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    Thread: What was it like to be YOU 1 minute ago? (psychology experiment)

    1. #1
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      What was it like to be YOU 1 minute ago? (psychology experiment)

      Can you even recall? I can't. Even if I am in almost the exact same circumstance as I was a minute ago, I can't do it. I've been asking myself this question: "What was it like to be me ..... ago?", and often the answer was "I don't know...", and I found that fascinating.

      What are your thoughts? I encourage you to try this a few times a day. It's interesting to change how far you look back. Asking "what was I like 1 year ago?" may not be very useful because you probably can't recall that far back, and asking about 1 second ago is also not very useful because the difference is too small to notice, but 1 minute is pretty good. So it has to be close enough to have some idea of what it was like, and far enough into the past to be able to think about the difference. You might call this the optimal interval. And when you get an idea, a feel, of what it was like, you might be astonished or intrigued by how little you can relate to your previous self. You could ask things like "what thoughts were racing through my mind?", and "why was I thinking that?", "how did I feel about .....?".

      There are also different versions of this. For example you could do X and then stop doing X and 30 minutes later wondering what your state of mind was when you were doing X. You could wonder what you will be like when doing a certain activity, writing it down, doing the activity and seeing if you were right.

      The experiment part was very sloppy so I deleted it, but I might rewrite it later on with more clarity and add some things and change some things. Basically I was talking about how you could do experiments and what interesting things you can expect, and some other things. But for now I will just leave you with the question. Which I hope will arouse the excitement of many of you = )
      Last edited by Ginsan; 08-29-2015 at 03:47 AM.

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      Interesting. I somehow wanted to do this since this morning. As I noticed how it felt similarly to recalling a dream. For certain periods, I stopped and thought about racing thoughts. Quite great to do after session of being still without doing any other activities; thoughts tend to be random by that time. The result? It was harder than I thought. I managed to recall to starting point of random thoughts once, but that took me long time though. Spending more time on recall did help, actually got me past the point where I struggled to recall. This could be a great exercise for dream recalls. I guess.
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      Aqua that's pretty cool, I never thought of tracing random thoughts and I never thought of the correlation with recalling dreams :O
      Last edited by Ginsan; 08-29-2015 at 10:28 PM. Reason: it's correlation with and not correlation to

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      I tend to recall random thoughts from certain sessions. I feel better recalling thoughts from when I'm quite detached from external world. Say it daydreaming if you want. Yet, it's quite hard for me to recall thoughts in focused activities. For example, detailed timeline of what I've done in this sitting session right in front of this PC. Or, when and how many times do I fail to pay attention to class. That's quite difficult for me.

      Most of my dreams at night tend to be school classes or computers. That means I still have hard time recalling them detailed. Anyways, if any dreams ever become interesting, I should be able to recall so much out of it.

      I did make attention to recall my thoughts this morning. But, I've done few before also. It's fun to see how your thoughts are connected in... not even sensible way. Same goes as how your topic in conversation changes so fast. That's why I find this attempt useful. This might be one of best practices to recall a dream (as said earlier). I mean, we can always try it out, eh? Good luck to you, then. I'll also try hard on my side.

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      Thank you for this.
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      I realised that this is not as easy as I thought. So I decided that, for a while (I haven't a clue of how long "a while" is in this case), it's best to try answering this question a few times a day: "What's it like to be me right now?" Perhaps if I make a habit out of seeing what it's like to be me at any given moment, I can get better at guessing what it was like to be me a few moments ago.

      So I made a notepad in my phone that starts with "What's it like to be me right now?" And I'll type something occasionally. If this remains interesting, I'll probably post more things in this thread

      As you may have noticed, now I want to try and guess what it was like to be me a few moments ago, instead of just being fascinated by the fact that it appears to be so hard to do

      Maybe the only reason it's so hard is that I never even know what it's like to be me at the moment I ask it. Maybe if I know what it's like to be me at this moment, will I get much better at guessing my previous states of mind. I wonder what will happen.

      Also, a huge side benefit is that this increases my mindfulness and will probably increase my ld count (I have about 1 on average a night) and improve their quality.
      Last edited by Ginsan; 08-30-2015 at 06:10 PM.

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      I don't know, Ginsan; forgive me for saying so, or for misunderstanding your point, but this may not be quite so deep as you are making it...

