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The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightening and the lightening bug.
-- Mark Twain


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You may have heard of the infamous hole in your eye called the "blind spot." It's where the optic nerve attaches to the back of the retina, and in that particular spot, you have no rods or cones, which are the sensors that capture images to send to the brain.

In other words, you are truly blind almost in the center of your vision. In both eyes.

Yet, you don't notice the big swatch of nothing in your vision. Your brain is wired to fill in that dead space with whatever makes the most sense in the context of the rest of the image.

Humor me, if you would.

Swing your gaze, with one eye shut, around the area in which you sit, as fast as you can. High and low, up and down.

No really - go ahead and do it.

Now, there was nary a gap, was there? Not once. That is how lightning fast your brain is to fill in that space. It's quite remarkable to think about it. But please make note of one thing:

You didn't have any sense of the effort or even the loss of information. Your brain, not your eye, filled in that space so quickly and so well that you weren't conscious of it. It takes concerted effort to even discover that you have a blind spot, so well-concealed is it from our awareness.

Your brain's image processing is just that good.

This, then, is what you need to know:

You are hard-wired to fill in the gaps of your world, and most of the time, it's unnoticeable to you.

Imagine that your friend is late to have lunch with you. You're seated at the table, 15 minutes beyond the appointed time. In truth, you don't know why your friend is late. You really don't. But the historical context of your friendship informs you of the strongest possibilities, and more than likely, you will convince yourself that you damn sure know what happened. Then something amazing occurs. You respond emotionally to the "reality" you have constructed. You determine what to do next. In spite of the fact that you truly don't know, you believe you do, and you fully expect to be validated later with the explanation.

We don't deal well with not knowing, and knowing something is better than knowing nothing - even if it's a fake something that we pretend to know. It gives us a framework on which to make a decision and allows us to respond. Everyone does this. It's normal and natural, but it's also a complete fabrication.


Read the whole story of "Seeing"
by Brett Rogers, 9/21/2012 11:46:29 PM


This framework is also used both consciously and subconsciously, often to great detriment, as a tool of anticipation, prediction, and risk assessment. I called this "the framework of expectation" back before I'd heard of theory of mind (although, technically, the latter is a subset of the former.)



Posted by Jonathan, 9/22/2012 1:56:21 AM

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