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Friday, December 20, 2013

What HSPs Can Give and Get from Animals and Babies

The Highly Sensitive Person

Back to Comfort ZoneJanuary 2007 : Comfort Zone ONLINE

What HSPs Can Give and Get from Animals and Babies


In observing and talking with many HSPs, I have learned how much our sensitivity helps us know what is happening in those who can not speak in words--animals, infants, those speaking in languages foreign to us, the elderly with dementia, the human body itself, and even plants. Because we can notice the subtle signs they give, we understand them better than others and that puts us in a unique position to help them.

But I also think that we gain from these interactions, not just in the usual ways of gaining a friend or being able to feel helpful, but also by being effective. Using our trait makes us enjoy and take pride in it. Reading nonverbal signs well also gives us a window into other realms of being. Again, all of this can make our sensitivity a great pleasure, something we always need to notice.

Sensitive as we are, practicing our nonverbal skills can also develop them even further, as when a person skilled at learning languages still has to study one in order to become fluent. And nonverbal skills are important. For example, a medical professor at the University of Arizona gives a course called "Medicine & Horsemanship: An Introduction to Human Nonverbal Interaction at the Bedside" just in order to make doctors more sensitive to the feelings of cancer patients and their families. He chose horses because they have especially strong emotional reactions. (It also must help that they are big enough to be threatening to a doctor behaving like a non-sensitive oaf!)

The instructor, Dr. Hamilton, said "Horsemanship requires the understanding of body language and sensitivity. There is no endeavor that will more quickly and effectively teach you awareness of your own body language and energy level than learning the principles of working with horses. You learn patience, gentleness and a method of physically relating to patients that is nonverbal, effective and powerful."

Of course most doctors are not highly sensitive, and I doubt they can be trained to be in the way that HSPs are. But there is also something learnable here, even for us. I am sure sensitive health care providers, gardeners, translators, and many others could tell you not only the benefits of being highly sensitive in general, but also of developing your sensitivity in your specific line of work. Indeed, I can't imagine any kind of work that could not be done better with both innate and attentively developed sensitivity. But I'd like to focus on animals and infants because everyone is or could be around them. They are the "line of work" of the human race.

HSPs and Wild Animals

You might wonder if I really meant that animals as well as infants are the "line of work" of humans. I do include animals, because we humans share the planet with millions of other animal species, so humans have had to evolve innate knowledge about animals. We also must come with an innate ability to learn additionally by reading nonverbal cues about those animals and animal species that happen to be around us, whether they are predators, prey, pets, livestock, or nasty insects. And I'm sure HSPs have always been the leaders in this.

Looking to the future, however, I am thinking this is our species' line of work because of something I read once--that we should think of other animal species as other nations or nationalities. As with human nations, we must learn to get along because we share the earth. It is the work of all humans to be good world citizens, but you might say that when thinking of animal nations, HSPs are naturals for working in the diplomatic corps!

Thinking of other species as their own nations helps us keep our own borders or boundaries, as when ants, ticks, flies, or cougars would like to feed on our bodies or our food. But more important these days, seeing these species as nations helps us respect their borders, letting them live where they have chosen or where they need to be. Since they are independent nations, we don't have to feed them, give them health care, or otherwise do what they can do for themselves, unless we have disturbed their "national life." It's like the "prime directive" in Star Trek: You can visit other societies, but leave them unaltered when you depart.

The fact is, however, that we have long ago passed the point where we live on the planet as if animals were our "national equals." Even wild animals have become our responsibilities because of our impact on them. I suspect that someday we will have on computer every individual of every species of the larger wild animals. Given the pressures on their habitats, we will decide which DNA should be preserved, which can die out. And I think many HSPs will choose to be involved in the fate of wild animals, as many are already.

Still it makes sense to think of animal species as independent nations in the sense that we can visit them, try to communicate with them in their language or ours, and grow from this contact. But we must be mindful of whether they want to communicate. In some cases it can be very rewarding for both, as when you "introduce yourself" to a bird in the wild and the bird responds and hangs around as if enjoying it. Or it can be dangerous for both. For example, in getting to know each other's eating habits--very often the main topic of conversation among all of us animals--we may unwittingly cause harm to one or both, as when bears start to eat our food or we become their food.

If you are like me, you often notice wild animals before others do. You like to be quiet out in the wilds and wait until they feel safe enough in your presence to begin to speak to each other again. If there is an opportunity, you like to try to communicate with them. You are also concerned about their habitats, because you hate to hear about extinct or endangered species. You want them to be out there, whether you are there or not. It expands who you are.

HSPs and Domesticated Animals

For good or ill, our ancestors bred many animals to be dependent on us. Further, in each generation a few wild animals are captured and made dependent on someone's care. Some can and do return to the wild, but as long as they are "ours," we are responsible for their welfare. I don't have to tell that to HSPs, but sometimes we have to tell it to others. We see an animal's discomfort more clearly than others do, or care more. Intervening is difficult, but often it's the suffering of animals (or infants) that forces us HSPs to be our most heroic.

Many HSPs speak of having a special relationship with one domesticated species--dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, potbellied pigs--or with their own particular "companion animal." Of course anyone can love animals, love their pets in particular, and feel they can communicate with them. But as I said, although I have no research comparing HSPs and non-HSPs on this, I think both the love and ability to communicate with them are much more common with us.

I also realize that many animal psychics and animal trainers have weighed in on the subject of communication with animals and the importance of sensitivity for success, so I apologize in advance if I am missing aspects of this subject that are important or obvious to you. But I have my own perspective, as I do find that I am able to communicate very well with animals--even a dog passing by on a leash, if our eyes meet. We acknowledge each other and I know the dog's general state of mind. Does the dog know mine? It seems to. I do not think of this very often as psychic, but rather as nonverbal, often unconscious or preconscious. It is intuition, in that I know some things about an animal without knowing how I know it. And many HSPs say the same.

As I said before, there is a give and get in this. Being sensitive to the animals around us can benefit them--not just their physical well being but their mental health, too. And it benefits us by connecting us with individuals who are generally sensitive, subtle, discriminating, and loyal to their friends--like most of us.

Animal Intelligence

HSPs are often thought to attribute more to animals than is there--more intelligence, insight, intentional communication, emotion, suffering, and all the rest. Well, it is there. For example, I think most HSPs appreciate that each species has its particular forms of intelligence. Some can read scents especially well, others see (and understand what they see) better than we do. Some can even read the meaning in the vibrations of the earth or its magnetic fields.

The horse I ride finds my intelligence very low when it comes to dangers that might be around the next curve in the trail. I am oblivious until she "says" with her rigid and trembling body that has refused to move forward, "There could be a cougar waiting for us, stupid. What about that sound you don't even hear?" And later she may also want to say, "And while we are on the subject of your lack of intelligence, you sure can't do much with your muzzle. Hardly have one. I can tell everything about a person with a few nuzzles, lip feels, and whiffs."

We humans can get awfully huffy ourselves about intelligence, even with our fellow humans, with all our obsessing about IQ. In our culture intelligence means abstract thinking--using symbols and testing hypotheses. But other animals, and other human individuals and cultures, do not specialize in that kind of intelligence. What about intelligence regarding spatial relationships or tool use, and what about intelligence in the form of sensitivity and intuition?

What about teamwork? Look at how well dogs can work with humans. But it is not just the human being who is so smart. Predators that work as teams are able to read each other's signals and devise strategies, such as when to circle and close in, or where to position themselves over miles in order to tire prey with a fresh pursuer. Sheep dogs simply trade the alpha male for a shepherd, showing the same ability to grasp the lead "dog's" plans.

Yes, abstract thinking allows us to test out ideas in our minds and choose the best one, and it certainly seems like in domains important to them, wild canines (to stay with my example) can formulate abstract plans, test alternatives, and apply them in new ways. That's pretty good. But we think of most other complex, adaptive animal behaviors--such as knowing how to build a good nest or navigate by the stars--as merely innate, instinctual knowledge. It's not "real" intelligence because it isn't conscious and flexible. Yet either way, knowledge is passed down from generation to generation. Humans would not be very smart if they had to learn everything new in every generation. Our information is simply passed down through culture and language more than through DNA.

On the other hand, we are learning that other primates have remarkably more of our idealized form of intelligence than we first thought. They can apply an idea to a new situation, take another's perspective, "lie," understand fairness, remember highly complex social relationships for years, communicate complex ideas to each other and to us when we teach them a language, and of course the big one, they can invent tools.

