The Experiment and Its Problems
First, in the third paragraph of their introduction, they state that "To address this question, we turned to the common anecdotal report that time seems to have slowed down during a life-threatening situation (such as a car accident). The experimental question, for the present purposes, is what it might mean for ‘time’ to move in slow motion. If time as a single unified entity can slow down – the way it does in movies – then this slow motion should entail consequences such as an ability to perceive events with higher temporal resolution."
For clarity, a few things need to be firmly established here before proceeding further. I think it is disingenuous to use the phrase, "if time as a single unified entity can slow down", because this implies, as it is written, a phenomena of physics that no one is really suggesting. The phrase, "what it might mean for 'time' to slow down", is suggestive of a claim that time itself slows down for the experiencer which then becomes a physics problem. Eagleman's comparing such an event to the way that time is depicted as slowing down in the movies is likewise indicative of how physicists compare theoretical temporal phenomena, in relation to the expansion or contraction of the universe, to a motion picture running forward or backward http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrow_of_time#An_example_of_irreversibility .
Duration dilation is a perceptual phenomenon and has nothing to do with "time as a single unified entity". We're not dealing with the special theory of relativity here, despite the obvious differentiation of experiential frames of reference that are implied - a person experiencing the duration dilation vs. an outside observer's perception. The reason is simple - the dilations in this case are only perceptual in nature and not a result of differences of velocity or gravity between said frames of reference. In physics, these reference frames experience actual time dilation as opposed to that experienced by the test subjects in Eagleman's frightening experiment. The time dilation in their physical reference frame is inconsequential when compared to the perceptual duration dilation. In addition, in special relativity, the time dilation only appears when one reference frame is compared to the other. Individuals in each reference frame have no perception of dilation until they compare events to the other frame of reference, which then appears dilated. In the cases of duration dilation, the person experiencing it is observing things as if they are in one frame of reference observing something dilated from another frame, hence the perception that time has slowed down.
Furthermore, in a previous paper, The Effect of Predictability on Subjective Duration http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0001264 from October 17, 2007, Eagleman establishes that time perception is not a single unified entity, meaning that when duration dilations or distortions occur, aural and visual perceptions are not effected synchronously, as would be expected if a video tape of an event were slowed down. At the beginning of the first paragraph there, under "Experiment Number 2", it states, "For example, if 'time subjectively expands' during the visual oddball, does that mean sounds will concomitantly appear to be a lower frequency? Although we take this outcome to be unlikely, it is implicitly embedded in the term “time's expansion”, and has, to our knowledge, never been tested."
This is why I raised the physics issue. The phrase "time expands" when used in relation to psychological temporal perception clearly does not imply the same meaning as time in the physics model. To suggest as much shows either an ignorance of the subject of psychological time perception, an ignorance of the anecdotal data, both or just sloppy research work or reliance on sloppy work from other sources, which wouldn't be surprising. In the case of traumatic events that can cause duration dilation, it is not unimaginable that aural perception can be distorted due to head injury, significant changes of air pressure inside the ear, a severe increase of blood pressure, changes of air pressure inside a vehicle involved in a collision, or even the sudden change of direction due to a collision that could result in a Doppler effect, as sounds pass by in varying directions, at various velocities and volumes.
Nevertheless, these sonic anomalies are not usually reported in the anecdotal accounts, nor would they be the result of duration dilation itself. As I will show, duration dilation is the direct result of the interactivity of the human with something related to an intense and not necessarily, frightening event. During such events, we don't interact with sound - we interact with visual things. Sounds may or may not be a cue as to what we engage, or when, but the engagement is with something that we see.
The clear defining of the phrase "single unified entity" in the previous paper, and the failure to do so in this subsequent one when relating time to slowing down "like in a movie", is why I said that the use of the phrase was disingenuous. The implication is of something that was previously known not to be true, and applied to something that has not been claimed.
In the last paragraph of that paper, it states "In conclusion, subjective time appears not to be a single entity; instead, it is made up of different timing mechanisms, such as flicker perception and duration perception, which generally work in concert but are separable. As suggested by their strong parallel with repetition suppression, duration illusions caused by unexpected stimuli may be due to a contraction in the perceived duration of predicted stimuli, not a dilation of unexpected stimuli."
