Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Henrik Ehrsson of University College London's Institute of Neurology reports being able to recreate the sensation of "out of body experiences."

Apparently, if you use virtual reality goggles connected to a 3-D camera pointed at the back of your head, you get the feeling of looking at "yourself." When these are combined with other sensory stimuli (rubbing your chest, hammer swinging toward your camera "eyes"), the sensation of watching yourself becomes more real.

It makes sense. Kind of like why people get scared watching a horror flick. Or cry with the hero/heroine in a drama. All our experiences are some combination of what is truly happening, the phyical vantage point from which we see the situation, our mental interpretation of the event, and later, our retrieved memories of the event. It begs the question - if the mind can be fooled into believing that illusions are real, how much of "reality," our lives, our trials and tribulations, is but a tangled mess of complex illusions?

On a more positive note, it inspires us to believe that just as the mind can be tricked, so it must have the potential to break free from illusions, and see things as they truly are. That perhaps we can stop actively contributing to the illusion long enough to see that the sensory organs and the mind, our interpretation of the world, lie somewhere along the spectrum of interpretation and illusion. That perhaps the things that we value as a society, things that people spend their lifetimes working towards, are but illusory products of misinterpreted illusions. If people were able to truly see and understand just some of this, the world would be a better place.


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