What you see isn’t always what you think

What do you see in the picture shown here?

is it an angel or alien
is it an angel or alien

When I showed the picture to different friends, I got several different answers: angels, aliens, light reflecting on clouds. And whose to say that any of those answers was right or wrong?

If you asked three different people to describe something they all saw or experienced, you’d most likely get three different answers. Crazy, right?

Well, maybe it’s not as crazy as you think. After all, much of what we think we experience is based on what our minds tell us is real. And our brain’s output is based on imperfect, and often, incomplete data.

I’ve been watching a TV show lately called Brain Games. It’s all about how our brains perceive and interpret information. What I’ve discovered from viewing this show is that while we think of our brains as infallible, they aren’t…not really.

Our brains function just like those computers the CSI guys use when they enter partial fingerprints into it, and then try to get a match. Our brains take in all sorts of information through sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell; however, many of us rarely fully focus on the input that our body is sending us, so we don’t always get perfect data. We may only see part of what is happening around us because we’re focused on our cell phone, or on the taste of that meatball sub we’re having for lunch, or on the lyrics to our favorite song playing on our iPods. So, just like that partial finger print that the CSI computer is trying to match, our brains are trying to make sense of partial input.

Adding to the brain’s difficulty is the fact that the majority of us come with preset filters. We call these filters:  beliefs, prejudices, past experiences, fears, preconceived notions and convictions, and expectations.

Having these filters is not necessarily bad; in fact, without them we wouldn’t be who we are. However, they do skew and limit the output our brain can present to us based on the input we gave it.

So, if your filtering system (personality and thought processes) allow angels, then it’s easy to see how your brain may put together all the input you gave it and give you that answer. However, if your filtering system doesn’t go there, then you might be more inclined to receive the answer of light glare on clouds.

Neither answer is wrong, each person simply experiences a reality based on his or her information input and his or her filtered output.