      Ask me what it was like to be me 1 minute ago, and I will tell you that I was just like me, exactly, less one minute of gained experience. If I know what it is like to be me now, then I most certainly know what it was like to be me one minute ago. To attach some sort of radical change in your sense of self just because it has fallen into your past is to betray a lack of knowledge about, or comfort with, that sense of self...which you may have been saying here:

      Quote Originally Posted by Ginsan View Post
      Maybe the only reason it's so hard is that I never even know what it's like to be me at the moment I ask it. Maybe if I know what it's like to be me at this moment, will I get much better at guessing my previous states of mind. I wonder what will happen.
      If you know what it is like to be you, period, then it will not be difficult to know what it was like to be you a few moments ago (or a year ago, or ten years ago, etc).

      Also, our "here & now" existence may be a given, but that presence in the present does not erase our knowledge of the past: Our sentience is blessed, and arguably defined, by memory, and our memory does not go away or change significantly as time passes. If I know what it is like to be me at any given time, then, yes, I will still know what it was like to be me when I look back upon that given time.

      I'm not sure what I might have missed here, Ginsan; if there was something deeper, please clarify. But until you do, I'm afraid I'll have to assume that this is one question that sounds a lot deeper than it really is.

      tl;dr: This question does not seem to me as deep or significant as it does to you; if I know what I am like at any given time, then I will most certainly know what I was like at a previously given time. What am I missing here?
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      This is an afterthought that I decided to put right here in order to possibly save you some frustration as you read through my post. Maybe this difference of opinion comes from a disagreement about memory. Maybe we disagree on how accurately memory can capture an experience. Maybe you give memory more credit for accuracy than I do.

      Yeah, , I am sympathetic to what you're saying, and the thought that it's not as deep as I think has occurred to me. This reminds me of when me and my friend were tripping on mushrooms and he said that he was fascinated by the question "What is reality?", and later on, when we were sober, I told him that that's just a bad question. You first have to define what you mean by reality in order to think about it, the question doesn't mean anything. Richard Dawkins gave an example of a bad question: "What is the color of jealousy?"

      This may very well be a trivial question, and I might find out soon. I have only tried to describe what it was like to be me a few times now. Even then, it's still interesting why I thought that it was interesting Because it might illuminate something about my own mind. But I am also open to the possibility that it is NOT a trivial question. I'm a bit sleepy and I'm not sure if I could convey my fascination even if I tried, or even if I was not sleepy. I'll probably think about this casually and I might come up with something interesting. I may also discover that it's trivial, ofcourse

      What I'll say next is not an argument for why it is or is not trivial, just something that I remembered now, that might explain why I had this idea.

      When we were tripping, I told my friend "Hey... I don't know what it's like to be sober, to think clearly. I really don't know what it was like." And he agreed. We also agreed that anything that happened about 15-30 seconds ago felt like a distant memory, which was amazing, and going into a different room also made the events in that other room seem like a distant memory. Another example: when I was listening to music by Beethoven, I was having an experience that I felt like was worth writing about so my sober self could enjoy it, and when I started writing I had an impulse, an idea, a feeling, that I wanted to put on paper. But 10 seconds later, I didn't have that impulse anymore, and I didn't know what to write, and I went from writing something that I was compelled to write (10 seconds ago), to trying to recall the impulse that I had when starting to write. This may have been an intensification of the ordinary phenomenon of "you don't know what it's like to you .... ago", and it may have pointed out something that was always there to a lesser extent.

      Actually....
      "If you know what it is like to be you, period, then it will not be difficult to know what it was like to be you a few moments ago (or a year ago, or ten years ago, etc). "

      Is this really the case? I mean... You have these random thoughts, interests, desires, bodily sensations, pleasures, motivations, things that excite you in different ways. Being fully immersed in a Beethoven sonata, following the melodies, rythms, notes, the way different passages interact with one another, the way the instruments interact with one another, the overarching "story" or progression of the piece, the changes in all these things, all these things are going through my head with varying intensity and I take note of a different thing at a different time, sometimes I miss some things, sometimes I think about something random and forget the music altogether. Headbanging to a heavy metal piece is very different, though sometimes just as immersive, experience. Reading fiction is different from these 2 in a completely different way than the 2 genres are different from each other. Gaming is also a completely different experience, swimming, bicycling, lifting weights, reading not fiction but a letter, writing fiction/a letter is different from reading it, playing chess, having a discussion about the ethical implications of abortion is different from talking about that time you tried to kiss that cute girl, which is different from cracking jokes, sparring...

