Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Seeing is Believing????

I had gone to an amazing magic show called 'The Illusionists', sitting there watching them I thought when people say 'seeing is believing' they are talking a lot of crap. Because seeing can be quite misleading, what we think we are seeing can actually be a pack of lies and sensory information can be erroneous. Which got me to think about illusions and reality.

It's our brain that decides and interprets what we perceive. We actually see with our brains and not our eyes. What fascinates me is the behavior of the brain when presented with two realities... when an object has more than one picture the brain decides what it will perceive, shifting between the two realities, but sometimes that only happens when it is given the cue that there are two pictures.

Cognitive “illusions” rely on our knowledge about the world but we have conscious control over them (we can generally reverse the perception at will). When the brain deals with extra information it makes a choice of what we will see first and then when we are told there is another picture it recomputes so we can see that, like in the Rubens Vase. As soon as we know that there is another picture the perspective keeps shifting

I kept wondering what would happen if we were to show the vase to a person who doesn't know that there can be another picture, how long would it take them to perceive the other image, would they even perceive it at all. So I made my five year old look at the picture she saw the vase and I had to point out that there were also two women looking at each other before she saw it.

 I guess that's why the pursuit of knowledge and constant broadening of our experience is so essential because until we are made to realize there can be more than one reality we don't see it.

Sometimes we are prisoners of habit, programmed to behave a certain way and in most situations that unconscious or primitive response takes over and and we interpret what we see because of memory and old habits.

If we are told to read out the color of the text very fast, we can't manage, we just read the word instead.  The two parts of the brains are warring with each other. Its only when we slow down and consciously decide to be mindful can we accomplish this task.

 So does that mean that everything I perceive, see, hear, taste, touch and smell is just a reconstruction from sensory data? What I perceive as the world is actually just an idea in my head?

 And what of realities we can't perceive because our physical senses don't compute the sensory data? lets think of animals that can hear better than us - because we can't hear particular sound waves, have never experienced them we don't have a mental idea of them and hence we don't perceive, but that doesn't mean they don't exist...

 If there are no innate truths, and all truths come to us through our senses; what if those very senses were prone to be fallibility, then where do we stand? If truths are dependent on our senses than is a color blind person giving testimony to seeing something green which was in fact red be called a liar?

Our truths are individual to us and can only be known to us through the context of our own perception.  It is our own unique framework that determines how we understand and shape certain contexts and perspectives. Where we grew up, our culture our history, language all determine our reality. Everything we see is processed, analyzed, compared and seen through the lens of not only what is evident in front of us but all our past experiences. Our experiences give shape and form to our perceptions and sense of reality. So if I was born into a different religion and had a different truth would not my entire reality be very different?

So is our knowledge of the world, prisoner to our very human perspective? And even if the world we live is real, are we imprisoned in the illusions fed to us by our senses?

PS: On a totally different note and an update to my last post...a few days back I had a meltdown and I yelled so didn't make it for a week :( also didn't go for my anger management workshop as was really busy. But as a good friend pointed before managing anything one must find out where it is coming from and that is a work in progress.