Game #2: Cognitive Science Sees the Light

an interactive game of experiential consciousness

Your name is _______ and you are a highly trained, technically aware, international operative representing government and commercial interests on the leading edge of the study of consciousness and the human mind.  Your assignment:  Find out how consciousness works.

Tracking down a hot lead late one night in the laboratory of a competitor, you are attacked from behind, knocked unconscious...




...and come to awareness lying on your back in complete darkness with no idea of where you are and no memory of how you got there.  You wriggle and squirm and seem to be in good working order, and even though there is no light and you can see absolutely nothing, you shake out the cobwebs and determine to discover the nature of your environment.

Utilizing those senses that work in darkness, such as feeling the ground on which you are lying, calling out and listening for echoes, sniffing and smelling the air for any telltale odors, and so on, you come to the conclusion that you are alone, on the floor inside a very large building.  The echoes of your calls indicate that the building is dome shaped and that you are lying right under its highest point, which arches far above your head.  Images of the Astrodome come to your mind, and you stare straight upward with dilated pupils in an attempt to catch any glimmer of light as you process the information you already have and wonder what to do next.

Suddenly a powerful and brilliant light from above floods the absolute blackness you have been experiencing.  You are momentarily blinded by the contrast and reflexively close your eyes.  Very carefully, very tentatively you open them, and as your eyes adjust and you begin to look around, you note that your assessment of the surroundings generated by the non-visual senses is confirmed.  You are, indeed, inside a large completely enclosed dome-shaped building, now illuminated by a single source of light, too strong to look at directly, located at the very top of the curved ceiling, high above your head. 

The light has changed the nature of your condition.  A moment ago you were engulfed in total blackness unable to see even the fingers of your own hand, unsure of what to do, which way to head, unaware of any dangers that might be lurking just beyond your reach.  Now, thanks to the light, you can see to the farthest corners of the building and you can get up and safely move about without concern for hidden dangers.  First, however, you decide to see what you can learn about this source of light that now allows the freedom of movement to explore your surroundings.

Looking up to the top of the dome, to the source of the light, you try to focus your awareness on it, to see what it looks like, to get any clue about how it works.  But all you see are rays and light and energy that is so bright and brilliant that you have to avert your eyes to keep from blinding yourself.  Fascinating how the light is illuminating everything in the building except itself.         

In fact, lying there on the ground, unable to look directly at the light because of its brightness, with no further information than what your sensory experience has already given you, you realize that even with your technical training and expertise there is no way you can answer any questions about the light with any degree of certainty.  Without further facts, whatever you come up with is merely speculation, and your academic training and scientific rigor will not permit you to make unsupported claims.  There is nothing about the light you know for sure.

Well, actually, there is one thing you do know for sure and that is what you personally experienced first hand when your environment went from dark to light.

The light had been off.  Now it is on.

Whatever else you may not know, THAT MUCH YOU KNOW!  Right?