3.1.3 Paradigms & Perception

©1998 RCBrill. All rights reserved.
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Paradigms & Perception

Program 3
Lesson 1.3 

Coming Up

Before we're done with this lesson we will have learned about the way in which our brains gather and store information as we learn about paradigms and their role in perception and in our world view.

We will examine the relationship between what we see and what is real as we learn about the interaction of observation and perception and the role played by experience and expectation.

Some interesting visual illusions will demonstrate the concept of a paradigm and its affect on our perceptions.

We will consider how paradigms comprise the world-views of individuals as well as cultures and compare the concept of a paradigm with the related concepts of metaphor and model

And hopefully we will see how it all relates to science, which is after all, our way of understanding how the universe works.

It's also our reason for being here.

1. Introduction 2. Paradigms 3. Time Flies 4. Paradigm
5. Food For Thought 6. Examples of Paradigms 7. Is Heliocentrism a Paradigm 8. Rose Glasses
9. A Human Trait 10. Experience and Perception 11. Challenge Du Jour 12. Paradigms, Models and Metaphors
13. Significant contradictions 14. Paradigms Within Paradigms Within Paradigms . . . 15. Paradigms & Awareness 16. Summary

Text References

This study guide is the primary reference for this lesson


Here are the objectives for today's lesson. These objectives are also in the study guide at the beginning of the lesson.

Before you begin to study the lesson, take a few minutes to read the objectives and the study questions for this lesson.

Look for key words and ideas as you read. Use the study guide and follow it as you watch the program.

Some students find it helpful to make a note in the margin which pertains to an objective or a study question.

Be sure to read these objectives in the study guide and refer to them as you study the lesson.

Focusing on the learning objectives will help you to study and understand the important concepts.

Compare the objectives with the study questions for the lesson to be sure that you have the concepts under control.

1. Describe the relationship between perception and observation

2. Understand the role of experience and expectation in classifying information

3. Understand the nature of visual illusions.

4. Understand how paradigms make it possible for us to learn and store new information

5. Consider the distinction between paradigms and the world view of an individual and a culture

6. Examine the relationship between paradigm, metaphor, and model

7. Perceive science as influenced by paradigms like all other aspects of our uniquely human mind


  1. Define physical reality.
  2. Comment on the statement: "The map is not the territory".
  3. Present an example of a scientific paradigm and a nonscientific paradigm.
  4. Discuss an example of a scientific model and its uses.
  5. How does a paradigm influence perception? Give an example.
  6. Why are we fooled by illusions?
  7. How do we distinguish between illusion and reality?
  8. Why do we create and rely upon paradigms?
  9. Is the picture on the TV screen real?
  10. Is the fact that Earth is flattened at the poles a significant contradiction to the "spherical Earth" paradigm? Explain.
  11. Discuss the terms "world view", "model", "paradigm" specifically in the context of physical science.
  12. Discuss the concept of political slogans in the context of paradigms
  13. Compare and contrast the following in general terms: paradigm, metaphor, model, world view.
  14. Is the image seen through a telescope real? How about the image formed on the retina by the lens of your eye?
  15. Discuss the statement, "Sensitivity may be increased by knowledge."
  16. What is a paradigm?
  17. Describe an optical illusion.
  18. How do we know when something is real?
  19. Define heliocentrism and geocentrism.
  20. Tell a joke which involves a paradigm shift.

1. Introduction

1.1. Why shapes?

Why do we see shapes in clouds? Are there really elephants and cauliflower and ice cream castles in the air?

Why do two people who see the same cloud, see different things in it?

How do we know what we see when we see it, and what is real and what is not.

1.2. Reality?

What is real? For that matter, what is reality? How do we know when something is real. What sensory information allows us to determine whether or not our perceptions are correct?

We can not under any circumstances, ever, be aware of everything that our senses are receiving information about.

Try and focus for a minute on the sensory input in the room where you are now. Listen to all of the sounds, the hums, rustling and extraneous noises. Look around the room at all of the detail, the colors, the textures, the shapes. And what about smells, and itches, aches and pains. Don't forget the different tastes in your mouth. You may become aware of a great number of things, but you will have to ignore some of them.

There is simply too much sensory information bombarding our senses for us to be aware of it. In order to make sense out of the world, we have to simplify it to a level that our brains can deal with it.

Our survival as individuals and as a species depends on our perception. We are not particularly strong, or fast, as animals go. Our evolutionary advantage is our brain. Being able to perceive danger and plan for the future are both well developed abilities in man. Sensory information which warns of danger must be immediately recognized to maximize the chance of escaping injury or death. Our brains decode which information is important and which can be ignored without our help, although we can also influence that subconscious process to some degree.

