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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2012 > Apr > Apr 24

Re: Ufology And Psychiatry - Summary

From: Cathy Reason <Cathym.nul>
Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2012 18:47:44 +0100
Archived: Tue, 24 Apr 2012 10:38:56 -0400
Subject: Re: Ufology And Psychiatry - Summary

>From: Eugene Frison <cthulhu_calls.nul>
>To: <post.nul>
>Date: Sun, 22 Apr 2012 13:34:55 -0500
>Subject: Re: Ufology And Psychiatry - Summary

>>So it's a solid premise because it has a lot backing it up, and
>>the evidence which backs it up must be ok because it's based on
>>a solid premise. This is completely circular reasoning.

>Nice try, Cathy. No. The premise is backed up by evidence
>obtained from empirical research conducted in scientific fields
>outside psychology. There is nothing circular there.

Yes, I'm aware that you are now enlisting physics in your quest
to prove that human perception is unreliable. All I have to say
to this is that if you want to describe perception as unreliable
because it can't detect interference patterns between quantum
waveforms, then that's up to you. But to my mind that stretches
the notion of unreliability to an extent that is manifestly

It also means, needless to say, that every instrument used in
classical physics is also hopelessly unreliable, since it is
effectively impossible to detect an interference pattern in any
system which is entangled with the natural environment.


>If I have, let us say, the actual painting of the Mona Lisa
>before me, I have the whole picture. This represents the
>totality of all that exists outside us. I take a paper towel
>tube and place it against the canvas, so that I see only a very
>small portion of the picture. I lose sight of most of the
>picture. This represents the limitations of our senses in not
>detecting most of what exists external to us. Now I take a black
>marker and smude out most of the very small portion of what I
>see through the tube. This represents our brains filtering out
>most of the data that is assailing us on a steady basis.
>Finally, let's say that the very, very small piece of the
>painting that is left that I am aware of happens to be just one
>of the Mona Lisa's eyes. It is really just a bit of paint on a
>two-dimensional surface. But the painter did a really good job
>and I perceive it as a three-dimensional thing. This represents
>our perception process adding qualities to things that they
>don't have, such as color, hotness or coldness, form, etc.

You've assumed, entirely without proof, that information
filtered out by the brain is relevant, rather than irrelevant.
So for that reason I think your analogy here is fallacious.

>Missing essential information can have a detrimental impact on
>our survival in the everyday world. If you walk into an
>abandoned mine, for example, where there has been a buildup of
>odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas - as two children did
>here in Glace Bay several years ago - that missing essential
>information certainly will have an impact on your survival.
>(These two children were found dead a few days later by
>searchers, only feet from the entrance to the mine. They had
>walked into the pocket of poisonous gas which their senses could
>not detect, quickly passed out, and died trapped within the

Yes, these things do happen. But they are products of extreme
and unusual circumstances. They are the exception, not the rule
- and that's precisely why they tend to be newsworthy.


>So, at an inconvenience to my wife and I, we sat in a hot car
>for more than half an hour, wasting time that we were short on
>(as there were other important things we had to do). At an
>inconvenience to my son, he had to walk home (several
>kilometers) in the heat. These were occurances that none of us
>wanted. So exactly how reliable relevant to our needs was our
>perception process at that time?

Ok, first question - how often did this happen to you in the
last month? Second question - how often did it _not_ happen?
That is, how often in the last month have you looked for someone
or something and _not_ failed to find them?

The situation you describe is known as a visual search error and
there is a whole literature dedicated to understanding it. Yes,
these things do happen. But they are exceptional and that's
precisely why we remember them.

We have models for understanding how the brain identifies
targets from fields of heterogeneous distractors (sometimes
known as "visual clutter"). These models are built up of local
processing algorithms and it's possible to fool them by
presenting targets in a highly cluttered environment (one
involving a lot of heterogeneous distractors) or by cueing
attention to look in the wrong place, as you have described
here.  But as I mentioned in a previous post, these errors are
highly specific to the circumstances that create them.  There is
no need to imagine some generic cognitive homunculus creating
"models of reality" and thus no reason to regard these sorts of
errors as systemic. And systemic error is surely what
unreliability entails.

>The human senses not detecting most of what is out there,
>blotting out most of what it does detect, creating an
inaccurate >representation of what is out there that caused the
initial >stimuli, then interpreting (via mechanisms that are
capable of >being tricked) is quite a bit more than a ragbag of
perceptual >anomalies.

It would be if that's what was going on. But your entire case
rests on two Cognitivist assumptions - firstly that perception
creates a "representation" of reality and secondly that this
"representation" is inaccurate.

But if there is no representation in the first place this whole
case falls to pieces.  If there is no representation-building
homunculus then there is nothing to "blot out" most of what it
sees and create an inaccurate model of the world. Instead there
are merely local processing algorithms which have evolved to
_select_ precisely those aspects of the visual world which are
needed to provide accurate information about the environment.
It's quite true that these mechanisms can be fooled. But as
David Rudiak has pointed out, it's actually quite hard to fool
them, and biologically that's just what we should expect.

And that's why I describe these examples of yours as anomalies.
You've taken a ragbag of anecdotes and assumed they are
representative of some systemic unreliabity. But there is just
no evidence of this and plenty of evidence against it.


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