Psychics and Skynet – The Prediction Paradox
Bob is a typical metaphysical lover. He loves psychics, tarot cards, readings and any other form of divination. Bob is currently making arrangements to go and live in Bangkok, an event predicted that would happen three years ago by a psychic. In his excited way, he told me that he has just received a job offer in Thailand, the psychic was correct, how amazing all of this prediction stuff was, blahdy, blah, blah, blah.
Bob’s story is interesting. Up to the point of visiting the psychic, he had absolutely no thoughts of moving to Thailand. None. This was completely off his radar. He went as far as saying that when he was initially told this ‘prediction’, even though he was surprised, he was more skeptical than anything.
However, he also told me that since his visit to the psychic he began to notice small things were coming into his awareness regarding Thailand.
Now, Bob being Bob also took these coincidences as ‘Signs’, like the universe was sending him signals to which direction to take.
Around nine months ago Bob moved employers into a new job. Then last month he heard of an opening in the Bangkok office was available. As the timing was right in his private life to explore a life overseas, plus, always remembering the psychic’s prediction of him living in Thailand and the universe sending him signs to look in that direction he thought it would be a no-brainer to apply as it is already ‘set in stone’ that the job was his, like some psychic stamp of approval. He applied, got the position and will be moving out to Bangkok next month or as soon as his visas clear. Prophecy fulfilled.
Well done Bob – and the psychic!
“Live here? Me? Go on, if you say so!”
Bring in The Terminator
I have always been fascinated with stuff like this and have spent more time than I should in attempting to understand the mechanics of how all of this stuff functions and my conclusions keep coming back to Arnold Schwarzenegger, or, more precisely, The Terminator franchise of movies.
These movies are based around two paradoxes relating to time travel. Causal loops known as the grandfather paradox and the bootstrap paradox which I feel are closely related to psychics being able to see into the future, or a future manifesting around what a psychic has suggested, creating what I term the Prediction Paradox.
In the original, The Terminator movie, Skynet, the futuristic computer system, in 2029, sends Arnie back in time to 1984 in the form of a T-800 robot to kill Sarah Conner. Sarah, being the mother of the future human resistance leader, John Connor, is the target in an attempt to stop him from being born and thus creating no resistance to piss them off in the future.
Because of this, also in 2029, the human resistance sends back a solder named Kyle Reese to protect Sarah from the T-800. Kyle Reese and Sarah get it on and Kyle Reese becomes Johns’s father.
The movie goes on and Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor end up destroying the T-800 in usual Hollywood fashion.
This is the first paradox that the movie deals with, a kind of messed-up grandfather paradox. This questions what would happen if you traveled back in time and killed your own grandfather?
By killing him, you would never be born, so you wouldn’t exist to have a grandfather to kill. But assuming time travel is a thing, there would be nothing stopping you from actually doing this. So what would happen?
In the movie, it questions a similar scenario.
- If Skynet never sent back the T-800 to stop John Conner from being conceived, the resistance would have had no need to send back Kyle Reese.
- Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor wouldn’t have met and got it on.
- Kyle Reese wouldn’t have become John Connor’s father.
- John Connor wouldn’t have existed.
- Skynet wouldn’t have needed to send back the T-800.
- Therefore it was Skynet’s own actions that caused John Connor to exist in the first place.
So we can see that John’s own conception in 1984 is dependent on events that take place in 2029. Weird.
This is all a bit of a headfuck but its what happens next which is more related to Bob and all of the Mystic Megs out there …
“I’m stuck in a loop of time goodness”
EXISTING MADE US EXIST
In the second movie where Arnie is the good guy, it becomes apparent how Skynet came into existence.
This is a bit like the grandfather paradox but it relates more to a physical thing.
So, Skynet is a future computer system made to control the nuclear arsenal of the US military by the private corporation Cyberdyne Systems. According to the movies, Skynet was activated on August 4, 1997, and it began to learn at a geometric rate, or stupidly fast. At precisely 2:14 a.m., EDT, on August 29 that same year it became fully self-aware, gaining artificial intelligence.
On realising the full extent of its capabilities, the US military tried to shut it off. Taking this the wrong way as a threat to its existence, Skynet came to its rather logical computer-brained conclusion that all of humanity was now a threat and unloaded its nuclear arsenal as a way to defend itself. This lead to a future war between man and machines and lots of paranoia in the present-day real-world relating to the dangers of AI.
Terminator 2 is based in 1995 where the early Cyberdyne Systems has some leftover parts of the old T-800 which was destroyed in the first movie that it is studying in its laboratory. By reverse-engineering this future technology, Cyberdyne Systems goes on to create Skynet which in turn, goes on to create the Terminator series of robots, which it then sends back to 1984.
So the question is: where did the T-800 and even Skynet originate?
As Skynet came into existence through the reverse engineering of future technology in the form of the T-800 by Cyberdyne Systems, without the T-800, Cyberdyne Systems would have nothing to reverse engineer and thus, nothing would of evolved into Skynet. Humanity would be sipping tea, eating crumpets and posting Instagram selfies as usual, instead of going through all of the inconvenience of nuclear armageddon.