However it is done, the brain must make a processing decision as to which information is acted upon, which is stored without review, and which is ignored entirely. Those decision are done in ways we do not understand and influenced by other factors in ways we also do not understand.

1.2.1. Can't be aware of everything Too much information Survival and perception Processing decision

Here is an example:

2. Paradigms

In understanding our world, we learn about it, but we also learn from it. A paradigm is a way of organizing and condensing sensory information .
Like learning in general, paradigms help in the study of physical science by helping us to organize information and understand our world.
Our paradigms also affect the way we design, record, and interpret our experiments and observations, as scientists and as humans.
As the old saying goes, "You can get just as drunk on water as you can on land."

3. "Time Flies"

Time flies like an arrow.

Fruit flies like a banana.

Groucho Marx

What's funny about this, or rather, why does it not register right at first? Take a few seconds to think about it and formulate an answer in your mind.

The word "like" is being used in two entirely different contexts.
The first sentence defines the context and so the brain expects the second sentence to be similar. It is not and it takes a brief time while we "make sense" of it.
We do this because of our prior experience with the word "like" in both meanings. We have formed a model for understanding the meaning of the word "like" in a particular context, and we are confused when the context switches on us in mid sentence.
Here's another of Groucho's sayings in the same vein.

3.1. Could "time flies when you are having fun" mean that you enjoy clocking flies at the bug races?


A paradigm is a model of understanding consistently free of significant contradictions

It guides our expectations and helps us to sort, organize, and classify information.

It affects the way information is processed by the brain and the types of questions we ask when trying to understand the world around us incorporating as it does, all of the knowledge and experiences we have acquired since birth. We all build internal models of our world, which we rely upon to understand it and to assure our survival in it.

Our brain uses paradigms to classify, sort, and process information received by the senses.

It is consistently free of significant contradictions and even when it isn't, it still works, because we can shift in and out of various paradigms, although not always as well as we would like.

It guides our expectations and helps us to sort, organize, and classify information that we receive from our five senses.

A paradigm may be personal or cultural, and we each have many different paradigms for different contexts.

Paradigms affect the types of questions we ask as individuals and as cultures, when we are trying to make sense of the world around us. They incorporate the knowledge and experiences we have acquired since birth as we become conditioned to our physical, social, and spiritual environment.

4.1. A model of understanding, consistently free of significant contradictions

4.2. Guides expectations

4.3. Helps sort, organize, and classify information

4.4. Affects types of questions asked

4.5. Incorporates accumulated knowledge, experience, and beliefs

5. FoodFood For Thought

You can write and submit an essay for all or part of your lesson assignment for this lesson. Whether you submit it or not, write, write, write.

What does the concept of paradigm have to do with the nature of science?

6. Examples of Paradigms

Let's look at some examples of paradigms as we try to find answers to that food for thought.
There are many examples of paradigms at all levels. The better you understand the concept of a paradigm, the easier it should be to think of examples.
Remember that a paradigm is a mental model which helps us to organize and classify information.

6.1. What kind of food is appropriate for breakfast?

Why do we usually eat certain foods only at certain times of the day. I'm sure all of us have eaten a plate lunch for breakfast, or had cereal for dinner. But it's not what we usually do.

If you walk into a restaurant for dinner, most places will not have corn flakes on the menu. Food is closely linked with culture and cultural paradigms whether taboos or just preferences.

Note that many of us consider eating dogs to be disgusting, but think nothing of eating cows and pigs. In India cows are sacred and could no more be eaten than Fluffy the family cat, and for the same reason.

How hungry would you have to be to eat a family pet?

6.2. Which side of the road do you drive on?

traffic traffic

Why do we drive on the right side of the road instead of the left side? Is the right side better, or are we just used to it?

In several island nations worldwide, driving on the left is the paradigm. In Great motion is, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia, traffic flow is a mirror image of our own. What might happen if you were did not adjust and remained in the inappropriate paradigm?

6.3. Which way does the bill of your cap point?

Even fads are a type of paradigm. How do you decide what clothes to wear on a given day? It depends on the type of activity, but also the setting and expectations of the situation. You would feel out of place at a Presidential Ball wearing jeans, a T-shirt, and sneakers.
Almost everyone needs to identify with some sort of image which creates a group identity at one time another in our lives.
This applies to fads in all areas: food, fashion, music, and movie themes.

7. Is HELIOCENTRISM a paradigm?

[helio = sun] [centr = at the center] [ism = belief]

One of the major questions which concerned our ancient ancestors had to do with the movement and apparent movements of the heavens as seen from earth.
From our perspective it looks as if we are standing still while the universe turns around us like a giant wheel in the sky. The belief that this is is the actual motion is called geocentrism.

[geo = earth] [centr = at the center] [ism = belief]

For most of mankind's existence, all but the past three or four hundred years, geocentrism. was the favored model for explaining the motions of the sun, moon, planets, and stars.

