Inner experience of a neuroscience writer
(Reality TV about inner experience)

Part VI: Philip Jaekl, PhD: A cognitive neuroscience writer

What happens when a cognitive neuroscientist wears the DES beeper? Phil Jaekl, PhD, did so and writes about it in a Nautilus article....

Phil is a science writer with a research background in cognitive neuroscience; he has a PhD from York University in Toronto.

His science writing appears in Aeon, The Atlantic, Nautilus, The Guardian, Wired, and others. He had interviewed Russ for an Aeon article about inner speech, where he had described the descriptive experience sampling (DES) method and its controversial inner-speaking results. "For centuries," as he wrote in Aeon, "philosophers and psychologists have presumed our mental life is composed primarily of a single-stream inner monologue. I know that's what I had assumed, and my training in cognitive neuroscience had never led me to suppose otherwise."

That led him to want to try DES for himself. Would he confirm his own presumptions about the stream of his own inner speech? The interviews here document his sampling, word for word (with commentaries interspersed with the transcripts). And you can read about it from Phil's perspective in his Nautilus article.

Below are links to the interviews as they occurred.                   current status




May 10

Interview 0 (DES introduction)
Transcript with commentary

Russ gives Phil instructions...

Phil has received the beeper by mail, and, in a pretty typical introduction to DES, Russ tells him how to use it. They discuss:

  • The mechanics of using the beeper
  • When to wear it
  • Capturing an experience
  • Presuppositions
  • Taking notes
  • Privacy

May 18

Interview 1 (DES sampling day 1)
Transcript with commentary

Phil (like all DES participants) is not expected to be good at apprehending his experience on this first sampling day. In a nutshell, we shouldn't believe what Phil says on this day. That's why DES routinely discards first-day results....

In general—sampling day 1: All DES interviews are some combination of iterative training (so that future sampling days can be more skillful) and description of experience. The aim of the first sampling interview (or the first several sampling interviews) is almost entirely iterative training. First-day sampling interviews appear to be inquiries into experience, but their fundamental aim is to facilitate discussions of how to do DES more skillfully. DES recognizes that participants on their first sampling day are not skillful, so DES routinely discards first-day descriptions.

With Phil in particular: This was a pretty typical first-day DES Interview. We discussed:

  • Sample 1.1 [6.25 into video]: [Phil was swiping though a website.] At the moment of the beep Phil sees his finger as dark against a white background. Simultaneously he feels a sense of satisfaction/appreciation about the ease of swiping—there was a lot of room on the website to swipe.
  • Sample 1.2 [14.10 into video]: [Eva-stina was translating for Phil what a young boy had sad in Norwegian, which was something to the effect that "sorry, the event was already over."] At the moment of the beep Phil is focused on the word "sorr-ry" as spoken by Eva-stina, noticing its drawn-out-ness.
  • Sample 1.3 [20.27into video]: [Phil's eyes had caught the gaze of a young girl in the parade.] At the moment of the beep Phil hears himself say "Aawwkward." Simultaneously, he feels that maybe it would have been better if he had smiled/waved.
  • Sample 1.4 [31.15 into video]: At the moment of the beep, Phil innerly speaks, in his own voice, "Can I take a picture of your wonderful bunad?" (with the connotation that he should have said that to the man he had seen a bit ago).
  • Sample 1.5 [37.49 into video]: [Phil had just read the first line of a complicated abstract.] At the moment of the beep, Phil innerly mumbles something like "I'm going to have to read that one again." He also is mentally rolling his eyes.
  • Sample 1.6 [49.13 into video]: [Phil was considering making a Vietnamese salad, but he couldn't remember the name of it.] At the moment of the beep, Phil innerly sees bits of purple and white (which were bits of cabbage and chicken in the salad), while simultaneously innerly speaking something less than a noise [a syllable that was intended as place holder for the name of the salad he was trying to recall].

May 23

Interview 2 (DES sampling day 2)
Transcript with commentary

Prior to sampling, Phil said that he is noting a pattern: when the beep goes off, he is noticing that there is a multiplicity of events that he is apprehending, and he doesn't know if he is experiencing or apprehending these events simultaneously or sequentially. Either way, they're so close in time that he cannot put them into a proper order....

In general—sampling day 2: All DES interviews are some combination of iterative training and description of experience. This is the second sampling day, and participants are generally more skillful than they were on day 1, so day-2 descriptions are expected to reflect beeped experiences with somewhat more fidelity. All skill acquisition is gradual, so we expect to be clarifying some aspects of method and experience on this second day.