This is the bootstrap paradox, a causal loop in time where an outcome is dependent upon itself, or where something originates.
- In 2029 Skynet sends back a T-800 to 1984.
- The remnants of the T-800 is used to build a new technology.
- This new technology evolves into Skynet in 2029.
- In 2029 Skynet sends back a T-800 to 1984 …
… A causal loop in time but where did the T-800 and Skynet originate? 1984 or the future?
So how does this relate to Bob and his move to Thailand?
I believe, for the many reasons that we shall explore in this post, that a lot of predictions come true simply because we make them come true. This is not necessarily on the conscious level, but rather unconsciously, without us even realising it. We position ourselves so some random predictions can manifest through various psychological phenomena relating to our awareness and beliefs.
This then creates a causal loop in time or the prediction paradox:
- In the present, we receive a prediction for the future.
- We then act on the prediction, achieving the outcome.
- This outcome is what a psychic can ‘see’ and predict.
- We then act on the prediction, achieving the outcome …
Would the outcome occur if we never received the prediction or did the outcome occur because of it?
There are also a few other factors that we need to explore:
- Would the prediction come true if the recipient had never heard it?
- How important does the person’s beliefs play in manifesting the prediction?
- How much influence does the ‘source’ have – that the prediction was made by a ‘psychic’ against some random pub barman?
*Disclaimer – this post is NOT arguing whether a person has psychic abilities or not, whether that is clairvoyant, clairaudient or any other method. Personally, I believe that some people do indeed possess some kind of ability to tap into possible future events. Famous examples are Nostradamus and Edgar Cayce.*
“Hmmm, this came from 1984 for sure”
INTO THE RABBIT HOLE
WOULD THE PREDICTION COME TRUE IF THE RECIPIENT HAD NEVER HEARD IT?
First, we shall start with the easy question. Well, easy as it can’t really be answered.
Some would call this fate or destiny. This is also arbitrary as we would never know the answer but it does raise questions about our free will through Newcomb’s paradox.
When we use a ‘predictor’ that which can see events in the future, in this case, a psychic, or it could be a time machine that can travel forward in time, have a look, and then travel back again to the present day to report back, it demonstrates that our free-will may actually be illusionary.
This is because that a predictor, psychic or time traveler could not tell the future unless there was a predetermined future to be told. So it seems that there is either fate and destiny – events that will happen regardless of what is occurring in the present, or free-will – choices we make in the present which would give us an open-ended future with no certainty. Interesting.
HOW IMPORTANT DOES THE PERSONS BELIEFS PLAY IN MANIFESTING THE PREDICTION?
Confirmation bias has two main ways of manifesting itself. Well, it’s one and the same really, but for ease of understanding how this works, we can split it into two.
Think about the amount of data that enters the unconscious mind at any given moment. Everything we see, hear taste, smell are all soaked in by the unconscious. With this much information at its disposal, the brain filters into our stream of conscious thoughts that which is applicable to the context in which it is required.
A common example of confirmation bias is when you are looking to buy a new car. You pick a manufacturer, model and colour that you like, thinking at the time that you are somewhat being expressive and a bit different in your choice as “there are not many of those around”.
Then, once you’ve started thinking about this, you start seeing your choice of car everywhere, the same model, colour, everything, and you then kinda feel that perhaps you are not so original after all.
Those cars were always there, but the brain simply filtered them out because before, when you were not thinking about it, they were not relevant to you. It was only when you consciously brought them into your awareness that the brain lifts its filters and Hey Presto, you now notice that they are suddenly everywhere, which then also makes you grey and boring.
The second example of confirmation bias is when we choose to search for data that will confirm our pre-existing beliefs, as opposed to looking for data that might challenge those beliefs. We actively seek out information that will prove ourselves right and ignore, even hard evidence, to the contrary.
As Shahram Heshmet, Ph.D. an associate professor at the University of Illinois, Springfield puts it.
Confirmation bias occurs from the direct influence of desire on beliefs. When people would like a certain idea/concept to be true, they end up believing it to be true. They are motivated by wishful thinking. This error leads the individual to stop gathering information when the evidence gathered so far confirms the views (prejudices) one would like to be true.
In Bob’s case, Thailand was now in his awareness, even if he didn’t know this on the conscious level. He said that he started to experiences little coincidences regarding Thailand here and there. A classic example of the brain lifting its filter through confirmation bias at play. Bob’s preposition in metaphysical philosophy suggests that he simply takes these new details that he has started to see everywhere as ‘signs’ from the universe.
Beliefs not only underpin how we see and react with events that take place in our lives but they also are the filter in which these events are interpreted.
It is our beliefs that form the foundation of conformation bias; some of us believe in evolution while others believe in creationism. Neither has been fully proved but when faced with a new idea on the subject, we will either immediately sway one way or the other depending on what our underlying beliefs tell us.
In Bob’s case, he wholeheartedly believes in psychic abilities. When our beliefs are this strong, it matters not what the psychic actually predicts, even if the prediction is met with skepticism on the surface, the underlying belief is that it could be true.
