You look at life from a unique point of view.
I do, too.
Each of us is trapped in our own perceptual reality.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
You and I may look at the same thing but see it differently. And that little girl over there, yes, that one, sees things differently than either of us. The woman standing next to that little girl has experienced things you and I will never experience, and her reactions to those things have changed her and formed the person she is today. She is trapped inside her own perceptual reality, just like you and me.
“Is there a way out of it?”
Out of what?
“Out of the perceptual reality in which each of us is trapped.”
When you modify your perception, you modify your reality.
When you listen carefully to an honest person who doesn’t agree with your beliefs, you understand that they experience things differently than you do. And that is when your perceptual reality is modified, and your mind is expanded.
“What you are describing is relativism. I believe the facts are the facts, and the truth is the truth, regardless of what you choose to believe.”
But would you agree that things are often different than they appear to be?
“I’m not sure what you’re saying.”
Sometimes we trust facts that are not facts. And even when our facts are correct, the complete truth is usually far more complex than it appears to be on the surface.
“I reject that statement. Facts are facts, and the truth is never complex; it is always plain and simple. An honest person who doesn’t see the truth has simply been misinformed.”
I respectfully disagree.
“Then you have been misinformed.”
It was six men of Indostan, to learning much inclined,
who went to see the elephant (Though all of them were blind),
that each by observation, might satisfy his mind.
The first approached the elephant, and, happening to fall,
against his broad and sturdy side, at once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the elephant, is nothing but a wall!”
The second feeling of the tusk, cried: “Ho! what have we here,
so round and smooth and sharp? To me tis mighty clear,
this wonder of an elephant, is very like a spear!”
The third approached the animal, and, happening to take,
the squirming trunk within his hands, “I see,” quoth he,
the elephant is very like a snake!”
The fourth reached out his eager hand, and felt about the knee:
“What most this wondrous beast is like, is mighty plain,” quoth he;
“Tis clear enough the elephant is very like a tree.”
The fifth, who chanced to touch the ear, Said; “E’en the blindest man
can tell what this resembles most; Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an elephant, is very like a fan!”
The sixth no sooner had begun, about the beast to grope,
than, seizing on the swinging tail, that fell within his scope,
“I see,” quothe he, “the elephant is very like a rope!”
And so these men of Indostan, disputed loud and long,
each in his own opinion, exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right, and all were in the wrong!
So, oft in theologic wars, the disputants, I ween,
tread on in utter ignorance, of what each other mean,
and prate about the elephant, not one of them has seen!
“Okay, so what’s your point?”
Each of the six blind men saw a different elephant, but every one of those six elephants was far more complex than it appeared to be on the surface.
“But if the blind men had taken time to gather all the facts, they would have seen the truth of the entire elephant.”
“Well, that’s what I do. I gather all the facts, and then I see the truth.”
You are to be congratulated on that. You are a very special individual.
The rest of us suffer from availability bias and confirmation bias.
“What are those?”
Availability bias is the result of not having all the facts available to you. When you come to a conclusion based on the facts that are available – and you are unaware that other facts exist – your conclusion will suffer from availability bias. Think of it as a kind of blindness.
“Well, I’m certain I’m not suffering from availability bias. My sources of information are rock solid. Beyond dispute.”
I’m sure they are.
“What is the other one?
Confirmation bias is the result of agreeing with information that confirms your belief, and discounting information that conflicts with your belief.
“I’m certain I’m not doing that. I use deductive reasoning.”
Excellent! Then you know that deductive reasoning requires you to seek out information that might disprove your belief, as you try with all your might to prove that your belief is wrong.
“Who does that?”
Scientists do that. At least the real ones do. Deductive reasoning is the basis of scientific method. The job of a true scientist is to work as hard as they can to disprove what they believe. And when they cannot disprove it – and no one else can disprove it – only then will it be tentatively accepted as reliable.
“But don’t normal people just use common sense?”
Yes. Inductive reasoning is when you look at all the facts that confirm your suspicion and then pronounce your suspicion as the truth.
“But wait. That would be confirmation bias, wouldn’t it?”
You are correct. And like I said earlier, you are to be congratulated; you are a very special person.
Roy H. Williams
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