Our modern model of the solar system is HELIOCENTRIC.
It includes the concept that the earth, like the other planets revolves around the sun and, rotates on its axis.

According to this model, the motions of the heavens is only an illusion. Instead of the a sky which spins around us daily, the stars stay in the same place while we spin round and round and get confused.

8. Rose Glasses

The way I see it, our perceptions of our surroundings are colored by our experiences like we're seeing the world through colored glasses.

9. A Human Trait

Paradigms color our perception by filtering information. The filters are conditioned by our experiences throughout life as we learn about our surroundings.
Paradigms are not just idea s that are used by scientists, they are a part of the way our brains work and we all rely upon them.
They are involved in all aspects of learning at many different levels, but they also help us get through our day.
We develop habits and routines as we turn over certain activities to autopilot as we learn them.
Remember how hard it was to drive a car the first time you tried it. You had to pay attention to everything, accelerator, steering, brakes, shifting gears. The feeling of the road and the forces and sounds inside the car required your complete attention.
Now I bet you hardly notice what your hands and feet are doing, and you've learned to ignore the unimportant sounds and vibrations.
Likewise I bet you have had the experience of driving home after work or school and suddenly find yourself on your street and you don't remember getting there.
When things like that happen, it usually means that we have been ignoring those things which were not critical to driving. You can be sure that had a child run into the road, you would have noticed and remember.
That reason we go on "autopilot" sometimes is not to overburden the brain with trivialities, thus freeing it for important things, like surviving.

9.1. In Science and in Life

9.2. Is a concept such as "hot" a type of paradigm?

10. Experience and Perception

Alive or Ghost?

The following is a news story that shows how strong a paradigm can be in perception. It is a true story.


Is Raju Raghuvanshi alive or dead? Ask Raghuvanshi, he'll tell you he is alive. But ask his friends and family, and they'll tell you the man you just spoke with is a ghost sent to haunt them.

Believed by his friends and family to have died in prison, Raghuvanshi returned home earlier this month from his short jail stint to shouts of "Help! Ghost!" and the sounds of neighbors locking their doors in his home village of Katra.

"My family thinks I am dead," he said in a phone interview Monday. "They will not permit me to enter my home because they think I am a ghost."

Ostracized by the people of Katra, about 280 miles from Bhopal, he's now living in a nearby village and struggling to prove he's alive.

The best proof he had _ that his feet were still properly attached, not turned backward as ghosts' feet are thought to be _ was dismissed by villagers.

He said his brothers even "argued that they had completed all religious death ceremonies" and he should not have come back to haunt them.

Rural India remains deeply traditional and many in Katra share the traditional Hindu belief that they will be haunted by a ghost if ceremonies are not performed to ensure the soul of the deceased makes a peaceful transition into its next life.

Rumors over Raghuvanshi's death began when he was sent to prison in October for a minor tax infraction.

He fell ill there and was transferred to a prison hospital in another district, from where word spread that he had died and that his body had been cremated because no one had retrieved it.

After being turned away by his neighbors after his release, Raghuvanshi finally went to the police, who are trying to help convince the people of Katra that he is alive, said the area's police superintendent, N.V. Vaigankar.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

What we see depends to some degree on what we expect to see. This is especially true when we try to portray three dimensions on a flat page as the figures which follow will illustrate

10.1. Flatland

A very well written book, entitled Flatland , by Edwin Abbott chronicles the difficulties encountered by two dimensional creatures as they try to comprehend the third dimension.

Unlike flatlanders, we can visualize three dimensions of space although we are still not very good, most of us, at thinking that way.

Our stereo vision only gives us the illusion of virtual space without the verification by touch. Do you think you could enjoy virtual reality without having experienced the concept of space.

10.2. Optical illusions

Now it's time to play some mind games to see if we can get an idea about how our expectations are governed by perceptions and vice versa.
We are fooled by optical illusions because there is something which looks familiar yet at the same time, provides contradictory information, like Groucho's time and fruit flies.

10.2.1. Necker Cube

Here's a familiar object. What is it?

It's a cube, isn't it?

Or is it just a flat drawing of some lines? Would you recognize it as a cube if you had never seen a cube, or if you had never seen a drawing of a cube?

10.2.2. Schroder Stairs

Why is it harder to make this one switch back and forth?


I think it's because we have more experience looking down at a staircase from the top than we spend looking up at the bottom of it from under it. upside down

10.3. Facts, Patterns and Interpretations

We are fooled by optical illusions because our brains rely on paradigms to compare patterns in sensory information to existing models stored in our memory.
We have seen some simple geometric models of two of these illusions, but paradigms get much more complex than this. The ability of our brains to see patterns of order is phenomenal. It is so phenomenal that we often allow ourselves to see things in those patterns when it is not clear whether the patterns are objective or subjective
Here's what I mean.

