At all times the world we perceive is a reflection of our internal dialog -Deepak Chopra
Over time one thing I learned the hard way is that people can have radically different views. This is true even for the most objective of things as well as most rational people. If at the most basic level, things like color, smell and taste can have very different subjective experience between people, then it is not hard to imagine why that same phenomena cannot extend to more complex circumstances like food, art, music, beliefs, ideas and creativity. From whatever little we know from neuroscience the way our brains work can be very counter-intuitive and difficult to access via introspection. For example we always have a strong feeling that we capture a full picture of reality through our eyes. Multiple experiments have demonstrated that is not the case. Although our eyes (ratina) capture a huge amount of information only a tiny percentage of this information is actually processed through a process known as selective attention. The field of view that remains in attention is surprisingly small, our eyeballs rapidly move and scan the area one small patch at a time and creates a model in our memory - and it is this model that we hold in our mind that creates the illusion that we are "seeing" life in full. Magicians have exploited this fact for millenia. It is surprisingly easy to demonstrate how little we actually see. Look at the pictures below and try to figure out what is different between them. Let me tell you beforehand that there is huge difference between the pictures. You will be surprised as to how long it takes to register the differences. What is being done here is that the first picture is shown then for a brief periods (lasting few hundred milliseconds) the picture turns gray and then the changed picture is shown. The inability to detect change in these pictures is termed as change blindness.

Click on image to start animation

Click on image to start animation

There is another beautiful demonstration by illusionist Darren Brown on youtube. This brings me to the hard fact that what we see, hear and perceive has little to do with reality, rather reality is an illusion created by our assumptions and presumptions. There is nothing sweet about sugar, nothing cute about babies, nothing beautiful about the sunset. These subjective feelings are associations we make based on presumptions made over our life or sometimes inherited and hardwired through evolution. Babies are cute because that is the only association that survived evolution-by natural selection. Our need for carbohydrates is what associated the feeling of sweetness with sugar. Had we been flies feces would have had the same feeling! Since both nature and nurture is different for different people, so is the presumptions and assumptions they make; which gives rise myriad of opinions and feelings for the same physical reality and probably is at the core of creativity and imagination. The downside of this is that it can cause one to be completely disconnected to reality. For instance when a mother fails to see the flaws in her kid, I would argue it is merely a complex form of change blindness based on the strong presumption that her kid is perfect. The realization of these facts allows for the appreciation of other's  opinion and paves way towards tolerance to ideas that are counter to yours. It also allows for a conscious effort on our part to extend our attention to places where we normally fail to attend. The key to achieving this is to make a conscious effort to realize the presumptions we are making and try to minimize them. This would allow for a more objective accessment of our reality without dislodging the subjective experience attached to it. Print This Post Print This Post
  • Dude, did you just cite Deepak Chopra in your blog post? :O

    • Ha Ha Ya I did….I hate that guy…but some of his quotes are good 🙂

    • AmiyaPatanaik

      Yup I did…While he is a textbook example of how to misuse scientific language, some of his quotes are actually quite good…

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