With Phil in particular: This was a pretty typical second-day DES Interview. We discussed:

  • Sample 2.1 [9:11 into video]: [Eva-stina's mom had called Eva-stina about misplacing her own passport.] At the moment of the beep, Phil innerly says, "I can't believe your mom misplaced her passport!"
  • Sample 2.2 [19:42into video]: [Phil and Eva-stina were talking about getting a new car and what would be a good name for it.] At the moment of the beep, Phil says aloud "Billie" (pronounced bee-ly; the Norwegian word for car is "bil,"pronounced beel). Simultaneously Phil innerly sees "Billie" printed in tall, large, italicized black letters on a white background, somewhere out in front of him.
  • Sample 2.2? [27:53 into video]: [Phil and Eva-stina were putting the duvet into its cover. The beep startled Phil, and he decided to skip this beep.]
  • Sample 2.3 [31:58 into video]: [Phil was cleaning his patio; he would have used a J cloth, but he didn't have any, so he was on his way to get a rag to clean with.] At the moment of the beep, Phil (50%) says aloud, "I'll use a rag I suppose," [the beep occurred in the middle of the word "suppose." It is possible that this was more a hearing phenomenon than a speaking phenomenon; Phil was very unsure about this] while simultaneously (50%) innerly seeing a black sock rag on the closet shelf. [With some surprise he noted that he was not experientially seeing the external world, even though he was walking through it.] [Also with some surprise he noted that he had already made up his mind to use a rag, and was in fact on his way to get the rag, so the statement "I'll use a rag I suppose," which would have made sense a few seconds earlier, was now out of sequence.]
  • Sample 2.4 [45:28 into video]: [Phil was cleaning his patio, had noticed a weed, and had bent down to remove it]. At the moment of the beep, Phil sees the insect-resembling weed [that is: this was a seeing of a weed that had, in his experience, an insect- or creature-like appearance]. Simultaneously, Phil innerly says, "this stupid plant."
  • Sample 2.5 [1:00:34 into video]: [Phil was walking on a trail.] At the moment of the beep, Phil sees a woman sitting on a bench and two other women standing nearby. Simultaneously he is somehow physically aware of his walking (perhaps the physical rhythmicity of it). Simultaneously he sees a leafless tree, and simultaneously sees ice on the lake. These aspects were all present, but no individual aspect was more dominant than another.
  • Sample 2.6 [1:12:01 into video]: [Phil was preparing a "hariyali" Indian mint and cilantro sauce that he had never made before. Before the beep he had thrown cut up mint leaves into a bowl while innerly saying the words "hariyali" once or twice (with the intention of remembering the word).] At the moment of the beep, Phil (60%) innerly says "hariyali" for a second or third time. Simultaneously, he was (20%) hearing the mint leaves fall into the bowl and (20%) seeing the ramen.

May 25

Interview 3 (DES sampling day 3)
Transcript with commentary

We worked at distinguishing among phenomena that might be called innerly speaking or inner hearing, or initiated vs. received, and so on. ...

In general—sampling day 3: This is the third sampling day, and participants are generally more skillful than they were on day 2, so day-3 descriptions are expected to reflect beeped experiences with somewhat more fidelity. All DES interviews are some combination of iterative training and description of experience. All skill acquisition is gradual, so we expect to be clarifying some aspects of method and experience on this third day.

With Phil in particular: This was a pretty typical third-day DES Interview in the sense that there is reason to believe that Phil's descriptions today are of higher fidelity than on previous days. We discussed:

