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

Re: Ufology And Psychiatry - Summary

From: Eugene Frison <cthulhu_calls.nul>
Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2012 17:35:00 -0500
Archived: Tue, 24 Apr 2012 13:03:26 -0400
Subject: Re: Ufology And Psychiatry - Summary

>From: David Rudiak <drudiak.nul>
>To: post.nul
>Date: Sun, 22 Apr 2012 14:24:50 -0700
>Subject: Re: Ufology And Psychiatry - Summary

>>From: Eugene Frison <cthulhu_calls.nul>
>>To: <post.nul>
>>Date: Sat, 21 Apr 2012 10:56:18 -0500
>>Subject: Re: Ufology And Psychiatry - Summary

>>>From: Cathy Reason <Cathym.nul>
>>>To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <post.nul>
>>>Date: Sat, 21 Apr 2012 11:42:17 +0100
>>>Subject: Re: Ufology And Psychiatry - Summary

>>>>From: William Treurniet <wtreurniet.nul>
>>>>To: post.nul
>>>>Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2012 14:05:17 -0400
>>>>Subject: Re: Ufology And Psychiatry - Summary

>>>>The comment that the unreliability of human perception is an
>>>>assumption is demonstrably wrong given the oft-demonstrated
>>>>variability in relevant experimental data.

>>>We can see how this sort of circular reasoning operates in the
>>>case of visual illusions.

>>>To the vision researcher, these offer an opportunity to examine
>>>the mechanisms by which the brain extracts information from the
>>>visual world. By constructing experimental artifacts, one can
>>>test hypotheses based on how the visual system behaves in highly
>>>novel and constrained situations.

>>>Psychologists on the other hand proceed from the premise that
>>>all human perception is unreliable. The purpose of all
>>>experiments is then to provide an ever-lengthening list of
>>>examples of unreliable perception. It matters not that these
>>>examples are largely artifacts - the premise dictates the

>>This might have some weight if the premise that all human
>>perception is unreliable is false. But it's not. It has so much
>>backing it up that it's a pretty solid premise to start with.

>>I don't know how you can argue that human perception produces an
>>accurate picture of reality. I'm going to repeat one of my
>>earlier comments: physics informs us that all matter is
>>constructed out of molecules, that molecules are composed of
>>atoms, that atoms consist of subatomic particles, and that
>>subatomic particles are energy - energy that is colorless,
>>odorless, temperatureless. Recent research indicates that these
>>quanta exist as ubiquitous fields of energy, are holographic in
>>nature, and are holograms projected from a higher dimensional
>>structure. Reality is based on interference patterns. Is that
>>what you see when you look at a tree, a car, or a dog? Because I
>>know I certainly don't. I don't know anybody else that does

>But the physics models themselves are constructs of our minds,
>incomplete, approximations of "reality", which is just a word
>and another abstraction of our minds and like most words and
>concepts is fuzzy and difficult if not impossible to define

>What most people think of as "reality" has nothing at all to do
>with mathematical or physical theories, but how we interact with
>and survive in our environment. There are other theories
>besides physics to explain why things seem to be the way they
>seem, such as evolution through natural selection. If something
>works and helps us to survive and reproduce, then it is passed
>on to succeeding generations, gradually molding everything about
>us into what we are today. That includes our senses and how our
>brains extract _useful_ information from the world that helps us

>At the macroscopic scale in which we mere humans exist,
>observable quantum effects are not only rare but of dubious
>value in helping plants or animals to survive. E.g., put your
>thumb and forefinger very close together and peer through it,
>and you will see the gap begin to smear and maybe see
>diffraction bands due to the wave nature of light. But from a
>perceptual standpoint, is seeing the very subtle wave nature of
>matter in any way helpful to survival, or is a much more useful
>way at our scale to see coherent objects in relationship to one
>another and recognizing them for what they mean to us from a
>survival standpoint: food, friend, or foe?

>>There is no such thing as red or blue light. There is a field of
>>energy composed of electric and magnetic vectors propagating at
>>right angles through space, of a frequency (rate of vibration)
>>that causes the brain to create the experience of red or blue.
>>There is no red or blue color anywhere in the electromagnetic
>>field itself.

