You’re crossing the road, you’ve looked left and right, you step out and suddenly this cyclist appears out of nowhere, you instinctively pull back … in a hurry, your heart’s racing!
- Did you ‘think’ and then step back OR did your brain make the instinctive decisions to step back?
- Did your brain, of and by itself, activate your nervous system?
- Or did your thinking activate your brain, which activated your nervous system?
The above is an example of split second decision making.
What’s the point of these questions or even this subject?
In The Explanation series, we’re looking for answers to fundamental questions. If you start with a wobbly foundation, don’t expect to build a solid house.
One of the most fundamental questions is, ‘how does man function?’. Even more specific, ‘what is the relationship between man’s MIND and man’s BRAIN?’. If we really want to go deeper, ‘does the mind control the brain or is the mind the result of brain activity?’ an additional question, ‘is the mind a separate entity from the brain?’. If we go further down this route knowing that the brain is tangible, can be examined and measured, ‘can we measure the mind or let’s even call them mindwaves?’
At present no one has been able to ‘put their finger,’ so to speak, on the mind. We know it refers to what we call ‘cognition’, the mental processes, but we have no idea where it is or what its composition is.
At the same time, the key to man is his ‘cognition’. It’s man’s ability to think, create, solve, discover, contemplate, decide, innovate that raises (or lowers as the case may be) man to the highest, most intelligent (by far, although sometimes we wonder!) species on the face of the earth.
How and why did this ‘mind’ develop to the extent that is has? Man really doesn’t need to know what’s going on in outer space or on the ocean floor to live happily on Earth. Animals don’t have a clue about any of this ‘stuff’ and man doesn’t really need it so, why is his mind equipped with this kind of inquisitiveness coupled with his capacity to investigate such environments?
Types of Instinct
There are various aspects of ‘instinctive decisions’ that I’m not going to discuss here. I’ll mention two of them, which I’ll set aside for later.
- One is hereditary instinct. An example could be musical composition that runs in the family, the ability to ‘create tunes’ that comes naturally to some people. Tunes ‘come to mind’, they are simply there. The composer is almost a secretary writing down the notes.
- A second example is ‘planted instinct’. Sometimes ideas ‘pop out of the blue’. Have you thought of the possibility that ideas, impulses could be implanted in our minds. An example is when a ‘friend’, or shall I say, a ‘manipulator’ has indoctrinated someone and then infuses an idea, ‘the’ idea, into that person’s train of thought. I won’t broach this in today’s post, the concept of brain-washing or propaganda is based on this.
Thinking fast, faster, fastest is built up by experience and training. This can be ‘life’ experience and training.
A baby or young child stepping off the sidewalk and seeing a racing bike would not have the instinctive decision to step out of the way, or stop dead in its tracks. It hasn’t yet acquired or been taught enough about that type of danger. The ‘quick decision’ mechanism has not yet been instilled in the youngster. The realization that there’s a danger, the thought process leading to a rapid solution has not only not been taught yet, but it hasn’t been practiced yet either.
The mind has not been conditioned for such situations.
In the case of race drivers, airline pilots, surgeons, professional sports players and in many other fields an awful lot of ‘mind and body training’ has been going on, oftentimes many hours a day, many months even years.
That’s what video games do when players have to make split-second instinctive decisions over whether to jump, duck, shoot, punch or not someone who sticks their head out from behind a door. Intense training in simulators, in all types of unexpected situations, accelerates the thinking process to the point that instinctive decisions become instantaneous, which is needed when you’re barrelling down a racetrack at over 300 kilometers per hour and hit a patch of oil.
When you think about this, the ‘thinking process’, through experience and thorough training, has been so accelerated as to act so instantaneously that one could think it’s no longer existent. But the thinking process IS present, the MIND is making decisions, and in a flash the BRAIN is enacting that decision.
A whole other insight is how the mind and brain and the rest of our body can coordinate so well as to be able to get out of the way of that oncoming bicycle. Stay with me as we deepen the questions and give The Explanation.
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