Tom Evans : Collective Thoughts
This is a sample chapter from The Art and Science of Light Bulb Moments by Tom Evans.
There have been many times throughout history where two or more people come up with the same bright idea at the same time. Some of these cases will undoubtedly be down to either plagiarism or espionage but some are the result of pure synchronicity of thought and invention.
In this modern day and age, unless you sit in a dark cave, you are bombarded by terabytes of data each day. You could easily scan a newspaper but not consciously read an article about a new invention or idea but then it could appear in your conscious mind sometime later, perhaps as a light bulb moment. You then see the invention mentioned on TV or the Internet sometime later and you might think someone has stolen your idea when it wasn't necessarily yours in the first place.
So it's quite understandable that this sort of thing happens all the time in our so-called connected or wired world. I know of many of the sources of the ideas in this book but I am sure there are others that have percolated their way through my unconscious mind.
This issue is, of course, nothing new. One such case which is as well known for its intense acrimony as much as its significance, is the development of differential calculus, pretty much around the same time, by Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz. Both men were renowned for working in isolation and secrecy and there was no Internet or telecommunications network in those times to leak one scientist's work to the other. Even if there had been espionage, the postal service from Germany to England would take weeks.
Newton went on to use calculus to develop the Theories of Gravitation that we now use to send space probes around the Solar System.
For just one of his next tricks, Leibniz came up with binary notation used by modern day computers. If they had just been friends and collaborators, and didn't waste time arguing about whose idea it was, just imagine what else these two great minds thinking alike might have come up with.
It was another great mind a couple of centuries later, that of Carl Jung's, who popularised a mechanism whereby Newton and Leibniz may have unconsciously communicated. Jung called it the Collective Unconscious. It is also known as the Collective Consciousness. It has many other names too such as the Cosmic Consciousness, the Noosphere, the Morphic Field and Superconsciousness. I prefer the term Superconsciousness as it implies it is a state we can enter as opposed to something which is somehow separate from us.
The concept is that all knowledge and wisdom are somehow locked up in a huge memory bank that we can tap into at any time. This includes all past and future thoughts and the 'thoughts' of all living things, not just humankind.
It's possible that the collective consciousness is wrapped up in 'higher' dimensions and that our brains are transducers that can not only 'read' from it but 'write' to it. From the point of view of having light bulb moments on demand, this is a really useful concept to go along with.
A good example of how this works across time could be the prescience, or pre-science, exhibited by Leonardo da Vinci that I mentioned earlier. Did he 'invent' the helicopter by seeing someone piloting it in the future? Did he imagine the parachute just in case someone needed to escape from one when it failed?