Therefore, if Eagleman has already established that time perception doesn't work like a single unified entity, why bring it up now? However at http://www.bcm.edu/news/item.cfm?newsID=1030 in what appears to be a publicity sheet entitled, Does Time Slow Down In A Crisis?, beginning at the 14th paragraph, it states that "In an experiment that appeared in a recent issue of PLoS One, Eagleman and graduate student Vani Pariyadath used 'oddballs' in a sequence to bring about a similar duration distortion. For example, when they flashed on the computer screen a shoe, a shoe, a shoe, a flower and a shoe, viewers believed the flower stayed on the screen longer, even though it remained there the same amount of time as the shoes."
This phenomenon is actually related to optical illusions, such as the lines that are of equal length but when placed in a certain arrangement, look as though they are of different sizes. That is why in the earlier paper, Eagleman refers to duration distortions as opposed to dilations. It continues by saying, "Pariyadath and Eagleman showed that even though durations are distorted during the oddball, other aspects of time – such as flickering lights or accompanying sounds – do not change,". It goes on to state that, "The conclusion from both studies was the same". Actually, it’s not. It continues by quoting Eagleman:
"It can seem as though an event has taken an unusually long time, but it doesn't mean your immediate experience of time actually expands. It simply means that when you look back on it, you believe it to have taken longer,".
What has happened here is that the October 17 paper, dealing with duration distortions (illusions), is being seen as the equivalent of the October 26 paper on duration dilation where the duration judgment is made after the fact. The problem is that the test for duration distortions could have been administered so that the duration judgments could have been almost immediately instead of after the fact. In other words, there appears to be a bias towards investigating perceptions of duration as a function of memory as opposed to a function of perception itself, but then presenting it as though it was purely about perception. That not only fails to provide the same conclusion, it's not even the same process.
As such, any suggestion by Eagleman of time being a single unified entity in Does Time Really Slow Down During A Frightening Event?, is highly inappropriate. This caviler approach to the nature of time and perception, as witnessed by the implied interchangeability of duration distortions and duration dilations, will prove symptomatic of Eagleman's overall investigative style toward duration dilation and sets the stage for the experimental disaster that follows.
In the movie The Matrix, which Eagleman has referred to repeatedly as an example of duration dilation in the media coverage of his paper, there are multiple examples of the action being slowed down at varying rates. In addition, at times the slowed action is not meant to imply time slowing down at all, but is used simply as a dramatic effect. Not even the sound is always effected. This variation in the way that time slowing is handled within the context of the movie makes Eagleman's pedestrian reference to it during a discussion of duration dilation, almost meaningless. After all, if within the context of The Matrix, time slowing is handled multiple ways, how many ways can be inferred by the phrase "the way it does in the movies"? Which are the right ones? He never says. I will present some examples from The Matrix later.
"We discovered that people are not like Neo in The Matrix, dodging bullets in slow-mo," is how Eagleman is quoted in an article at LiveScience.com http://www.livescience.com/health/071211-time-slow.html in the ninth paragraph. I have never heard of anyone claiming to dodge bullets in slow motion. They have, however, been able to dodge and catch arrows.
My first experience with the concept of dodging arrows was as a young teen-ager and watching the TV program, Kung-Fu, starring David Carradine. I was amazed at the feat, as were my young friends at the time, who were all too eager to discuss the idea when we met next at school. What we surmised was that you had to keep your eye on the arrow in order to catch it because, if you flinched or looked away, as is the automatic reaction, you would be hit. We likened it to our own experience with playing bombardment in gym glass, which was a more aggressive and battle-like version of dodge ball http://youtube.com/watch?v=x0G7vE-qFq8&feature . Those players that saw the oncoming ball and closed their eyes and flinched, were sure to get hit. Those who kept their eyes on the ball, dodged out of the way, usually. We all wisely decided not to try it with arrows, however.
