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We filter out information

Take a look at this video (about 1 min long).

Did you get the same answer?

You probably already know how this happens. He deliberately leaves the 7 of diamonds card just a little longer. But probably 99% of people who ever watch this video, regardless of race or age or gender all arrive at the same answer. What this shows is that parts of how our brains are wired exactly the same regardless of genes or social upbringing or culture. Most of all get the same answer.

Here's another example.



Photo Credit: Gary Varvel

We've all seen pictures or videos of the tragic events at 9/11.

The above is a cartoon representation. I have a question.You've seen pictures and videos of 9/11 many times. 

Did the cartoonist get the image correct? Were there clouds in the sky on that day or not? 

Do you remember? Almost certainly, you don't. Even though you have seen it many times, you missed ot on something obvious. 

One more example. 

Most of us might again be familiar with the game where we count the number times people pass a basketball and miss out on the guy in an outrageous gorilla suit walking out in the midst of the passing. How can we miss something so obvious?

But did you know there is a part 2 to the game? Check out this video below (about 1min 40s).


What did we notice? Well, we notice the guy in the gorilla suit this time. Once we've seen this game played before, we never miss out on the gorilla again. But notice how again, we miss out on other pieces of information, even when they are pretty obvious. There's always something that we miss out on. 

What's happening here?


In our chapter of 5 things the brain does, the first 2 things we discussed are:

1) Sensation: your senses collect information of objective reality around you - light that hits the back of your eyes, sound waves from noises or what people say, and of course touch, taste, and smell. 

2) Perception: but even though your senses collect information on what is around you, we only perceive some of this information. 9/11 above is a great example - even though we've seen photos so many times, we simply miss out on whether there were clouds.

Our brains tend to focus on certain parts of the information, a bit like spotlight focusing on only one point on stage. This is what we perceive and use to construct our own individual reality. As we have touched on earlier, this is by itself not a bad thing, allowing us to make quick and relatively accurate decisions. 

Yet, each person has a slightly different reality, because everyone has a different spotlight of perception - there is always some part of the stage we are not paying attention. We all have had misunderstandings because we missed out on what someone was telling us. We have all jumped to conclusions before. And we've all be tricked by "magic. 

We will continue to filter out information because our brains are wired to do so. But we should be wary that in the digital era we are in, it is also particularly easy for others to filter out information for us, whether it is biased news reporting, or our own echo chambers online, where algorithms feed us only information that we like to see. For the things that matter, we have to ask ourselves, have we perceived something incompletely.

You can read more at our chapter on "being accurate on the things that matter". 


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