>Yes, there are such things as perceptual red or blue or green
>(can even be objectively studied sticking electrodes into
>retinas and brains), and they are very useful to plants and
>animals in surviving. Distinguishing "color" can tell us whether
>a plant is ripe or not, poisonous or not, helps break camouflage
>so that we can detect predator or prey.

>In fact, color is so important to us, perceptual "color" is not
>really determined by the wavelength of light (though related to
>it), but the relative reflectance of light in different
>wavebands in different areas of a scene. Our visual perceptual
>system has filters to subtract out ambient light conditions
>across the scene which otherwise might destroy any constancy of
>color. Thus, going from outside where scenes are bathed in
>"white" light, to indoors and artificial lighting where there
>might be a strong component of "red" from incandescent lighting
>or "blue" from fluorescent lighting, the perceptual colors do
>not change over a wide range of lighting conditions, even
>though, e.g., the scene may be strongly bathed in "red" and all
>surfaces, including say "green" ones, predominantly reflect
>light in the "red" or long wavelength band. But we do NOT see
>the various surfaces as different shades and lightnesses of
>"red". We instead perceive the various surfaces maintaining
>their "colors", though maybe also perceiving that the whole
>scene is bathed in "red" light.

>So, in fact, from a perceptual standpoint, our perceptual
>systems are actually very robust and accurate in a variety of
>environments. They can certainly be fooled at times, but are
>able to maintain a constancy of perception over a wide range of
>conditions that would drive a simplistic computer vision system
>berserk. One of the challenges of vision science has been to try
>to figure out just how such constancy of perception is achieved.
>To tease out exactly what the brain might be doing, you can set
>up an artificial laboratory situation where maybe all visual
>cues except one are eliminated, and in such a simplified, non-
>naturalistic situation, you might very well trick that
>particular perceptual mechanism. But again, this is an
>artificial situation that rarely arises in real life.

>If our perceptual mechanisms were as horrible and inaccurate and
>interpreting "reality" as you depict, none of us would be here.
>Natural selection would have weeded us out a long time ago. The
>perceptual mechanisms we have are the ones that work well and
>help us survive in the "real" world we live in. In that sense,
>our perceptual reality is every bit as "real" as the equations
>in a physics books used to describe such abstractions as energy
>and matter, which themselves are only simplifications of the
>"real" world. We still do not a complete, self-consistent
>mathematical theory of everything physical, maybe never will.

>>It is the same with our experiences of sound, form, texture,
>>temperature, taste, or smell.

>Well, again, applying physics definitions to "reality" and
>saying they are more accurate or real than biological ones is
>just philosophical hairsplitting. You could argue that there are
>no real smells or tastes, just various chemical compounds
>floating around in the air or in our mouths. But from a
>_practical_ standpoint, recognizing those various compounds,
>what we semantically label as odors or tastes, has great
>utilitarian value for survival. That's the information
>processing or perceptual definition of "reality".

>E.g., "bad" odors or smells are usually ones that are harmful to
>us, whereas "good" odors or smells are usually beneficial.
>Rotten meat "bad", makes us sick, maybe kills us.

>I remember my 8th grade science teacher telling us that there
>was no "hot"or "cold" either, just different amounts of energy.
>Yes, but that's a physics definition, not one that applies to
>things in the natural world. Our nervous systems have "hot"
>receptors that fire when temperatures are high enough to cause
>us harm, and "cold" receptors that fire when temperatures are
>below optimum for our survival. That is quite "real" and
>measurable too. We can survive only in a narrow band of
>temperatures, and it is damn useful do know when we are in
>danger of freezing to death or overheating. And there are really
>noxious stimuli like flames that can cause us instant great
>harm, and for which we have evolved rapid spinal reflexes to
>pull back from them even before the signals reach our brains.