Dolphins and whales also show remarkable intelligence of the human sort. Indeed, there is evidence that dolphins may have a more complicated language-intelligence than we do. They have more space in the brain for it. And it has been impossible for us to learn their language because they talk about objects without the object being present, just as we do—a sign of abstraction. And they cease to have an emotional reaction to it being mentioned after they realize the object is absent, just as we do. That is the complicated message in the saying "never cry 'wolf.'" We humans can and do say wolf when one is not around, and if that is what you are doing, after awhile others will not respond.
Most people do not know that certain species of birds, especially those in the raven family (e.g. ravens, crows, and blue jays) and the various parrots, also display intelligence much like that of primates.
Interestingly, their brains are quite different, so their abstract, human-like intelligence evolved along a separate line. Intelligence really is not the special domain of the great apes.

I suggest you learn more about animal intelligence and communication for your own enrichment. It also will help if you have to defend these other nations. You probably don’t want to be categorized as an animal rights' "extremist," but I always point out that we are not talking only about animal rights. Anything cruel we do to an animal seems to mean we are never far from doing it to those humans whom someone has declared to be "less than human." Think of "horse whipping," cattle prods, and cattle cars.

Emotional Communication

HSPs have stronger emotional reactions than others, and also are affected more by others' moods. This makes us more like other animals and better able to communicate on their channel, which is mainly emotional. We sense what pleases, scares, or angers them, and we notice when they have sensed our emotions. A highly sensitive rider, for example, knows all too well how quickly fear passes back and forth between horse and rider.

Emotions are automatic responses that get us moving in circumstances that have been judged--often very quickly and usually by evolutionarily older parts of our brain--to require a strong response of a particular type. So we can rather automatically do everything involved in being angry, afraid, or whatever. The judgments to display that emotion are often as built in as the response. Something in us just knows, "Be careful, you're on a cliff." "Watch out for that snake." "Don't you dare hurt my baby." "What's that? Let's go see." "Don't cross that line or you're lunch." "Relax, the others are back." Emotions really are a form of intelligence, and a form much older than abstract-frontal-cortex intelligence.

Emotional life took a great leap forward with mammals (and birds, along a separate evolutionary line), probably because mammals raise their young in such an intimate way, and they usually live in groups. So not only do mammals show fear, anger, sadness, curiosity, contentment, disgust, and joy, but also the social emotions of pride, shame, guilt, grief, compassion, fear of abandonment, dread of banishment, joy at reunion, and so forth. They also have a wide range of built-in emotional reactions that arise in their various social bonds--as parent and child, mating or child-rearing partners, and friends. For example, when very young mammals are separated from their parents, they react with several strong, automatic emotions. In humans there's a loud protest, hopefully bringing the parent, followed by deep despair that amounts to giving up, which saves their energy. And romantic love can give rise to all the emotions--fear, anger, elation, sadness--and yes, animals do fall in love and can suffer as we do when that longing for the other is thwarted.
Emotions do more than energize an individual. They also energize and communicate to others, sometimes intentionally and sometimes not. Animals, including humans, are designed to be sensitive to the emotions of others. There's information there, but also an urge to feel the same. We look down on this, calling it giving into "mass hysteria." But look at it as prey animals do, or domesticated animals that were once prey.
Zebra, antelope, and horses, as examples, evolved to be extremely sensitive to emotional communication from others. If one of them is afraid and starting to run, it is wise for the others to do the same. Or if one is angry and ready to fight back when cornered by a predator, it helps if they all feel the same. Horses much prefer to go out on a trail ride without another horse. Otherwise, they are stuck relying on the emotional reactions of their rider for additional information.
Predators also have to know the emotions of their prey as well as of each other. Humans, who have been both prey and predators, tend to have all of these characteristics.

Alas, many people mistake the quick emotional responses of animals for stupidity. But we are not receiving all the information that they have, or are not processing it through the same innate concerns. Very few dogs are born randomly vicious, but being predators, they can quickly lunge and bite something they should not. They do it because some sort of cue was there that told them to make their move.

Cats are not "lazy" because they sleep so much (so do lions) or "scaredy cats" when they hide themselves. These behaviors evolved--they are a form of very old intelligence.

Horses are very often scorned as stupid because they are very afraid of anything new, of walking close to anything such as the fence around a riding ring, of flapping things that brush their bodies (it might be prey leaping at them), of having their feet not on solid ground, and so much more. But they can plan rather nicely--when my horse sees me coming, she does her elimination in the pasture so she does not have to in the stable area or on the trail. These animals are NOT dumb and are not making stupid responses. They just have different concerns.

Facial Expression and Speech

Darwin showed that the same facial expression is seen for the same emotion in many species, especially primates. It's easy to see fear, anger, pain, curiosity, surprise, and so forth being expressed in some way by most animals. And it's true of social emotions too, although maybe only HSPs can see when an animal is ashamed--for example, a dog or cat in a silly costume. Or see them glow with pride, when a dog is freshly groomed or a cat brings in a mouse. Then there's their disgust when you make the same mistake over and over--I can see that in the raised head and glowering eye of my horse friend when I do something clumsy around her. And she expresses disagreement with a vigorous shake of her head, should I choose a route not to her liking. We who are sensitive are not imagining these communications, even if most people do not notice.

Of course animals do communicate through sounds, but rarely through words found in any human language. We have to translate those sounds. When annoyed my horse snorts; when pleased she blows loudly through her lips, making that sound children try to imitate when playing horse. Again, I suspect HSPs are able to notice more of these meaningful sounds and also can make more and better sounds that communicate back.

You and Animals

HSPs with any fondness of animals should get to know as many as possible, as intimately as they can safely do. Perhaps the first signs to learn, and the easiest for HSPs, are those that signal that an animal wants nothing to do with you right now. We know all about needing to be left alone, and we are also sensitive to signs of rejection. The rest the animal will help you with.

Still, each animal species has unique communication signs. You can learn these from keen observation, chatting with someone familiar with the species, books, or DVDs. You will also need to know the species' evolutionary history and details of how they lived in the wild. Above all, you will want to observe the personalities of the various individuals (they vary considerably) whom you meet. You will be drawn to some more than others--often to the sensitive ones.

As you know better than anyone, in every species some animals are more sensitive than others. The sensitive ones are slower to approach you and are very sensitive to touch. As a horse trainer showed me about sensitive horses, their skin is actually about five inches out from their bodies. (How far out is yours?) You'll know by how the horse behaves when your hand has approached that invisible outer skin. Reach inside that without warning the horse and you'll see a strong reaction.

Sensitivity in each species may look a little different, but you want to be able to recognize it as a trait, and to distinguish it from fear due to past abuse. At first meeting, sensitive animals hang back but look curious and meet your eyes as an equal. When they get to know you, the two of you are friends for life. An abused animal will look afraid, avoid your eyes, and slink up, looking submissive. And you have to go through this over and over. It is surprising how many people cannot see the difference and call sensitive animals fearful. There's a familiar story.

One other point, so you aren't surprised: If two or more social animals live together, they will have a hierarchy. When it is forming or shifting, they squabble a lot. When it is settled, the top animal may insist on taking whatever you have to offer, be it food or attention, and not allow the others to have any. Do not be disillusioned if you see what looks like "selfish" behavior. It's perfectly normal. These hierarchies serve many important functions. You can deal with it in various ways, but one of the easiest is to accept it as it is. You can still greet them all. And you can arrange to interact with an animal when others in their group are not around. Trying to feed the "poor beast" not getting anything may lead to it getting far too much in the way of aggression.

Potential Friends are all Around You

You do not have to have a pet to get to know animals. Neighbors often have pets that they would love to have walked or watched when they are away, or you can just visit when you pass them. Cats are often all over the neighborhood and quite sociable when you know their language. (I draw the line at city rats, although when I saw one in a Manhattan health food store, my husband was surprised that I was not more pleased at discovering some wild life in my neighborhood.) I know people who have developed interesting acquaintanceships with squirrels and ravens as well.

If you are in the suburbs or country, animals are often in nearby pastures. Horses usually love attention and a chance to communicate (except the cynical ones kept in stables too much or rented out to strangers). If you bring them apples and carrots or pick them better grass than they have inside the fence, they will come right to you of course. But I prefer to wait for them to come to me without bribes. Animals are curious (if they have not become fearful), so that is often enough to bring them to you. Then the "conversation" can be a little more far ranging than "do you have any more of that or if you don't would you please get some?"

How do you introduce yourself? Begin by thinking about the mood you are in, because animals will sense it. Usually you want to be in a good mood, although some animals love to comfort troubled humans. Most like to be talked to, in our speech or theirs. They also like to be touched--it is part of their language-- if you obtain their permission and know how to do it in ways that please them. Touch communicates a great deal to animals about your feelings. They especially like certain places scratched or rubbed. Most also like to be groomed if you take the trouble to learn how they like it done. And they like to play--the young ones or the young-at-heart sorts especially. But you probably know all of this.