Fast-forward a couple of years and, as an older teenager, I was practicing archery with metal, flat tip arrows in a concrete building, with a target on a cardboard box with padding behind it. Unbeknownst to me, the padding slipped and my next shot sent the arrow flying through the target, through the box, past the padding and into the concrete wall behind where it bounced off and went back through the box, through the target, and flying back at my face.
PPFFT! SMACK! PPFFT! WHAM!
In about the same amount of time as it took for you to read the above onomatopoeias, the event was over and to my astonishment I had instinctively knocked the arrow out of the air with an arcing side blow from my left arm, just as I had seen being done in Kung-Fu. This incident not only spared me from injury, it also provided some interesting counter data to the Eagleman frightening free fall experiment.
First, this was a freak accident, and as such qualifies as your typical event where duration dilation could occur. Second, duration dilation did occur, as I remember reacting not to the sound of the arrow hitting the concrete but the initial sound of it coming back through the box. It all happened so fast that I was still looking at the box to see it coming back out. I remember thinking that it was ricocheting out at me and I was in big trouble. I remember thinking about the Kung-Fu arrow stunts and then reacting with the sweeping arm move.
Here's where Eagleman, et al. would insert that it was just my memory of the event that made things seem slow, except for the critical piece that their experiment ignores and all the best accounts of duration dilation during a crisis contain - I had to do something automatically at a high rate of speed or suffer a negative consequence. There is no such correlation with the Eagleman experiment. Also, I don't remember the experience as taking longer than usual. In other words, and this is a key factor - the experience seemed slowed down during the event, but not after. The significance of this will become transparent later.
For examples of arrow stunts, here is one done from just a little more than the distance that I was involved with, where a man catches an arrow fired at him - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKiiVpKMeXw&feature. In this example, illustrative of how I blocked the arrow with a sweeping motion, a man slices arrows in flight with a katana, although unfortunately the footage is played back in slight slow-motion, robbing us of the real time view of what happens, but illustrative nonetheless - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-G5lhcHhZk&feature. Here's another good arrow catching one, at normal speed - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6QeqZ9W3QE&feature .
I am not implying that these stunts are done due to the individuals involved being able to perceive the arrow flight in slow motion. It only demonstrates that it is possible to interact with a speeding arrow if you know what to expect. The fact that I didn't know what to expect, and yet executed an effective move, would support my contention that I did accomplish it because I perceived the arrow flight at least slower than normal. A higher temporal resolution was achieved, contrary to what Eagleman, et al, would have us believe is possible.
Time did seem to slow down, but not by much, because the event itself was brief. Time itself did not slow down, but my mind kicked in a richer encoding of what was happening in real time, processing the information and then producing the best reaction. The proof that time appeared to slow down as a result is that I was able to react to such an unplanned event accurately. The proof that the frightening experiment is flawed is that the subsequent data didn't bear out similar results. Here's why:
According to the report, test subjects were dropped into a net and were asked to watch a special flickering wrist monitor called a perceptual chronometer on their way down. The monitor was flashing two numbers at a rate too fast to be observed. The idea was that if time for the test subjects slowed down, they would be able to see the numbers clearly.
Mistake #1 - there is no casual link between the flicker monitor and the catalyst event. In all of the anecdotal accounts that I've read, there is a causal link between the action and reaction during a duration dilation event. Regardless of how the test subjects look at the monitor, there's no effect on the rate of the fall or its outcome. In fact, the test subjects know so going into it. They are front-loaded to know that there is no link between the fall and the monitor. The result is like stepping on the gas pedal of a car when the gear is in neutral. There is no link between the racing motor and the potential rotation of the wheels.
Mistake #2, in the sixth paragraph of the "Methods" section of the report, it states that "One of the two experimenters remained on the platform to monitor for eye closure. One participant who closed her eyes for the entire free fall was excluded from the study; all others kept their eyes open during at least part of the freefall," which reveals a problem in the experiment and ignorance in how duration dilation experiences actually operate. The problem is that anyone who was not able to observe the flicker monitor for the entire test should have been eliminated due to the fact that it will take a certain amount of time for the test subject to focus in on the monitor instead of the catalyst of the experience - the free fall. In fact, in this video clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mP5RJA9oKro Eagleman tells fellow researcher Chess Stetson at 1:59 that "Now on the way down there's going to be lots of distracting things happening, like - you're falling!" This bears no relationship with the way that duration dilation experiences are created. The brain automatically concentrates on something because there is a direct causal link between the experience and that need for concentration. Here, that link is nonexistent.