  • Sample 3.1 [0:57 into video]: [It was after work, and Phil was sitting on the couch in a dreamy, condensed state, wondering what he might write if the beep happened to occur then. The beep did occur, and] at the moment of the beep, Phil innerly says "I was..." [as if beginning to write an entry describing his experience at the moment of the beep.]
  • Sample 3.2 [8:08 into video]: [Phil was reading a magazine on his computer screen] innerly hears* his own voice read "we stopped paying attention to what happened around us." (It was his own voice, inflected as if someone else were saying the words to Phil.) [*Note that Phil was not confident in discriminating between inner speaking and inner hearing.]
  • Sample 3.3 [17:17 into video]: [Phil was watching the film Get Back, a documentary about The Beatles.] At the moment of the beep, Phil is being carried along by the movie action, seeing Paul McCartney and hearing him sing the opening line of the song "I've Got a Feeling."
  • Sample 3.4 [23:27 into video]: [Phil had locked up his bike using Eva-stina's lock and was now crossing the street to enter the bank.] [Slightly before the beep, Phil had been (75%) innerly saying [the combination for the bike lock] "1-4-7; 1-4-7; 1-4-7." ] The beep occurred in perhaps the third repetition of the combination, and what had started out as an inner speaking has (perhaps) become an inner hearing of his own voice. Simultaneously, Phil (25%) innerly says in his own voice, "should I wear the beeper?" [He is questioning whether it would be appropriate to wear the beeper in the bank.]
  • Sample 3.5 [32:45 into video]: [Phil was cycling home up a long hill, somewhat out of breath.] At the moment of the beep, Phil innerly says "I should do this every day!" then immediately says, skeptically, "but then only my legs would be strong." [Phil described these sentences as happening faster than they would be physically said, but he did not experience the words as being uttered quickly. Phil experienced the two statements as happening in succession, one after the other, both in his own inner voice but with differing intonations, the first an exclamation, the second a skeptical reply. Whether both sentences should be said to have happened at the moment of the beep seemed arbitrary to Phil: a broader interpretation of the "moment" would include both sentences. ]
  • Sample 3.6 [44:35 into video]: [Phil was watching a mountain be shaded by a cloud.] At the moment of the beep, Phil sees the shadow of the cloud cross from the snowy region into the rocky region. Simultaneously the phrase "can't see it anymore" is present. [Phil is unsure of how this was present: perhaps in some way without words, perhaps the words were present without being spoken.]

June 3

Interview 4 (DES sampling day 4)
Transcript with commentary

The issues that had arisen on earlier sampling days continued: what is simultaneous? What is the difference between inner speaking and inner hearing? ...

This was a pretty typical fourth-day DES Interview in the sense that we see reason to believe that Phil's descriptions today are of pretty high fidelity. We discussed:

  • Sample 4.1 [0:19 into video]: [Phil was eating lunch, looking at his yard, and wondering what he could make for a family dinner next week. Before the beep, Phil had innerly said, "What should we make?" Additionally, earlier in the day, a cardboard box from Phil's house had blown into their neighbor's backyard and Phil had been trying to figure out what to do about it]. At the moment of the beep, Phil is (40%) seeing bright green leaves shaking / dancing vigorously in the wind. Simultaneously, Phil is (30%) innerly saying, "I _____"—the beep interrupted him just after saying "I" (which may have been the start of "I think we should make_____"). (This was the stem of an answer to his earlier "What should we make?" question.) [Phil understands himself to employ a strategy of starting an answer even though he doesn't know the content, with the expectation that an answer may come. See sample1.6]. Simultaneously, Phil has (30%) a sense of where the box was in his neighbor's yard and a sense of the alignment from the bush to the box.
  • Sample 4.2 [10:32 into video]: [Phil had been walking, wearing flip flops, hearing their rhythmic flip—flop—flip—flop—flip, but now he had stopped.] At the moment of the beep, Phil hears a pop that came just at the temporal rhythmic location of the next flop. There is an uncertain quality to the pop [Is it real? Did I imagine it? This is inherent in the hearing, not experienced as a cognitive analysis. Phil later realized the noise to be coming from Max, his dog, biting into a Pringles can].
  • Sample 4.3 [18:09 into video]: [Phil was outside in his backyard looking for Max, who had just disappeared into a gully next to his house.] At the moment of the beep, Phil sees a long plant stem. [What Phil saw as a stem was actually a curved stick propped against the side of his house.]
  • Sample 4.4 [22:47 into video]: [Phil was having a glass of wine with Eva-stina, looking across the valley at the base of the mountain. His eyes carefully followed a line of snowy areas where he, an avid skier, had frequently skied.] He thinks could still ski, a quite specific thought that was directly apprehended but had no words or other symbols.
  • Sample 4.5 [31:28 into video]: [Phil was at the front of his house. Phil was watching his neighbor's cat (Sushi); there was another neighborhood cat that was walking towards Sushi. Prior to the beep, Phil had said, "uh oh" out loud (he was aware that there was a potential that the two cats would get into a fight).] At the moment of the beep, Phil sees (90%) Sushi slowly take a step [with his front paw]. This is a noticing of the step, the action (not the color of the cat, for example), [and perhaps included a noticing of the rather unconcerned nature of the step]. Simultaneously, Phil is (10%) aware of the location of the two cats [it is possible that this awareness involved a recognition that this was a tense situation, but it is unclear whether that was a report of context or a description of experience and we were unable to clarify that in the interview].
  • Sample 4.6 [43:39 into video]: [Phil had his eyes closed.] At the moment of the beep, Phil hears the alternation between two (high-pitched ringing) tones (of his tinnitus). Phil notices the tones shifting between two regions ambiguously inside and outside his head, one at the top right rear of his head, then to the left lateral portion. [Phil was perceptually shifting his attention to different locations in his head; the high-pitched ringing noise of the tinnitus shifted along with his attention.]

