Metaphors That Mirror the Mysteries of the Mind by Wayne Saalman

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TO SAY THAT THE HUMAN MIND moves in mysterious ways is scarcely an overstatement. One need only peruse the historic record, pick up a newspaper or scroll a few minutes on various websites on the internet to find ample evidence of a myriad of beliefs, views, theories, claims, doctrines, dogmas, statistical data and more. There are highly literary and scientific writings, deeply moving personal testimonies, stories of love, loss, illumination, comedic tales, useful everyday commentary, pure gibberish, as well as seemingly extremely disturbing irrational forms of thinking which have the potential to incite all manner of troubling responses in the more vulnerable among us.

 

In other words, the gamut runs from the level of human genius to the very depths of human madness and depravity.

 

While neuroscientists still admittedly do not know how consciousness arises from the electromagnetic and electrochemical processes in the brain, it is common enough these days to compare the workings of the brain to the processing capabilities of a computer. The tendency, however, is generally to use ordinary computers in the analogy, but that may not be the best choice, for ordinary computers us binary code: ones and zeros, which is rather exact. A switch is either “on” or it is “off”.

 

The human mind, however, is anything but exact.

 

A truer model for the human mind – if we wish to employ such an analogy – is the quantum computer, which operates with “qubits” rather than a binary processing system. These computers function with a system that works like an ordinary computer with zeros and ones (“bits”), but also include an additional informational state.

 

That additional informational state is where the zero and the one exist simultaneously.

 

In other words, qubits can take on the value of zero or one, or both at the same time.

 

The analogy that is generally used to clarify the way a quantum computer works is one where a coin is flipped and while the coin is in the air, the head and the tail are equally present. At that moment, the two are in a state of potential, rather than in a definitive state.

 

Crucially, in the quantum realm, the field which underlies everything in this cosmos of ours, potential is the actual base state of it.

 

The key to quantum computing is the system’s ability to operate on the basis of a circuit not only being “on” or “off”, but occupying a state that is both “on” and “off” at the same time. This is in accordance with the laws of quantum mechanics, which allow very small particles to exist in multiple states until they are observed or disturbed. When a particle is in such a state it is known as being in a “superposition”.

 

In a similar way, a coin spun in the air cannot be said to occupy a “heads” or “tails” state until it lands and a definitive result is revealed.

 

When we humans make a decision to go one way or another on an issue, it is usually only after turning the problem over and over in our minds until, at last, we make a decision and say, “Okay, this is it. This is what I am going to do.” Arriving at that decision often takes a great deal of time and, even after the decision is struck, we might well be left wondering if we actually made the right choice.

 

If we are lucky, hindsight will prove that decision correct. If we are unlucky, we can get a very unpleasant surprise and end up sorely disappointed.

 

That is how it goes in life.

 

Physicists tell us that nothing is definitive in the quantum realm until there is a “collapsing of the wave function”. They tell us that an observing mind is required to achieve that end.

 

The human mind is ideal for doing just that, of course. Since we humans are constructs of the cosmos, this might well be our primary evolutionary function. In other words, perhaps nature has created us so that we can continually collapse the wave function by observing phenomena and perceiving our universe in a certain way for an evolutionary end.

 

At the level of sheer functioning, we humans are all equally able to collapse the wave function and perceive events in a similar manner. This is what gives us a consensus reality. In this reality, my perception is no better than yours and yours no better than mine.

 

After we become acculturated, however, and acquire a specific mindset we invariably diverge and take on diversified interpretations of what is perceived.

 

The bottom line is until a wave is collapsed, it resides in a state of potential and is neither real nor unreal. Or one might say, it is both real and unreal simultaneously.

 

Of course, we humans are generally not overly comfortable with being in an indeterminate state of mind. Like the coin, flipping over and over, round and round, it makes us feel “up in the air” and we don’t like that. We like definitive states. We like yes, no; this way or that way; one or the other. “A choice must be made,” we say and then we take action.

 

To our eternal frustration, however, right and wrong are rarely clear cut issues even after we do take a position. Arguments continue over what is good or bad, what is positive or negative about a situation, what the value of an event is, what it means and so forth.

 

This is why people end up saying things like, “Each to their own” and “Beauty is in the mind of the beholder.”

 

That’s because everything is in the mind of the beholder in terms of perception and interpretation. That, too, is our reality. Each of us processes the raw data and stimuli of the quantum field of which we are an intricate and interdependent part, and offer up our view of what it means and what it is worth (which itself runs the gamut from the utterly mundane to the fantastically miraculous.

 

Welcome to Qubit City.

 

Welcome to the world as it is rather than how we think it should be or wish it was.

 

 

 

 

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