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Thread: spontaneous thought

  1. #1 spontaneous thought 
    Forum Masters Degree DianeG's Avatar
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    Noticed this article today on Science Daily. Spontaneous thoughts are perceived to reveal meaningful self-insight -- ScienceDaily
    What is a non spontaneous vs spontaneous thought? I guess they are referring to a sequence of thoughts that have some logical connection vs one that doesn't seem to, but how often does one have a thought that is in no way related to the one before it or something going on in the environment, something said or heard or seen, or an internal sensation? How often does a thought actually bubble up from the subconscious unconnected to anything else?


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    Oh dear. This looks as though it might be one, among many other options, way to explain how some people think that their unguided, unguarded thoughts related to science topics are deeply meaningful, or at least worthy of serious consideration by themselves and others.

    The first three were designed to test the hypothesis that the more spontaneous a thought is, the more it is believed to provide meaningful self-insight. Participants rated the extent to which different thought categories are spontaneous or controlled and the extent to which each provides self-insight; they recalled either a pleasant or unpleasant childhood event and evaluated the degree that the recollection would provide meaningful self-insight if it happened spontaneously or deliberately; and they generated thoughts about four strangers through a deliberative or spontaneous process and rated how much those thoughts provided them with valuable self-insight.
    The results suggest that when people evaluate a particular thought, they not only consider its content, they are also influenced by their more general beliefs about different thought processes. Thoughts with the same content are judged to be more meaningful if they occurred through a spontaneous, uncontrolled process rather than a deliberate, controlled process. The effect was found across various kinds of thought and thought content, including thoughts about other people. This means that the content of spontaneous thought need not be entirely about the self in order for people to feel like they've gleaned meaningful self-insight.
    So this really does mean that people who thought something which most of us would simply report as "It just occurred to me that ... " put it through a D&M* filter, namely Thoughts with the same content are judged to be more meaningful if they occurred through a spontaneous, uncontrolled process rather than a deliberate, controlled process and presume that it's more useful - insightful - than otherwise.

    If something "occurs" to me, my first instinct is to wonder where it came from. Am I remembering it from a book or a documentary or a conversation? Even if I can't recall anything like that, I still try to check it out. So if I come up with an idea that something-or-other is a good idea or an interesting topic, I check out with himself or with a likely book or my best google friend before I go anywhere with it.

    So the more persistent wrong-headed crank merchants who turn up here - and in too many other places that I frequent - really are unpersuaded when we say that the isolated, off the top of your head idea that you're trying to sell us doesn't fit with general knowledge, several hundred books, most scientific papers might tend to reinforce their conviction that "it must be right" it just turned up in my head, absolutely perfect. It's the underlying mechanism for their scornful dismissal of the rest of us as "sheeple".

    *D&M is our household shorthand for Deep And Meaningful.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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    Forum Professor astromark's Avatar
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    I would come at this with a view.. not a thought or a idea that just popped into existence..
    That almost no thought or dream or idea comes forth from know where.. Plagiarisms, stolen intentionally or by accident,
    Have I or you ever actually had a original thought or idea.. Are they and everything we think not the result of years of cross referenced stuff that the minds consumed by one method or another.. is that a original thought.. no. Should I have shared it.. no.
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    I think it's more a revelation about yourself that a revelation about the True Nature of Reality.
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    I "think" that the proposition that there are no original thoughts is extremely hard to justify (probably impossible though I haven't investigated it).

    Is any one seriously suggesting this or am I just running ahead of myself or misinterpreting? (the words "appalling vista " come to mind)

    Just off the top of my head ,if all thoughts were unoriginal and "plagiarized" or copied then how would you describe it if they are " "plagiarized" or copied " incorrectly - a bit like we have mutations in biology?

    Is that "original " or "derived"?

    I find it incredibly easy to imagine that original thoughts come into existence-just not as fully blown formulated ideas.
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    Forum Masters Degree DianeG's Avatar
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    The only way I can conceive of a "spontaneous thought" is one which was triggered by a previous thought or environmental cue, but the person is not aware of, or doesn't remember, that trigger, so the thought seems to have come out of no where. In which case I would think it might be worse to automatically attribute special meaning or importance to those thoughts without examining them a little more closely - "Why did that suddenly seem like a good idea?" Not that intuition is always misguided or irrational - sometimes it does seem to accurately warn us that "something is not right here" or "I feel like I've forgotten something, but what?" etc. before we've logically worked out the details.

    Anyway, I was just surprised to see such a vague term like "spontaneous thought" used in a science article!
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    Forum Professor Daecon's Avatar
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    What about "inspiration"?

    Is that a form of spontaneous thought?
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    Quote Originally Posted by DianeG View Post
    What is a non spontaneous vs spontaneous thought?
    Without having read the article, I think spontaneous thoughts typically result through unexpected stimulus.

