The question I would like to ask is, do any terms mentioned in the title have any practical value, and if they do, what should we do about it?
Let’s imagine series of events:
“ Jeb Bush is elected president of the USA in 2016, and after his election, he orders military action in Syria, which leads to a conflict with Russia, which leads to a nuclear war in which only a small number of people survive. As for those who survive for a number of years locked in remote bunkers, after they eventually get out, they are hit by a space rock size of Manhattan. ”
The text above and text that follows does not have any practical-prediction value, and you should take it as such; the only thing I am trying to describe here is the style in which different writers wrap up some content within different cognitive packages and what is behind those packages.
If one were to dream a dream with such events, maybe the dream would look like following series of images.
“A green shrub in running shoes with a shovel in his ‘hands’ is running a marathon, and he wins by passing through the goal line by a small margin against a laughing helium balloon. He starts shaking the sand table and hitting it with his shovel, and while shaking the table a bowl of cereal is thrown off the table and gets broken. The bear gets mad as the shrub broke his bowl and also hurt the bear’s hand while waving around the shovel. They get into a big fight; while they are fighting a big black storm starts raining heavily, and as the rain is touching the ground huge mushrooms start growing around. After they see rain coming, ants go into the ground, but after they come out they are blown away by very loud rock-and-roll music.”
Dreams have the property of coding our memories into symbols, which are usually recognizable only to the people who are dreaming these dreams. And very often even the people who dream these dreams cannot decode what is behind them.
Do dreams mean anything, and do they have any precognitive value?
It is hard to say they have any precognitive value, as there is no scientific evidence about it. And it would be very hard to conduct any deterministic experiment in which we could reproduce the results we would get from such experiments.
But as for the question “do they have any value at all?” the answer is yes, they do. Although messages we decode can be misleading, whatever we get from dreams will tell us a lot. It will tell us a lot not about the outside world, but about the one that resides inside of us. Dreams will tell us about ourselves, about our memories, and about our emotions. Dreams may not give us tickets to happiness, but they can give us a key that can help us to overcome our fears and worries. It is on us to use that key or not, and the way we behave after going through that door will decide our future.
The brain uses all its available resources in order to code message (memories, emotions) into symbols, and it does this effortlessly on a subconscious level, which is one of the reasons why it is so hard to decipher the real meaning behind our dreams.
Again , I have never dreamt the above dream – I have used reverse techniques to create a dream story from the story at the beginning of the text. The made-up dream is there just to mimic a colorful story that is closely tied with some of the types of emotions from our daily lives.
Therefore, I have used shrub = bush and a shovel as a symbol for work. Work = job and job sounds very similar to Jeb. I deliberately coded name Jeb Bush into the symbolic representation. Following the same principles: the marathon represents presidential run, cereal rhymes with Syria, and bear is a symbol for Russia ... I will leave the other symbols for you to play with...
Just remember, many famous psychologists have used different methods in order to interpret dreams. For instance, Sigmund Freud, who was a neurologist and the father of psychoanalysis, used sexuality as a main theme for decoding symbols in dreams. Just for fun, take all the symbols in “my” dream and try converting them into different meanings by using sex slang – you will get a pretty funny outcome. Carl Jung, on the other hand, treated dreams as a map of the dreamer's future psychological evolution toward a more balanced relationship between his ego and the Self. Whatever path you choose you will get a different outcome.
If there were a prophecy with the events I have wrote in the beginning, maybe that prophecy would look like following:
“World divided as apple cut in half. One side red, other hard lead. King huge water across, fruits sons eager of campaign, coming of age getting power and reign. Sand world in between of apple halves, prince waged with red cage. Stars falling, touching ground with the light of a thousand suns , men turned into dust. Famine and plague, death by fight. Shelter in deeps of pike. Years of no food, before going into light. No protection, heaven’s wrath, comet seen, last sight.”
Many prophecies, like the one I have constructed, follow a similar pattern. Words are structured in rhyme or without it, a cacophony of unstructured words without any apparent form or context.
The style of many prophecies is very similar to the one I have constructed, and because that style does not follow the same grammar or narrative rules of typical stories, for instance, it is left to our brain to fill the contextual gaps. Our brain is almost tempted to fill gaps, and this temptation is very hard to resist.
By the trick of increasing contextual gaps, the writer increases the abstraction of the piece, and the brain fills the gaps with any knowledge it has. But at the same time, the brain is susceptible to any story/explanation that can more “logically” describe the semi-random structure. Anyone who has “greater” knowledge or a more vivid imagination and firmly believes can create more engaging stories. Once the story is set or told, everyone else will have an issue with “unseeing” that “prophecy”, or perceiving it in any different way.
Let me give you more specific examples: if you have ever been in a room where the ceiling has some kind of random pattern, after some time staring at the ceiling some images will start emerging, as the brain likes finding patterns. Maybe you will recognize a face or tree or car or something else. Although someone else at that time might not see what you see, if you explain the picture you have found and if you outline the elements, then under the influence of suggestion and additional context the other person will start seeing the same thing. Once the image is seen, it is very hard to unsee it.
This is interesting, as it also means that whatever story has been told first will have an influence on the masses.
That is the reason why you cannot unsee the events from beginning of this text. And this is also an issue why people cannot think about anything else once the bad prophecy is interpreted.