All of the test subjects consciously know that the monitor has nothing to do their fate. Eagleman illustrates that with his own comments. So, a subject who is not able to focus on the monitor for the entire fall will not have the opportunity to attempt the reading task at hand that someone does who can focus on it the entire time. So a person who doesn't come-up with the right numbers, and wasn't able to keep their eyes on the monitor, should be eliminated or given another try, not added to the data pool.
Because the results of the test are set at a pass, draw, fail scale (get both numbers right, only one, get none) and they were subsequently averaged out, the results are less than satisfactory. A complete breakout should have been given for each participant, for each stage of the test - the accuracy rate for perception of the flicker monitor before the drop, during the drop (including if that participant kept their eyes open the entire time) as well as the timed estimated fall duration test, that was given before the fall and after the fall, that was reported as having a 36% increase after the test subjects did the drop. The lack of this data means there is no transparent way of analyzing what actually happened during the tests to contribute to the overall results. Also, there is no indication of how a person on the platform could monitor for eye closure, considering the rapid descent of the test subjects. In this video http://youtube.com/watch?v=8De2NY-GOE8 there are four people participating in the experiment. I can't see how any of them could be monitored for eye closure.
Which brings us to Mistake #3. This type of frightening trigger quite possibly can cause results that otherwise seem absent from anecdotal accounts. I'm referring to the fact that the test subjects were sent into a fall. This is where technocogninetics comes into play. Falling causes not only psychological effects but also physiological ones. Sensations of falling are all too common as part of sleep disorders, inner ear infections, and other physical conditions to the point that when the body is sent into such a fall, the sensation could be sustained merely because of the triggering effect the fall has on the physiological nature of the body or activating some sympathetic physical memory, and not some psychological phenomenon.
In fact, if you stand at the edge of your bed and then allow yourself to fall over stiff, with your hands to your side - after you hit the bed you are most likely going to still "feel" a slight after sensation from the fall. It will rapidly disappear, to be sure, but now amplify that by the 150 ft. drop used in the experiment, and you can see how the mere act of falling could result in continued sensations of falling after impact had been made with the net.
In my attempt to investigate for evidence from other sources for this after effect, I decided to look for accounts of people who had actually used a SCAD. I found this quote about what the feeling of using the system would be like at http://www.activitysuperstore.com/step3.aspx?PathCode=all&sel=KKCA
"The customer will drop into the suspended catch air device (SCAD). The airtubes and brake suspensions around the double SCAD net stop the fall so softly, that the rider feels no impact at all. The free fall experience is therefore very intense."
I was immediately taken aback. If the customer feels no "impact at all", the sensation of falling is obviously going to be expanded beyond the actual termination of the fall. I then decided to look up the web site for the Zero Gravity Amusement park, the location used by Eagleman for his experiment, and see what they said about the ride. I found a most dramatic example, supporting my contention with the nature of the experiment, at http://www.gojump.com/net.html . The third line in the second paragraph invalidates the Eagleman experiment's findings completely, as far as I'm concerned -
"The landing is so smooth you will hardly notice it."
If the landing is that smooth, to the point that it's hardly noticeable, then that, plus the nature of the physiological effects of the fall, would cause the test subject to estimate that their fall lasted longer than it actually had. After all - they could barely tell when it was over, due to the design of the SCAD system itself ! The animation on the page plainly shows how after the person hit the net, they actually keep falling before they completely stop. You can see that, at the moment that their fall is arrested, they rise back up a bit, and that sensation of the fall could continue and be recorded into memory. The result would be an elongated memory of the event based upon the amplified sensations of the fall and would have nothing at all to do with it being a "frightening" event.
Here is a video clip http://youtube.com/watch?v=bG6nZY9Bxy0&feature=related where one of the test subjects is told (at 3:50) that "What I want you to do, is I want you to estimate the amount of time it took you to fall. Press the yellow button when you hit the net in your imagination..."
