Kyrie Irving is bad at science. At least, that’s what NBA fans were led to believe after the Cleveland Cavaliers point guard revealed in a February episode of the podcast Road Trippin’ that he believed the Earth is flat. “I’m telling you, it’s right in front of our faces. They lie to us,” Irving said, expressing a sentiment echoed by Shaquille O’Neal. Recently, Irving discussed an equally bizarre idea but one that has its roots in actual science. Irving, it seems, may actually have a shot at redeeming himself in the eyes of the rational community.
In the podcast, Irving reveals that he’s been investigating his own lucid dreams — a field of study that has the curiosity of many neuroscientists and psychologists piqued. Some neuroscientists have theorized that lucid dreaming could help improve creativity, artistic abilities, and problem- solving skills, while others have suggested it might have the potential to solve mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. The idea is that lucid dreaming allows the user to create for themselves a safe space in which they can work out their issues. All of this is rooted in the ability to, like Irving, control your own dreams.
In other words, he may be more scientifically inclined than he lets on.
Describing his experiences, Irving says, “But I’m, like, very, very conscious, but the thing about it is, I don’t know if you guys have the same thing, but I can control my dreams.” He goes on to describe the rest of the dream, in which his friend and former teammate Jordan McRae visits him in a room, but Irving, though conscious, can’t respond to him. It’s unclear whether he wakes up or is still asleep when he shouts, “I love you bro!,” but he seems to believe he consciously decided to do so while he was still asleep, when he felt McRae’s “presence” standing near him.
It’s tempting to dismiss Irving’s thoughts on lucid dreaming as more of his misinformed ramblings, but it’s important to note that he isn’t the only person who’s curious about the ability to control dreams. In addition, he’s also not the only one who’s had to deal with skepticism from outside; in a previous interview with Inverse, dream researcher Brigitte Holzinger of Vienna’s Institute of Consciousness and Dream Research said that she refers to her research topic as “cognition in sleep” because “lucid dreaming” doesn’t sound scientific to reviewers. Holzinger, recognizing that lucid dreaming offers people the tools they have on hand when they’re awake — that is, rationality, decisiveness, and choice — believes that people with PTSD can use them to change the storylines of the nightmares that haunt them.
It seems that Irving tried to do the same by exercising agency in his nightmares in order to make contact with his friend. This is a start, though he doesn’t mention that he is attempting to investigate his abilities in a particularly scientific way. It’s possible, though, that he can help the scientists who are trying to be systematic about lucid dreaming research: Only an estimated one percent of humans is thought to have the ability to control their dreams, and these people can help scientists figure out what happens in the brain when the process begins so that they can figure out how to induce it artificially.
We can only hope that when they do, they’ll induce it in Irving to show him, once and for all, that the Earth is not flat.