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Time is the refresh rate of conscious thinking

  1. Oct 4, 2006 #1
    I believe that time as humans perceive it, is a product of how often our conscious thought, or inner dialogue, accesses images of time passing.

    To illustrate this, consider a human watching the second hands move on a wall clock for 2 minutes straight. This person will feel like much time has passed because they are essentially taking samples of time once per second. To this person, 120 discrete intervals of time have passed.

    Consider a second example, where a person is playing their favorite sport basketball. Because this person is enjoying himself, he does not register time very consciously. He will be 'into' the game and will not sample events of time very often. This means for him, that he perceives less time passing than he did when watching the wall clock tick second by second.

    This seems obvious, the more one thinks about time, the more one experiences time. When you sleep you experience no time. You are unconscious and therefore your conscious cannot sample timed events in your environment like you could watching the wall clock or playing basketball. In fact, I think even when you are day dreaming you are not conscious of time. In a day dream you are in such a deep thought that you block out your environment and senses, this means that you cannot consciously sample time and therefore you do not perceive time as passing.

    I think we would all agree that there is a real time independent of human perception that exists regardless of whether we can see it passing by or not. After all, an avalanche occuring in the French Alps right now as you read this, certainly did take place in time, whether we observed it or not. Snow still moved from mountain peak to mountain valley over a period of time that could have been measured had you been there.'

    In conclusion, I believe that time as human's perceive it is akin to the refresh rate our conscious which continually samples events in our environment to string a series of snapshot moments into a single perception of time passing.

    Is this a fair assement, does anyone agree?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 4, 2006 #2


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    Basically you're saying that perception of time is affected by an individual's "refresh rate". I don't disagree, but i don't think this "refresh rate" changes so much that your perception of time fluctuates, as when you're day-dreaming.
    I think the problem with day-dreaming is that there is no association being made between time and time-passing. Thought can also contribute to time-passing, and if you're not querying external input then you're querying internal input. When you day dream you generally forget what time it is, rather than perceive time more slowly.
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