Sunday, November 26, 2017

Do We See the World as it Truly Is?

Human Brain Image
When we open our eyes, do we see the world as it really is? Do we see reality? The answer is that we don't see reality, according to new neuroscience research. In Deviate: The Science of Seeing Differently, neuroscientist Beau Lotto tells us it is the human mind that imposes meaning on our perceptions. He thinks our perceptions terminate at the boundaries of our brain. According to Lotto, we function with versions of reality that have nothing to do with what is actually out there -- what exists in the real world.

Neuroscience studies show that perception is not what our eyes and ears tell us; it is what our brain makes us see and hear. Your personal reality isn't the perception of what is "out there," but an observation of what is going on inside your head. The senses are similar to the keyboard of a computer: they provide access, but the real job is done in the brain. Your brain takes in the information from your senses, but your reality isn't made up of the atoms of the "real world." It's made up of the atoms of your brain. Perception is just an illusory product of our mind. The world we see around us is ultimately no more real than a hologram.

New research demonstrates that we do not see the real world; we only see what helped us to survive in the past. As Lotto puts it, "We don't see reality -- we only see what was useful to see in the past." Much like a road map, our perceptual brain doesn't offer an accurate spatial representation; rather, it helps us to navigate in a safe and efficient way. The world revealed by our senses is not the real world, but an imperfect copy of it. In our conscious mind we see the world through a distorted perception system. The world we live in does not exist in the way we perceive it. Because of this flawed information collection system we can never see the world as it truly is. Lotto astutely observes that, "Our species has been so successful not in spite of our inability to see reality but because of it."

Perception underpins everything we think, know, and believe. Yet if our perception is a manifestation of our past, how is it ever possible to step outside the past in order to live and create differently in the future? Lotto believes that deviating from the way we currently perceive will lead to future innovations in thought and behavior in all aspects of our lives. This is why the book is called Deviate. Lotto argues that perception includes a lot of assumptions which contribute to preconceived ideas that keep us stuck in a narrow perspective on our personal and social reality. By revealing the startling truths about the brain and its perceptions, Beau Lotto shows that the next big innovation is not a new technology: it is a new way of seeing. Look inside Deviate: The Science of Seeing Differently.

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