Back in the 90’s, the X-Files told us that the truth was out there.
Is it though?
Well, yes, I suppose there is an empirical truth to all matters but I honestly believe that we as human beings are not capable of perceiving it, let alone sharing it.
The main problem is we are pretty limited by our senses. We’re like a TV only able to pick up 5 channels. Just because we can’t tune into it, doesn’t mean there isn’t a re-run of friends showing on comedy central.
We know that there are colours outside of the spectrum we can see, sounds outside of the frequencies we can hear, so isn’t it possible that there are other things around us that we are unable to pick up on?
Who knows how different our understanding of the world would be if we had some extra sensors.
The next problem is that each of us filter the information as it comes in. There is so much data flying towards us in any given moment that we would be completely overwhelmed if we took it all in, so we unconsciously block most of it out. For example, I can’t focus on how the carpet feels under my feet, the position I am sitting in, the sound of the fan and the traffic outside, the colours of my walls, what the dog is doing, which word to type next and type at the same time – it’s too much – and that is just a small handful of things that are actually going on around me right now.
We tend to notice only the things we are looking for, to the extent that we are pretty much blind to anything else, as the clip from YouTube (above) shows. We also tend to only pick up on what we expect to pick up – as this nifty little experiment shows.
Then, before we are even consciously aware of any of those filters, we’ve added a meaning to it. The meaning we add comes mainly from past experience. In the past X = Y so that must also be true today. We get our understanding of the world through telling stories, so we add a meaning to everything that happens to us, which makes it very difficult for us to report back only the facts.
What I’m getting at is that our perception is flawed. It is always flawed and yours is equally as flawed as the person next to you. I think it’s helpful to keep that in mind at all times, but especially when you’re in the middle of a disagreement with someone.