The test subject starts his count at just after 4:03 and stops it just at 4:08, that's nearly 5 seconds. Clearly, this result has more to do with the SCAD than the fact that he fell.
Then, the entire issue of the duration judgment process is also problematic. According to Eagleman, the test subject estimations of the fall before they tried it weren't based on their observations of the actual duration of the fall at all. The numbers that he cited as from 2.17±0.24 s weren't derived by people watching others and timing those falls in real time, but instead, as I quote Eagleman from the 8th paragraph in the 'Methods" section :
" 7 participants made duration judgments. After watching another participant take the freefall, but before they took the freefall themselves, we asked these participants to imagine being released from the top and then falling through the air until they hit the net. At the moment when they pictured their release from the top, they were to press the start button on a stopwatch; at the time that they imagined hitting the net, they were to press the stop button."
So the numbers generated by Eagleman's test subjects in advance were based on their imagination and not on their having timed their observation of others doing the drop in real time. I wonder if any consideration were given to having the same people imagine their freefalls more than once, before doing it for real. In other words, an imaginary estimate is of zero value unless it can be shown that it forms some kind of consistent baseline. If instead, it's just an arbitrary number, that changes every time it's taken, then what good is it? In other words, why didn't Eagleman have his test subjects time the length of other falls in real time so that the person would have a true sense of how long the fall lasts in advance? That at least would have some relevance against the after fall estimate, later. If each imaginary judgment is different, each time the same person does it in advance, then that whole process is meaningless. But Eagleman didn't take that into consideration, which is why this whole experiment is nothing but a train wreck.
If that isn't already bad enough, when the BBC paid Eagleman a visit, the results of his experiment with a test subject named Jesse Callus came up with different results from those advertised in his report. Here at http://youtube.com/watch?v=2cCYxu462XQ beginning at 1:30 Eagleman states that there's no way to fake the test with the flicker monitor because "if time is not running more slowly, they can't see the sequence", but at 1:46 when Eagleman asks Jesse what numbers he saw, Jesse answers "56". Eagleman checks the device and at 1:53 Eagleman says, "OK, the number that was actually presented was a 5 and a 0, 50. The zero happens to look a lot like a six..." Then at 2:00, at first without thinking, he just goes on saying, "So what this means is that -" and then, right at 2:02 it hits him. His body language tightens up and he hesitates before saying -
"At least mostly he was able to see a presentation rate that he was not able to see under normal circumstances".
At the BBC article, Time Out of Mind http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/4741340.stm , it says in the 27th paragraph that "When Jesse landed, he noted he had seen "98". Dr Eagleman checked. In fact the number was 96. Not quite spot-on, but the two numbers look very similar on a digital screen," so the incident from the video link I provided was a different try. In fact, the article continues and states that, "Further jumps got similar results - all suggesting that time did seem to slow down for Jesse during the jump", which is not really surprising to me because all of the available anecdotal accounts suggest that time doesn't slow down for everyone and for those who have had the experience, it doesn't happen for every crisis event.
This supports my statement concerning the length of the fall, that it takes a certain amount of time to determine what the numbers are, and if the test subject doesn't look at the numbers for the entire length of the fall, then critical time is lost that would be needed for the brain to lock-on and identify what is happening. Two important things can be derived from the tests with Jesse. First, he is of the type that can concentrate fast enough to acquire a rapidly moving target while under duress. He did so consistently, which flies in the face of the test results that Eagleman presented in his paper.
This also supports my contention, first raised in 2004, about the need to understand the previous experience and skill level of test subjects being tasked with interfacing with a technocognitronic (the actual term wasn't invented until early 2005). This was in response to the BBC/Open University online experiment to see how introverts and extraverts view a Necker Cube. The results of the experiment weren't matching the projections of the hypothesis and I pointed out that one reason is that if a person has worked with a Necker Cube before, they will be able to see it flip at a frequency that will violate the models suggested by the experiment. Thus, the results will be skewed http://www.theintrovertzcoach.com/2004/08/flaws-discovered-in-bbc-scienceopen.html .
