Predictive Imagery

The Socratic phenomenon of a priori knowledge

by Win Wenger, Ph.D.
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“Predictive imagery” is a most fascinating demonstration of the a priori knowledge that the Socratics talk about. It’s an extraordinary phenomenon as easily demonstrated as is Image Streaming itself.

(Like so many valuable procedures, to work with predictive images you need to be able to Image Stream. Please see Image Streaming for complete instructions.)

They are “predictive” not in the sense of predicting the future, but in predicting in some way the contents of a book, lecture or even an entire course previously unknown to the listener or reader or student.

In this brief article I will show you how to triple your comprehension from any lecture or from any major reading task or assignment, and triple your speed in successfully reading and digesting any major reading task or assignment (not the extraordinary speeds of PhotoReading, a very different form of “speed-reading,” but still respectable). Then I will show you a simple way to multiply by many times the effectiveness of your understanding in any course of study where either intellectual or aesthetic or human understanding is involved.

Initial Example

Some years ago, while I was teaching in Stockholm, I was invited to dinner at the home of my Swedish publisher. A very pleasant affair, but during it my publisher’s daughter complained that after considerable effort she couldn’t make heads nor tails of a major reading assignment she had been given in school. Was there any way I could help her? This was a girl who normally was at or near the top of her class, but this time she was stymied.

Having ascertained that she was able to Image Stream, I got her to express willingness to try a little “experiment.”

“Ask your Image Streaming faculties to show you an image which, somehow, will make everything in your reading of this assignment come together and make immediate sense to you… what do you see?”

She saw a white bird. I didn’t get all her other detail, though her English was good. I then suggested that she “hang that picture on the back wall of your mind” and go back to that reading assignment and see what happened. Short minutes later, she burst back into the dining room all excited because everything in that assignment did come together for her and made immediate great sense to her…..

Predictive Imagery for Immediate Specific Targets—The Process

Actually, for me it had stopped being an “experiment” years before and dozens of individuals ago, but it was nice to have this example happen in front of others, the rest of the girl’s family. In this particular instance, I didn’t find out and didn’t even need to find out the meaning of that white bird image for her in this particular context, the way we usually seek the meaning of Image Streamed or elicited images. The function we were after was accomplished.

In a very general form, here is the procedure you can use to triple your comprehensive understanding and triple your reading speed on book, periodical or lecture content for which intellectual or aesthetic or human understanding is needed:

Just before the lecture, or just before the chapter, journal article or even complete text, orient to what you’re about to be dealing with and ask your Image Streaming faculties to show you “an image which, somehow, will make everything in this (lecture or reading) come together for me and make immediate good sense to me.” Whatever that image is, express/record some details of that image. Then just keep that image in the back of your mind, and go into that reading or lecture.

That’s it. As simple as that. Watch what happens!

Tripling your reading speed, and tripling your comprehension from such reading, makes for a nine-fold improvement in such of your reading as requires much understanding. Not too shabby! Way short of the spectacular speed of PhotoReading, of course, but with Predictive Imagery, post-reading “activation” isn’t an issue. We haven’t yet experimented to find out what will happen if one were to run this Predictive Imagery procedure in the “pre-read” stages of PhotoReading; it could be interesting.

You can apply the same dynamic to an entire one-semester or one-year course of study (described below). The results of that you may find fully as interesting.

About a priori Knowledge and Understanding

About 2200 years ago, Socratic Method first started producing genius-level understanding and even geniuses for almost everyone with whom it was used to much extent. The reasons were not understood until the Twentieth Century, when behavioral science began to understand enough about natural laws and principles of behavior to state the descriptive natural Law of Effect.

By then, alas, “education” had abandoned Socratic Method and gone to methods which, today, produce fewer geniuses from all of Earth’s six billion people, with all our Information Age advantages, than Socratic Method was producing back then from just a few thousand people. Today’s methods are producing, all around us, the results that we’ve been experiencing and seeing and complaining about, and which we seem to have a snowball’s chance of getting schools to improve.

People who used Socratic Method kept seeing such extraordinary results, they became convinced that — somehow — all knowledge and understanding was already within each learner, within each one of us, and needed merely to be “drawn forth.” The successes of the method were such a consistent experience that “education” (“educare” = “to draw forth”) was actually named after the concept, even though our schools stopped educating long ago and went over instead to teaching in the Prussian school model.

To think that somehow all knowledge and understanding was already within each of us seemed mystical and “unscientific,” and that may have contributed to the disastrous decision by our schools to go over to didactic teaching.

We don’t have to assume, however, that all knowledge and understanding is already within each learner, to account for what happens. For, indeed, it is a long-since proven and explained scientific fact that a great amount of knowledge and understanding is indeed within each learner, derivable simply from prior ordinary sensory experience, both conscious and unconscious.

