Is there any evidence for the subconscious?

This is what I was referring to.

I know that is what you were referring to, and that (which is a quote from Shagnasty’s post, not from any sort of authoritative source) is what I am asserting is not true. They can articulate it, and the principles can be taught by instruction, and not just by example.

I have now found the relevant cite, which relates how the principles of vent sexing were obtained by interviewing an expert, and then successfully taught to naive subjects:
Sexing day-old chicks: A case study and expert systems analysis of a difficult perceptual-learning task.
Biederman, Irving; Shiffrar, Margaret M., Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, Vol 13(4), Oct 1987. PDF here

I am starting to believe you on vent sexing chicks. I can’t do it myself like most people can’t. It sounds really difficult to teach in a traditional way however.

You don’t have to go that unusual to get to subconscious thought though. Riding a bicycle is a perfectly good example even though it is so commonplace that most people wouldn’t consider it one. You can’t learn how to ride a bike from a book, it takes lots of practice, and you probably won’t forget how once you know. More importantly, you won’t be able to describe how you do it when you aren’t doing it. People sitting on a stationary bike imagining they are riding a real one make movements that aren’t compatible with riding one in real life.

There are a large number of high-level motor tasks that are learned and and repeated through other than conscious thought. In fact, thinking consciously while doing them inhibits the ability to do them. I couldn’t draw how I tie my shoes for example even though I do it twice a day in less that 3 seconds a piece without thinking about it consciously.

That bit is more about the difference between declarative vs. procedural memory. A very interesting subject, to be sure, but my sense is that the op is more asking about the subconscious aspects within the declarative processing stream.

I agree with DSeid in general that conscious thought is greatly overestimated by people and subconscious thought is a much more substantial portion of all thought than generally acknowledged.

You could take this question just about anywhere. At the most basic level, you don’t have to worry about consciously thinking to breath, make your heart beat, or trigger the right metabolic responses to keep yourself alive.

At a higher level, you are asleep about 1/3 of the day with your nervous system triggering all kinds of strange things. In the waking state, most activities like walking and other routine movements are still subconscious. We only pay attention to the conscious ones by definition. Truly conscious actions are only a small percentage of the total.

I was gonna mention that! Always late to the party.

I once learned–forget from where–that it is thought by some researchers that birds do not consciously see like we do, but rather have a type of blindsight. How or why this is believed, I do not remember. But I find the whole thing interesting.

I don’t know if this is strong evidence of a subconscious mind (as opposed to just a really complex, poorly understood mind), but the existence of psychosomatic illnesses indicates that we can experience psychological suffering without being aware of it.

True but you have to start with the basics. It is hard to separate declarative and procedural memory as well sometimes. Besides the vent sexing example I gave, there are also people that learn to spot enemy planes without knowing how they do it with almost certain accuracy.

You also find examples of people that can perform stunts that don’t have a good explanation of how they do it. Major league baseball players routinely hit fastballs faster than the human brain can process the tracking of the ball. They have to know where it is going through instant mental calculus as it leaves the pitcher’s hand. You also get people like this (sling shot man):

It did and they did, as long as it was a legitimate guess as to how the brain functions.

The physiological mechanisms of the brain are being revealed in a very rapid way, so the term will be an anachronism in a few years.

The subconscious presupposes the existence of a mental state that operates somewhat independently of the conscious mind. This, we now know, is not the case.


Why isn’t this debunked by the existence of Savant math skills: extremely rapid calculations not performed through conscious steps?

There are numerous similar stories involving breakthroughs in science and math. The standard suggestion for harnessing the subconscious in order to produce genius-level creativity is: put serious time and work into an apparently insoluable problem, then stop all conscious work. Give up and go on to some other task (or perhaps take a vacation.) Then, while taking a shower or jumping onto a train, the solution suddenly appears in your mind in complete detail.

My comment above.

Savant skills are easy to explain by acknowledging that the brain has made unusual neuron connections, not present in average people, that allow a human to react with their environment in unusual ways.

All this is the result of physiological processes of the brain. There’s no magic, hidden, unknown, supernatural entity that is the reason these things are happening.

There’s no subconscious either.

Is someone saying the subconcious is magic or supernatural? Your own wording (italics mine):

describes the effect everybody experiences, the operation of the mind in a manner not readily observable. It doesn’t imply any particular mechanism, or anything magical either.

My post is my cite?

Again, where are PTSD symptoms coming from? Or are you just arguing semantics about the meaning of “subconscious”?

We already know how unreliable human reports of their own experiences are.

We also already know that the brain is only a physiological body part. It’s too complicated to figure out for us at this time, but eventually, we’ll get there.

There’s no subconscious. It was a legitimately good guess, but there isn’t one.

That is a complete non-sequitur.

Nothing about modern neuroscience suggests that there is no subconscious.

Nothing about strict materialism (which I suspect is really where you are coming from) suggests that there is no subconscious.

Here, just by way of example, is a recent article dealing with the neuroscience of the subconscious.

It’s a simple question to ask to figure out whether the subconscious exists or not.

Did the human subconscious exist 70 mil years ago, 5 mil years before that fateful asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs?


I thought so.

There’s no subconscious.

Dio, is that you?

By that logic the human big toe does not exist either.

Give it up man. Logic and reason just aren’t your strengths.

My subconscious has been responsible for most of the successes in my career. It routinely solves problems that baffle my concious mind, and not infrequently problems that others have declared impossible to solve.

This has become so reliable that I now can sense the confusion and wheel spinning that prevents my concious mind from seeing the solution. When that happens, I stop trying to figure out the solution, and just gather as much relivent data as I can.

Far more often than not, the answer will come to me at a later time when I am doing something else. Many times while I am sleeping.

That whole thing with Sherlock Holmes and his violin really works for people like me. I actually play the violin, but find it not very effective at allowing my subconscious to problem solve.

I think you are misreading this whole thread and everything everyone has said in it.

I’ve always thought that the subconscious was a separate function of the human mind, sort of a basement unit that was separate from but had connections to the conscious mind. The subconscious, I thought, scripted dreams and retained memories we didn’t want to or couldn’t deal with consciously. After reading this thread, I’m now wondering whether that’s a misconception on my part. It’s sounding to me as if our constantly-busy, incessantly multi-tasking brains simply focus on some current experiences, and that most of the brain’s functioning is not consciously done. Very few of the myriad tasks our brains perform simultaneously are on the conscious level.

For instance, I’m driving to the grocery store. I am consciously listening to Christmas drivel on the radio, noticing the stoplight has turned green, and checking for jaywalking pedestrians. But my brain is also constantly judging the speed and distance of the cars around me, listening to the engine sounds (which I’ll only be consciously aware of if the they are different than usual), and remembering the route to the store, which I’ve visited over 500 times, and filtering every bit of information my eyes and other senses feed to my brain, plus a lot of other necessary functions., all while reliving snippets of memories triggered by the Christmas drivel, etc.

Would “subconscious” refer to ALL functions of the brain of which we are not consciously aware? Or just certain designated functions? The more I learn here, the less I know.