Likewise, Jesse consistently was able to see most of the flashing numbers. Why? Obviously, duration dilation was happening for him, but why for him and not others? What previous experiences, if any, had he had with similar activities? Had he ever had duration dilation occur during a real crisis experience, with video games, anything? These are the kinds of questions that should have been explored.
In fact, a researcher seriously investigating this phenomenon should actually approach it with test subjects who have never experienced duration dilation before on one hand, and with others that did have the experience that could be put into several subgroups - from video games, from accidents, from military experience. From each of these there should be an additional breakout consisting of those who had had it happen maybe just once or twice, and those who had had it happen many times, approaching almost every time they were involved in such an activity. Because duration dilation is a subjective experience, testing the subjects who claimed to have had experience with it would produce results that would prove whether there is a basis to the concept. It would reveal a fact suggested by the tests with Jesse and the anecdotal claims that challenge Eagleman's experimental credibility, namely that duration dilation is not a universal experience but one that is a potential for certain types of people or more easily attained by some people at a lower threshold (i.e. video games) but with others only at levels of extreme and sudden, violent moments of crisis.
So, if Jesse had a little longer fall, he probably could have gotten the second number right. This is indicated by the fact that in both cases, where we know what the numbers were, Jesse got the first number right and was close with the second number. The article states that he always got one of the two numbers correct. That's a consistency rate that violates Eagleman's test data and also shows another potential flaw in Eagleman's test - what if each subject had multiple attempts like Jesse did? Would they always get the same results or would there be an improvement. If there was an improvement, that would suggest that duration dilation could be a mental state that could be deliberately acquired.
If Eagleman understood this dynamic in advance, he could have chosen dissimilar numbers to be shown, such as 2, 4, 5, 7, 8. These numbers don't look alike. There are differentiated from each other by facing direction, shape and line configuration. Then, the issue would have been simply does the subject see the number or not, instead of getting it mixed up with another number that looks like it. After all, Eagleman set the flicker rate for imperceptibility prior to the fall. He obviously wasn't taking into account what those imperceptible numbers might look like if his subjects were suddenly able to begin to see them while falling.
This is where knowledge of the technocogninetics of things would have been more than helpful. What is the effect of the fall? What is the effect of landing in the net? What is the effect of trying to watch flickering numbers while in freefall? How easily are the numbers differentiated for identifiability? How long does it take a person to even begin to acquire visual recognition of flashing numbers? How consistent are imaginary estimates of the duration of witnessed events? How do all of these things factor into creating an experiment that could falsify duration dilation accounts during moments of crisis?
Due to these numerous flaws and issues, the frightening experiment fails to provide convincing data to support the conclusion that duration dilation is only a product of post-event memory. In fact, the anecdotal data, when properly analyzed, suggests otherwise. Based on the way that the frightening experiment was designed, it is also very clear that no real attention was paid to the key components of the anecdotal accounts of duration dilation during a crisis. Across the internet, people have come forward to disagree with Eagleman's findings, and with good reason - they recognize that the test model doesn't relate with how duration dilation experiences happen in the real world. Here are some examples, they appear at the top of the page, coming from the SciGuy blog of Eric Burger from the Houston Chronicle, after which I will provide more information to better describe exactly how duration dilation occurs, under what circumstances, and why:
1. This account details a car wreck where fast reactions resulted in avoiding serious injury, just like in my arrow incident. http://blogs.chron.com/sciguy/archives/2007/12/ever_been_in_a.html#c723937
2. This one is a near miss accident avoided by quick thinking. http://blogs.chron.com/sciguy/archives/2007/12/ever_been_in_a.html#c724244
3. Another car wreck, including actions during the event that differentiated it from post-event memory expansion. http://blogs.chron.com/sciguy/archives/2007/12/ever_been_in_a.html#c738398
Posted at 12:26 pm by aet-radal
Duration Dilation Defined
There seems to be a continuum along which events take place that can cause duration dilation. That continuum measures a range of frequency between action and reaction. As actions speed up in frequency, and reactions begin to match, the possibility of experiencing duration dilation increases. If the reactions to the action begin to near simultaneity for a sustained period of time, duration dilation will start to kick in. The length of this state can be interrupted by any number of things, including a sudden change in the frequency of the actions, or a missed action that results in a penalty, as in getting hit during a game.
