One lie comes out to light!

As I wrote yesterday:  a lie repeated often enough eventually becomes perceived as the truth (because of the mechanisms our brain uses to process its input), I had no idea one frequently repeated – and widely accepted as true – statement would be proven to be a big, fat lie!!!

Perhaps only Canadians are following the circus happening in the Star Chambers of the British Columbia HRC .  (The commission sometimes has tribunals – but as they are the same people, the names get confusing…officially, they call themselves tribunal in BC- usually they say commission/tribunal.  I think they are just trying to confuse us.) 

What is happening there?

The BC HRC(/T) is dragging a mainstream news magazine, Macleans, and a writer, Mark Steyn, ‘onto the carpet’ for having the audacity to quote a Norwegian Imam.  Apparently, his words could cause prejudice or hate against Muslims in BC, and so they should not be allowed to print them.  The fact that the statement was quoted truly and accurately – and in context – is no defence.  It is the fact that the statement could be perceived as ‘hateful’ or ‘demeaning’ .  Not was, just could be.  So, no need to go through that pesky business of proving any actual damages….

What is perhaps most frightening is that TRUTH IS NO DEFENSE!!!

The complainants live in Ontario.  The magazine is headquartered in Toronto, Ontario.  The writer lives in the USA.  Yet, the complaint is brought forward in BC….among other places (yes, double or tripple jeopardy do not apply).

One of the key pillars of their position, the thing that demonstrated how ‘unreasonable’ the magazine’s behaviour was, was the complainant’s insistence that MacLeans refused their suggestion that they publish an impartial article on that topic, written by a mutually acceptable writer.

Today, the truth comes out!  This was NEVER part of their demands! 

They never asked for a ‘more neutral’ article to be published, to be written by a mutually acceptable – or agreed upon (one variation wording of the LIE) writer.  Never.  One of the complainants admitted this, today, under oath, while questioned by a lawyed for Macleans who was actually present at that meeting where this alleged request took place.

Liar, liar, pants on fire!

Thanks for Blazing Catfur for the tip! 

More Mind Games

Yesterday, I had a fun post on how easily our perceptions can play mind games on us – looking at optical illusons.  Of course, optical illusions, at least of the ‘fun’ type, are just the tip of the iceberg!

The post showed, I hope, just how easy it is for our eyes to be tricked. 

Our brains are wonderful, comples structures.  They take the information from our eyes, and process it.  It is this processing of information which ‘tricks’ our mind.  Why?  Because our brains have developed some mightily useful ways of ‘figuring things out’ without telling us.  At least, without telling that conscious part of our thoughts we often think of as ‘us’. 

Yes, it is a form of subconscious ‘prejudice’ system – but it is precisely through this type of ‘pre-judgements’ that let humans  anticipate what is likely to happen next, so as to react in the best, most advantageour (to survival) way.  {Aside:  it is precisely because so many of our bad prejudices are also rooted this very deeply, among other survival tools, that we have a hard time recognizing our own ones… and why it is healthy for us to see other people’s ‘obvious’ prejudice openly, so we may learn to recognize our own bad/destructive/unreasonable prejucices and guard against acting on them.  But, that is for another day…}

When our brain gets some input, it matches this input to ‘past experiences’, compares patterns, looks for similarities.  It then interprets this new inputas best as it can – with respect to all the stored past experiences! And it does so quickly, without us even noticing it is doing it…

That is why we find it so hard to ‘wrap our brains’ around something completely new and outside of our experiences:  our brain has nothing to match it to, and would be just as happy ‘not noticing it’…

The immortal Douglas Adams was quite fascinated by this phenomenon.  And, as was his way, he used humour to get his point across… Please, indulge me (highly paraphrased):

The story went something like this:  A guy had a bet with some people about erecting an invisibility field on the mountain that blocked his view…  It was no easy thing, and in the end, the nay-sayers had lost, because even though the mountain could no longer be seen, there was now a suspicious new moon in low orbit, just about the size of that mountain…  Douglas Adams said that trying to generate an ‘invisibility field’ was silly, that is just so very troublesome.  It would have been much easier to simply paint the mountain pink during the nighttime and erect an S.E.P. field on it.

What is an S.E.P. field?  It simply means ‘Somebody Else’s Problem’ – anything that is ‘unusual’ or appears’ unexpected, and has this S.E.P. field on it – will be less than invisible!  People will look straight through it and not see it!  Their brain will just process it as ‘somebody else’s problem’ and refuse to acknowledge its existence…

Seems to me that this is one take on the whole ‘mind tricks’ phenomenon I am trying to get at.  Can’t relate to it – it’s not there. 

But, there are way more sinister uses of this ability we, people have, to interpret what we see according to familiar patterns.  This can be seriously abused by people with very particular – and not always honourable – aims.

Just like we can be tricked by a simple optical illusion, we can be tricked into seeing ‘things’ that never happened.  And once people ‘see things for themselves’, they accept them as true… and belieave them.

All our actions are based on what we perceive.  Not on facts – only on what we think are the acts. Not on truth, because we have no way of separating truth from our very distorted – and sometimes intentionally tricked – perceptions of the truth, on what we think the truth is.

A lie repeated often enough will eventually appear to us as the truth (it’s precisely this ‘previously encountered pattern’ matching thing in our subconsciousness that does this!). 

Conversly, a truth never heard of, will never be considered when one makes decisions.  After all, we can only decide on our best understanding of the truth…

Perhaps it is time we took a moment and re-evaluated just how easy it is for our brains to become victims of ‘mind games’…

Perceptions and mind games

Our mind is always processing ‘stuff’ around us.  And it is relatively easy for our mind trick us into perceiving things that are not there, or into not perceiving things that are there.  And so on….

This is such a fascinating subject!  What is it about our minds that allows this trickery to go on?  Many people have been asking this – Scientific American addresses it in ‘The Neuroscience of Illusion’.

Yes, true, this is looking at optical illusions only, but, well, that is the first step!  And some of these illusions are pretty neat! (If you want to skip the article, here is a link for the 5 illusions themselves).  And here is a whole gallery of them!

And, in my never-humble-way, here, for your enjoyment, is an optical illusion that I think is my own (though, with the mind playing tricks like this, I might have seen it somewhere, and then just been tricked into thinking I thought of it…) 

Do you see the big bird, or the little bird?

Because it is in a tree, it is ‘obvious’ (hopefully) that this is a picture of a bird.  Well, two birds – but not at once.  One is a big bird, one is a little bird.

Which one did you see first?