Don't be limited to pets. Livestock are equally interesting and smart. For example, pigs being raised for meat are often kept in indoor group pens with heaters they can turn on themselves when cold by leaning on a lever. So the pigs take shifts during the night, each doing it for the others for a while. I'm sure a pig would enjoy meeting you. I became familiar with an entire herd of beef cattle--the personalities of each and what each wanted me to know about them. I would talk to them as a group, and then chat with my particular friends. They seemed to enjoy my visits. Of course they were gone one day...

The point is, animals are all around us. They do not know if you do not own them. They may have their first loyalty and strongest bond with someone else, but we all like to have other friends as well as our best friends, and animals like it, too. The only exceptions are those who have grown cynical about humans because of having seen too many come and go, are afraid of strange humans because they usually arrive only to hurt them, are furious with our entire species, or very busy with their other animal friends.

In sum, animals are worth knowing. And equally important, if you take the time to observe and communicate, your sensitivity will be sharpened in this important domain.

HSPS and Babies

Much of what goes for HSPs and animals goes for babies as well. They have their rights to their own boundaries, which HSPs can especially appreciate. As with animals, we can sense their extraordinary intelligence and nonverbal ways of communicating. They want to make friends, and we are innately interested in them, too. They like to be touched and they like to play--easy for an HSP to do well. Each has a unique personality, so that you are bound to hit it off with some better than others, the sensitive ones in particular.

All humans are designed to communicate with babies--to be interested and responsive, to coo and make baby talk. Humans do the same silly things with babies all over the world. It helps babies and adults bond and prepares the babies to learn their home language. But I am certain HSPs, men as well as women, are better at this communication. You will be surprised how quickly it comes to you, especially if you are not feeling self-conscious because of those around you. And don't try to imitate the non-HSPs' loud baby play. We do it differently. For example, babies sitting on the floor and playing love humans who are doing loud and crazy things. But they seem to like just as well someone quietly watching them, giving them something new to do when they are bored, but not interrupting or over stimulating them.

A Very Short Course on Babies

Learning just a little about babies makes you a far more effective friend. Tiny babies are newborns, and you'll find them either asleep; having a brief, quiet, alert time; nursing; or crying their lungs out. They cry so much because they are really in their "fourth trimester." They ought to still be in the womb, but because we humans come with such big heads (in more ways than one), we have to be born before we are fully ready.

Even before you know you will be meeting a newborn, watch the video by Harvey Karp called "The Happiest Baby on the Block." Don't try to read about this. You must see the video, which is probably found at most libraries. This doctor has figured out nonverbal communication in his line of work, and his video has revolutionized the parenting of newborns. I am not exaggerating. The first three months can be agony for parents and infants. But this video could turn even a not-at-all-sensitive bachelor truck driver into an expert at soothing crying infants. As for HSPs, it can make us into parenting Einsteins. But the point is, there are still things to learn about how to communicate nonverbally, even for the highly sensitive.

More information: Some human emotions "come on line" later than others. An infant's general negative emotion, expressed by crying, does not divide into anger and fear until about two months. A cry is a cry. Most babies are smiling and communicative by three months. They can sit up on their own around then too. At about six months they begin to want only certain familiar people to hold them. Even if you were holding the baby a month earlier, you may find you are not on the list any more until you are around and trying to communicate for a few days.

Real locomotion arrives around eight, when they start to crawl. Imagine how it must feel to be able to go where you go, more or less, for the first time. At about a year, they walk or are trying to walk. This is when they are the most trouble, in a way. They sleep less. They are into everything. They want to walk but are too slow. You pick them up and they are too heavy. This is an age when you can really help a parent just by entertaining a child in the grocery line for a moment when he or she is on the verge of fussing out of sheer boredom, or offering to carry a bag so the parent can carry the child.

They do not start to really talk until they are two years. But they understand quite a bit before then, so it is best to assume they do know what you are saying. And at every age they like to be talked to. It doesn't have to be silly talk. Babies also seem to like seriousness. My grandson will not take his eyes off Grandfather Art when he's on the phone giving a lengthy explanation about statistics to a student.

One value of knowing all of this is that when you see a baby in one of these stages, you can start to gain a mother's confidence by, for example, saying to one with a crawler, "Oh, must be about eight months, hey?" The more babies you see, the better you will become at guessing ages and other important baby miscellany that impress mothers. But try to avoid saying the baby's gender until you hear it. Some mothers can be insulted by a gender miscall--we humans are so touchy about gender.

Babies as Good Friends

Do not be limited in your friendships with babies just because you are not a parent or a close relative of one. There are always babies around--on airplanes, in restaurants, or at your neighbor's. If they are awake, they generally make themselves known. And parents are often very glad to have someone to hand them off to, once they trust you. Next time you are seated near a mother on a plane with a nine month old crawling all over her and wanting to get down in the aisle, don't wish you could change seats. Consider this to be an opportunity. Make some funny facial expressions or play peek-a-boo. You will quickly have two friends.

I hope you have a baby whom you can expect to know over the years as well--one you particularly love. That way you can watch all the changes. In a year a newborn becomes a walking, sort-of-talking person. From there, it is only about ten years--only ten--until they are for conversational purposes adults. The effort you put in over the years will pay off. There may be a period during adolescence when you are just a dopey adult, but around twenty seven there's a dramatic change and age becomes far less relevant. If you meet an infant when you are thirty, in twenty-seven years, you'll be fifty-seven. A twenty-seven year old and a fifty-seven year old can easily be friends. So a baby is just a friend who has not grown up yet.

Clearly I'm writing mostly for HSPs who are not parents. I'm especially thinking as I write of sensitive men. Sensitive men make amazing caregivers of infants. Whether the child is sensitive or not, when the mother is not an HSP, it is often the sensitive father who can resolve situations just because he senses better what is going on at the moment. But any sensitive man can built a strong rapport with an infant, once he has gained the parent's trust and learned some rudimentary skills.
Gaining a close connection to a baby is a very rewarding enterprise, for you and the baby. For you, it will both develop your sensitivity and make good use of it. For the baby, you will be an adult who truly gets this little being. So start looking for a baby friend.

As for sensitive babies, often it requires a sensitive man or woman who is not a parent or even a relative to spot the sensitive ones and fully understand them. Sometimes by meddling just a little you can make a great difference in their futures. Maybe mention high sensitivity and that it's normal. You have it, as do many successful people. But it can be tricky raising a sensitive child unless you understand what's going on. Then maybe you give the parents The Highly Sensitive Child.

So I can't resist ending with "It takes a village--with some HSPs in it--to raise a child." Another reason we are here.

February 2006 Articles:
A Letter from Elaine
Latest Research : What HSPs See: Our Brain Is Not as Easily Confused by Culture and Context
HSP Living: What HSPs Can Give and Get from Animals and Babies
Book Review : Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior - by Elliott Sober and David Sloan Wilson, Harvard University Press, 1998
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Last updated on November 26, 2013
Copyright © 1999-2013 Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D. — All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sensitive people use their brains differently


Sensitive people may use their brains differently

Apr 08, 2010 by Lin Edwards report
Sensitive people may use their brains differently

(PhysOrg.com) -- An exploratory study has examined highly sensitive people and found the first evidence of neural differences between them and less sensitive people. Most studies have focused on the social implications of these traits, but the new study concentrates on the differences in how people's brains respond to stimuli.

Approximately one in five people are born with Sensory Sensitivity (SPS), a that can lead to people being highly sensitive, and sometimes inhibited, introverted, shy, or even neurotic. Children with SPS may seem to be slow to adjust to situations, or may cry easily, have unusually deep thoughts, or may ask odd questions. Until now, there has been little study of how the brain's responses may be different in highly sensitive people.

The study first examined the responses of 16 subjects who each completed the "highly sensitive person"ť questionnaire, which is used as a standard measure of SPS, to determine their level of sensitivity. The researchers then asked the subjects to compare two photographs of the same scene and to spot any differences, at the same time as their brains were being scanned by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
The results showed that subjects with higher SPS (the more sensitive people) had greater activation in areas of the concerned with high-order visual processing, including the bilateral temporal, medial, and posterior parietal regions, right claustrum, and left occipitotemporal regions, as well as the right cerebellum. Those with SPS spent longer looking at the photographs and paid more attention to detail.

The researchers were from Stony Brook University in New York, and from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Southwest University in China. They found people with SPS took longer to make decisions, needed more time alone to think, were more conscientious, and became more bored with small talk than other people.

Previous studies have shown that people with SPS are also more affected by caffeine, are more easily startled, and are more uncomfortable with noise and crowded situations. The researchers said these effects could be due to an innate preference for paying more attention to experiences.

Over 100 other species are known to have individuals with the sensitivity trait, including dogs, fish, primates, and even fruit flies. Individuals exhibiting the sensitive trait are always in the minority, but they may give the species an evolutionary advantage at times, since highly sensitive individuals tend to explore with their brains first, while others rush in, and this can be advantageous when a more thoughtful approach is better or less dangerous.

The paper was published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience in March.