If properly mentally trained, even that can't interrupt the combat mindset of "If I'm hit, I'm not dead...and if I'm dead, I don't know it", the total all out attitude that is the desired goal by serious combat trainees and the winning strategy I used in Time Crisis 2 and Virtua Cop games. "Work the problem, work the problem". The problem is an active and evolving battlespace with no rhythm or rhyme except for each hostile that requires immediate identification, categorization of threat potential and the most accurate and effective solution. All within fractions of a second, and for multiple hostiles.
The reason accidents and frightening experiences can cause duration dilation is that the sudden interruption of normal activity, by a dramatic event, suddenly kicks the brain into a similar state, as in game play. The mind knows that this is not a game - it's real, which amplifies the experience even more, beyond that which we might expect during game play.
To explore this phenomena further for the purposes of this paper, I recently went to an online game, created by Omar Waly, entitled Radical Aces http://www.arcadetown.com/radicalaces/playgame.asp . This is the original version, which involves the player controlling an aircraft on Mars in the defense of a settlement being attacked by Martian tanks and other aircraft. The game is run from the typical computer keyboard, but Wally added an additional feature that is worth noting - keys 1-5 provide alternate viewpoints of the game. The default viewpoint is from behind the player controlled plane. The alternatives include a front view, left and right views, one that is a rotating view point, and one that begins in front but allows for repeated fly-bys that change viewpoint. These can go from a distant view of the entire battlespace, to showing close-ups, all automatically and with no warning.
Being a director/producer/editor, I immediately saw an incredible potential that these views would provide that simultaneously fit my research into technocogninetics, as well as advanced cinema production methods - instead of just playing the game to win, play the game to make a dramatic cinematic experience, in real-time, by using the alternate view points the way a director/editor would camera angles. Now, game success is not only based on how well you defend the settlement, but how dramatic you make the experience of defending it look.
Because the game allows you to fly the plane in a realistic, 360 degree environment, it is necessary to first master the game in the normal fashion. It must be remembered that this is a combat game, which means as you learn to fly you are required to engage hostile forces. Before I even thought of my more advanced game play method, I had already learned such things as crash dives to fly through the energy gate to fix my plane instantly while under fire, and advanced combat aerobatics. For those interested, I suggest playing the game on the first level and ignoring the tanks there. Instead just concentrate on learning to fly the plane.
After you learn to fly sufficiently enough you can then try to get good at the combat scenarios. After you get good there, you can try the advanced play method I've described. Simply being able to fly the plane will not be good enough to start playing in the advanced mode. I also determined that of all the planes to choose from, the EXA-1 Destroyer was the best plane because of its advanced concept design and broad beam weapon. This made for a higher combat survivable platform, as opposed to the E-7 Sky Bullet, which is the worst. If you get killed, press Enter to continue the game, press it again to continue the failed mission, select another plane and then exit out of the game by hitting the escape key and then selecting "quit game" on the screen, which will then allow you to choose resume saved game and then proceed back through the mission process, which will allow you to get the Destroyer back.
Here is a video clip of someone playing the normal way with the EXA-1 Destroyer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8__aXtMscQ&feature .
I played the game recently to test for those moments, if any, where duration dilation would occur. They did, but they were few and far between and extremely brief. They occurred when my attention involved engagement of planes, while tracking them through the battlespace, and across the various viewpoints. What I mean is that an enemy plane might leave the screen and I would pick him up again as I turned my plane and switched view points, so for example I might see the plane leave screen left, in front of me, and I would turn in that direction while switching to a viewpoint that showed the entire battlespace with my plane, and the one I was after, in the same view. Then depending on what that plane did next, the view point might change again as I was required to react while suddenly another hostile might try to attack me. That would require my immediate response and another change of view points.