Like the patterns in tea leaves, which have been used for centuries for fortune telling. It is a great art to be able to read the leaves. But it makes no difference as far as the validity of the fortunes whether the perceived patterns are in the tea leaves or in the mind of the reader. The idea is, in the mystic arts, the fortune, not its source or its medium, is the message.

In the physical sciences, it does matter. We are trying to understand the rules of the, not to predict the outcome. The truth or falsity of the prediction, is only for confirmation of the idea, not an end in itself.

We do use the comparison of outcome with prediction when we analyze experiments. But we insist that the predictions must consistently match the outcomes with a small margin of error before we claim to know the rule and call it a law.

Now let's go and see how we process more complex shapes, where there are many models, or categories of models, instead of only a few, to compare incoming sensory impressions.

10.3.1. Vase

Is it a vase or is it faces?

Listen to J. S. Bach's 3 part invention #8 as you look at the vase. This is a type of musical piece known as a fugue. It has three voices with time delay melody lines which dance around one another.

As you listen, try to pick out the individual melody lines. Then try switching your perspective to listen to the piece as a whole as the melodies blend in counterpoint.

10.3.2. Young lady/old hag 

Is she a young lady or an old hag?

So maybe it's both, but then how do we decide which one to see?

Or maybe it's nothing but a bunch of patterns of light and dark on the paper?

10.3.3. Spots

Quick, what is this one?

Some people might see a face. Do you see a face, or is there something else? Look here to see.

10.4. Canadian Flag

Watch the video program or read the online text to learn about the Canadian Flag. Here is a history of the flag from which you will see the long-standing nature of the controversy over the design. Do you see anything like the face/vase picture here?

Click here if you don't see the 'angry men'.


10.4.1. Real Maple Leaf

Here's a real maple leaf. Does the Canadian flag really look like this? After watching the video,what do you think, was it a coincidence, does it reflect the tone of the negotiations subconsciously or otherwise, or is the image of the two men entirely in the mind of the beholder?

What do you think?

10.5. What do these pictures have in common?

10.5.1. Transition

In this series of pictures, at what point does the transition take place? Do you think it would be the same for all observers?

The way we have done this on the video program, where you saw the transition first, it is impossible now to go back and look at a part of it and ask, "What does it look like", because your mind already knows what is going on.

It's like if I would say, "don't think of chocolate" and you do anyway.
I have done this in the classroom many times and I can verify that in the majority of cases, the point of recognition in the transition depends on where it starts.
It makes a difference as to how much you can alter it before you see the other picture.

At what point does the transition take place? Watch the movie (60 KB)

10.6. Rorschach ink blots

The Rorschach ink blot test has been used by mental health professionals as a way to gain insight into someone's mind. By categorizing the types of images perceived by the patient, the doctor begins to understand how the patient categories and classifies information. There has been controversy lately about the validity of the test however.

What do you see in this picture? A ballerina, a bug, an ink blot? Or something else?

Can you 'interpret' this one?

What about this one? It's not an ink blot, but the principle is the same.

Some people see a man playing a horn, others see the face of a woman.

10.7. Elvis 

When was the last time you saw Elvis?

People do. Still, nearly twenty-five years after his death, there are Elvis sightings reported around the world.

Is Elvis "alive"?

10.8. Other visions

Click here to see other optical illusions.

It is relatively common for people to see images of familiar things, especially religious images:

LONDON February 25, 2000 (Reuters) - An image resembling the face of Jesus Christ has appeared on the wall of a church in northern England, the church's vicar said Friday.

The image was discovered by a 60-year-old Salvation Army woman sheltering from the rain. "It is clearly the face of Jesus Christ," said the woman, Marion Hoggard.

Believers say the eyes, nose and mouth of Jesus and the crown of thorns can clearly be made out on a wall of the Church of England's All Saints at Great Driffield, East Yorkshire.

Hoggard was drying out in the church after a Christian march when she heard a dove cooing in the rafters, looked up and noticed the image on the wall. "The face is there for everybody to see. It was such a moving experience for me, I was reduced to tears," Hoggard said.

The Vicar of Driffield, Reverend Richard Carlill, was more cautious. "The marks have there for years, it's not a new image," he told Reuters. "But people are looking more closely at the marks on the wall now and saying, "Oh Yes."

Click to see the Monkeypod Madonna.

Click to see other religious images.

The reason we see these images has little to do with religion per se, although religious images are part of our culural heritage. The reasons go beyond culture to our genetic heritage. The first thing a newborn infant sees is mother's face, and it is important to be able to recognize faces. So our brains are hard wired to fill in the blanks of an image to see faces.

Pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon, and hearing hidden messages on records played in reverse. The word comes from the Greek para- ("beside", "with", or "alongside"—meaning, in this context, something faulty or wrong, as in paraphasia- disordered speech. Pareidolia is a type of apophenia.

10.9. The Face of Mars

One of the best examples of the way in which we create patterns is the famous case of the face on Mars.

In the 1970s, Mars spacecraft sent back many pictures of the surface of the red planet.

In a one of the pictures, a feature was discovered which resembles a face.

A cult has been built around this shadowy outline, whose followers suggest that it proves the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial life, and a conspiracy by the Government to withhold this information from the rest of us. It was part of the theme of the 2000 movie, "The Red Planet".

You can follow this at http://barsoom.msss.com/education/facepage/face.html 

10.9.1. enhanced

  1. It is important to note that the NASA photo which revealed the feature was released to the public after it was image enhanced by computer. Here we see that there is no recognizable face, or any other pattern in the raw data. When the image is enhanced, a computer algorithm increases the contrast and brings out details. The enhancement process requires a decision on the part of the computer to darken or lighten a particular pixel in the image. The resulting patterns are reasonably accurate, but nonetheless, they have been altered and we can never be sure how much, and to what degree.

    Here is the unaltered picture and one level of digital enhancement.


    One level of enhancement

  more enhanced

    One could claim that intelligent aliens specifically designed this thing whatever it is, to be computer enhanced in that way.

Here are some of the intermediate images in the enhancement process. Note that the face only becomes apparent after several stages of enhancement.

So, where is the face. Is it on the surface of Mars, is it in the algorithm which enhances the image, or is it in the mind of the beholder?

Or is it an interaction of all three, the thing itself, the processing algorithm, and the perception of the beholder?

Here are two more levels of enhancement (the third step is on the bottom, the fourth and final is on top)


Step 3 of enhancement.

Step 4 of enhancement.

Are computers part of the conspiracy?

You can see from these pictures that the face only remotely begins to look like a face at the third level of enhancement.

10.9.2. different light

Analysis of this Martian "face" shows that it is not a face at all, but an illusion that depends on the angle of viewing and the angle of the sun.
The animation shows the crater with different lighting angles. Notice how the shapes and shadows change with the angle of light.

The video program shows a virtual flyby of the cinder cone. You can view it here.
It is still possible to believe that the intelligent aliens constructed the cinder cone so that it would appear to us to be a face upon computer enhancement using the appropriate algorithms which we would have to invent when we were ready.
It's possible. But which is more likely, and more consistent with our physical knowledge of the Martian environment:

  1. It is an alien structure, designed to be visible only upon extensive computer enhancement by algorithms which would have to be invented independently.
  2. It is a cinder cone not unlike those on earth, that kind of looks like a face. It does this because our perception is highly sensitive to face recognition.

Take your choice, but the parsimonious and paradigmatically consistent, and therefore the scientific way is to conclude, subject to further verification or denial, that it is a cinder cone like those on earth. The pattern may or may not be there. It may be in our minds.
All we can say for sure is that what we see is influenced by a complex web of conscious and subconscious paradigms which sort, classify, prioritize, and file information. We know the human brain possesses the capability to provide missing information in order to make sense out of patterns and will do so, even to the extent of adding enough detail to create something which is not really there.

10.9.3. Mickey Mouse

In fact, if we now go back to the enhanced image of the face, it is clear that in addition to the face, there is also a picture of Mickey Mouse. What conclusions do we draw from this?

The intelligent aliens were Disney fans?

No, I don't think so. Our conclusion is that we need to remember how easy it is to jump to conclusions based upon incomplete information. Unjustified and unwarranted assumptions get us into a lot of trouble.

Scientific observations and theories try to supply as much of the missing information as possible. We design experiments which can give us more information about those areas in which the pattern is weak. We learn much this way, but even then it is all too easy to think we know more than we really do.

Take a look at van Gogh's "Wheatfields", which is on display at the Honolulu Academy of Arts along with other impressionistic and pointillist art. Go to the library and look at books on art, especially van Gogh. Here are some examples of impressionistic and pointillist art.

In this respect, science and art overlap. Great artists take advantage of our tendency to create our own images from incomplete information, relying on the mind of the beholder to provide the missing experience so that each of us gets a slightly different impression. Maybe that's why they call it impressionist!

10.9.4. stereopair

For those of you with 3D eyes, here is a stereopair of the "face".

Describe what it looks like in 3D. Sketch a cross section of it from your 3D view.

More recent Mars missions have taken much clearer pictures of this feature. To view them follow the link to http://solarviews.com/cap/face/index.htm

Here you can see the comparision.

The photo on the left is the original "face". The middle photo is the more recent one. The photo on the right is the same as the center, but a negative image.