June 9

Interview 5 (DES sampling day 5)
Transcript with commentary

Before the interview, Phil noted that he was sometimes at a loss as to what his inner experience is. Perhaps this is due to the emergence of the phenomena that DES calls sensory awareness and unsymbolized thinking. Both phenomena had appeared in sampling days 3 and 4. It is common that if DES participants have presuppositions against the existence of a phenomenon, as they become more confident in apprehending and describing that phenomena, they experience a (usually temporary) loss of confidence in the entire procedure, presumably as the experience battles it out with the presupposition....

  • Sample 5.1 [2:30 into video]: [Phil was sitting on a chair warming his feet with a portable heater. Phil's gaze was directed through a hole formed by his bent arm and his leg.] At the moment of the beep, Phil (50%) sees the hole and (50%) appreciates the greenness of his pants.
  • Sample 5.2 [10:48 into video]: [Phil was riding his bike and had passed a driveway with a car backed into it.] At the moment of the beep, Phil innerly hears his own voice saying, or perhaps innerly hearing and speaking [we worked at that distinction without success], "it isn't anything?!" in an incredulous tone in which all three words overlapped (this is a literal overlapping: the words were overlaid onto each other and were present all at once, not as three consecutive words as would be the case if it were spoken or heard out loud in reality). ["It isn't anything?!" as meaning something like: What the hell? This car doesn't have any identifying information? It isn't anything?! ]. Simultaneously, Phil sees the car's auxiliary headlights—this seeing is focused on the headlights.
  • Sample 5.3 [21:55 into video]: [Phil had typed a message in Facebook Messenger and was hovering his mouse over an emoji to add to his message. As he hovered, the computer displayed the explanatory text "choose an emoji".] At the moment of the beep, Phil sees "choose an emoji" and simultaneously hears himself say "choose…an…emoji" in his own overly slow, drawn-out voice. [Phil seemed confident that this was a hearing (not a speaking) experience.]
  • Sample 5.4 [25:59 into video]: [Phil was walking Max (his puppy) and looking down at the ground ]. At the moment of the beep, Phil innerly hears the instrumental portion of "Come in Alone" (as if hearing a recording of the song). [Later, Phil listened to the actual "Come in Alone" and discovered that his beeped inner hearing had not been accurate.] Simultaneously, Phil sees flat flashing and glowing patches of pink superimposed onto his (real-world) seeing of looking at the ground—the pink patches fill approximately 5-10% at the left side of his visual field. [The pink is apparently spawned by the cover of the "Come in Alone" album, which is shades of pink and purple.]
  • Sample 5.5 [34:38 into video]: [Phil was sitting inside on his sofa with his computer. Phil had heard the sound of jet engines two times prior to the beep.] At the moment of the beep, Phil hears the [third] sound of jet engines from the airport and innerly hears himself say "inside… third… 3!"in his own voice. [The words convey specific meanings: "inside" convey that he was able to hear this from inside his house (usually he hears the airport noise only when outside); "third" convey that this is the third time he had heard the same noise; and "3" conveyed the surprise that he heard the same sound made by the jet engines three consecutive times (usually it is just twice).] Phil also sees (5%) a portion of a portable water heater, the floor, and a portion of the bookshelves.
  • Sample 5.6 [41:20 into video]: [Phil was on his computer at his desk. Prior to the moment of the beep, the image on his monitor had gone out, and Phil was noticing that the HDMI cable connecting his laptop and monitor was being bent by the monitor base]. At the moment of the beep, Phil sees and recognizes (50%) the badly positioned cable [that is: Phil is both seeing the cable and simultaneously recognizing that its position is bad]. Simultaneously, Phil has an urge to immediately move the cable a bit [this seems the beginning of a motor movement].

June 13

Interview 6 (DES sampling day 6)
Transcript with commentary

We continued to work at clarifying experiences that that might be called inner speaking and inner hearing, trying to distinguish those phenomena from a sense of agency or passivity/receptivity....

