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AlexSchell comments on List of potential cognitive enhancement methods - Less Wrong

16 Post author: lukeprog 13 November 2011 12:57AM

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Comment author: AlexSchell 13 November 2011 03:42:22AM *  4 points [-]

I recall that one popular reality check method (i.e. a reliable way of telling whether you're dreaming or IRL) is to check the time on your watch, look away, then check again. So you can see why any activity that involves having to write stuff down and have it remain unchanged while your attention is elsewhere might not be the best LD activity.

Comment author: D_Malik 13 November 2011 09:44:44AM 0 points [-]

If you're remembering the time on the watch well enough to know whether it's changed, won't you remember it well enough for it to be the same?

Other reality checks include counting your fingers (you'll have more in lucid dreams) or flipping a light switch (the lights will flicker). Clearly, what determines whether a check works is whether you believe it works.

Also, see the quotes I posted above. With practice you can focus on things as well as when you're awake. I agree that you shouldn't do things that absolutely require you to write stuff down for future reference, like evaluating integrals, because if you really can't remember them then your written records won't persist.

Comment author: DavidAgain 15 November 2011 10:18:05PM 0 points [-]

The 'what you believe works' thing definitely has something going for it. There's a certain logic that can apply, though. Obviously having more than five fingers or lights flickering sound like just ways of asking yourself 'is this lucid'. But I've had somewhat lucid dreams* since I was a kid, and one of my earliest 'checks' was reading a book: my dreaming mind simply did not or could not make up text that way, so I'd pay attention to whether I was actually reading or thinking 'I am now reading a book' without any actual words being involved. Any very close attention to detailed works: my dreams, and indeed my usual observations, tend to run as a narrative about what's happening rather than a close inspection of circumstances.

On the 'what you believe works', what appeals to your imagination is obviously relevant. I used to be able to get out of lucid dreams by shutting my eyes, which as I was 8 or something is probably a pretty classic response. When that stopped working I found I could shut my eyes and tip myself forward, giving the sensation of tumbling over into some sort of endless abyss (honestly) and that would get me out of the dream. One time I got out by grabbing the surface of the dream and ripping it to reveal the purple static behind, and stepping into that got me out. I had been reading His Dark Materials, though.

  • precisely, I tend to go in and out of being aware I'm in a dream, control what I do to a significant extent and the surroundings/rules to a varied extent, never remain stable long enough to do anything massively fun/productive. I think this may be related to the fact that my earliest/main lucid dreams have been nightmares, or at least very creepy. Also to the fact that I rarely have particularly detailed/involved dreams anyway.
Comment author: dlthomas 15 November 2011 10:26:06PM 0 points [-]

When I'm reading in dreams, there appears to be text, and I feel like I'm recognizing little bits of ideas in it, but it's very unstable. It's an odd sensation.

Comment author: DavidAgain 15 November 2011 10:29:46PM 0 points [-]

I occasionally get tiny amounts: but it's not just reading. I'm fairly sure that when I have conversations in dreams this often works by me accepting that 'I said X they said Y' rather than bothering with noise. I wasn't sure if I dreamt in sound or colour at all until I had a couple of dreams where those two things were particularly vivid.

Lucid dreaming is fascinating, but I do sometimes wonder about how UNlucid dreams tend to be. How much we construct the bare minimum. Although IIRC we also lack real colour vision in bits of our peripheral vision and similar weirdnesses without noticing, and we don't really notice colour loss in bad lighting.