Discussion: “psi… a pop-culture category more than an identifier.”
(I am pasting from facebook some things I wrote in a long discussion that arose from a book concept shared by Jordan. This one is on “psi stuff”, as I tend to describe that topic,)
We are using words imprecisely in this part of the discussion, acting as if the words had clear and shared meanings, when they don’t really.
Take this word or partial word, psi. We are pretending it has a known clear meaning, but, it’s actually another catch-all word, a pop-culture category more than an identifier. Another blurry box. There are hundreds to thousands of human experience types, and human stories, all jumbled together like a mass of strings. Of those thousands of human experience/stories, there are hundreds of subtypes, forming clusters of similar elements.
You are both acting like you are talking about something clear and unitary, and nothing you can label “psi” will look clear and unitary when you examine it.
BUT, generally, Jeff is presenting the model that will always be likely to offer the better and more predictive description, when these experiences are dragged under the harsh lights of the dissecting table.
My current most competitive model goes something like this – of any given experience/story likely to be labeled “psi”, about 40% are simple cognitive disorder.
Another 40% are biosensory – smells, body language, microcmuscle signaling, including complicated voice tone effects and signals, a large number of other lesser known, and I suggest still completely unknown biological communications systems and sensory systems. This is an extremely important, poorly understood area.
Those two classes are simple enough to be easily grasped by most.
The next class is more difficult to get unless you have spent a lot of time looking at a number of arcane fields. I think of this class, in contrast to “simple cognitive disorder”, as “complex cognitive disorder”. The theory is, humans use several cognitive (mind) and computational (brain) functions together, to create “simulations” of things not directly perceived. If the initial information for the simulation is accurate enough, these simulations can produce “predictions” or other kinds of results that mimic “spooky action at a distance” on the human social level of shared stories. It is, essentially, enhanced guessing based on simulations generated by the brains and minds.
I think of this as a “complex disorder”, because humans make the cognitive error of thinking that computation is a “magic power” in the old sense. My estimate is, that this interesting effect of simulation, computation, and information processing may apply o as between 15-19% of the remaining “psi” stuff.
Much rarer is the category of “complex body.brain.minds synthesis operations.”. The complex cognitive disorder is a disorder when the humans think it’s magic. But, if the humans don’t think it’s magic, then it’s not a disorder, it’s an operation of some level of enhanced human.
Those are the four categories I am pretty certain I can explain, justify, support, and demonstrate. They account for about 98-99 percent of all the “psi stuff”, as far as i can tell.
Leaving 1 to 2 percent that is so far not explained easily.
A few comments later, in response to something Joy posted, I said:
Something that always makes me do this odd kind of far-seeing grin, is that, when I present that version of my current best model of “psi stuff” to most people, there is a pattern of typical responses, but most people seem to miss the HUGE implications semi-hidden in what I describe.
Many people miss the significance of that small percentage that is not easily explained – Joy Daniels, you didn’t.
And almost everyone misses the blindingly obvious “big picture” implication. I can even state it, and most will not really be able to think about it. I’ll try stating it:
If all of these things that have so enchanted and driven humans for tens of thousands, possibly millions of years, are mostly based in biology and almost unknown mental skills we all have as part of the basic package of being living humans, what would happen if we started using them intentionally?
What would a human with full access to these biosensory and simulation-computation-“super-guessing” tools be like?
Even without that final 1-2% “as yet unexplained”, a human that could use these things at will (or even just a small amount of them at will) would be – astonishing. Amazing FAR FAR beyond any “psychic”, any guru, any “enlightened person”, any historically actual person ever seen before on this planet.
(The first section on “psi stuff” was followed by my telling this story.)
BUT – there are many things people throw into the “psi stuff” frame that don’t belong there, but that also have interesting properties, and which affects humans powerfully.
One of my favorite examples of this is something I watched happen on Oprah long ago. It was during that period she was doing all the “spirituality” stuff that was a marketing disaster. I wish that I had a copy, but I attest that what I about to describe is a true report of what the show contained, within the limits of error of memory. I may have stored some details wrong, but what happened on that show was substantially what I am about to write.
The show was one of those rambling interviewy things, with gary zukav, talking about souls, trying to sell a book. At some point, a young woman stands and begins to speak about the death of her sister.
She describes something well known to students of the religion and enlightenment traditions – the overpowering grief of loss, the desolation of facing the reality of death, and the mind-collapsing existential terror that comes when you look directly at the ceasing of the other, and by implication oneself, while in that biochemical state of grief. It was, in it’s way, an amazing sight, this woman signaling with voice face and body the overpowering “thing”, the great fear. Looking dukkha in the eye, and seeing that it is your own dying eye that looks.
Then – her demeanor, everything she was signaling changed, as she moved from one memory, one story, to another – and this part is the thing many many people also get a taste of – and make the mistake of thinking it is “psi”.
She said, as her body and voice transformed and her biochemistry changed, this:
“But one day, when I was thinking about committing suicide to get away from all this pain, I walked to a spot where I sometimes thought. In the midst of the worst pain I had ever felt, I looked up. Above me a hawk or an eagle was flying, and I couldn’t stop looking at it. Suddenly I was hit with this feeling. The hawk was really my sister, and she was telling me it’s okay. That she was okay, and that I should stop being sad. That she would watch over me. I could feel her…”.
She almost breaks down at this point. The crowd is absolutely fixed. Then she says, “It was the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me.”. And sits, or collapses, in the chair.
I imagine almost everyone likely to read this can in some way relate, and could tell some story that is either a version of this, or is similar in some way. We,or most of us, instantly recognize this class of experience – the profound, the awesome (in the old sense), the life-changing.
But, this is not psi. You don’t even have to ascribe to this synchronicity, apparently meaningful coincidence. This is body.brains.minds de-assembling and re-assembling a configuration.
Most reading that last sentence will think “oh, he’s reducing the sacred to something psuedo-sciencey.”.
No, it’s not a reduction, it’s a higher order understanding. Knowing that it is something natural that we humans all do makes it a hundred times more astonishing and hopeful and lifechanging than being required to believe that woman’s sister came back as an eagle.
I ought to be able to try to explain why it’s a hundred times more wonderful later. Telling that story always makes me cry. I need a change of set and setting.