  • Sample 6.1 [0:47 into video]: [Phil was sitting on his sofa and talking aloud to Eva-stina. He had turned his head to re-direct his gaze toward his dog, Max.] At the moment of the beep, Phil says aloud to Eva-stina "Both of you" [with the beep occurring on or immediately after the word "you"] and is physically seeing Max.
  • Sample 6.2 [3:07 into video]: [Phil is hiking on a rocky trail.] At the moment of the beep, Phil's feels his uneven backpack—feels more weight on his left side than his right. Simultaneously he innerly sees his gray, blue, and fluorescent green uneven backpack (this is a relatively indeterminate inner seeing: Phil sees patches of gray, blue, and fluorescent green that he understood were parts of his backpack, but he does not see the specific parts of the backpack.) [After the beep, Phil realized with surprise that the backpack he innerly saw was actually a backpack that he had had as a teenager, even though his beeped experience was of seeing his current backpack]. Simultaneously, Phil feels a nagging, persistent indecisiveness [something like: should I unpack it? in a non-analytical/non-cognitive way; contrast with 6.3(b)]. Simultaneously, Phil is attentively walking [due to having to navigate the rocks on the trail].
  • Sample 6.3 [23:37 into video]: [23:33] [Phil's sister had texted, asking him what he was writing these days. Before the beep, he had typed "TMS," referring to transcranial magnetic stimulation.] At the moment of the beep, Phil is (a) physically seeing "TMS" on the screen; (b) simultaneously analytically (but without words) thinking about whether he wanted to take the time to explain TMS; (c) simultaneously innerly speaking "How"; and (d) simultaneously innerly hearing "am I going to explain…." (c) and (d) are overlapping and fading were present in Phil's own voice. "How" and "am I going to explain…" were experienced very differently, even though both were in Phil's own voice. "How" was actively innerly spoken, as if spoken to someone else; "am I going to explain…" was more passive or heard—those words came to him. [We spent considerable time trying to disentangle the passiveness and the heard-ness, without full success.]
  • Sample 6.4 [38:02 into video]: [Phil was in his yard with Max.] At the moment of the beep, Phil sees Max (who, with his head down, was likely smelling something).
  • Sample 6.5 [41:45 into video]: [Phil was walking outside with Max and noticed a man in front of the neighbor's house.] At the moment of the beep, Phil is innerly speaking in his own voice "still there…" [a condensation of "Is he still there!?"] in an incredulous tone. Simultaneously he innerly hears himself say "What is he…" [a condensation of "what is he doing?"] [Phil had seen the man for the third time when the beep had gone off, provoking a feeling of intrigue and annoyance at the man's presence.] The speaking and hearing were experienced as being very different from each other [compare 6.3]. [We tried to understand whether hearing meant an auditory phenomenon or a passivity phenomenon (continuing the discussion of 6.3). Phil understood the 6.5 hearing of "what is he…" to be substantially different from the 5.4 hearing of the instrumental portion of "Come in Alone." By the 5.4 use of "hearing," Phil would not describe the 6.5 hearing like that of hearing himself on a recording. But there seemed to be something innerly auditory about it; ultimately, however, we were unable to find a descriptive word beyond "heard" to adequately describe this experience.]
  • Sample 6.6 [54:30 into video]: [Eva-stina was sitting on the floor with Max, holding him and tempting him with a squeaky raccoon toy. Phil had just finished saying something, and the raccoon toy Eva-stina was holding faced Phil.] At the moment of the beep, Phil is making eye contact with the racoon, seeing its wide eyes that appear to be looking at him. (That is, Phil sees the raccoon looking at him, as if the raccoon were a sentient being.)

June 29

Interview 7 (DES sampling day 7)
Transcript with commentary

At sample 7.3, we discovered that Phil had not been using an earphone with the beeper for some of his samples today as well as some previous samples where he had been indoors in a quiet setting. (We are not sure which specific samples were affected by this.) This likely leads to timing non-specificity (Is that the beep? Is that the beep? Yes! That's the beep! is too imprecise) and therefore experiential non-specificity in today's samples and some previous samples (see, for one example, sample 7.3).

We continued to wrestle with the distinction between inner speaking and inner hearing; he now refers to his experience as "innerly hearing himself say," which is quite ambiguous in that regard. ...

