Sunday, May 20, 2007

Deja Vu (Repost from AMNAP 1.0)

I originally planned to title this post, Bad Science part two. Because this is yet another example of how the sociological mainstream of science investigates a phenomenon presupposing the parameters of the debate in advance, and ignoring any evidence that its presuppositions might be mistaken.

Deja vu is a very common, yet extraordinarily odd subjective phenomenon which many or most people have experienced at least once in their life. Here is a brief description from Wikipedia:

The term deja vu describes the experience of feeling that one has witnessed or experienced a new situation previously. . . The experience of deja  vu is usually accompanied by a compelling sense of familiarity, and also a sense of "eerieness," "strangeness," or "weirdness." The "previous" experience is most frequently attributed to a dream, although in some cases there is a firm sense that the experience "genuinely happened" in the past.

After reading about or experiencing deja vu, one comes to the obvious question: is this just a misguided feeling of familiarity, or is the feeling due to an actual repetition of something the experiencer is remembering from a previous dream or other altered state of consciousness? A few minutes research on the internet turned out the following stories that bear on this question:

1. for example, a few years ago i was in a building that had posters taped to the walls. i was walking and talking with my friend, but i was distracted by one of the posters as we walked by it. i stopped, walked back to the poster, and said, "that poster is going to fall." my friend and i stood there for a few seconds, then the poster fell.

2. Alright, when I was about 14 and only friends with which is my girlfriend now I had a dream of being on a train. So I was sitting on this train I was sitting next to someone I don't remember the face but I remember the hair color and holding my hand, and two people infront of us(we were sitting at the very last seat against the wall), young couple. Across from me was an African American woman with spiked curly hair and glasses and a tan sort of suit, she was sitting next to a nerdy looking cacausian male who had a newspaper, behind them was a man, looking like a musician with his bike tucked away behind him, he had a beard and glasses. Also behind the couple infront of myself there was a guy built like a wrestler in a very nice suit and seemed very professional.

Well when I had went to Washington D.C in August I had went on a train, this was with my girlfriend. We chose a seat at the very end at the wall, my girlfriend holding my hand with the same dirty blonde hair color in my dream, but now the people infront of me I recognized, this was her sister and her boyfriend and they looked exactly like they did in my dream years ago, I looked across and there was the African American lady, the nerdy guy and the musician and the wrestler built looking guy.

3. I often find myself in these awkward situations, seeing dreams play out. Over the years, I can even see the situations coming. The other day, I was in my office planning to work late. All of a sudden someone comes into my office, then another. The dream begins playing back. I sat there like I was watching a movie, even interacted with the cast. I was freaked and didn't work late that night. Which also bothers me. I often wonder how my decisions during these moments affect the outcome.
I've been searching for anybody that understands this stuff. I consider myself an educated person, well studied and well read. This stuff literally freaks me out. If I ever told my friends, family, or co-workers, I just don't know. I have mentions stuff like this in general conversation, just to test the waters.
Somebody say something.

4. I had a conversation yesterday with Hendrik and Elise about those times when you experience something you're sure you've dreamed about in the past. She had a dream scene that she saw, months later, in a movie. I had a mundane dream sequence of driving in a car with Cristian and two other people I didn't know in a U-shaped parking lot; months later, when it happened, I almost had to pull over.

5. I have been experiencing deja vu for almost my entire life, but today I had the most vivid of all: I was watching a TV show, one that I have never seen or heard of before, and then the feeling started, I saw that before and I actualy recited three lines before they were spoken on the show. Unfortunatley now I cant remember much. My question is if deja vu is caused by some temporary mulfunction of the brain, how could I have known the future ?

And here are two incidents I relayed previously on AMNAP:

In 1990 I was sitting with some friends in the Rathskeller, a favorite nachos-and-toppings hangout next to the NCSU campus where I was enrolled. Suddenly I had a strong feeling of deja-vu and I recognized the couple sitting at the next table over. Because the experience was stronger than previous deja-vu experiences I wondered if it would be possible for me to actually predict what was going to happen. I realized that I could "remember" what was going to transpire. I said to myself "that woman is about to say: " and came up with a 12-15 word sentence that I remembered her saying. About 5 seconds later, she turned and uttered exactly the sentence I "remembered".

In 1991 in another cafe, Elmo's Diner in a nearby town, I had exactly the same experience. Again, I "remembered" what a woman sitting at a nearby table was about to say to the man sitting with her. Again, she said it, word for word, about 5 seconds after I recalled the words I "remembered" her saying. In neither of these cases did I know the woman or her companion.

Now let's look at the so-called "scientific" explanation of the phenomenon from the same Wikipedia article:

In recent years, deja vu has been subjected to serious psychological and neurophysiological research. The most likely candidate for explanation, according to scientists in these fields, is that deja vu is not an act of "precognition" or "prophecy" but is actually an anomaly of memory; it is the impression that an experience is "being recalled" which is false. This is substantiated to an extent by the fact that in most cases the sense of "recollection" at the time is strong, but any circumstances of the "previous" experience (when, where and how the earlier experience occurred) are quite uncertain. Likewise, as time passes, subjects can exhibit a strong recollection of having the "unsettling" experience of deja vu itself, but little to no recollection of the specifics of the event(s) or circumstances they were "remembering" when they had the deja vu experience, and in particular, this may result from an overlap between the neurological systems responsible for short-term memory (events which are perceived as being in the present) and those responsible for long-term memory (events which are perceived as being in the past).

Notice the "scientific" explanation assumes that deja vu couldn't possibly be what it seems to be, living through a previously remembered precognitive experience. Notice how it conveniently ignores evidence from incidents which indicate that the precognitive explanation is the correct one.

Mainstream science has an extraordinarily poor understanding of subjective experiences. Perhaps that is because it refuses to question its foundational assumptions that consciousness is fully explainable through chemical and physical properties of brain tissues, that precognition is impossible in principle, and that anyone who has an experience to the contrary is deluded or mentally unbalanced.<

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