Saturday, July 26, 2008

Learning and Psi

Though not common, the paranormal has been studied and the more we include those findings in the everyday study of psychology the more comfortable we will all be with psi phenomena. As psychic researcher Rene Sudre said, the way to get acknowledgement for psychical research is, “to incorporate it with the rest of learning, not to show it as a separate world without any connection with the world of daily experiences.” One way to fit psi into our world is to see that psychics view the Psi-Unknown just as we all view those things we do not know about.
Another of the areas in psychology that can shed light on psi phenomena is the psychology of learning. Psi (pronounced sI) is the twenty third letter of the Greek alphabet Ψ ; and, like Psychic Phenomena is a is a catch-all word.

What we learn is controlled, in a way, by what we are comfortable learning. We each view what we do not know in our own way. Our view of the unknown effects our ability to deal with all manner of things we do not know. Our knowledge has grown or it hasn’t, because of personal ideas about the unknown. The specific things we learn are the result of some detail in our concept of the unknown world. When a new subject is presented we may think, “Oh I could never learn that.” Or we could think, “Oh that would be easy to do.” We each have made an image of what we can learn and what we can not. You have decided what you think you can learn and what you can not. The Psi-unknown, that great mass of total knowledge that psychics can tune into, is seen by psychics just as each of us sees our own ideas of what we can know. The psychic will say, “I see dead people.” Or “I just knew who would win that ball game.

The efforts made by educators to learn how students hold on to some new fact or why another one will slip away will also help us understand how psychics get the information into their conscious minds or don’t. This means that when we want to discover how people gain knowledge about psi we should start by looking at how they get their ideas about anything they don’t know.
One way of understanding this process of seeing or not seeing a fact is to realize that there is some filtering process at work. Our preconceptions about the unknown act as filters or barriers. If we are not optimistic about mastering something or using an ability, then we won’t learn that subject well. In the same, way if we are not optimistic about getting an extra-sensory-perception we won’t.

Even the effort to get something in to consciousness is dependant on what we have learned; what our world is like. We see not only what we want to look at but also what we have been educated to look for. Also our concept of the world is then shaped by what we have learned in the past. One interesting test was done by Doctors J. S. Bruner and Leo Postman. They asked people to identify playing cards, and, gave only a fraction of a second to do it. The time was adequate for the regular cards, but then the doctors slipped in a “ringer.” There were some cards that were not normal--a red six of spades, and a black four of hearts. The people needed longer and longer times to "see” what the card really was, ten times longer. Some never did “see” it right. They lost all ability to trust their preconceptions about cards first. One subject in desperation admitted, “I’m not even sure what a spade looks like. My God!”

These beliefs are like the foundation of a building, if they are not sound, then the whole structure is not sound. Both the size and the quality of the edifice are based on the foundation. Likewise both the size and the quality of a parson's ability to deal with unknown objectss are based on her belief about the unknown’s place in the world.

Much has been written about this activity of forming beliefs and linking new impressions to them. The connectionist position holds that learning consists essentially in the attaching or connecting of a response to a stimulus S (R - S) which did not originally call forth that response.
Opposed to this connectionist philosophy of learning are those who try to accent the Gestalt, or whole thing. They want to see the entire “lay of the land” first, so that they do not build too small a foundation. In many cases we need to see the general outlines in the beginning, the whole Gestalt. So we come back to that problem, how do we fit psychic impressions into our world? And if our whole world does not have a place for the experiences of psychics what do we do with those how keep having those experiences?

Like a soldier who is dropped down in a battle field, or a disaster victim wandering around the place that was once their home. If we are introduced to a new world too violently different from what we have known. We can not absorb it; we go into shock.

Some people have been able to sense psychically because they have made a place for psychic experiences in their world. Their overall world view includes the Psi-unknown and their world includes psi experiences on which to build. Just as a grade school student learns to count then they can learn to add and subtract; because their world now includes numbers.

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