, to claim that they somehow have a much evolved capacity which lets them see well beyond the 1/10th of a second.

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June 4, 2008 - Posted by | Evolution, Science | , ,

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