Sunday, September 5, 2010

Quote for the day

Fear does not actually speed up our rate of perception or mental processing. Instead, it allows us to remember what we do experience in greater detail. Since our perception of time is based on the number of things we remember, fearful experiences thus seem to unfold more slowly... The test subjects who fell from the SCAD tower certainly believed, as they accelerated toward freefall, that they knew what the experience was like at that very moment. They thought that time seemed to be moving slowly. Yet Eagleman's findings suggest that that sensation could only have been superimposed after the fact. The implication is that we don't really have a direct experience of what we're feeling 'right now,' but only a memory -- an unreliable memory -- of what we thought it felt like some second or milliseconds ago. The vivid present tense we all think we inhabit might itself be a retroactive illusion.