Do you see a face in the two newer images?

10.10. Why Paradigms

By now we should find it easy to postulate why we rely so heavily on paradigms in all aspects of our lives.

10.10.1. Information overload

Because there is too much information to process each bit uniquely, and because the human brain functions on a metaphorical as well as a logical level, it stores representations of classes and categories with which to compare and classify incoming information .

Learning requires us to have the ability to generalize, a concept like hot, from one situation to another. It also requires that we can specify under what conditions a particular concept is valid, for example, you are supposed to talk in the classroom only at certain times, and those time will be different for different classes. brain is both metaphorical and logical Stores representations of classes and categories Learning requires both generalization and specification

10.10.2. Releases brain power

Paradigm processing is advantageous for another reasons.
For one, being able to send certain processing to the subconscious level leaves the conscious brain free to concentrate on other things.

To drive a car you do not have to consciously control your feet and hands. That is taken care of by your motor coordination (is that a pun?) to the points where it is reflex.

Unfortunately, it seems the released brain power is not often well used in everyday life. In fact, over reliance on paradigms on paradigms leads to stifled thinking.

The failure to question paradigms, for whatever reason, usually leads to stagnation and it may become easier to rely on authority, slogans, or prejudices. Could this be why we are suspicious of strangers and why we resist change?

10.10..2.1. Released brain is not always well used

10.10..2.2. Over reliance leads to stifled thinking

10.10..2.3. Failure to question paradigms leads to stagnation

10.10..2.4. Easier to rely on authority, slogans, or prejudices

10.10..2.4.1. Xenophobia?

10.10..2.4.2. Resistance to Change

10.10.3. Senses are easily fooled

Because the senses are so easily fooled we use paradigms to avoid having to rely entirely on immediate sensory input.

Did you ever stick your foot into hot water that you expected to be cold? What happened.

Try this. Watch a small point of light while standing in the middle (not leaning) of a darkened room. What does the light do?

We already know about the illusions, the subjective nature of time, and our ability to see things in abstract patterns. Hot/cold sensation Stationary light appears to move Optical and auditory illusion Subjective time Shapes in clouds Cultural paradigms influence organization of information and types of questions aske. World view is overall model of how things do and should work. The set of all individual and cultural paradigms Complex mix of spiritual, linguistic, political, social, psychological, scientific, aesthetic values Perceptions are mediated by paradigms through expectations, experience, context. Cultural behaviors. What's expected in one place may be offensive in another. Color designation.

Where is the boundary between colors?

Different people will draw the line in different places. Effect of language

Language is a powerful cultural factor which affect the types of classifications we make. It also affects the paradigms we construct. For example, a meteorologist will describe a tornado very differently from a farmer, even if they stood side by side in a field and watched it together. This is because they have different focuses in the observations.

How might the description given by the meteorologist differ from the farmer's? Write a dialogue between these two who have just seen a tornado from a safe distance. Feedbacks

Expectations and perceptions are related through learning. Information is received by perception, expectations are focused through learning, and learning reinforces expectations and increases sensitivity, which alters our perceptions as we learn. It's a nice loop, if you think about it, and it's one of the primary factors behind our success as a species.

Not bad for carbon brains. . . Expectations are focused through learning, learning reinforces expectations We acquire information through our senses We recognize order, repetition, predictability, patterns We organize information by comparing it with experience Experience is the total of previously learned information Learning affects our perspective by altering our paradigms, which influences what we perceive and ultimately alters our perception. We see the world very differently as adults than as children

10.10.4. Instruments extend and supplement senses

Since our senses are so easily fooled, we design and build instruments which extend our senses. Instruments are reliable, precise, and are more sensitive, so they detect aspects of "reality" which are beyond our senses. We are very dependent of observations made with instruments. We assume that the instruments are measuring things which we cannot see, like infrared light, or cosmic rays. How do we know these instruments aren't deceiving us and that these things don't really exist? More reliable More precise More sensitive Detect beyond senses

10.10.5. Senses are easily fooled

Because our senses are easily so easily fooled, how do we know when we can trust them and when we should not? Sometimes we use intuition, we have a hunch. Other times we may try to approach a problem from a different perspective, employing an alternate paradigm.
Sometimes we really can't see the forest for the trees and vice versa, and another person's point of view might help us work our way through problems.
Our senses are affected by our state of mind as well as by our experiences!
Yes, even scientists have emotions. Scientists have moods. They also have preferences and hunches, and, like the rest of us, rely upon their paradigms and the point of view of others to define reality and solve problems.
What we see depends on what we expect to see, but that in turn is influenced by our paradigms and also by our mood. Auditory illusion

Listen to a random sound, like the humming of an air conditioner in a quiet room.

