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Are you a thought machine?


Are you lost in thought?  No not thoughtless, but lost in the number of thoughts that you have every day.  If so could you be a thought machine?

It’s widely reported that our minds produce up to 70,000 thoughts each day. There are 86,400 seconds in a 24 hour day and that would mean we have a different thought every 1.2 seconds. So if that’s the case then it’s no wonder that many people find they are lost in thought due to the number of ideas going round in their heads during the course of a day. But is it true?

Like so many reported truth’s, when we try to track down the source of the information, we struggle to find real evidence for the things we have heard being spoken about. In fact a quick search online (one of the benefits of the internet) revealed a surprising number of commentators repeating the idea but few quoting any source of this amazing statistic. A further search found a wide range of answers but again not that much real evidence as to how the figure quoted was arrived at.

The idea of us having 50,000 thoughts per day was quoted in some articles as based on research performed by the National Science Foundation (an independent research funding agency of the US Government which doesn’t actually carry out research itself) however tracking down the source of the research drew a blank. Figures quoted by other commentators ranged from 12,000 for the ‘average person’ but up to 50,000 for those whose minds are ‘really active’ (you and me clearly).

If you think about it (no pun intended) then measuring our thoughts is a very difficult thing to do. Certainly though a thought may be there at some level, our minds don’t register all thoughts consciously otherwise we would be totally overwhelmed.

When we look out into the street we see lots of things but most of them are not consciously observed, our mind’s filter out the things they believe to be unimportant or irrelevant… So while I am prepared to accept that we have many more thoughts every day than we actually register, I remain unconvinced about the 70,000 or even 50,000 a day which is widely reported.

Does it matter? Clearly a lot of people (some widely respected in their own fields) have accepted the myth or are prepared to go along with it for their own purposes but if a simple check on the internet can show the claims to be without any real foundation then what does that say about those who use this ‘mis-information’. So as ever, don’t accept everything you are told at face value even though it may be a widely accepted ‘truth’.