I found that quick changes between the automatic establishing view point, the rotating one, and the front and rear default views, while tracking the combat action, caused greater opportunities for duration dilation to develop. The duration dilation was happening across the viewpoints and not within them. This is especially important because some of the views seem to run a little slower than others, just as a car moving along beside you doesn't seem to be moving as fast as it does passing you at the same speed while you are standing still. Again it must be remembered that all of this is happening while flying intense combat maneuvers such as barrel rolls, loops, twists, vertical spins, and tight 90 degree turns that would be impossible to achieve in real-life; unless the aircraft employed an anti-gravity drive to nullify the gravitic forces that would normally tear the aircraft and pilot apart. All while dog fighting against multiple bandits. And trying to make it look good. So the visual information, and the need to process it in real time in order to achieve momentary outcomes, is intense.
The idea that intense visual stimulus can induce duration dilation is also supported by my findings in the early 1990s when testing the first ever (and still as of this date, only) psychoactive rock video album in the world, Seeing the Breykiot http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1800166509/info . A number of people who tried it reported losing a sense of time during the viewing, due to proprietary approaches I designed of synchronizing intense visuals with the music that put the viewer into an altered state of consciousness. In short, they get high due to the release of endorphins in the brain in response to the ultra-hyper sight and sound experience. Because they are concentrating on the screen during the experience, many of the components of being in the zone kick in. Very much like Csikszentmihalyi's flow, viewers reported becoming a part of the experience, being sucked into it, and losing their sense of self, so it is not entirely surprising that duration dilation would be happen at some point.
I believe that this lengthy review of the subject of duration dilation should shine some new light, not only on the flaws of the Eagleman frightening experiment, but what components and parameters need to be considered for more accurate research into the nature of this intriguing psychological phenomenon. It is also worth noting that the U.S. Army Research Laboratory funded part of this Eagleman project. I know that in the 1980s I had personal experience with the U.S. Army Reserve's interest in the effect of video arcade games, as low-level training simulators, and which high school and college-age kids were best on certain games. Their interest was exhibited by the fact that they were selectively targeting us for recruitment once they observed that we were better than average with specific types of games (and no, trivial games like Centipede, Pac-Man and Donkey Kong didn't qualify).
This is where the real world consequences of the Eagleman experiment become clear. Based on his claims, duration dilation is simply a function of memory. The media is now proclaiming it as such. That means any ideas that the Army Research Lab might have about using duration dilation as a "be all that you can be" enhancement to increase warfighter effectiveness, lethality, and survivability, could now be shelved since an enhanced memory of an experience has no influence over the experience.
Meanwhile, some other nation ( I won't mention any names) that has researchers of higher sophistication than Eagleman, could have them looking at the same question and determine that duration dilation is a real time, experiential state of mind. They do a study to find out how to more effectively, and reliably, trigger that state. Next thing that happens, their soldiers have that capability and ours don't. That puts ours at a distinct disadvantage and all because Eagleman didn't think to research the literature for the SCAD at Zero Gravity Amusement Park and, in fact didn't professionally investigate duration dilation. He and Stetson just flops this project together before spending that Army Research Lab money and running out to make a big media splash with his persistent references to Neo and The Matrix.
I would suggest that in the future the Army Research Lab rely on the experiences of Army personnel, and the expertise of researchers and psychologists from within the military research community that have a historical awareness of the years of research into mind/machine interfacing, cybernetic feedback, and other related subjects that I'm not going to elaborate on here. There are implications that can be derived from those areas that would be useful if ARL has a real interest in developing projects that will lead to understanding the nature of phenomena like duration dilation and its potential practical application. Our service people deserve as much.
Footnote: A more appropriate test, using everything that Eagleman had at his disposal, would have been to suspend the test subjects in the SCAD with their wrist monitors. They would be given 30 seconds at the sound of a buzzer to read the flashing numbers and call them out or, at the end of the 30 seconds, they get dropped. They aren't told how much time they have left once the buzzer sounds, only if the numbers they call out are right or not. They only get two wrong answers allowed or they get dropped - regardless of how much time they have left. The buzzer initiates the experience, their focus of attention has a direct correlation with their fate, and they know they're going to fall if they fail. Now, that's a frightening experiment.
Posted at 12:23 pm by aet-radal