The sound in the background is supposedly random.

Is it really?

As you listen you might begin to hear patterns in it. If you listen long enough you might start to hear what sounds like phrases being spoken by a shadowy voice.

If you listen to certain recordings backwards you might hear what sounds like a suggestive phrase. Like this one for example.

This has led some people to conclude that we are continually being bombarded with subliminal messages.

Are we?

In many cases we can not be sure how much of the pattern is fact and how much is interpretation.. Perspective 

Portraying three dimensions on a flat surface requires us to have a concept of three dimensional space.

    The same geometry which makes parallel lines appear to get closer together with distance allows us to fool the brain.

    By drawing lines which converge towards a point we create the illusion of depth in the mind of the beholder when there is none. The understanding of perspective in art was not developed until the 16th century. When the first paintings appeared people who viewed them thought they were looking through a window in the wall at something outside.

    On the other hand African tribesmen who had never viewed a two-dimensional perspective drawing were unable to perceive a photograph when shown one for the first time.

Do the railroad tracks really get closer together in the distance?

How do you know they don't. Figure and Ground

The relationship between figure and ground illustrated by the faces and vases and by the Canadian Flag is also due to our need to have a reference point.

When we see a tree silhouetted against the bright sky, there is no doubt which is the object and which is the background because we know that the sky is the background. When we see representations of objects where the context of figure and ground is not so obvious we are sometimes confused.

Like this one, for example. What is it? Look at Godel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter Look at the art of M. C. Escher here

or here at the Platonic Realms website Listen to the music of J. S. Bach, espeically the fugues. 

11. Challenge Du Jour

The challenge is your chance to demonstrate that you have learned by self study and have synthesized and integrated that material with the previous and with the course as a whole.

To get the questions for this challenge you must watch program 3 of the video.

12. Paradigms, Models and Metaphors

Another way to think of a paradigm is in terms of models or metaphors. Both rely on imagination and the ability to abstract, the ability to recognize similarities between objects of different types and the ability to reorganize sets of attributes. When the poet writes of waves crashing on a deserted beach she may be speaking of the despair of lowliness after a broken romance. Something in the image of the beach with crashing waves speaks to our emotions in the same way as does a broken romance. Whether is is hope dashed against the rocks, or the desolation of the beach, or the temptation to end it all by walking into the waves doesn't matter. It might be different for each of us. But in metaphor we describe one thing by describing another.

12.1. Art and metaphor

12.1.1. One thing reminds us of something else Imagery, simile and metaphor in poetry

12.1.2. Relies on imagination and ability to abstract Perspective and 3-D vision

12.1.3. Ability to recognize similarities

12.1.4. Ability to reorganize sets of attributes

12.2. Maps and models

A model is similar to a metaphor. A model is different from but similar to the thing it represents. It contains the essentials, but lacks all of the details. The model airplane is the right shape and the right proportions, but does not have the engine, the controls, the guns, the pilot, and probably won't fly. Yet looking at it evokes an image of the real thing.

No one believes Earth is like a globe in every way. But the globe shows all the essentials of location and shape of continents, rivers, oceans, etc. Different globes show different aspects. Some show political boundaries. Others show topography. Someone said, "The map is not the territory." For the model to show all aspects of the real thing it would have to be the real thing. A model may have only limited use as visualization, but may be very effective nonetheless. A good example is the planetary atomic model. This picture of the atom as a nucleus with electrons in orbit around it like planets around the sun has been very effective in visualizing the atom. No one really believes that an atom really looks like that. The real atom is much more complicated. In fact it takes many different models to visualize the true nature of the atom because the atom doesn't really "look" like anything. We can't see atoms. They are much too small to be seen with light waves. We can only visualize them through the use of models like this one.

12.2.1. Model is representation of the real thing Different but similar Contains essentials, lacks details Designed to illustrate some particular aspect or combination of aspects of the thing Contributes to understanding but not entirely true Airplane, globe, map, atom, light wave/particle

12.2.2. "The map is not the territory"

12.3. Scientific MODELS

The classification which are used by scientists are efforts to simplify by using models. Diagrams like that used to depict the atom are models as noted above. As another example, when we want to show how a modern automobile works we can classify it according to function into power train, cooling system, electrical system, braking system, etc. We can show pictures of each system. Graphs, tree charts, flowcharts, and mathematical equations as used in science are all models which both characterize and simplify the thing being studied. Just as it takes many maps and globes to show the true nature of Earth, so it also takes many models of many different types to show the true nature of physical laws and relationships. Only by looking at simplified schematic models of different aspects at a time can we begin to understand the thing we are studying.

