Question:-Can knowledge perceived
i.e. below the threshold of consciousness, the observer does not report that he sees, (or hears etc)
anything. 1 be revealed via the
in a pitch black room a tiny single pinpoint of light will eventually appear to move around
1effect? The intermediary processes might be thought of as constituting some part of what the
psychoanalysts call the
'unconscious mind'mental processes of
which we are unaware, (does that make sense?)1
In 1959 I performed the experiment as my undergraduate thesis. Although
the results were very interesting, I did not actually submit this work
but instead submitted an essay on "statistics in psychology", for reasons
which I forget, and to my regret.
Phase 1 Subliminal exposure of visual stimuli
One word, from a series of 10 simple words, was very dimly illuminated
by red light in a dark room. The illumination was so low that the
subjects reported that they could not perceive the word.
Phase 2 The 'autokinetic effect'
(This refers to the subjective experience of the movement of a pinpoint
of light in an otherwise pitch-black room. As the only visual stimulus,
and with no framework of other visual stimuli with which to relate the
pin-point in terms of relative spatial position, its precise position
is hard to fix, and after a while the point appears to move around. The
experience is subject to the influence of suggestions from others,
social/group pressure, as determined in the famous social psychology
experiments of M. Sherif.)
In the same dark room as in the first phase a tiny pinpoint of light
was exposed with, after a short time, the emergence of the 'autokinetic
effect'. At the beginning of the exposure of the light the subject was
told that the experimenter was going to move the light slightly and
trace out the word the subject had seen in the previous subliminal
The subject was presented with a list of the possiblities, (to make it
easy to compute the probability of achieving results by chance), and
asked to pick the one he thought was being traced out.
These two phases were alternated until 10 words had been treated in
this way .
The subject scored considerably better than would be expected on the
basis of pure chance. The odds against obtaining the score actually
achieved by the subjects were thousands to one.
This extension was proposed by my son Ian, an extension into parapsychology
Here the subject who subliminally perceived the stimulus, and the one
who was exposed to the autokinetic effect were different.
For success here, if one successfully eliminated all normal avenues
of communication between the two subjects, (and with anyone else who
knew what the stimulus was that was being exposed), there would have
to be some form of telepathic contact between the person in the
autokinetic situation, and someone else in the experiment.
If it occurred, and if it was a contact between the two subjects, one
might speculate that this had been facilitated by the fact that the
relevant processess in the subjects were
'unconscious' i.e. thoughts, etc. that we are not usually aware of.
This would agree with certain theories of, among others,
Carl Gustav Jung, a famous Swiss psychiatrist who wrote
about symbolism, whose theories differed from Freud's, in emphasising the importance of factors
other than just sex.
Note 1. Does any of this make sense? If a thing is perceived below the threshold it isnt perceived, is it? It's a contradiction
in terms isn't it?
Just what did we do? Is there anything real here, but something which we are representing in an inappropriate fashion?
© John and Ian Locking