Explore further: No two people smell the same
More information: The trait of sensory processing sensitivity and neural responses to changes in visual scenes, Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci (2010), doi:10.1093/scan/nsq001

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© 2010 PhysOrg.com

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Amazing enhanced human perception abilities are emerging, say researchers

the latest news about UFO sightings and UFO news  
Today: December 13, 2013      

Steve Hammons writes about Remote ViewingSteve Hammons is the author of two novels about a U.S. Government and military joint-service research team investigating unusual phenomena. MISSION INTO LIGHT and the sequel LIGHT'S HAND introduce readers to the ten women and men of the "Joint Reconnaissance Study Group" and their exciting adventures exploring the unknown. Both novels are available from the Barnes & Noble Web site, bn.com, and other booksellers worldwide. Visit Steve's website at navyseals.com

Amazing enhanced human perception abilities are emerging, say researchers
The emerging awareness in many segments of society about what is sometimes called "anomalous cognition" is an interesting development that seems to hold much promise.
In fact, knowledge about this topic seems to be spreading throughout the U.S. and around the world.

Anomalous cognition is a term that refers to various kinds of human perception which can be highly effective and useful in a wide range of endeavors and activities.

Included under this umbrella term are several human perceptual abilities and skills. These include, but are not limited to:

- Enhanced intuition and instincts
- Increased awareness of one's surroundings and environment
- Improved insight into challenges and solutions
- Acquisition of information and understanding about remote situations

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines "anomalous" as "inconsistent with or deviating from what is usual, normal, or expected - irregular, unusual - of uncertain nature or classification marked by incongruity or contradiction - paradoxical."
"Cognition" is defined as "to become acquainted with, know - to come to know - cognitive mental processes - a product of these processes."

We may soon need to change the word "anomalous" when referring to enhanced human intelligence of this kind, because it may no longer be "unusual."

It may become very normal and routine for all of us.

In fact, it may be very useful to expand communication and education about research findings in this area as far and wide as possible, and in a timely manner.

Advanced research sponsored by our military and intelligence community, as well as universities and private research entities, has discovered that many, most or all people have the ability to use their "cognition," their mind and awareness, to perceive and understand things in a much more interesting way than previously recognized.
At the same time, average people around the world are doing their own research because each of us has the working tools to investigate anomalous cognition: Our brains, minds, bodies, and, some say, our hearts, spirits and souls.

The technique called "remote viewing" is one of the most common examples.
Remote viewing is a concept jointly developed by the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the CIA and private sector researchers during the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

Remote viewing is a particular set of methods that allow individuals to tap into enhanced and advanced perception.

This has proven to be a useful intelligence-gathering tool. Other applications have also been researched.

Anomalous cognition and remote viewing can provide insight about our daily thoughts and feelings as well as previously unknown information - even information that provides insight about situations that are outside of normal understanding about time and space.

It is believed that the nature of quantum physics is such that, in some ways, things like anomalous cognition and remote viewing make perfect sense. They are normal and natural. They are part of Nature.

Many average people now read books, take classes and watch video presentations about remote viewing. And, many people find that their intuition, dreams and sensitivity to information bubbling up from their unconscious can be very valuable and helpful.

Professional research into these kinds of human abilities and perception is very useful and seems to dovetail with other accepted aspects of psychology studies.

As in some conventional psychology theories, our unconscious mind is believed to be a great problem solver, when given the opportunity. In addition, our individual minds may be connected to a larger unified consciousness.

Some people theorize that there is a "higher consciousness" with profound spiritual and religious implications.

Remote viewing techniques also recognize that one element of success in these efforts is allowing the unconscious mind to work. Then, information from the unconscious is allowed to surface consciously where it can be accurately interpreted and applied to practical matters.

This, of course, is what many modern researchers have tried to establish: That clear evidence can be demonstrated indicating anomalous cognition of various kinds can provide accurate and useful information and insight.

Have they established this? It seems that they have.

Related Links:
Remote viewing and anomalous cognition
Secret data on ‘visitors’ from space
Whitley Strieber's New novel
News on ‘Project SERPO’ deceptions
Project SERPO part of a changing world
Cautious approach to Project SERPO

HSP, Plus or ASP, the Anomalously Sensitive Person

The H.I.S.S. of the A.S.P.:

Understanding the Anomalously Sensitive Person

(Published June 1, 2003)

Are You an ASP?

Many people who are intrigued by the concept of the Anomalously Sensitive Person, once they have a basic understanding of it, then want to know their own status vis-à-vis ASPness. Sensitivities are more appropriately thought of as degrees on continua rather than as an anomalous/non-anomalous dichotomy-and understanding the specific individual sensitivities has considerably more utility than does the application of the "ASP" label. Nevertheless, human nature being what it is, this tendency to want a simple, straightforward, dichotomous answer is entirely understandable.

The version of the HISS used in this study was designed primarily for research purposes. With its 50 scored scales (many of them quite subtle), it is too long, it is too complex and its results are too subject to misinterpretation for it to be used in a casual manner. It could, however, be made available to clinicians after they have received a brief training in its use and interpretation.

If your curiosity has gotten the best of you, don't despair. An abbreviated version of the questionnaire is currently available to the general public and can be found elsewhere on this web site. Its reported scores for the first- and second- level Predispositions and Indicators scales very closely parallel those of the full scale version of the HISS.

Objective Criteria

Many people also want to know if there's a way-based on objective criteria alone-to determine if someone is an Anomalously Sensitive Person. The answer is "probably not," but there are six questions addressing objective data that, when considered together as a (arbitrary and artificial) scale, have a moderate degree of predictive reliability for sensitivities in general. The questions are:
  • Is the person female?
  • Is the person hypopigmented?
  • Is the person Non-Right-Handed?
  • Is the person's occupational category Artistic (fine arts, acting, music, writing, etc.), Investigative (science, legal, higher education, computer, etc.),or Social (human services, teaching, religion, etc.)?
  • Was the person born as one of a set of twins/triplets/etc.?
  • Does the person have an other-than-conventionally-heterosexual sexual orientation?
If the answers to all, or most, of these questions are affirmative, the person would probably score toward the high end of the sensitivities continua. Negative responses to most, or even all, of these questions, however, do not necessarily indicate than an individual would score toward the low end of the sensitivities continua.

There is nothing inherently "good" or "bad" about either high scores or low scores on the HISS. What is important is whether high levels of sensitivities or low levels of sensitivities are more appropriate to an individual's particular life circumstances and, if there is a mismatch, how that mismatch is handled. As previously discussed, high levels of sensitivities can serve an artist, inventor, or humanitarian well, because they can foster insight, intuition, attunement and creativity...but they can also lead to physiological or psychological difficulties. Conversely, low levels of sensitivity can be important to soldiers, law enforcement officers and emergency service personnel because they can serve as a buffer against stimuli that might otherwise be overwhelming...but they can also inhibit the appreciation of all the richness and fullness that life has to offer.

Some people say that they would like to be ASPs and some say that they wouldn't. In Western society, Anomalously Sensitive Persons have clearly been underdogs for the last few centuries, but the wheel continues to turn and it appears to be only a matter of time before they come into their own. The potentials inherent in ASPness are significant, but the life of an Anomalously Sensitive Person will, almost assuredly, continue to be a challenging one.

H.I.S.S. Questionnaire

Download the questionnaire using the link below, print it out, fill it in, and mail it along with your $15 payment (Payable to Headline Books), to:
The ASP Project
c/o Headline Books
P. O. Box 52
Terra Alta, WV 26764

H.I.S.S. Questionnaire - Adobe Acrobat Format
You can download Adobe Reader here.
If for any reason you are unable to complete the download:
  • Write to us at the above address.
  • E-mail us at ASPproject@headlinebooks.com - If you are unable to send mail by clicking this link, simply copy and paste it into your email application.,
  • or Call us at (800) 570-5951 and we will send you a hard copy.

Telltale Signs You Are A Highly Sensitive Person

Telltale Signs You Are A Highly Sensitive Person


HSP Health Blog offers insight into the highly sensitive trait and its genetic and stress diseases. It offers alternative health strategies for HSP’s to support their highest functioning.


Telltale Signs You Are A Highly Sensitive Person - HSP Health Blog Frightened © by Simon Blackley

Do you like solitary pursuits?
Do you get overhelmed easily?
Do you hate small talk?
Even if you do, how do you know you are a highly sensitive person?

Traits Of The Highly Sensitive Person

Highly sensitive people get the sense at a young age that they are different. They don’t fit in. They are not interested in the same things that other people are interested in. They are not motivated in the same way.

This profound sense of being different is life long. It does not go away, and can cause pain when the sensitive’s differentness is treated badly by family, peers, and early authority figures.

