Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pink lenses, anyone?

To friend I respect:"Hi.  How are you?"

Friend:"Oh, can't complain."

Me: "Sure  you can.  Give it a try."

Friend: "Don't get me started!"

I was impressed at how immediately he moved from not thinking he was even able to complain to warning me of a flood of complaints waiting that could be released.  

I see all sorts of opinion and reports of evidence that positive thinking pays.  In fact, I guess there is good support for the idea that people who are depressed observe more accurately while those who are in a healthier state emotionally tend to put a bit of an optimistic twist to what they perceive and what they think. It is something of a shock in this age of science and attempts at accuracy to think that positive twists, even if less correct, might be superior for health and motivation to seeing clearly.

Actually, we never see all that clearly.  In philosophy of science, we heard of the idea that "Believing is seeing", or when you believe it, you see it.  When I was about five years old, I saw a flying sleigh and reindeer pulling it through the night sky on you-know-what-night.  The notion is that once you believe something exists, you can see it, or think you can.  I have not read "Robinson Crusoe" but I read of the moment when a ship finally appears on the horizon and Robinson recognizes it as a ship, of course, but the native Friday has not seen a ship and only sees that something is there.  I have read of reports that some New World natives had never seen a horse or a man mounted on one and were not sure what they looking at when they first saw a mounted Spanish soldier.  What was that creature?  Did it have more than one head and one pair of eyes?

Deepak Chopra and C.S. Lewis both write about the difference between what is and what we can see.  Vision experts know about the retina of the eye and its ability and limitations in rendering colors, fast moving and very slow moving objects and phenomena.  In psychophysics, we learned that each of the human senses has an upper and lower limit in its range.  However, there are sights, sounds, and smells that are too big or too small or too faint or too strong for us to perceive.  So, if we are basically in the dark all the time, why not make of the best story of it we can?

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