The experience obtained by Jaunting while being conscious is clearly impossible to attain in real life (if you don't know what I'm talking about, you can ignore this sentence). However, someone posted in great detail about experiencing a long life while being knocked unconscious for a few minutes: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/oc7rc/have_you_ever_felt_a_deep_personal_connection_to/?utm_source=amp&utm_medium=&utm_content=comments_view_all&sort=top

Given how multiple people have described similar experiences and the probability that all of them are lying is slim (it would take a great deal of effort all for a tiny reward (or nothing at all for the people who simply sent a private message to the original poster (you could not get anything from sending a direct message to a throwaway account about how you experienced the same thing, especially considering that the sender would not expect the original poster to mention to everyone else that they heard about similar experiences through PMs) sharing similar experiences) for multiple independent people to make up a whole story about such an event), I will assume the storyteller is telling the truth.

Does information theory have anything to say about how detailed or how long such visions can be? In this case, we can say for simplicity that the person was out for 10 minutes and experienced 10 years for a dilation factor of $5 \cdot 10^5.$ If we assume that the mind cannot simulate anything more detailed than reality, with detail depending on some version of Kolomogorov complexity, this means that his imagination could have been at most $2 \cdot 10^{-6}$ as detailed. This seems surprising given that the only inaccuracy the poster complained about during his imaginary lifetime was that a lamp had the wrong perspective. Furthermore, surely the ability to use language and perceive concepts such as marriage, work, children, eating, bathrooms and whatever else was mentioned would take up more than 2 millionths of the brain's ability. Even realizing the incorrectness of the lamp must've taken significant mental processing.

My best guess as to how this may happen at all is that the "boring" parts of those 10 years are extremely compressed and entire months are cut out. If someone ever described something like checking the calendar thousands of times, being stuck in traffic for ages, or performing a dull repetitive action hundreds of times in a dream, I would be even more bewildered as to how they could've imagined all they did in such a short time. On the extreme end of actions which take up the entire mind and cannot be sped through, one mathematician (who probably had no reason to lie) talked about an idea in detail coming to him from a dead colleague in a dream, whereupon he used that idea to finish a paper and then mentioned the occurrence in that paper. If the same idea came to him while conscious, it might have occupied his entire mind for a minute or so. But this happened during a dream lasting at least a few hours, so we don't get any contradiction from the information theoretic viewpoint. Do we have any explanations for how visions occupying entire decades in the span of mere minutes do not contradict information theory?

References: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/oc7rc/have_you_ever_felt_a_deep_personal_connection_to/?utm_source=amp&utm_medium=&utm_content=comments_view_all&sort=top

Note: If you believe I am misusing information theory, that what I am using to analyze these stories is not remotely related to information theory, or that this does not belong on Psychology SE, please speak up and inform me of what details I should add and/or another SE to post this to. I prefer constructive criticism and feedback to silent downvotes, and recognize that there may not be enough standard psychology in this post to satisfy some people.

  • $\begingroup$ You may want to check out Do neurons fire at a faster rate during dreaming? and related How long do dreams last?. I also disagree about "the probability that all of them are lying is slim". Just think about alien abductions, near death experiences, satanic rituals, and other false memories... $\endgroup$ – Arnon Weinberg Mar 30 at 7:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Arnon Weinberg There is more benefit to be had from lying about alien abductions and satanic rituals. In this example, one person gained meaningless internet points and the rest of the people gained nothing (they shared through private messages, which are not voted on). Without any chance for book deals, TV appearances, monetary gain, or any other major reward, the motivation to lie drops. False memories tend to develop gradually instead of instantly, so we will have to check how long ago these experiences were. $\endgroup$ – Display name Mar 31 at 2:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.