      And very importantly, thinking about these things, or remembering them is a completely different combination of thoughts, pleasures, desires, goals, sensations than actually doing them. Right now I'm wondering "so what the hell is the point?", well... The point is... That a moment is a rich thing, in terms of the things that go on in your consciousness, and remembering them is very different than being in them. It's one thing to remember being very immersed in any of the above mentioned activitied and it's a completely different thing to be in that moment.

      At least 30-45 minutes have passed since I typed that part in the beginning. As you might imagine, the possibility of it being a trivial question is much lower in my mind than when I started this post. I don't know where it might lead me... But I think that I can still go to interesting places by putting some more effort into this personal experiment.


      edit: I wonder if I was able to convey my excitement. I certainly think that I made a very good attempt
      But it would be more interesting if I did not convince you, because then you might come back with something that makes me go "Hmmm... Yes, I see... That makes sense... What do I make of this?"

      edit 2: And now, my state of mind when writing this, especially that big paragraph (after "Actually....") and the one after it, is simply not there in memory. I can't recall what it was like to have the thoughts and imagery and ideas and emotions racing through my mind, I can't do it. There is a distance between now and then.

      edit 2 cont.: I just added the music part to the tripping paragraph, and then I had a better idea of what it was like to write that big paragraph, because again I had things racing through my mind, and even though the content was different, it was more similar to the experience of writing that paragraph than not writing anything. I apologise for my sloppy writing, I have a horribly excuse and that is that I'm sleepy and I don't feel like waiting until tomorrow.

      edit 3: I want to point out something funny and nice about the internet: "forgive me for saying so, or for misunderstanding your point". You have 35 years worth of LDing, which means you are at least 40 years old, I am 21. Nobody in real life would talk to a 20 year old like that, even if she or he was 30 years old (you could be 50), as an equal. I won't rant, even though I have a slight desire to do so, but I'd just like to point out this manner of honest conversation that rarely happens in real life, let alone with such an age gap. Yes, Yes.. The internet has nasty stuff that would rarely happen in real life, but the opposite is also true.

      edit 4: To add to the huge post... A joke from this video: "See the problem of doing things to prolong your life is that all the extra years come at the end, when you're old."
      Last edited by Ginsan; 08-31-2015 at 05:08 AM.
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      I only have a minute, but I wanted to comment on on one thing you said above that seems to clarify, for me, what you are saying:

      Quote Originally Posted by Ginsan View Post
      Actually....
      "If you know what it is like to be you, period, then it will not be difficult to know what it was like to be you a few moments ago (or a year ago, or ten years ago, etc). "

      Is this really the case? I mean... You have these random thoughts, interests, desires, bodily sensations, pleasures, motivations, things that excite you in different ways. Being fully immersed in a Beethoven sonata, following the melodies, rythms, notes, the way different passages interact with one another, the way the instruments interact with one another, the overarching "story" or progression of the piece, the changes in all these things, all these things are going through my head with varying intensity and I take note of a different thing at a different time, sometimes I miss some things, sometimes I think about something random and forget the music altogether. Headbanging to a heavy metal piece is very different, though sometimes just as immersive, experience. Reading fiction is different from these 2 in a completely different way than the 2 genres are different from each other. Gaming is also a completely different experience, swimming, bicycling, lifting weights, reading not fiction but a letter, writing fiction/a letter is different from reading it, playing chess, having a discussion about the ethical implications of abortion is different from talking about that time you tried to kiss that cute girl, which is different from cracking jokes, sparring...

      And very importantly, thinking about these things, or remembering them is a completely different combination of thoughts, pleasures, desires, goals, sensations than actually doing them. Right now I'm wondering "so what the hell is the point?", well... The point is... That a moment is a rich thing, in terms of the things that go on in your consciousness, and remembering them is very different than being in them. It's one thing to remember being very immersed in any of the above mentioned activitied and it's a completely different thing to be in that moment.
      Aren't all these things descriptions of things that happen to you, and how you might specifically react to them?

