The Limits of Perceptions

  1. ¶Thinking about Perception is Heady
  2. ¶Types of Blind Spots
  3. ¶Why is Timelapse Mesrmizeing?

Admittedly this is the most meta-abstract-philosphizing discourse I have jotted down. However, I find it to be cretically important to acknowledge that assumptions and blind spots exist. The process of shedding light on areas we can only assume exists is a daunting process, and it feels a bit like going on a snipe hunt in the woods.

Thinking about Perception is Heady

Thinking about what you don’t know requires the obligatory Rumpsfeld quote and even the Asian proverb of the 3 blind men describing an elephant.

For those unfamiliar: The parable is summarized by - asking 3 blind men to describe an elephant. The first man makes his way to the trunk and says an elephant is like a giant snake. The second man finds his way to the ears and says elephants are like floppy fans. The third man, touching the tail, disagrees still claiming it is more like a rope.

There the moral of the story is that we almost always make conclusions based on only part of the story. Each man correctly states the elephant is like a snake, fan, or rope, but any of those aspects are but mere parts of a whole story. None is the whole truth.

Stated differently, we all have blind spots. Our experiences, the things that have taught us and provided sound basis for many good decsions hold assumptions about the world. But the assumptions are often bigger than us - and so its easy to claim the world is flat. In fact it is crazy to claim the world is round until you use interesting math, or have a vantage point sufficiently removed to see your own blind spots.

There are a few things that can contribute to something hiding in plain sight.

Types of Blind Spots

  • Ubiquity: for land dwellers, the air is hard to percieve. If you were a fish the water would be hard to percieve.
  • Stationarity: Things moving sufficiently slower than we do are hard to percieve. Do trees move? Does the face of your child change everyday? Is the ground really solid or just really big?
  • Our Lifespan/Longevity: Is global warming happening? Wouldn’t it be easier if everyone had a shared experience dating back a lifetime of 1000 years? We would be able to objectively say Yes or No based on our own experience of 1000 years?
  • Our Anatomy / Eyes: Are radio waves causing cancer? Wouldn’t it be easier if our eyes had some sharper defined rods and cones allowing us to see high density of radio waves? Again we would be able to lean on our own experience. Is the earth flat or just really big - making it hard to see that its round?
  • Our Anatomy/ Height & Weight: What sound does the earth make? How could we possibly hear it since we can barely hear the lower registers of thunder? Our size and weight give us physical properties such that very high frequenies (dog whistle and higher) go right around our ears, and large booming groans go right through us. We don’t hear those either.

A conclusion we can make is that we internalize differences. That one statement is profound if you are working on analytics. This is why someone will always ask for “baselines.” Because with out it we are supposed to answer “Is 1000 widgets good or bad” - hard to say without context.

Why is Timelapse Mesrmizeing?

I find timelapse mesmerizing. I mean just fully enthralling. captivating. but why? My assumption so far is that it is a window into a different time dimension. I live in a time dimension. But plants live in a different time dimension. Even plants that tend to live 80 years. Have a different grandeur than I will by the time they are 80. Timelapse is a small window into a different world of perception. Timelaps stretches the boundaries of our huiman perception.

I think this is the same thing that has driven human desires to stand on top of mountains looking down over the land. New vantage points, new perspectives are intoxicating. It causes us to realize our place in the world. It causes us to realize that maybe, just maybe we are holding on to the trunk of the elephant - but there is more yet to be learned.

Never forget the people who said the world is flat were very smart people of their day.


Austin Neill

Aimee Vogelsang