Human perceptions are greatly influenced by biases for forms,
shapes and patterns. Humans have ingrained and unbconscious attractions
for specific forms, shapes and patterns. Some of these biases
are inborn, while others are learned. These biases greatly influence
how we perceive, organize and label, and are essential to the
quick identifications needed to go through life.
Humans can naturally tell the difference between a perfect
and slightly lopsided circle and between a straight and slightly
bent metal bar. This ability is cross cultural. Someone in Berlin
and someone in Cairo have the same ability.
You instantly perceived a dog in the black shape that started
this chapter, even though the shape lacked fur, eyes, whiskers
and other essential dog details. You didn't have to contemplate
the shape. You perceived it instantly.
The problem for humans is that their biases for certain shapes,
forms and patterns is so strong and ingrained that they will
see perceive things even when they don't objectively exist.
Creatures in clouds and other subjective visions
Our form and pattern biases are shown in action when we perceive
horses or castles or hot rods and other familiar shapes in the
clouds. These 'identifications' are subjective to the viewer,
and do not objectively exist in cloud. There are thousands of
possible connect-the-dot shapes in a cloud, but you perceive,
or mentally pick out, that which aligns with your knowledge.
The horse or castle is a projection of what exists in your mind.
If there were no horses on earth or in fantasy books, you would
not perceive a horse in the cloud.
The figures in stars don't exist except as we draw them. The
stars could have been connected into millions of designs than
our ancestors picked. The faces or figures we perceive in burnt
toast and wood brain and stones are projections of our minds.
What you perceive is as much a representation of you as what
you are looking at.
I hope you realize that if you pick up a stone with a pattern
you think looks like Elvis, the stone existed long before Elvis
* * * *
The Face on Mars
In 1976 the NASA spacecraft Viking 1 took photographs of an
area on the planet Mars that contained many giant mesas, craters
and other geological formations. One of the mesas in the photographs
somewhat resembled a human face. As should not be unexpected,
many humans on earth became interested in this 'human face' (and,
as should not be unexpected, were uninterested in all the surrounding
formations that didn't resemble human faces). Some were and still
are convinced the mesa was constructed by intelligent life form.
This perception of the 'face' is merely a pattern bias, a
projection of the viewer's mind whose own face has a similar
form. If someone has patterns in his mind (human face, kitty
cat, square, letter 'B,' house key, baseball cap, etc) and looks
at enough information (such as all the geological formations
on a planet's surface), he will be able to pick out many of these
patterns in the information. Seeing the 'face of Nixon' isn't
proof a potato was built by intelligent life form. It just means
that out of millions and millions and millions of potatoes, a
few are bound to somewhat resemble a former US President who
had a big nose.
As the following images show, the 'face on Mars' is just one
of many mesas, hills and craters that come in a wide variety
Just another mesa in the crowd
Years later, the above photograph of the same mesa was shot
at a different angle and time of day. This shows that angle and
shadow contributed to the perception of a face. If originally
shot at this angle and time of day, the mesa would not have been
perceived as a face and humans on earth would have considered
it no more significant than any of the other blobs in the photographs.
Smiley face of Mars?
Is it a vase or is it two faces?
The standard 'Is is a vase or is it two faces looking at each
other?' visual illusion shows that humans project a subjective
identity onto an object. You will initially see a black vase
or a pair of white faces looking at each other. As you stare
longer your perception will be replaced by the other view, then
your perception will flip back and forth between the two views.
The picture is unchanging, while your perception of it changes.
Of course, it is neither a vase or faces, but a black and
white form. The picture could be perceived as thousands of different
things. However, in part by your shape biases and by the leading
question ('Is it a vase or faces?'), you perceived a vase and
faces. As I look at the picture, I could see how the top or bottom
portion could be perceived as two boots placed back to back.
The chin to nose areas could be perceived as little black faces.
The black shape could be seen as a table. And so on.
There's no reason that it has to be percieved in the form
of any object. It is the human's prediliction that it
should be organized into to identifiable thing.
(c) david rudd cycleback, cycleback.com
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