      Do they describe what it is like to be you, or do they instead describe what it is like to experience things that are happening to you? If it is the latter, then I agree with you completely -- though it is the best we have, memory is not a perfect tool for defining how you were experiencing things that were happening to you, even one minute ago. But does your memory of things that happened to you really encompass what you are like -- who you are -- at any given moment? Are "You" defined purely by the things that are happening to you, or are you a consistent, independent being that might learn from or be effected by those things without them necessarily making you a different person moment to moment?

      In other words: sure, all those different things might be happening to you, and you might react in different ways to each of them, but your reactions are based on who you are, and not on the things themselves... you are still "like you," regardless of the various effects the things you list (and the thoughts you describe) might have on you.

      Perhaps the question should have been something like: "What was it like to experience reality a moment ago?" since it seems you are talking about experience rather than your own sense of self (which is what I was talking about).

      I think now I understand where you were going with this, and it is an intriguing concept; thanks for clarifying!

      Also:

      edit 3: I want to point out something funny and nice about the internet: "forgive me for saying so, or for misunderstanding your point". You have 35 years worth of LDing, which means you are at least 40 years old, I am 21. Nobody in real life would talk to a 20 year old like that, even if she or he was 30 years old (you could be 50), as an equal. I won't rant, even though I have a slight desire to do so, but I'd just like to point out this manner of honest conversation that rarely happens in real life, let alone with such an age gap. Yes, Yes.. The internet has nasty stuff that would rarely happen in real life, but the opposite is also true.
      For what it is worth, if we were sitting right in front of each other and you were saying these things, I would offer the same deference that I do here... I like to think that I respect people's thoughts, actions, and words over things like age. There are a few of us 50-somethings that really don't care about the age of those with whom we're conversing.
      Last edited by Sageous; 08-31-2015 at 06:11 AM.
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    10. #10
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      This is basically it:
      Quote Originally Posted by Sageous View Post
      Are "You" defined purely by the things that are happening to you,
      Yes.

      Quote Originally Posted by Sageous View Post
      or are you a consistent, independent being that might learn from or be effected by those things without them necessarily making you a different person moment to moment?
      No.



      I am probably stepping into an area of philosophical ignorance of leviathan proportions. I laugh at myself as I use this fancy language.

      My instant reaction to reading your post was: "the experience I'm having of reality is, I would argue, the exact same thing as 'what it's like to be me'". I have different thoughts, desires, interests, motives, reactions to things, etc., to the Atilla of last year, last month, last week, last minute, even every second I'm different.

      A counterargument would be this: "There are things about your personhood that you are not currently experiencing, like your maximum bench press, your highest running speed, longest distance you can run, the memories that you have but are not currently recalling. It's incorrect to say that the things that happen to you describe what it's like to be you, because everything you experience is not enough to describe you."

      But this confuses two ways to see "the person". "A person" can be described in objective terms, like physical properties, her history, her abilities, memories, and so forth. But that's not what I mean. When I say "what it's like to be you", I mean the experience you are having at that moment. I think this touches upon "the illusion of the self". In Buddhism, the main goal or one of the main goals, is to penetrate this illusion.

      *Btw, self-transcendence is what it's often called and (if I correctly understood Sam Harris' description) I have probably experienced it once while listening to music and it was a very unique and unforgettable experience. But having a conceptual understanding of it, or even remembering it, is vastly different from actually experiencing it. You quite literally become one with the experience. There is nobody to whom it is happening, only the thing that is happening remains. It's one of those things that is probably impossible to understand unless you've experienced it for yourself. Being free of self is so different from any other way of being, the usual way of being, that I just can't describe it more clearly than "there is nobody to whom it's happening anymore, only the experience remains."*

      This may sound vague, but please note that there is a difference between 2 things that are both difficult to explain and/or understand. One of them requires ignorance or fraud from the person explaining it and a leap of faith from the recipient, and the other is something that is actually true, but difficult to grasp/describe.

      Let me use a book as an example. The whole thing is the book, you can take away the pages, and it's still a book, but without pages. If it's blank, it's still a book but without ink (assuming the cover has a title ). If it has no cover, it's a book without a cover. The collection of parts is the book. Something always happens "to the book", even though the book is just a collection of parts, you can remove the pages, edit it, burn it, it all happens to the book. Just like a stream of water is always the same stream even though the water keeps changing. You see the connection to personhood? "What it's like to be you" is a constantly changing thing. Saying that you are "having" an experience implies that there is a thing inside your head, a self, to whom the experience is happening. But actually the experience is one part of that bundle of things that you call "I". The things that happen to you, are analogous to the parts of the book. And "you" are analogous to "the book".