There are many reasons that the highly sensitive person will get the message that they are different:
  • physical sensitivities like loud sounds, too much noise, light and tactile or touch sensitivity may cause discomfort or pain, which is not necessarily true of non-HSP’s.
  • a highly sensitive person often needs time to themselves to rest after interacting with others. Non-HSP’s often recgarge with other people.
  • social interaction can be draining unless it is for a short time, with a few people in a quiet setting. Non-HSP’s are more comfortable with big noisy social engagements.
  • the highly sensitive person hates small talk, something that non-HSP’s thrive on.
  • competition and the highly sensitive person are like oil and water. Non-HSP’s are more comfortable with competition.
  • highly sensitive people are sensitive to the feelings of others and have a tendency to absorb the feelings of others causing much discomfort and unhappiness.
  • HSP’s are known for their empathy. Empathy in sensitives is more than a feeling for others – it is an active way of knowing the world .
  • HSP’s are right-brained. Non-HSP’s are more left-brained and  analytical.
  • HSP’s can have strong psychic and intuitive abilities.
  • HSP’s dislike pressure, which non-HSP’s accept more easily.
  • HSP’s need egalitarian social and work environments. Non-HSP’s are more comfortable with hierarchical and competitive systems.
  • highly sensitive people do not like someone standing over them.
  • HSP’s need a simple lifestyle. Non-HSP’s are  more comfortable with busyness, stuff and activity including multitasking.
  • HSP’s need stillness. Non-HSP’s often avoid stillness.
  • many highly sensitive people are introverts.
  • HSP’s often feel a deep connection with nature and all the creatures in it.
  • highly sensitive people can be deeply spiritual.
  • many HSP’s will have physical conditions and allergies of one form or another.
  • HSP’s can form deep bonds with animals.
  • harm and abuse of all kinds are harder for highly sensitive people to heal.
  • many HSP’s dislike rrelationships and find them difficult based on values and lifestyle.
  • a highly sensitive person belongs in occupations that bring out the best in them: healing and creative occupations are among the best for HSP’s.
  • HSP’s intuition and sensitivity causes them to have profound insights and has the potential over time to lead them to great wisdom.
Deciding That You Are Highly Sensitive

Dr. Elaine Aron who pioneered the category of the highly sensitive person has written extensively about the highly sensitive trait. Her books are must reading for anyone wanting to know more about the trait – it is her life’s work. She estimates that 15-20% of people on the planet are highly sensitive. That is a huge number of people: more that 1 billion! Therefore it is highly likely that you may be sensitive or know someone who is.

There are many HSP quizzes online including the one on Dr. Aron’s site which you can take that can help you decide if you are highly sensitive.
However, in reading this list, you will notice how you feel around others: enhanced or drained, your relationship with nature and stillness, your values and attitude about competition and the type of environment that suits you the most. These are telltale signs that you are sensitive. If you are, you have an important journey ahead learning about yourself, and what you bring to the world.

Many see the highly sensitive person as vital to the changes we are making in the world, and I believe that it is true. The wisdom and empathy of HSP’s is badly needed.

So although being highly sensitive has been treated as a curse, it is now finally being seen as valuable as it should be. As our problems get worse and the need for wisdom and creativity rises, being a highly sensitive person will finally be welcomed in the world.

For More Information:

About Highly Sensitive People
HSP Quiz
What Causes the HSP Trait?
Michael Jackson: An HSP?
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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon

UH Hilo

University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo

The Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon

(c) Ron Amundson 1985

First published in Skeptical Inquirer vol. 9, 1985, 348-356.

