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 absurd. 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. <snip> >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 >pocket.) 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. <snip> >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. Cathy Listen to 'Strange Days... Indeed' - The PodCast At: http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/sdi/program/ These contents above are copyright of the author and UFO UpDates - Toronto. They may not be reproduced without the express permission of both parties and are intended for educational use only.
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