table of contents

a look at how humans think and see

14) identification

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Identify what is in the below three pictures. Answer one picture at a time by saying aloud or to yourself the answer. The images are not visual or optical illusions or tricks, and were picked because of their straight foreward subjects. I am just looking for a quick objective identification of each.







If your answers were 'George Washington crossing the Deleware,' 'bald eagle' and 'watch,' you were not objective in your identification. Your identificaion was based in part on value judgment, aesthtics and bias. In the picture with the bald eagle, there is much more in the image-- sky, stump, trees-- but you picked out one thing as the identity. Part of this is due to a value judgment that a bald eagle is more important than other objects. Another reason is because the eagle is pictured large and centered. If the picture showed a tree closeup and clear and with the eagle flying in the background, you may have identified it as a tree. Your aesthetic view of arrangment and size effects your identification.

Similarly, if you said the second image showed a watch, you made a value judgment ("a watch must be the focus of the image as it's jewelry"). You were influenced by the arrangement and focus of the image. It was your opinion that in focus was more important than out of focus.

In the first image there are quite a few men, but you singled out one. This is part as you place higher value on George Washington and as he is the only one you know by name. This shows that humans place greater value on what they know and can dismiss what is unknown. If you had said "This pictures a bunch of guys, one whose name is George Washington" you would have had answer the better identified the image while expressing your limited knowledge. You did not identify the image as 'sky and ice,' even though sky and ice takes up more space than the men, boat and flag. This was your value judgment.

The initial question asked for an objective identification, but your answers were subjective. I didn't ask for your opinion as to whether George Washington was more important than ice, or a whether you thought a bald eagle is more significant than out of focus background trees.

This type of subjective 'objective' identification is common to humans.

From a practical standpoint, this type of subjective categorizing and prioritizing is important. Quick interpretations of scenes, including judging what is significant and what is not, is essential to getting through life. You wouldn't have lasted long if you placed equal visual significance on a small crack on the pavement and a car speeding in your path. Instant ordering and prioritizing is an integral part all conscious mental tasks, from performing mathematics to reading to bidding in an online auction. However, as with many useful ways of thinking, it hinders objective understanding. main

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