This then plays out as hope. “The psychic says I’m going to win a billion dollars. The odds against this are millions to one and I don’t think I will win it – but I shall buy a lottery ticket just in case”.
If we reject a psychic’s ability or are simply open-minded to such things we are far more likely to carry on as normal, without feeling we ‘need to buy a lottery ticket ‘just in case’.
We all have a tendency for teleologic thinking. That is, the mind’s desire to find an explanation for something when it either doesn’t have all of the facts or there simply is no explanation to give. If ‘shit happens’ without just cause, the mind will try to grasp some explanation, even if it is wildly inaccurate or simply fabricated just to satisfy the minds need for reason. Also known as cognitive closure. 1
If our cognitive closure is strong the brain will be happy with any known accepted explanation. If, however, there is no known explanation then the wild and wacky such as conspiracy theories or the universe talking to us offers a way to satisfy our need for answers. We see pockets of information in areas where it simply may not exist. – everything happens for a reason right? 2
“AWW blue VWs were never around yesterday”
HOW MUCH INFUENCE DOES THE ‘SOURCE’ HAVE?
THE MECHANIC AND THE BARMAN
If my car broke down I would consult a mechanic. This is because I know that he is trained to fix broken down cars and he knows more about engines than I do. Like most people, I have a default belief that a mechanic knows what he is talking about – unless I have trust issues but that is a different argument.
If I told the barman in my local pub that my car had broken and he offers a suggestion as to how to fix it, I probably would listen but not necessarily act on his advice. He may be the best mechanic fixing barman in the west, but simply because of the context in which the conversation took place, over a bar, in a pub, whilst he was being paid to pour pints, I wouldn’t particularly take much notice.
Because of my belief that the mechanic would be the best choice in fixing my car, I would get my car towed to the garage over taking it to the pub. Standard stuff, you don’t ask your window cleaner why your apple tree is dying.
As Bob, believes in the psychic, her abilities and the whole I-see-this-happening-in your-future thing, Bob defaults on believing her prediction over anyone else. Bob could join me for drinks and the mechanic fixing barman could also be psychic and tell Bob exactly the same thing that the ‘real’ psychic told him, that he would be moving to Thailand sometime in the near future. Would Bob take any notice? Probably not. This is because we rationally sway towards those who we intrinsically believe to be in the best position to advise us.
Depending on how strong this belief is could also create a problem of its own. If we place too many emphasis on what we are told, we could actually be removing our own intuition on the matter leading to disempowerment. A psychic has said this so it must be true …
THE FEELGOOD FACTOR
We all want to feel good. Some would argue that this is the whole premise of being human, the seeking of pleasure and joy.
If we are faced with a situation where somebody we trust informs us of some possible future reality that could change our lives for the better we will be inclined to believe them. Even if this ‘future reality’ is worlds apart from the humdrum of our daily life.
When we are offered a hypothetical future that excites us, we will do more to bring that into fruition. Humans are wired to seek pleasure, that which escapes us from the treadmill of daily life and the reason we buy lottery tickets, even when the odds of winning anything significant are millions to one. Think of the people who buy off-road SUVs because the TV ad depicted a ‘lifestyle’ of driving over rugged mountains and through deep rivers – a real ‘go-anywhere’ vehicle where in most cases the reality is that the vehicle wouldn’t be used for much more than dropping the kids off at school and runs to the supermarket. We all live in hope.
LIVING BY PREDICTIONS
There is a real danger where we live by predictions. Those of us who continually seek the visions by psychics to make decisions on living their lives must explore the reasons why.
Consulting the unknown arts can be good fun if taken in the right context. But there is a danger when we live our lives through psychics. Those who can’t seem to make a decision without consulting their clairvoyant or have weekly appointments with their Tarot card reader need to work out why they require a third party to direct their lives. Not only are they giving their own power away; the ability to receive and trust their own intuition, or to make themselves feel better. By being told some arbitrary information seems to serve the purpose of creating validation that whatever we are doing, we are on the right path.
This is The Terminator situation and the most likely. The bootstrap paradox is telling us that Bob’s move to Thailand occurred because he had prior knowledge of it, thus creating it himself, even if he didn’t realise.
And it is these beliefs along with conformation bias and teleologic thinking that drives our design making processes. And this is all done outside of our conscious, thinking awareness.
In Bob’s case, he believed the psychic could predict the future. Even though he was skeptical at the prediction, it still felt good and filled him with excitement. This resulted in his unconscious latching onto the idea that he was moving to Thailand sometime in the near future.
Every decision Bob made from then until he moved was geared around this possible move, through his confirmation bias.
He changed jobs and began working for a new international company. My bet is that somewhere before this, his unconscious picked up that said company had offices in Bangkok. This would make this company more appealing to Bob over other job offers he received at that time. His confirmation bias was already showing Bob opportunities that match his underlying belief in the psychic’s abilities that was now in his awareness. Keep in mind that to Bob’s conscious mind this employer simply felt better than the others. His gut reaction would of been telling him that this felt right.
Bob took the job. Then it was simply a waiting game.
But it doesn’t address the maybe-a-problem that Bob may not actually want to live in South East Asia.