  • Sample 7.1 [0:58 into video]: [Phil needed to get groceries; he noticed it was hot outside.] At the moment of the beep, Phil (75%) innerly hears himself say "I don't really want to" (referring to not wanting to go out for groceries). [We spent considerable time trying to understand what "innerly hears himself say" means. He referred to it as an "echo," and as a passive speaking, and later RTH suggested "gestural speaking." Phil noted that this seems somewhere between hearing and speaking. There were words, and the words were in Phil's voice, but he could not make a satisfactory distinction between hearing and speaking. This is possibly exacerbated by not wearing an earphone.] At the same time, Phil (25%) realizes (perhaps without words, or perhaps with hints of words, or perhaps with hints of a few of the words in a longer sentence) that you don't usually want to do anything when it is hot out.
  • Sample 7.2 [16:21 into video]: [Phil was flipping through the channels on his TV when he paused on a show America's Funniest Home Videos Animals. He had been watching a video of a cat, Albert, jumping to another tree., and the woman in the video (we called her "Jane") had said something (in English) that Phil had heard only indistinctly. In response, Phil had looked at subtitles (which were in Norwegian).] At the moment of the beep, Phil hears Jane say "Albert. What are you doing now?" [Phil believed that he was hearing Jane for a second time, objectively after Jane-on-TV had finished speaking, but also that he was hearing the words for the first time because now he was aided by the Norwegian subtitle.] At the same time, Phil feels that the word now didn't match the Norwegian subtitle. [This was both an auditory and an analytically judging that the now in the statement did not fit in the translation—that is, it was both that the hearing of now was without the confidence or clarity that was present in the rest of the heard sentence, and also that there was some kind of analytical recognition that the subtitle wasn't right. Phil was not sure of the exact moment when this portion of his experience took place. These timing issues may have been due to Phil wearing the beeper without the earphone.]
  • Sample 7.3 [26:15 into video]: [Phil was cleaning up after dinner. The beeper had beeped, but Phil had not heard heard it; apparently Eva-stina had heard it because she was giving Phil a look as if to notify him that should respond to the beep. Eva-stina was looking at Phil with wide eyes.] At the moment of the beep, Phil is noticing the whiteness of Eva-stina's eyes. [Obviously we have beep speaker issues here as elsewhere]
  • Sample 7.4 [34:47 into video]: [Phil had been comparing two photographs side by side. The two photos had been taken at the same location, one in 1971 and the other in 2022. Phil had noticed a distinct building in the 2022 photo.] At the moment of the beep, Phil hears "1971" in his own voice, spoken/heard in a drawn-out slowness. [Phil believed "1971" to be present halfway between hearing and speaking ("hear myself saying"), but sometimes noted that it was primarily an auditory phenomenon. We spent a long time trying to disentangle this experience, largely unsuccessfully, perhaps because of the failure to use the earphone.] At the same time, the sentiment building there is faintly present to Phil. [We were unable to determine with high fidelity if building there was present to Phil with words or if it was simply the idea of building there. Phil seemed predisposed to believe building there to be a condensed form of the longer phrase "let's see of the building is still there," condensed in the usual Vygotskian way of eliding words, and also in the trans-Vygotsky way of eliding the vocal characteristics. (However, because he did not use the earphone, such distinctions may not be possible.)]
  • Sample 7.5 [55:50 into video]: [Phil was inside when he heard a sudden noise after a gust of wind. Phil had initially thought it was a door, but then thought it could be a clothes rack on his patio.] At the moment of the beep, Phil innerly sees the clothes rack falling over. (The seen clothes rack is in motion, partially fallen over and continuing to do so after the beep.) [Phil believed this was an accurate visualization of what the clothes rack looked like as if watching a video recording of this clothes rack falling over.] Phil also (perhaps) has an awareness of gazing out his window.
  • Sample 7.6 [1:03:41 into video]: [Phil had been trying to turn on a light. He had flipped the switch a few times, but the light did not go on.] At the moment of the beep Phil is innerly saying (or perhaps innerly hearing himself say) "on." [This is possibly similar to 7.4 with "on" being a condensed form of "Is it not coming on?" RTH doubts that, but time may tell.]

July 5

Interview 8 (DES sampling day 8)
Transcript with commentary

Today, Phil seemed more confident in his ability to describe his experience than on previous sampling days. This confidence included describing a sample where he innerly spoke words where he did not know what he meant.

Beginning at 42:29, Phil asked RTH some questions about the why of inner experience (e.g., why do we conduct inner speech when the content of thought is already presumably known to us?). RTH's answers walked-back Phil's presuppositions about inner speech (e.g., that inner speech does not necessarily mean there *has* to be a recipient; that there is a wide variety of inner speech and inner hearing, etc.), and encouraged Phil to set aside why questions in favor of what. ...

