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Your Five Senses are Only the Beginning…

October 7, 2011
Sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing.  Your ancestors had none of these senses, at one time.

They developed over tens of thousands of years.  I don’t like the term “evolution,” primarily because it suggests that we are evolving toward a better end.  It’s not accurate.  We change to match environment (or die) and environment is in no way intelligently shaping us to be “better.” 

Is there a “use it or lose it” concept at work?  What if you lived in a soundless environment (humor me, don’t hang me on technicalities)?  What good would hearing be?  Our “changes” would cast out hearing.  It isn’t worthy of physical features (ears) or the brain allocated toward its function if, in fact, it serves no function.

If that’s true, then couldn’t we just as easily be introduced to new physical or electrical stimuli that require additional sensory features?  This “sixth sense” we keep hearing about; isn’t it possible that it’s just a new sense that humans are slowly developing in response to the presence of at least a suggestion (environmental) that such a sense would serve a protect-or-promote service for us?  Nature’s creatures adapt.  Slowly.

I’ve believed for a long time that we had the capacity for–even a propensity toward–developing further senses.  And not just two or three, but maybe forty or fifty more.  Maybe hundreds.  To save you some trouble, it’s almost impossible to try to imagine a sense that you currently do not have, and even harder would be to explain it if you could imagine it.  Imagine trying to explain sight to a creature that could not see (and had never seen).

It’s relatively alarming when you consider that we are only looking for things we can already sense.  Do you realize how much that leaves out?  Some of today’s scientists are starting to put it together.  With the rise of the term, “dark matter” and “dark energy,” we have, essentially, given definition to that which cannot be experienced.  That’s encouraging.  That is truly thinking outside of the box, and I think we need a lot more of that, right now, to solve/prevent problems that human beings are going through/heading toward.

One of the things that impresses me more than most other things when I’m evaluating a thinker or theorist is one’s ability to break out of the extremely limiting bondage of searching for only things that can necessarily be sensed, or even just breaking out of the typical framework of popular thought.  I feel a sort of crush on this idea; I just love thinking entirely outside of the norm.  Maybe there is an adventure to it… an Indiana Jones kind of unexplored-terrain feel, but more than that, I think it’s attractive and useful.  That’s not to say I’ve done any good with it.  I have yet to unearth any useful discoveries in my purposefully zany thought paths, but that’s not the point.  The point is that these zany paths are where the good stuff is… maybe I’ll discover something interesting to others and maybe I won’t, but I’ll most certainly be satisfied just in exploring these paths with no footsteps on them.  It’s almost a way of life.  It’s entertaining with the tease, like a lottery ticket, of a potential big payoff.

It should be no surprise that I hate cliches.

Your senses, if humans manage to survive long enough, will continue to grow if nature offers the bait to the depths of your mind that would spark such change (not to rule out the possibility that some major, sudden change in environment could make this happen much faster).  When our offspring look back, many thousands of years from now, will they wonder how we survived without (fill in the many blanks)?

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