  • Claims of the paranormal are supported in many ways. Personal reports ("I was kidnapped by extraterrestrials"), appeals to puzzling everyday experiences ("Did you ever get a phone call from someone you had just dreamed about?"), and references to "ancient wisdom" are a few. Citations of actual scientific results are usually limited to ESP experiments and a few attempts to mystify further the already bizarre discoveries of modern physics. But the New Age is upon us (we're told and New Age authors like Rupert Sheldrake (1981) and Lyall Watson (1979) support their new visions of reality with scientific documentation. Sheldrake has a bibliography of about 200 listings, and Watson lists exactly 600 sources. The sources cited are mostly respectable academic and scientific publications. The days of "[unnamed] scientists say" and "Fred Jones, while walking alone in the woods one day . . ." are gone. Or are they?
    I teach college courses in epistemology, in the philosophy of science, and in pseudoscience and the occult. Students in these courses naturally bring to class examples of remarkable and paranormal claims. During the past few years one such claim has become especially popular, the "Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon." This phenomenon was baptized by Lyall Watson, who documents the case with references to five highly respectable articles by Japanese primatologists (Imanishi 1963; Kawai 1963 and 1965; Kawamura 1963; and Tsumori 1967). Watson's discussion of this phenomenon covers less than two pages. (Except where noted, all references to Watson are to pages 147 and 148.) But this brief report has inspired much attention. Following Watson, a book (Keyes 1982), a newsletter article (Brain/Mind Bulletin 1982), and a film (Hartley 1983) have each been created with the title "The Hundredth Monkey." In addition we find a journal article entitled "The 'Hundredth Monkey' and Humanity's Quest for Survival" (Stein 1983) and an article called "The Quantum Monkey" in a popular magazine (Science Digest 1981. Each relies on Watson as the sole source of information on the remarkable and supernatural behavior of primates.
    The monkeys referred to are indeed remarkable. They are Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata), which line in wild troops on several islands in Japan. They have been under observation for years. During 1952 and 1953 the primatologists began "provisioning" the troops - providing them with such foods as sweet potatoes and wheat. The food was left in open areas, often on beaches. As a result of this new economy, the monkeys developed several innovative forms of behavior. One of these was invented in 1953 by an 18-month-old female that the observers named "Imo." Imo was a member of the troop on Koshima island. She discovered that sand and grit could be removed from the sweet potatoes by washing them in a stream or in the ocean. Imo's playmates and her mother learned this trick from Imo, and it soon spread to other members of the troop. Unlike most food customs, this innovation was learned by older monkeys from younger ones. In most other matters the children learn from their parents. The potato-washing habit spread gradually, according to Watson, up until 1958. but in the fall on 1958 a remarkable event occurred on Koshima. This event formed the basis of the "Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon."
  • The Miracle on Koshima
  • According to Watson, all of the juveniles on Koshima were washing their potatoes by early 1958, but the only adult washers were those who had learned from the children. In the fall of that year something astounding happened. The exact nature of the event is unclear. Watson says:
. . . One has to gather the rest of the story from personal anecdotes and bits of folklore among primate researchers, because most of them are still not quite sure what happened. And those who do suspect the truth are reluctant to publish it for fear of ridicule. So I am forced to improvise the details, but as near as I can tell, this is what seems to have happened. In the autumn of that year an unspecified number of monkeys on Koshima were washing sweet potatoes in the sea. . . . Let us say, for argument's sake, that the number was ninety-nine and that at eleven o'clock on a Tuesday morning, one further convert was added to the fold in the usual way. But the addition of the hundredth monkey apparently carried the number across some sort of threshold, pushing it through a kind of critical mass, because by that evening almost everyone was doing it. Not only that, but the habit seems to have jumped natural barriers and to have appeared spontaneously, like glycerine crystals in sealed laboratory jars, in colonies on other islands and on the mainland in a troop at Takasakiyama.
A sort of group consciousness had developed among the monkeys, Watson tells us. It had developed suddenly, as a result of one last monkey's learning potato washing by conventional means. The sudden learning of the rest of the Koshima troop was not attributable to the normal one-monkey-at-a-time methods of previous years. The new phenomenon of group consciousness was responsible not only for the sudden learning on Koshima but for the equally sudden acquisition of the habit by monkeys across the sea. Watson admits that he was forced to "improvise" some of the details - the time of the day, the day of the week, and the exact number of monkeys required for the "critical mass" were not specified in the scientific literature. But by evening (or at least in a very short period of time) almost everyone (or at least a large number of the remaining monkeys) in the colony had suddenly acquired the custom. This is remarkable in part because of the slow and gradual mode of acquisition that had typified the first five years after Imo's innovation. Even more remarkable was the sudden jumping of natural boundaries, apparently caused by the Koshima miracle.
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In this section I investigate the relations between Watson's description of the Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon and the scientific sources by which he validates it. To be sure, we must not expect too much from the sources. Watson has warned us that the complete story was not told and that he was 'forced to improvise the details." But we should expect to find some evidence of the mysteriousness of the Koshima events of 1958. In particular, we should expect to find evidence of an episode of sudden learning within the troop at this time (though perhaps not in one afternoon) and evidence of the sudden appearance of potato washing on other troops sometime soon after the Koshima event. We also have a negative expectation of the literature; it should fail to report certain important details. It will not (we expect) tell us the exact number of monkeys washing potatoes prior to or after the event of 1958, nor will it provide us with an explanation of how the post-event Koshima learners were able to acquire their knowledge. After all, it is Watson's claim that the event produced paranormal learning of potato washing. These three expectations will be tested against the literature. Was there a sudden event at Koshima? Did acquisition at other colonies follow closely the Koshima event? Does Watson improvise details only when the cited literature fails to provide adequate information? The following comments will be restricted to the literature on macaques actually cited by Watson.
Almost all of the information about the Koshima troop appears in a journal article by Masao Kawai (1965); the other articles are secondary on this topic. Kawai's article is remarkably detailed in its description of the Koshima events. The troop numbered 20 in 1952 and grew to 59 by 1962. (At least in the numerical sense, there was never a "hundredth monkey" on Koshima.) Watson states that "an unspecified number" of monkeys on Koshima had acquired the potato-washing habit by 1958. Actually this number was far from unspecified. Kawai's data allowed the reader to determine the dates of acquisition of potato washing (and two other food behaviors), as well as the dates of birth and genealogical relationships, of every monkey in the Koshima troop from 1949 to 1962 (Figure 1, pp. 2-3, and elsewhere in the paper). In March 1958, exactly 2 of 11 monkeys over 7 years old had learned potato washing, while exactly 15 of 19 monkeys between 2 and 7 had the habit (p.3). This amounts to 17 of 30 non-infant monkeys. There is no mention in this paper (or in any other) of a sudden learning event in the fall of 1958. However, it is noted that by 1962, 36 of the 49 non-infant monkeys had acquired the habit. So both the non-infant population and the number of potato washers had increased by 19 during this four-year period. Perhaps this is what suggested to Watson that a sudden event occurred in the fall of 1958. And perhaps (since one can only surmise) this idea was reinforced in Watson's mind by the following statement by Kawai: "The acquisition of [potato washing] behavior can be divided into two periods; before and after 1958"(p.5).
So Kawai does not give a time of year, a day of the week, or even the season for any sudden event in 1958. But he does at least identify the year. And is Kawai mystified about the difference between pre- and post-1958 acquisition? Is he "not quite sure what happened"? Is he reluctant to publish details "for fear of ridicule?" No. He publishes the whole story, in gothic detail. The post-1958 learning period was remarkable only for its normalcy. The period from 1953 to 1958 had been a period of exciting innovation. The troop encountered new food sources, and the juveniles invented ways of dealing with these sources. But by 1958 the innovative youth had become status quo adults; macaques mature faster than humans. The unusual juvenile-to-adult teaching methods reverted to the more traditional process of learning one's food manners at one's mother's knee. Imo's first child, a male named "Ika," was born in 1957 (pp.5,7). Imo and her former playmates brought up their children as good little potato-washers. One can only hope that Ika has been less trouble to his Mom than Imo was to hers. Kawai speaks of the innovative period after 1958 as "pre-cultural propagation" (p.8). (This latter term does not indicate anything unusual for the monkey troops. The troops under normal circumstances have behavior as genuinely "cultural".)
So there was nothing left unsaid in Kawai's description. There was nothing mysterious, or even sudden, in the events of 1958. Nineteen fifty-eight and 1959 were the years of maturation of a group of innovative youngsters. The human hippies of the 1960s now know that feeling. In fact 1958 was a singularly poor year for habit acquisition on Koshima. Only two monkeys learned to wash potatoes during that year, young females named Zabon and Nogi. An average of three a year had learned potato washing during the previous five years (Table 1, p.4). There is no evidence that Zabon and Nogi were psychic or in any other way unusual.
Let us try to take Watson seriously for a moment longer. Since only two monkeys learned potato washing during 1958 (according to Watson's own citation), one of them must have been the "Hundredth Monkey." Watson leaves "unspecified" which monkey it was, so I am "forced to improvise" and "say, for argument's sake" that it was Zabon. This means that poor little Nogi carries the trim metaphysical burden of being the "almost everyone in the colony" who, according to Watson, suddenly and miraculously began to wash her potatoes on that autumn afternoon.
Watson claims that the potato-washing habit "spontaneously" leaped natural barriers. Is there evidence of this? Well, two sources report that the behavior was observed off Koshima, in at least five different colonies (Kawai 1965, 23; Tsumori 1967, 219). These reports specifically state that the behaviors was observed only among a few individual monkeys and that it had not spread throughout the colony. There is no report of when these behaviors occurred. They must have been observed sometime between 1953 and 1967. But there is nothing to indicate that they followed closely upon some supposed miraculous event on Koshima during the autumn of 1958, or that they occurred suddenly at any other time, or that they were in any other way remarkable.
In fact there is absolutely no reason to believe in the 1958 miracle on Koshima. There is every reason to deny it. Watson's description of the event is refuted in great detail by the very sources he cites to validate it. In contrast to Watson's claims of a sudden and inexplicable event, "Such behavior patterns seen to be smoothly transmitted among individuals in the troop and handed down to the next generation" (Tsumori 1967, 207).
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Methodology of Pseudoscience
The factual issue ends here. Watson's claim of a "Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon" is conclusively refuted by the very sources he cites in its support. He either failed to read or misreported the information in these scientific articles. But Watson's own mode of reasoning and reporting, as well as the responses he has inspired in the popular literature, deserve attention. They exemplify the pseudoscientific tradition. Consider the following:
1. Hidden sources of information: Watson informs us that the scientific reports leave important data "unspecified." This is simply false. But, more subtly, he tells us that most of the researchers are still unsure of what happened and that those who "so suspect the truth are reluctant to publish it for fear of ridicule." In one fell swoop Watson brands himself as courageous, explains why no one else has dared report these miraculous phenomenon, and discourages us from checking the cited literature for corroboration. Watson got the real story from "personal anecdotes and bits of folklore among primate researchers. . . ."Those of us who don't hobnob with such folks must trust Watson. The technique was effective. Of the commentaries I have found on the Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon, not one shows evidence of having consulted the scientific sources cited by Watson. Nonetheless, each presents Watson's fantasy as a scientifically authenticated fact. Nor is additional information available from Watson. I have written both to Watson and to his publishers requesting such information and have received no reply.
2. Aversion to naturalistic explanations: The fact is that potato washing was observed on different islands. Watson infers that it had traveled in some paranormal way from one location to another. Like other aficionados of the paranormal, Watson ignores two plausible explanations of the concurrence of potato washing. First, it could well have been an independent innovation - different monkeys inventing the same solution to a common problem. This process is anathema to the pseudoscientist. The natives of the Americas simply could not have invented the pyramids independent of the Egyptians - they just didn't have the smarts. In more extreme cases (von Daniken, for example) a human being is just too dumb to invent certain clever things - extraterrestrial must have done it.
Watson assumes that Imo was the only monkey capable of recognizing the usefulness of washing potatoes. In his words, Imo was "a monkey genius" and potato washing is "comparable almost to the invention of the wheel." Monkeys on other islands were too dumb for this sort of innovation. But keep in mind that these monkeys didn't even have potatoes to wash before 1952 or 1953, when provisioning began. Monkeys in at least five locations had learned potato washing by 1962. This suggests to me that these monkeys are clever creatures. It suggests to Watson that one monkey was clever and that the paranormal took care of the rest. A second neglected explanation is natural diffusion. And indeed Kawai reports that in 1960 a potato washer named "Jugo" swam from Koshima to the island on which the Takasakiyama troop lives. Jugo returned in 1964 (Kawai 1965, 17). Watson does not mention this. The Japanese monkeys are known to be both clever and mobile, and either characteristic might explain the interisland spread of potato washing. Watson ignores both explanations, preferring to invent a new paranormal power.