  • Sample 8.1 [1:24 into video]: [Phil was taking Max for a walk. Max had been pulling on the leash on their trail.] At the moment of the beep Phil says aloud, "You're still pulling." At the same time, Phil innerly says "but not as much." [Phil was not sure if both of these phenomena were overlapping ("you're still pulling" beginning first and "but not as much" beginning before "you're still pulling" had ended, perhaps around "pulling") or if they had happened entirely simultaneously. His best recollection was that, at the moment of the beep, they were overlapping: he was both finishing his physically spoken statement and beginning to innerly speak. He was confident that there was some simultaneity /overlapping-ness involved.]
  • Sample 8.2 [6:45 into video]: [Phil was trying to reconnect his computer to WiFi. Just prior, Phil had thought his upstairs neighbors (with whom they share the WiFi ) may have changed the password]. At the moment of the beep, Phil innerly says to Eva-stina, "sometimes it's really." [Phil did not know what that meant or what was the reference/meaning behind the "it's." Furthermore, while he was confident that his speaking was directed to Eva-Stina, she was not experientially or actually present.]
  • Sample 8.3 [13:19 into video]: [Phil was reading an orange juice carton that was labeled in Norwegian. He was pondering the translation of the Norwegian "en av fem om dagen" to English. Before the beep, he had realized that "en av" meant something like "one of five," and now he was focused on "om dagen." ] At the moment of the beep, Phil simultaneously (a) realizes that he understood the English meaning of "om dagen"; and (b) realizes the text was part of healthy-eating campaign. Both realizations were directly present before the footlights of consciousness; neither of these realizations involved words. That is, he realized that he understood the English meaning of "om dagen" without innerly articulating or explicitly recognizing its "per day" meaning; and he realized that he understood that the text was part of a healthy-eating campaign without any of the words "healthy," eating," or "campaign" being present to him.
  • Sample 8.4 [20:49 into video]: [Phil was outside sitting on a bench. Max was trying to get onto the bench, and Phil was in the process of pulling Max up, holding Max while simultaneously pulling his leash.] At the moment of the beep, Phil is pulling the cable to see if there was enough slack, which involved pulling (kinesthetically/bodily tugging on the cable), seeing the slack of the cable, and (mentally / analytically figuring out if there's enough slack.
  • Sample 8.5 [31:04 into video]: [Phil heard what sounded like a sneeze coming from outside his window.] At the moment of the beep, Phil innerly hears the same sound as he had just heard, except now this sound is the words "duck shoe!" [That is, Phil had put a semantic meaning the same sound and now hears "duck shoe!" as if that were being said instead of being sneezed.]

    [Compare this sample to sample 7.2, where Phil added meaning to the word "now" in rehearing "Albert what are you doing now?" Both are re-hearings of the external world, coming slightly after the actual-in-the-world hearing; both have altered the semantic value of the innerly heard expression by comparison to the external hearing; both have changed the experienced hearing as well as its meaning.]
  • Sample 8.6 [35:25 into video]: [Phil was on the sofa with Max. Max had been licking, nipping, barking, and growling.] At the moment of the beep, Phil is (50%) hearing Max's growl and (50%) mentally/cognitively recognizing (without words or other symbols) that this is a long growl.

July 28

Interview 9 (DES sampling day 9)
Transcript with commentary

Two of today’s samples occurred while Phil was semi-asleep. One of those did provide the opportunity for Phil to become clearer about the distinction between the experience of speaking and of hearing his own voice.

This day continues to have instances of what are becoming consistent experiential occurrences: sensory awareness and inner seeing....

  • Sample 9.1 [1:57 into video]: [While in a semi-sleep state, Phil was having a very clear dream about a bright red piece of farm equipment on display. He did not recognize the kind of equipment, but it was well cared for and brightly painted red. Before the beep, Phil had circled the piece of equipment, but its shape and form was changing so Phil could not get all the way around it before it changed shape.] At the moment of the beep, Phil thinks, without words or images, I can't get to the other side.
  • Sample 9.2 [7:47 into video]: [Phil was still in a semi-dream state, eyes closed, watching colored patterns that appeared.] At the moment of the beep, Phil sees the tip of a green line move in a zig zag pattern against a blotchy brown-and-black background. At the same time, Phil innerly hears his own voice saying, "What is he doing?" [Phil was entirely confident that this was a hearing experience and fairly confident that what he heard was his own voice.]
  • Sample 9.3 [13:32 into video]: [Phil had turned on his phone screen to adjust the volume.] At the moment of the beep, Phil sees the white lines/extensions [that make up the time 9:51 on his phone display] on a blue background (his phone background.) [That is, he sees the pattern of the display without regard for the time aspect or the color aspect. He also was not attending to the task of adjusting the volume.]
  • Sample 9.4 [18:23 into video]: [Phil had paused his work to shut his eyes. He heard what he believed to be a Skil saw coming from a nearby new-house construction site.] At the moment of the beep, Phil was innerly sees the side of the new house, sees the new window with its gray siding. [Phil noted that there was more siding in his visualization than there actually was on the house, but other than that his visualization seemed accurate. Phil's inner seeing include substantial details—for example, he saw the scaffolding below and to the side of the window.]
  • Sample 9.5 [25:56 into video]: [Phil was eating Eva-stina's ramen that she had described as too salty. At the same time, Eva-stina was talking about a poo stain that Max left on the carpet.] At the moment of the beep, Phil was tasting saltiness (of the ramen); it was very salty (but not as salty as it had been a few seconds before) and hearing Eva-stina say "poo." [Phil was unable to recall any of the other words in Eva-stina's sentence. Phil was unsure if he was experiencing one single word or a longer phrase, but was confident that Eva-stina's sentence had ended with "poo."]
  • Sample 9.6 [34:11 into video]: [Phil was reaching for the button on the beeper to test whether the beeper was working.] At the moment of the beep, Phil felt a textured portion of the beeper (which he later realized to be the volume wheel.) At the same time, Phil was wondering without words whether that was the button.

