More on Lost (again, pronounced “Low-st”…though try telling anyone that). I’ve seen all of season one, and bits of season two, and my general theory is now as follows (and by the way this is not a joke this time):
The island is home to some kind of improbability drive, shades of Douglas Adams’ Infinite Improbability Drive. Perhaps it could be more easily described as an “unraveling of reality”. The effects of this unraveling would be disasterous if the unraveling continued – reality would un-combine, and the infinite would replace the finite. It could end the world as we know it.
But for now, its effects have been mostly contained, limited to the island by a combination of efforts. One, some kind of engineering effort (evidently built by the military), and second, through human thought (evidently built by the university with the shady B.F. Skinner connection).
To appreciate the second element, one needs to grant that the improbability drive does not simply replace the finite with the infinite immediately – it starts with, or is currently limited to, replacing the finite with elements of the infinite that are present in people’s minds.
To protect the world from unraveling from this point on the island on outward, some students familiar with the mind-fuck techniques of B.F. Skinner were brought to the island in the 1970s. I am suggesting they were brought to the island because it was felt they could maintain a clear sense of reality, by carefully controlling their minds. And for some time (years probably) this effort provided satisfactory results in maintaining the status quo. At some point they lost control, and these students – now the Others – are perhaps no longer as fixed in reality as they should be (same situation with the monster machines, imo).
Today, what the new residents of the island find is a reality that is slightly affected by this island’s heart of improbability. Any person near it can affect reality. For example, Jack’s memory of his father brings his father into being (sort of). Kate’s memory of a horse that changed the course of her life brings a horse into being (sort of). These are not illusions, they are improbabilities (bits of the infinite) brought into finite form.
Lock’s paralysis was similarly wished away. Just as tangibly, the young boy who was reading the comic book about polar bears actually brought the polar bears into being on the island – and not in the temporary, dreamy way that Jack brought his father back for a couple days -because that young boy has more acutely developed mental talents than average. Like the B.F Skinner students before him, his mind interacts more keenly with the island than the average person’s mind – but all of the minds now on the island are affecting it to some degree.
One might even consider that every person on the plane who could envision their own survival, suvived not by chance but by sheer will power!