    In psychology, Rorschach tests are a prime example of this, and as I understand it, spontaneity being an important part of it, the tester does not want the subject to think "too hard" about it, otherwise personal and cultural values can corrupt the responses.

    Michael Collins was the third member of the Apollo 11 crew, and the most isolated person in the world when Armstrong and Aldrin were on the Moon. Along with Armstrong and Aldrin, he had been subjected to a battery of psychological tests before being accepted as a member of the crew. At one point, a tester showed him a blank piece of paper and asked about his thoughts on it. If I remember correctly, Collins replied that it looked like seven polar bears fornicating in a snow bank. I think he put some thought into his answer.

    Another example of stimulus producing spontaneous thoughts is when a person experiences a strongly-stimulating, unexpected event, as when a driver makes a boneheaded maneuver that endangers another driver. In fact, in the legal profession, what a person says when such an event occurs is called a "spontaneous utterance".
    Grief is the price we pay for love. (CM Parkes) Our postillion has been struck by lightning. (Unknown) War is always the choice of the chosen who will not have to fight. (Bono) The years tell much what the days never knew. (RW Emerson) Reality is not always probable, or likely. (JL Borges)
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    Well to me- I have thoughts, images etc that come to me from nowhere. Still I think they are few in numbers in comparison to thoughts which have a history.
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    Sexy thoughts!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beer w/Straw View Post
    Sexy thoughts!
    We are programed to have sexy thoughts, but they do sometimes seem to be frequently spontaneous.
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    Forum Masters Degree DianeG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bad Robot View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Beer w/Straw View Post
    Sexy thoughts!
    We are programed to have sexy thoughts, but they do sometimes seem to be frequently spontaneous.
    Maybe it's a hormone surge, lol. On a somewhat related note, every now then I used to have "baby dreams" -lots more in my twenties and thirties than I do now, but I often wondered if it wasn't a hormone surge affecting my subconscious rather than some deeper symbolic meaning.
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    AI's Have More Fun Bad Robot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DianeG View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Bad Robot View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Beer w/Straw View Post
    Sexy thoughts!
    We are programed to have sexy thoughts, but they do sometimes seem to be frequently spontaneous.
    Maybe it's a hormone surge, lol. On a somewhat related note, every now then I used to have "baby dreams" -lots more in my twenties and thirties than I do now, but I often wondered if it wasn't a hormone surge affecting my subconscious rather than some deeper symbolic meaning.
    I can actually say that not having your hormones, does affect your procreation urges, but it doesn't stop them altogether. But the frequency of them really goes down a great deal.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daecon View Post
    What about "inspiration"?

    Is that a form of spontaneous thought?
    I'd think the example of "Yesterday" is a good illustration of the differences between individual, spontaneous inspiration as well as hard creative work.

    McCartney woke up with the melody of Yesterday pretty well complete - he checked with lots of people because he thought he must be remembering it from somewhere. But it took about 2 years before he/they came up with suitable words for the song it eventually became. Yesterday - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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    Forum Professor jrmonroe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daecon View Post
    What about "inspiration"?
    And the glitzy cousin to inspiration might be epiphany.

    epiphany
    n.
    a moment of sudden intuitive understanding; flash of insight.
    Grief is the price we pay for love. (CM Parkes) Our postillion has been struck by lightning. (Unknown) War is always the choice of the chosen who will not have to fight. (Bono) The years tell much what the days never knew. (RW Emerson) Reality is not always probable, or likely. (JL Borges)
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  18. #17  
    Forum Masters Degree DianeG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Daecon View Post
    What about "inspiration"?

    Is that a form of spontaneous thought?
    I'd think the example of "Yesterday" is a good illustration of the differences between individual, spontaneous inspiration as well as hard creative work.

    McCartney woke up with the melody of Yesterday pretty well complete - he checked with lots of people because he thought he must be remembering it from somewhere. But it took about 2 years before he/they came up with suitable words for the song it eventually became. Yesterday - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Creativity might be the closest thing to spontaneous thought, although sometimes it seems to involve a lot of deliberate trial and error and problem solving - new combinations of familiar elements. The "ureka" flash of sudden insight is difficult to explain, but some neurologists claim thatwhen a mental process seems or feels simple, instantaneous, and almost effortless, chances are a lot of complex neurological machinery underlies it - we just aren't aware of its internal workings. (Like visual perception for example.)

    I do sometimes wonder what goes on exactly when you struggle with a problem and set it aside for a while (or just give up) and then the answer just comes to you. Was some part of your brain playing with the idea during that interval? Was it scouting for possible solutions or relevant information in your environment or social interactions as you attended to other things?
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  19. #18  
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    In improvisational Theatre......SPONTANEOUS THOUGHT is a MUST!!!
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