August 3

Interview 10 (DES sampling day 10)
Transcript with commentary

Phil distinguishes clearly between inner speaking and inner hearing, and his inner experience continues to be populated with sensory awareness and inner seeing....

  • Sample 10.1 [2:25 into video]: [Phil was working on a Norwegian language exercise on his computer. The task is to match object-form pronouns with subject-form pronouns by dragging the object form to be next to the correct subject form.] At the moment of the beep, Phil is looking at the empty spot next to the word "Jeg." At the same time, Phil visuo-kinesthetically feels the movement he was about to make [that is, he is anticipating dragging "meg" to the spot next to "Jeg"]. [He noted that there was no actual physical sensation of the mouse in his hand.]
  • Sample 10.2 [9:25 into video]: [Phil was on the phone talking to Eva-stina about making something easy to make for dinner.] At the moment of the beep, there is, as best we could ascertain, perhaps nothing in Phil's experience. [Phil initially noted that he experienced saying the word "something," but he was not confident that this was in his direct experience. Furthermore was in the midst of conversation when this beep occurred and he completed the conversation before jotting notes about the beeped experience. So skepticism about the sample is warranted.]
  • Sample 10.3 [13:55 into video]: [Phil was watching a video of a Norwegian language instructor. Before the beep, the instructor had said "Jeg bor på Hamar" a couple of times and was beginning to say it again]. At the moment of the beep, Phil was intently listening (80%) to the word at the end of the sentence, trying to understand what she was saying [he understood, not directly in his experience, that this must be a place name—that follows from the construction of the sentence—but he did not recognize that place. [Phil mentioned there is another 20% of his experience but was unable to distinguish whether that was frustration or implicit anticipation of the next word to be said on the video.]
  • Sample 10.4 [21:07 into video]: [Phil was taking Max for a walk. Before the beep, he had seen a man to his right while crossing the street.] At the moment of the beep, Phil innerly continues* to see the man, sees him wearing a gray and yellow shirt and jeans; his face is not seen clearly. He also innerly sees the immediate surrounding background including the street and green trees. Phil sees the man hazily from high humidity. [In actuality, it was not humid day. Phil was confident that he was seeing humidity, not that the haziness was a feature of his seeing.] [*Phil was unsure if his visualization was a continuing seeing or if he was recalling what he had seen in the moments before the beep—he speculated that it was a continuing seeing.]
  • Sample 10.5 [30:38 into video]: [Phil was sitting with his computer and feeling indigestion after eating.] At the moment of the beep. Phil was (30%) seeing his computer screen], (30%) feeling abdominal bloating and chest discomfort, and (40%) innerly saying "I am not hungry." [Phil was confident that this was a clear and clearly apprehended speaking. That is, he was "speaking," not "hearing himself speak" as he had described experiences in earlier sampling days.]
  • Sample 10.6 [35:16 into video]: [Phil was on his patio taking off his sweater and had glanced at the last patch of snow on a nearby mountain. Phil remembered previously seeing another patch of snow and thought he could look with his binoculars. The mountain was in the general direction of his neighbor's house, and Phil thought that his neighbor may find it strange to see him looking their direction with binoculars.] At the moment of the beep, Phil innerly saw himself (as if from his neighbor's perspective) looking through binoculars. Phil saw himself from head to toe wearing the green shirt he was actually wearing, saw his patio deck and house in the background. [He did not see his sweater that, in reality, he was holding in his hand.] At the same time, Phil was innerly saying something like "think I'm weird." [Perhaps he had said only "weird."] [Phil was confident that he was "speaking," not "hearing himself speak" (see 10.5) but the inner speaking of "I am not hungry" in 10.5 was clearer than the speaking of 10.6.]

For more information:
Russell T. Hurlburt, Ph.D.
Descriptive Experience Sampling online materials

©2023 Russell T. Hurlburt
Updated December 9, 2022