3. Inflation of the miracle: As myths get passed along, everyone puffs them up a bit. The following two examples come from second-generation commentaries that quote extensively from Watson. Nevertheless, even Watson's claims are beginning to bulge. First, the primatologists' reports had mentioned that only a few isolated cases of off-Koshima potato-washing were observed. Watson reports this as the habit's having "appeared spontaneously . . . in colonies on other islands. . . ." Not actually false, since the few individuals were indeed in other colonies (though only individuals and not whole colonies adopted the behavior. Following Watson, Ken Keyes reported that, after the hundredth Koshima monkey, "colonies of monkeys on other islands . . . began washing their sweet potatoes"! (Keyes 1982, p.16). From Keyes, one gets the image of spontaneous mass orgies of spud-dunking. A second example: Regarding the primatologists' attitudes toward the events of 1958, Watson reports only that they are "still not quite sure what happened." But the primatological confusion quickly grows, for Science Digest (1981) reports "a mystery which has stumped scientists for nearly a quarter of a century." In these two particular cases, Watson's own statements are at least modest. They're not what one would call accurate, but not exorbitantly false either. By the second generation we find that "not quite sure what happened" becomes "stumped for nearly a quarter of a century," and the habit that appeared in individuals within colonies of monkeys become a habit of colonies of monkeys. Please keep in mind that the second generation relies only on Watson for its information; even Watson's none-too-accurate report has been distorted - and not, needless to say, in the direction of accuracy.
4. The paranormal validates the paranormal: The validity of one supernatural report is strengthened by its consistency with other such reports. Watson's commentators show how this works. Keyes supports the Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon by its consistency with J.B. Rhine's word at Duke, which "demonstrated" telepathy between individual humans. "We now know that the strength of this extrasensory communication can be amplified to a powerfully effective level when the consciousness of the 'hundredth person' is added" (Keyes 1982, 18). Elda Hartley's film "The Hundredth Monkey" invokes Edgar Cayce. And in a remarkable feat of group consciousness, four of the five secondary sources emphasize the similarities between Watson's Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon and Rupert Sheldrake's notion of the "morphogenetic field." The spontaneous recognition of the similarities between Watson and Sheldrake seems to have leaped the natural boundaries between the four publications! Now there's a miracle! (Surely independent invention or natural diffusion couldn't account for such a coincidence.)
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I must admit sympathy for some of the secondary sources on the Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon. This feeling comes from the purpose for which the phenomenon was cited. Ken Keyes's book uses the phenomenon as a theme, but the real topic of the book is nuclear disarmament. Arthur Stein's article and (to a lesser extent) the Hartley film are inspired by Keye's hope that the Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon may help may help prevent nuclear war. The message is that "you may be the Hundredth Monkey" whose contribution to the collective consciousness turns the world away from nuclear holocaust. It is hard to find fault in this motive. For these same reasons, one couldn't fault the motives of a child who wrote to Santa Claus requesting world nuclear disarmament as a Christmas present. We can only hope that Santa Claus and the Hundredth Monkey are not our best chances to avoid nuclear war.
Watson's primary concern is not prevention of war but sheer love of the paranormal. His book begins with a description of a child who, before Watson's eyes, and with a "short implosive sound, very soft, like a cork being drawn in the dark," psychically turned a tennis ball inside out - fuzz side in, rubber side out - without loosing air pressure (p.18). Just after the Hundredth Monkey discussion, Watson makes a revealing point. He quotes with approval a statement attributed to Lawrence Blair: "When a myth is shared by a large number of people, it becomes a reality" (p. 148). This sort of relativist epistemology is not unusual in New Age thought. I would express Blair's thought somewhat differently: "Convince enough people of a lie, and it becomes the truth." I suggest that someone who accepts this view of truth is not to be trusted as a source of knowledge. He may, of course, be a marvelous source of fantasy, rumor, and pseudoscientific best-sellers.
I prefer epistemological realism to this sort of relativism. Truth is not dependent on the number of believers or on the frequency of published repetition. My preferred epistemology can be expressed simply: Facts are facts. There is no Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon.
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I began investigating the "Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon" in August 1984 with a letter to Lyall Watson, the author of the "phenomenon," addressed in care of his publisher, Simon and Schuster. I asked for more information about the group consciousness of monkeys reported by Watson in Lifetide. Neither this nor a later letter to the publisher has ever received a reply. My study was published in the Summer 1985 Skeptical Inquirer. Boyce Rensberger, a Washington Post science writer, and subsequently a recipient of CSIOCP's 1986 Responsibility in Journalism Award, picked up the story. He also approached Simon and Schuster, who declined to put him in touch with Watson. Rensberger (1985) quoted Watson's editor as saying that Watson "is a distinguished and eminent scholar who, I have to say, does have some weird ideas." No news there.
Watson has now broken the silence. Ted Schultz, an editor for Whole Earth Review, managed to contact him. According to Schultz, Watson was "quite happy to respond to Amundson's analysis of his monkey tale." The response was published, in the Fall 1986 "Fringes of Reason" issue of Whole Earth Review (and reprinted in Schultz 1989). Although he begins with a swipe at "self-appointed committees for the suppression of curiosity," Watson deals "in good humor" with my critique of the Hundredth Monkey. My article was "lucid, amusing, and refreshingly free of the emotional dismissals" that, he says, CSICOP is prone to. I wish I could be proud of this distinction.
Watson continues: "I accept Amundson's analysis of the origin and evolution of the Hundredth Monkey without reservation. It is a metaphor of my own making, based--as he rightly suggests--on very slim evidence and a great deal of hearsay. I have never pretended otherwise. . . . I based none of my conclusions on the five sources Amundson uses to refute me. I was careful to describe the evidence for the phenomenon as strictly anecdotal and included citations in Lifetide, not to validate anything, but in accordance with my usual practice of providing tools, of giving access to useful background information."
It should be remembered that the "five sources" I used to "refute" him were the identical five sources that Watson provides as "tools" and "access" in his original discussion of the phenomenon.
Watson goes on to complain about my conclusion that the Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon does not exist. He still thinks the phenomenon is real but admitting that it didn't happen on Koshima. This is like saying that the "Geller Effect" is real, while claiming that Uri Geller himself has no special powers. Well, okay. Show us a real example.
Watson is unhappy about my description of his work as "pseudoscience." He admitted all along, he says, that the Hundredth Monkey story was anecdotal. This is approximately a half truth. Watson did admit in Lifetide that he had to "gather the rest of the story from personal anecdotes and bits of folklore." (This was because, he said, the scientists were afraid to publish the truth "for fear of ridicule.") He then specifically stated that certain crucial details were missing from the scientific reports. He went on to describe the events on Koshima, "improvising" the detail. The miraculous result were stated in two sentences, followed by a citation reference.
The details said by Watson to be missing were not missing. He falsely reported on the scientific evidence available--available, in fact, in his own citations.
Watson responds to my claim that his own documentation refutes him by explaining that his citation references were not meant as documentation at all, but as "tools." (Perhaps being refuted by your own tool is less painful than being refuted by your own documentation.) Here it should be noted that the citations were presented in exactly the format used to provide documentation for factual claims, both in scientific and in informal writing. Lifetide is peppered with raised reference numbers, each following a factual statement made in the text. The Chicago Manual of Style refers to this format as "notes documenting the text, and corresponding to reference numbers in the text." Does Watson anywhere warn us that his citations do not document the text--that they actually contradict the text? Does he warn us that they are merely "tools"? No. We are told only that the raised numbers "refer to numbered items in the bibliography."
As an "eminent scholar" and "holder of degrees in anthropology, ethology, and marine biology" (Whole Earth Review's description), Watson must be assumed to understand the use of scientific citations. The meaning of a reference citation is not something each author simply invents for himself. It does not mean "documentation" for some writers and "tools" for others. Watson uses a format that implies documented support for a factual claim. He now says that he didn't really mean it that way.
I submit that this technique is pseudoscientific in the strictest sense. It falsely presents the appearance of science. Watson could have admitted that he made a mistake in his citations (or that he never read them in the first place). Instead he excuses himself by saying that the references were merely "tools." They just looked like scholarly citations.
Watson owes an apology to the thousands of people who took his claims to be reports of fact, rather than "hearsay" and "anecdotes." None of Watson's published commentators thought he was presenting "hearsay" about potato-washing monkeys. If I made a mistake by taking him seriously, so did everyone else. Let it be known that the hundreds of scientific-looking citations in Watson's books are not intended to support his factual claims. They are "tools." They look, for all the world, like scientific documentation. But it is all an illusion.
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My only regret in the writing of 'Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon" is that I didn't have the nerve to call it something like "Spud-Dunking Monkey Theory Debunked," Boyce Rensberger's priceless title in the Washington Post.
Reaction to the paper amazed me. I had underestimated the influence of the Skeptical Inquirer, and Rensberger's article certainly helped to spread the word. But besides that, I had no idea that the Hundredth Monkey had become such a compelling image in New Age thought, not only in the United States but around the world. The article has been reprinted in Australia and in Sweden (where it was translated into "Der Hundreden Apen"). It was discussed in the British science magazine New Scientist (1985), and I was interviewed on Australian Public Radio (an interview arranged by the good people of the Australian Skeptics). It has even received friendly attention from sources one would normally expect to be sympathetic to the New Age, such as East-West Journal (1985) and Whole Earth Review. (Discussion and related articles from the Fall 1986 Whole Earth Review were reprinted in Fringes of Reason, Schultz 1989). There was even a kindly word from Douglas Groothuis (1988) in a book advising conservative Christians about how to confront New Age beliefs. To my knowledge, the only negative reaction was Lyall Watson's gentle scolding of my narrow-mindedness (in Schultz 1989). The moral of the story seems to be that many of the thousands of people who heard the Hundredth Monkey myth were already skeptical about it. Nevertheless, practically no one had bothered to chase down its origin and check its credentials.
The notable exception to this complacency was Maureen O'Hara, a humanistic psychologist who had independently critiqued the Hundredth Monkey (see O'Hara 1986). She was more tolerant than I of Watson's myth-making, laying most of the blame on Watson's commentators. But she eloquently exposed a crucial fallacy in the New Age acceptance of mass consciousness, a fallacy I had missed. New Age aficionados consider mass consciousness to be "empowering" to individuals, since "you may be the Hundredth Monkey." O'Hara points out the foolishness of this "empowerment." An individual whose beliefs are in the minority is already out-Hundredth-Monkeyed by the opinion of the majority. Moreover, the conviction that beliefs alone can affect social change provides a perfect excuse for complacency. Why bother to engage in political activism when it's just as effective to sit comfortably at home and believe things? I was especially gratified to see the same point recognized in a local Kansas newspaper; my refutation of Watson was celebrated by the Wellington News in an editorial entitled "Individually Responsible."
As I already confessed, I'm no heroic crusader for rationality. I studied the Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon because my students forced me into it. Our complacency in the face of such nonsense simply allows the nonsense to spread. Other myths may not be as easy to burst as the Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon, but we'll never know until we try.
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Brain/Mind Bulletin. 1982. The Hundredth Monkey. In "Updated Special Issue: 'A New Science of Life.'"
East-West Journal. 1985. Monkey Business, November, p.13.
Groothuis, Douglas R. 1988. Confronting the New Age. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Hartley, Elda (producer). 1983. The Hundredth Monkey (film and videotape). Hartly Film Foundation, Inc. Cos Cob, Conn.
Imanishi, Kinji. 1963. Social behavior in Japanese monkeys. In Primate Social Behavior, Charles A Southwick, ed. Toronto: Van Nostrand.
Kawai, Masao. 1963. On the Newly-acquired behaviors of the natural troop of Japanese monkeys on Koshima island. Primates, 4:113-115.
Kawai, Masao. 1965. On the newly-acquired pre-cultural behavior of the natural troop of Japanese monkeys on Koshima Islet. Primates, 6:1-30.
Kawamura, Syunzo. 1963. Subcultural propagation among Japanese macaques. In Primate Social Behavior, Charles A. Southwick, ed. Toronto: Van Nostrand.
Keyes, Ken, Jr. 1982. The Hundredth Monkey. Coos Bay, OR: Vision Books.
New Scientist. 1985. Making a monkey out of Lyall Watson. July 11, p.21.
O'Hara, Maureen. 1986. Of myths and monkeys. Whole Earth Review, Fall. Reprinted in Schultz, 1989.
Rensberger, Boyce. 1985. Spud-dunking monkey theory debunked. Washington Post, July 6.
Schultz, Ted, ed. 1989. Fringes of Reason: A Whole Earth Catalog. New York: Harmony Books.
Science Digest. 1981. The quantum monkey. Vol.8: 57.
Sheldrake, Rupert. 1981. A New Science Life. Los Angeles: J.P. Tarcher.
Stein Arthur. 1983. The "Hundredth Monkey" and Humanity's Quest for Survival. Phoenix Journal of Transpersonal Anthropology, 7: 29-40.
Tsumori, Atsuo. 1967. Newly acquired behavior and social interactions of Japanese monkeys. In Social Communication Among Primates. Stuart Altman, ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Watson, Lyall. 1979. Lifetide. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Watson, Lyall. 1986. Lyall Watson responds. Whole Earth Review, Fall. Reprinted in Schultz, 1989.
Wellington (Kansas) News. 1985. Individually Responsible, July 22.