For a long time we’ve known that for every awareness you are conscious of experiencing at any given moment, you are also experiencing and filing hundreds of awarenesses unconsciously.

For a long time we’ve known that something like all those awarenesses and experiences, conscious and unconscious, are still part of your memory even if it seems difficult to retrieve them. The pleasures and pains and wonders and delighted insights of childhood are still there, along with your birth experience and pivotal silent choices and decisions and tons and tons of first impressions….

Maybe there is, beyond all this, some sort of transpersonal Jungian Collective Unconscious or Chardinian noosphere or Asiatic karmic record. Or maybe not. We don’t have to assume there is in order to account for the seeming miracles of Socratic Method and of other techniques, like Predictive Imagery, which bear on the same principles and dynamics. There is an enormous stock of information and insights there, within each of us, which, given focus and opportunity to express, will come out to astonish and delight us.

Nor is all that wealth simply passively stored somewhere. At every moment it is being reflexively sorted through and correlated in relation to what’s going on. Most of that associative sorting function is in terms of sensory mental images. Predictive Imagery method is simply one of the more direct and sensitive ways of tapping into that sorting-through insight process.

Even subjects we think we are encountering for the very first time with no idea as to the contents — in truth we already know much of the contents from all our now-unconscious a priori richness. However good or bad or indifferent our surface conscious minds, we all have that deeper, prior richness there available to engage. We can infer from our previous experiences much of what we otherwise might have to struggle to be learning from scratch.

Once we’ve grasped that already-understood core of a subject, the remainder of that subject — learned by whatever methods — assimilates readily and meaningfully around that core. That is what most of the learning methods of Project Renaissance are all about — they are ways to get that core conscious and understood consciously so that the whole course contents take on ready meaningfulness and intelligibility.

Applying Predictive Imagery to Entire Courses at a Time

One of the strongest accelerated learning methods, cited in our book Beyond Teaching And Learning, is a special application version of Predictive Imagery. It is dynamite for rendering an entire new course’s contents accessible, meaningful and readily learned and understood.

In nearly every introductory academic course in the undergraduate college curriculum and, I think it may still be the case, also for nearly every course in the high-school curriculum, sales-hungry publishers of school textbooks provide with most such texts an instructor’s guide for that course’s teacher. In that guide are usually listed twenty to thirty main concepts.

If you have or can obtain those listed concepts, turn each of these twenty or thirty concepts into some sort of question, even if it’s only a “what is…?” question or “what does ___ mean…?” type question. Read each of these questions onto a blank tape, in the following manner. On the tape, record one question, followed by a few moments’ blank space on the tape, followed by the next question, until all the questions have been so treated.

During the blank space on tape following each question — and the student can pause the tape if he needs further time — the student is to look at, and then sketch or describe onto paper, the resultant predictive image.

He is not only to check back on those predictive images from time to time but to carry his pad of images with him into class or into his text; and as he encounters the topics for which those images have been recorded, he refreshes on those images.

If the instructor himself is pursuing this use of Predictive Imagery as a way to make his course more effective, meaningful and intelligible, he can read these questions to his class and have his students, in pairs, both describe their respondent images to each other and sketch or note them on paper. Ideally, they will keep a journal of these conceptual predictive images. This would be preferred because the instructor is in a better position to make each concept into a very good question, so the process can be even stronger.

Short of the instructor himself, a group of students can work this process together in like manner as an experiment, at or very near the beginnings of the course. However, this procedure will still be dynamite effective even for individual students working alone.

The images so elicited seem specific for the purpose and might not be very translatable the way Image Streaming images and High Thinktank images are translatable into specific meanings. They somehow nonetheless produce the very nice effects for which they were intended, darned convenient and thus very useful.


Predictive Imagery is an easily elicited phenomenon which seems most remarkable until one realizes the bases for it. Predictive Imagery is one of several techniques which draw directly upon an enormous store of a priori information and insight, a wealth of which every one of us is endowed with from ordinary accumulated experience of all sorts. There may be transpersonal sources beyond these ordinary sources, or there may not be: there is more there than we’ll ever use even if all our a priori endowment has ordinary sources.

We’ve presented here two types of use for Predictive Imagery. One is for assimilating specific lecture content or the content of specific texts, specific chapters within those texts, journal articles or other major readings for which understanding may be a challenge. The other use is to render entire semester or year-based academic courses more immediately accessible, intelligible and meaningful. No doubt, as Predictive Imagery comes into broader use, many more valuable applications can also be found for this phenomenon. You have the procedures here, free for your own experimentation and use, like so many other Project Renaissance procedures. We will appreciate your feedback and observed results.

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