12.3.1. Attempts to simplify information with models

12.3.2. Schemes to visualize relationships

12.3.3. Diagrams

12.3.4. Graphs

12.3.5. Trees

12.3.6. Flowcharts

12.3.7. Equations

13. Significant contradictions

A given paradigm, as used to describe scientific ideas, is consistently free of significant contradictions. It is not an ironclad rule just how serious a contradiction must be in order to invalidate the paradigm. But a paradigm may accommodate small contradiction or inconsistencies. However, conclusions which contradict the paradigm cannot be accepted as valid no matter how good they sound otherwise. Unless the continuing presence of contradictions forces the paradigm to shift or to be modified. The process by which paradigm shifts occur is detailed in a book called The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn.

13.1. Paradigm may accommodate small contradictions or inconsistencies
13.2. Conclusions which contradict paradigm cannot be accepted as valid
13.3. Continuing presence may force paradigm shift or modification

14. Paradigms Within Paradigms Within Paradigms . .

In science we find paradigms at many different levels, paradigms within paradigms within paradigms. A major paradigm might contain many smaller ones, for example the current theory regarding plate tectonics in geology incorporates paradigms of earthquakes, volcanic activity, mountain building, sea floor spreading, and continental drift.

Paradigms may overlap into different areas, strengthening each. For example the atomic theory provides a model for understanding chemical reactions, but also for understanding the nature of solids, the relationship between heat and temperature, the gas laws, emission and absorption of light, among others. It also ties in with theories in astronomy, geology, biology. This model, atomic theory is so powerful that it links all the sciences. To disprove one, you have to disprove all. Of all paradigms heliocentrism and atomic theory can be said with highest certainty to be "true". Perhaps not complete or completely true, but true.

14.1. A major paradigm might contain many smaller ones

14.2. Paradigms may overlap many areas, thus strengthening each

14.3. An individual may have many overlapping paradigms

14.4. Inconsistencies and contradictions

14.4.1. a major factor in human behavior

14. 4.2. Your behave differently with your friends than with your parents

14. 4.3. How do you behave when with your friends and your parents?

15. Paradigms & Awareness

15.1. ". . . Healthy until you visit the medical center."

A doctor defined a healthy individual as "one who has never had a workup at a major medical center. What do you suppose he meant by that?

15.2. Sensitivity is increased by knowledge

15.2.1. May not be aware of the neighbor's dog barking, at first . . .

15.2.2. "I didn't realize how many there were until I had one."

15.2.3. Sometimes an effort is needed to desensitize

15.3. More earthquakes are recorded in California now than fifty years ago because: (choose one)

15.3.1. A. There are more earthquakes in California

15.3.2. B. There are more measurements and more sensitive instruments

15.3.3. C. There are more news reports about earthquakes reaching more people

16. Summary

In this lesson we have seen some visual illusions which demonstrated the way in which our brains invent things which are not there in order to make sense out of familiar patterns.

The patterns suggest something familiar, so the brain connects the dots, like drawing constellations in the sky.

It is not only for the sense of sight that this happens.

In fact all of our senses are involved, it's their job to sense, but the sensations must still be processed by the brain with the help of its paradigms.

We have seen some visual examples which demonstrated the way in which our brains fill in gaps in information by comparing sensory patterns to internalized models. We do this in order to organize the data received by our senses and be able to recognize familiar patterns, even if they are incomplete.

If a pattern suggests something familiar, the brain, craving order, connects the dots and identifies a pattern which reminds it of something.

And so people draw constellations in the sky, see shapes in clouds, patterns in tea leaves, faces in window reflections and in the grain of a log, and on Mars.

It is not just for the sense of sight that this happens.

In fact, in perception, all of our senses are involved. A certain smell might trigger a vivid memory of some experience where a particular fragrance was prominent, or a certain song on the radio may recall a particular trip in the car.

It doesn't matter which sense provides the input, the signals must are processed by the brain through the filters of our paradigms, the complete set of which is unique to each individual and are conditioned by the prior experiences which we share as well as those which are private.

Just as computers have different programs which interpret a data stream in a certain way, we have different paradigms which do the same thing. The difference is that computers run one program at a time, independently of each other, computers know what program they are running and their programs are better debugged than ours.

We run many interactive programs at once, but we don't know what the programs are or how they work, they are not debugged, and their operation is influenced by our moods and our acquired attitudes.

That is why it is so hard to build an intelligent computer.

Computers are not intelligent, but they are really quick. But then, we are not quick, and we are really not very intelligent, as a species. Or at least we do not behave as if we were.

Because our senses are easily fooled, how do we know under what conditions we can trust them?

Our senses are affected by our state of mind as well as by our experiences!

What we see depends on what we expect to see, but that is controlled by our paradigms and influenced by our mood.

For example we are more likely to notice a TV ad for food if we are hungry than if we just at, or to notice a beautiful sunrise when we are relaxed rather than stressed.