Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Your Lying Eyes

How Believing Can Be Seeing: Context Dictates What We Believe We See - Science Daily

It only makes sense that context would provide meaning for what we see. I remember watching part of the mediocre movie "What the Bleep Do We Know" and learning about how the natives in America at first couldn't see Columbus' ships or Umberto Eco's description of native American's first experience with armored men on horses and how the natives believed the horse and the man to be one creature. When we see things that are outside of our contextual background, our minds attempt to take up the slack by interpreting the visual into something that makes sense or, in the case of the unseen ships of Columbus, completely block it from our sensory experience. Simply put, the neurons of perception are firing but they have nothing to connect to, nowhere to go.
It's a matter of how our minds categorize the world. Before the rise of Gothic literature in the 19th century, many of our fears about science overtaking man or the idea of playing God remained undefined and outside of our experience. Once Gothic literature came about we had a reference point from which to expand our experience and make the subconsciously frightening something less fearsome. Once we can put something into words, into language, can we examine it in a logical fashion. But that which remains outside of our logical realm are either ignored or unconsciously feared.

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