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Thread: Brain: Constructs rather than mirrors reality

  1. #1 Brain: Constructs rather than mirrors reality 
    Forum Ph.D.
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    Feb 2007
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    Brain: Constructs rather than mirrors reality

    Thomas Kuhn, in his famous book, “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”, explains the difficult we have with recognizing and accepting experiences that contradict our anticipations.

    Kuhn details some of the problems that arose while scientists discovered such scientific anomalies as X-ray and oxygen.

    As Kuhn observed:
    “Novelty emerges with difficulty, manifested by resistance, against a back drop provided by expectation. Initially, only the anticipated and usual are experienced even under circumstances where anomaly is later to be discovered…Further acquaintance, however, does result of awareness of something wrong…[which] opens a period in which perceptual categories are adjusted until the initially anomalous has become the anticipated.”

    He concludes: “What a man sees depends upon what he looks at and also upon what his previous visual-conceptual experience has taught him to see.”

    Kuhn provides us with an experiment performed by Jerome Bruner and Leo Postman undertaken to illuminate this human characteristic of seeing only what we are prepared to see.

    Subjects were shown standard playing cards mixed with the anomalous card a red six of spades and a black four of hearts. Subjects repeatedly and erroneously identified the anomalous cards as a six of hearts or a four of spades. Some, even after the experiment was over, displayed confusion and even anger at the experiment. Only after repeated exposures to the cards did the subjects slowly feel something was askew here. Only after forty exposures did the subjects correctly identify the cards.


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