Do you see a rabbit or a duck in the above illustration? Or do you see both? The ability to flip between the two images indicates an individual’s creative aptitude. Persons who can make the switch appear to have a creative edge as discovered by Psychologist Dr. Joseph Jastrow in 1899. In his findings, those who could see both were able to come up with five unusual uses for an everyday item compared to two by those who see only one of the animals.
Why talk about the brain in a science fiction blog? Like our universe, there is much unknown about the organ that makes us us. Everything from consciousness, to emotions, to memory, and dreaming remain mysteries even in our high tech world. All things that we speculate about the brain, like our universe, could be merely science fiction.
Dr. Joseph Jastrow (1863-1944), noted pioneer in Psychology, worked on optical illusions, like the above rabbit/duck illustration, in an effort to study human perception. He believed eyesight was more complex than a camera and that the mental processing of images was central to interpretation of the world. (Fact and Fable in Psychology, 1900)
Perception is one of those unsolved mysteries. Our brain downloads our senses and adapts them into experiences in a way that helps us to understand what is going on around us. But how the brain actually makes this conversion is unknown. And how the brain organizes and transforms this sensory information into vivid qualitative occurrences is a mystery as well.
Recognition of environmental stimuli and our response to this stimuli are involved in the perception process and encompasses our five senses.
Now the science-fiction twist, what if we actually had a sixth sense at one time as suggested by numerous scientists, shamans, Native Americans, and psychologists?
In a recent discussion with my google+ community, one individual suggested that mankind had in essence devolved. If we take into consideration the advancements early man made with their limited technologies, one might conclude either we devolved or a more intelligent source, aka Ancient Astronauts, guided our advancements. Now, I’m all about considering the Ancient Astronaut theory, but let’s eliminate alien influence as a factor and focus on a sixth sense man may have once possessed but lost due to fear, or religion, or inactivity.
There is an indigenous tribe, known as the Dogons, living in Mali, which is south of the Sahara Desert in Africa. In their earliest times research has shown that they possessed advanced knowledge of astronomy. They knew the brightest star in the sky, Sirius, had two companion stars.
One of these companion stars is a white dwarf known as Sirius B, or the Dog star, and is invisible to the human eye. French anthropologist, Marcel Griaule, studied the Dogon tribe from 1931-1956 and reported they had knowledge of the rings of Saturn and moons of Jupiter.
Griaule collaborated with another French anthropologist, Germaine Dieterlen. In their book The Dogon of the French Sudan, they said,
“The problem of knowing how, with no instruments at their disposal, men could know the movements and certain characteristics of virtually invisible stars has not been settled, nor even posed.”
So how did the Dogon come by this knowledge if we take alien contact out of the equation?
In 1971, Colin Wilson, English writer, philosopher, and novelist, published his book The Occult A History in which he brings to the forefront man’s sixth sense or Faculty X as he called it.
“One day I believe man will have a sixth sense—a sense of the purpose of life, quite direct and un-inferred. This is Faculty X. And the paradox is that we already possess it to a large degree, but are unconscious of possessing it.” —Colin Wilson
In his book, Wilson discusses the connection between creativity and psychic sensitivity—the tapping of the subconscious mind for the forces that are normally inaccessible to consciousness.
He argues that man must somehow return to the recognition that he is potentially a ‘mage,’ one of those magical figures who can hurl thunderbolts or command spirits. He suggests that if the overdeveloped human intellect is turned inward to strengthen the instinctive life, man can make contact with Faculty X.
“Faculty X is simply that latent power in human beings possess to reach beyond the present. After all, we know perfectly well that the past is as real as the present, and that New York and Singapore and Lhasa and Stepney Green are all as real as the place I happen to be in at the moment. Yet my senses do not agree. They assure me that this place, here and now, is far more real than any other place or any other time. Only in certain moments of great inner intensity do I know this to be a lie. Faculty X is a sense of reality, the reality of other places and other times, and it is the possession of it — fragmentary and uncertain though it is — that distinguishes man from all other animals”― Colin Wilson, The Occult
OurMinds= A Powerful Microscope
Wilson likens man’s consciousness to a powerful microscope. But, he argues, “Microscopic vision is narrow vision. We need to develop another kind of consciousness that is the equivalent of the telescope.”
Unfortunately, the conscious mind of mankind remains the most astounding, evasive and perplexing component of the human brain. Neuroscientists are unable to explain how incoming stimuli get conveyed into impressions like taste, color, or pain. Or how humans can evoke a mental image in our minds on demand. Therefore, embracing and discovering that sixth sense may be a bit of a challenge until all the enigmas of the brain are solved.
Indigenous people seem more prone to be in tune with this sixth sense. One of my all time favorite quotes comes from the Netsilik of Canada. The Netsilik are an Inuit people living in the arctic region of Canada and were the last Northern indigenous people to encounter missionaries from the south.
“In the very earliest time, when both people and animals lived on earth, a person could become an animal if he wanted to and an animal could become a human being. Sometimes they were people and sometimes animals and there was no difference. All spoke the same language.”
Perhaps this “same language” was the sixth sense we have buried.
Here are two new mind puzzles floating around the internet. Both were created by Hungarian comic artist Gergely Dudas, better known as the Dudolf.