The only way to unsee one image would be to replace that image with a different one that uses the same space as the first one. This means that we have to discard the imposed context and imagine our story with our desired context. This part is hard but not impossible.
Try to imagine if you can, I challenge you, a nice meaning out of the above “prophecy”? *
* Be the first to email me a positive story from above "prophecy", and I will send you a pack of chocolate muffins. :)
So do these prophecies have any value?
Yes, they do, but that value is not what many expect it to be. Value is again in discovering what we are and how our brain works. For instance, discoveries about how our eye works and what its limits are led to discovery of the television; without that eye image processing limit it would probably be very difficult to create TV with the same principles. *1
If I would like to make a prediction of the above events, maybe I would use lines like:
“According to combined statistics there is about a 63% chance that Bush will win the elections. Knowing that war as a solution runs in the blood of his family, there is a 72% probability that if he gains power he will try to resolve the solution by military intervention. Because the situation is complex, as it is our military action in already crowded space of Syria, there is a high likelihood of deepening conflict and also easily creating conflict with Russia and China. That can easily spiral into nuclear war. Nuclear war would cause a nuclear winter that would last for years, leaving a small percent of the population left after war without food. Additionally, simultaneous nuclear explosions could trigger volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Lastly, as we would be left out from any planetary protection, statistics show that the probability of being hit by celestial bodies increases every year by 1.27%, and as humanity would be set backward for another century, that would very probably mean the complete extinction of our species.”
All numbers are completely made up and randomly selected, and they do not hold any basis in reality, but the mentioned chain of events is based on the scientific belief about what will happen in the case of nuclear war.
Statistics is science that uses probability in order to explain the likelihood of one event. But that does not mean that the event with a smaller percent chance cannot happen; it only explains that the predicted event is less likely to happen.
The odds of being struck by lightning are 1 in 576,000, but please tell that to Roy Sullivan, the guy who was struck by lightning seven times independently.*2 The combined probability of a person being struck by lightning seven times independently is 1 in 1028 (1 in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) if he/she is 80 years old, and it still happened.
Even with math we are terrible at predicting events, and without it we are even worse. That is one of the reasons why we have so many issues with the stock market. Most of the time people are not looking at the real value of the companies in which they are investing but rather are gambling. Gambling, however, is a very simple game, and you just have to remember the following: the house always wins, and players almost always lose. And when players win, you must understand that this is purely because of marketing reasons.
Can I predict future events using statistics and prediction?
Yes, to a certain extent. There is a good study about the usage of crowd-sourcing in order to predict events, and amazingly it works – again to some extent. *3
Why did I use such a gloomy story?
Why did I not use something more cheerful?
Be honest – have you ever seen a prophecy that says you will live happily ever after?
Yes, you have, but we do not call them prophecies, but fairy tales. :)
Yes, “prophecies” are there to scare you. Since the dawn of man they have been scary with a purpose, so that you will buy any moral that comes after. It is very similar to the story of the boogieman that comes for the children who misbehave. We are very similar to those children; we need something to scare us in order to be more vigilant and more civilized. As we very often allow ourselves to be led by primal instincts, we do not know how to set boundaries. This is all part of the domestication of human beings: learning how to set boundaries because of other beings in the environment.
Although I am saying that the boogieman is a made-up character, I am not saying he will not come. Maybe not in the form of some dark creature, but eventually when kids do not learn rules of the society, the boogieman will come in the form of the struggle to find a job, or maybe in the form of a drug dealer or in the form of poverty and hunger... So, yes, the boogieman can be real for grownups too, and he comes as the shadow of bad deeds we have committed in the past, sometimes as “karmic” repayment and sometimes in the form of big challenges like “Climate Change”. It is there, and it is quite real. It is there to ask you to change, to ask you to become a better you or to suffer consequences.
One measure does not fit all. The same scary story will not help everyone, the same as trying to reason or talk will not help everyone. Defining behavior in a few sentences is very difficult and it cannot be fitted into a short text. Nurture and education are a story on their own, and they are the most rewarding but at the same time the most difficult things to do in proper way – equally for parents and society.
And if you are still wondering if the above scenario is possible, the answer is yes, regardless of the name of the president. It can happen even before the election. When you are in the room with easily flammable substances, any spark can cause an explosion. The same goes for the people. You should be aware that it is possible so that you can act in a way to prevent that possibility and not in a way that will cause that possibility to be realized faster.
"You are creating your own future,
and the vision you are feeding the most
will always win."
Update (2 Jun 2016):
Someone recently tried to convince me that there are some prophecies, made by some people, which actually came true. The mentioned prophecy has called the Kremna Prophecy, originating somewhere in the Balkans where allegedly some guy from 18th century predicted many things correctly up to and including nowadays, and he was much more accurate than Nostradamus (like he was accurate at all). One story led to another and, at the end, she said that Donald Trump really resembles the description of the guy who will, with his sons, start the last war.
Now, let me repeat two things: First, we become what we believe, the same as the fireflies are attracted to light. Secondly, our future is not carved in stone, we all have free will. Maybe the best explanation of this is learning about the concept of a ‘frustrator’ in free will, provided by Wireless Philosophy. *4
Notes & References:
1. Frame ratehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frame_rate#Background
2. Roy Sullivanhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Sullivan
3. Studies about predicting major geopolitical eventshttp://qz.com/326567/some-people-really-are-better-at-predicting-the-future-and-they-have-these-traits-in-common/