>Even our machines may have sensors to keep them within an
>optimal temperature range. If the temperature gauge on your car
>registers overly hot, you better stop it quick or you will ruin
>your motor. What are you going to argue here - there is not such
>thing as "hot", just a slightly greater amount of energy? Better
>be prepared to fork over thousands of dollars for an engine

>Yes, our hot/cold system can be fooled with laboratory
>experiments. You can put one hand in "hot" water and the other
>in "cold", and then put both in "tepid" water. The temperature
>won't feel the same, with the one formerly in "hot" feeling
>cooler than the one formerly in "cold", though the difference is
>only temporary. There are many examples like this of where the
>sensory/perceptual mechanisms habituate or fatigues to prolonged
>stimuli. This can lead to inaccuracy, but can also have
>utilitarian value of ignoring some ambient condition that has no
>survival significance to us. Thus the drone of the city may
>disturb our sleep until we learn to "tune it out". But the
>sudden and important cry of a baby instantly wakes us.

>Again the "reality" of what helps the organism (or a machine) to
>survive in its given environment is very different than the dry
>"reality" of physics theories.

>>The above information comes from _physics_ not from psychology.
>>It supports psychology's contentions regarding human perception.
>>It alone shows human perception does not show things as they
>>really are. We don't even have to go near psychology; physics by
>>itself demolishes any possibility that human perception is
>>accurate or producing pictures of what is out there.

>You are confusing a physicist's model definition of "reality"
>with the utilitarian information processing definition of
>"reality". That the perceptual model doesn't match the physical
>one doesn't make it any less "real" or imply that it is
>inherently inaccurate. Accuracy means is the perception
>repeatable over a wide range of conditions (perceptual
>constancy) and enable us to function reliably in the physical
>world. Otherwise we would be incapable of crossing the street

>There are some unfortunates where perceptual accuracy and
>constancy does break down, and they have a terrible time
>functioning in the "real" world. E.g., people with inner ear
>problems may have problems with stabilizing the visual world,
>which may seem to swim around. Color constancy may break down
>with damage to certain regions of the brain. The world then
>becomes ever-changing from moment to moment.

>You could argue that is a more "real" representation of the
>world from a physicist's standpoint, e.g., lighting may be
>constantly changing, but from a practical standpoint of living
>that "reality" can be pure hell if the brain's sensory and
>perceptual mechanisms weren't able to deal with it.

>>You do not want to accept this premise as a valid one, so
>>everything that comes forth to further support its veracity, to
>>you, is simply "experiments to produce an ever- lengthening list
>>of examples of unreliable perception" rather than evidence that
>>further supports the premise.

>>What psychology does when it proceeds from this premise is no
>>different from what other fields of science do when they proceed
>>from a premise that they view as valid (having been well
>>established) in their field.

>I agree with Cathy here. I think you are being much too rigid in
>what you define as a proper representation of the abstraction we
>call "reality". There are different human models and different
>ways to define "reality".

No, David. This is just a long, long, long spiel describing what
the human perception process does, and how and why it does it.
It is very detailed and full of example but we already know that
the human perception process produces a picture of reality that,
most of the time, gets us through the day and enables us to

But the bottom line is this: there is something 'out there,' and
there is something created within our consciousness that
represents it. These two don't even come close to matching. You
can get as philosophical as you want and tap dance around it
forever but it doesn't change this.

It is true that, as far as we are concerned, the reality that we
experience as created by our perception is the only reality that
matters. And that this representational reality serves us most
of the time.

But natural selection has evolved a system that doesn't detect
most of what's out there, extensively filters out most of what
it does detect, and then interprets the trickle of information
that is left via mechanisms that can be tricked and which are
subject to making very bad judgement calls. You and Cathy can
keep dancing around that too if you like.

That it succeeds most of the time in keeping us alive doesn't
change this. It is functional - reliable _enough_.

"Reliable'' and "reliable enough" mean two different things.

Yes, it is true that if I ignore that my car engine is
overheating then I better be prepared to shell out a few grand
but it is also true that if I walk into a pocket of toxic gas in
an abandoned mine I am going to end up stone cold dead.

If you and Cathy want to blur "reliable' and "reliable enough"
then I strongly suggest that you both stay away from abandoned
mines. Because you might learn the hard way that your "reliable"
perception process just isn't what you think it is.

Listen to 'Strange Days... Indeed' - The PodCast



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