      So my challenge to you is, can you justify the distinction between "being you" and "things that happen to you"? I think you were making this distinction and I hope that I have convinced you that it is a false distinction.



      "For what it is worth, if we were sitting right in front of each other and you were saying these things, I would offer the same deference that I do here... I like to think that I respect people's thoughts, actions, and words over things like age. There are a few of us 50-somethings that really don't care about the age of those with whom we're conversing."

      If I want to make the world a better place, opening people up to this kind of honesty may be one of the most consequential and most difficult things to do. I'll probably need to ingrain it deeply into the education system, starting with the teachers. That sounds overly ambitious? Come on.. I'm 21 years old, I can have grand delusions xD
      Last edited by Ginsan; 08-31-2015 at 07:32 AM.
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      Okay, then. I guess I'm out, then, because, for instance, your book analogy went in an opposite direction for me (when you remove the pages from a book, it is no longer a book. Gven that a book is defined by its contents; without the presence of pages, its existence has changed. It may have been a book once, but now it is just a couple of pieces of cardboard). Also, you might be confusing the Zen Buddhist need to abandon ego with the Buddhist tenet that the physical world is essentially illusion, and the only thing that truly exists is your self. The illusion that the Buddhists are trying to eliminate (or at least identify) is, in my mind, exactly how you are describing "what it's like to be me." I could be wrong, but our different understandings of Buddhism does indicate a real impasse.

      Quote Originally Posted by Ginsan View Post
      So my challenge to you is, can you justify the distinction between "being you" and "things that happen to you"? I think you were making this distinction and I hope that I have convinced you that it is a false distinction.
      No, you have not; indeed, you have only reinforced my understanding that the self exceeds what is happening to it. To relegate what it is to be you to the condition of, say. a flag flapping in form to to whatever winds happen to be blowing by -- and then determining the nature of that flag to be its shape as caused by the wind, and not its design, colors, or material construct, omitting completely what the flag stood for in the first place).

      I'm not going to justify anything, as for me there is no need. If you feel that your existence, what it is to be you, is nothing more than a reflection of whatever stimuli might be hitting you right now, I fear my version is too far in the opposite direction to allow for any common ground, and probably would result in a long exchange that will result in neither of us understanding the other... and I really don't have time for that.

      Sorry I'm not playing; I never was a good ED participant. Before I go, though, I do feel obliged to play the "old guy" card just once, to tell you that yes, you may indeed be "stepping into an area of philosophical ignorance of leviathan proportions," and I hope one day you will consider that there may be more to "being you" than just reflecting whatever is currently happening to you... because there is.

      Last edited by Sageous; 08-31-2015 at 07:45 PM.
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      Anybody who thinks they have an answer to the question "What was it like to be YOU 1 minute ago?" is wrong.

      The 5th Dalai Lama used to ask himself:

      Is my body the same as it was 1 minute ago? His answer was always NO.

      Is my energy the same as it was 1 minute ago? His answer was always NO.

      Is my mind the same as it was 1 minute ago? His answer was always NO.

      Unless of course you are dreaming and distracted.

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      "I fear my version is too far in the opposite direction to allow for any common ground, and probably would result in a long exchange"
      Yeah that's probably true. We probably agree that even if we did eventually find a common ground, it wouldn't be very useful. It was nice talking to you though

      "Before I go, though, I do feel obliged to play the "old guy" card just once, to tell you that yes, you may indeed be "stepping into an area of philosophical ignorance of leviathan proportions,""

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      I just want to say that both of you guys helped me out big time yesterday. Your debate sparked a strong conviction in me and linked to a few other things happening in my life. Lots of love and appreciation. Danny.
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      I'm glad to have sparked something inside you
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      One minute ago? I can recall in precise detail what it was like to be me 15 years ago! Down to the very thoughts I was thinking and the feelings that my mind states created. When I think back to my grade school years, that is when it becomes a bit more difficult to recreate the sense of self that I experienced in detail. Perhaps older folks with dementia would have a problem recalling what it was like to be them one minute ago. I'd think a lucid dreaming crowd would be expert at this sort of thing.

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