The 100th Monkey Effect : Quantum Evolution

The 100th Monkey Effect : Quantum Evolution

We live in a Holographic Reality where any one change in the Hologram creates a ripple effect and begins to change and affect the entire hologram.

This effect was also observed in the 1960's by several Japanese primatologists who were studying the Japanese macaques or Snow monkeys.

Here is an article by Owen Waters about the 100th Monkey Effect which clearly shows this quantum evolution taking effect.

The Shift & The Hundredth Monkey Effect by Owen Waters

The Shift is the awakening of humanity’s heart. This transformation of consciousness, the greatest one ever recorded, first became apparent in the mid-1960s and has been building momentum ever since.

The Shift is a collective transformation consisting of the sum of each individual’s step into the New Reality. Each person, in their own time, is moving forward into a stage of consciousness which brings a wider vista and an awareness which springs from the heart. When enough people’s primary attention becomes focused through their heart chakras, then the ‘hundredth monkey effect’ will occur.

The Hundredth Monkey Effect was first introduced by biologist Lyall Watson in his 1980 book, ‘Lifetide.’ He reported that Japanese primatologists, who were studying Macaques monkeys in the wild in the 1950s, had stumbled upon a surprising phenomenon.

His book was soon followed up with a deeply inspired work by Ken Keyes in 1981, called “The Hundredth Monkey Effect.” In this, Ken Keyes made an impassioned appeal for an end to the Cold War and its policy of mutually assured destruction. Here, in the words of Ken Keyes, is a description of the key elements of the Hundredth Monkey Effect:

The Japanese monkey, Macaca fuscata, had been observed in the wild for a period of over 30 years.

In 1952, on the island of Koshima, scientists were providing monkeys with sweet potatoes dropped in the sand. The monkeys liked the taste of the raw sweet potatoes, but they found the dirt unpleasant.

An 18 month old female named Imo found she could solve the problem by washing the potatoes in a nearby stream. She taught this trick to her mother. Her playmates also learned this new way and they taught their mothers too.

This cultural innovation was gradually picked up by various monkeys before the eyes of the scientists.

Between 1952 and 1958 all the young monkeys learned to wash the sandy sweet potatoes to make them more palatable.

Only the adults who imitated their children learned this social improvement. Other adults kept eating the dirty sweet potatoes.

Then something startling took place. In the autumn of 1958, a certain number of Koshima monkeys were washing sweet potatoes -- the exact number is not known.

Let us suppose that when the sun rose one morning there were 99 monkeys on Koshima Island who had learned to wash their sweet potatoes.

Let's further suppose that later that morning, the hundredth monkey learned to wash potatoes.

Then it happened!

By that evening almost everyone in the tribe was washing sweet potatoes before eating them.

The added energy of this hundredth monkey somehow created an ideological breakthrough!

But notice.

A most surprising thing observed by these scientists was that the habit of washing sweet potatoes then jumped over the sea –

Colonies of monkeys on other islands and the mainland troop of monkeys at Takasakiyama began washing their sweet potatoes.

Thus, when a certain critical number achieves an awareness, this new awareness may be communicated from mind to mind.

Although the exact number may vary, this Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon means that when only a limited number of people know of a new way, it may remain the conscious property of these people.

But there is a point at which if only one more person tunes-in to a new awareness, a field is strengthened so that this awareness is picked up by almost everyone!”

Lyall Watson had originally researched and assembled the story from the available testimonies of the primate researchers. Because the phenomenon took the researchers so much by surprise, they had not counted how many monkeys it took to trigger this effect. So, Watson proposed an arbitrary figure of ninety-nine monkeys, and said that one more, the so-called one-hundredth monkey, would then provide the critical mass of consciousness necessary to trigger the effect.

The new behavior pattern spread to most, but not all, of the monkeys. Older monkeys, in particular, remained steadfast in their established behavior patterns and resisted change. When the new behavior pattern suddenly appeared among monkey troupes on other islands, only a few monkeys on those islands picked up on the new idea. The ones most receptive to new ideas started imitating the new behavior and demonstrating it to the impressionable younger ones. Thus, they too began their own path towards their eventual hundredth monkey effect.

How the Hundredth Monkey Effect Works

The mechanism for this transference of ideas works the same way for monkeys as it does for all sentient beings. We exist within an atmosphere of global mind. The human brain is constantly receiving and transmitting mental pictures and information to and from that mental atmosphere in which we are immersed.

The global mind, otherwise known as Jung’s collective unconscious, does not cease to function because a few skeptics don’t like its effects. It functions just like it always has, passing information from one individual to another based upon their common frequency of consciousness. If progressive monkeys had a new idea, then so did other progressive monkeys on other islands. They resonated at the same frequency of consciousness.

Inventions often occur at the same time by inventors who are not in physical contact with each other. For example, in 1941, Les Paul designed and built the first solid-body electric guitar just when Leo Fender of Fender Musical Instruments was doing exactly the same thing.

Have you ever had an idea, then seen other people express or use that idea. You probably said, “Hey! I thought of that first!” Well, that’s the way the global mind works. It’s an atmosphere that you share with all other sentient beings, but you tune in especially to the particular topics and frequencies of mind that interest you the most.

What This means to The Shift

When enough people have gone through their personal version of The Shift to the new consciousness, then a critical mass will form and suddenly everyone will become aware of the New Reality and its heart-centered values.

That is the day when heart-centered values will become the focus of everyday thinking for the vast majority of people. That is the day when humanity will begin to look back on what has changed and realize that a massive shift has occurred.

Source : Infinite Being