Wednesday, February 11, 2015

On Being Wrong: Our Senses


[Being Wrong]

"Of the very long list of reasons we can get things wrong, the most elementary of them all is our senses fail us" (53) --Kathryn Schulz

In the chapter 3, "Our Senses," in her book Being Wrong, Kathryn Schulz discusses illusions and especially "the processes that give rise to them--processes that would be far harder to study (or even know about) if they didn't occasionally produce surprising erroneous results." Scientists who study illusions "aren't learning how our visual system fails. They are learning how it works" (61).

Later, Schulz explains that "illusions teach us how to think about error" (65). And she also mentions the curiosity and pleasure that emerge as a result of illusions we encounter. 

What did you think? Based on Schulz's discussion, what processes or effects of illusion that she covered were most compelling to you and why?

16 comments:

Peyton D. said...

The thing that stood out the most for me was the illusion called a mirage. On page 50, a mirage is described as an optical illusion of the sight. An example that was given was seeing pools of water on the highways but as you approach them, there is nothing there but the road. One of the largest mirages was mentioned on page 51 and 52 where an explorer thought he saw an entire continent. I like this illusion because it can be applied metaphorically- things are not always what they appear to be.

Deborrah Blackburn said...

One of the ideas that I thought was the most interesting was how we express someone who knows the truth as "seeing" and those who are ignorant as "blind." She states how the link between seeing and knowing is not only metaphorical but we assume that what we are seeing is truth and what we cannot see we leave up to faith. Even though we may think that we are "seeing" the truth, we may still be fooled by an illusion. I liked this idea because it shows how we are still so easily confused or fooled even when we can see the truth.
Deborrah B.

Anonymous said...

What I giund most interesting in chapter 3 was the attic mirage. The explorer thought that something was blocking him from travel so he gave up at that instant without checking any further. This parallels to people nowadays who give up on something because they think they're being blocked, when all along its really them hindering their own success
-Monet E

Tameah F. said...


The explanation of the mirages stood out to me because i found it fascinating that the explorer thought he saw a whole continent that was 250 miles away. Also, the fact that mirages appear due to temperature conversions was interesting.

Aliyah Butler said...

I agree with Deborrah, I thought that the comparison between "seeing" and being "blind" was interesting. We aren't always aware of what we don't know. We may hold steadfast to one belief or have a specific perspective that we can't let go of, but it could be completely false. This reminded me that we must always keep an open mind about our beliefs because we can be fooled so easily.
Aliyah B.

Breanna B. said...

I agree with Peyton in that metaphorical application of the mirage. Things aren't always what they appear to be, and I think this directly corresponds with the concept between right and wrong.

Alexandra Donaldson said...

I agree with Tameah, I thought it was fascinating that the explorer thought he saw a whole continent that was 250 miles away. I think it shows just how powerful the mind is in making us believe certain things that aren't necessarily true. I also thought it was interesting that temperature plays a large part in the appearance of mirages. This chapter was extremely interesting to me.

DuAuna C. said...

I found the mirages to be most interesting. Things you see can appear to be real but they really aren't or the things you see really are real, such as the mountains that were mentioned but the distance may be farther away.

Adryan Brooks said...

The thing that stood out the most to me was the attic mirage. Its pretty mind blowing for the guy to give up going to his destination just because something was blocking his view. Often times we think that just because we can not see the goal straight on, that we can not make it or that there is nothing to find. If we look further than straight ahead and use our other views or vision we can go so far.

Savannah Dread said...

The most interesting illusion for me was the one called "mirage". She explained this as an optical allusion, seeing something that is not actually there. This is interesting to me because it can be taken in more than one way, literally, like the example she gave in the book, or figuratively, everything is not what it seems.

Kellsey H said...

The concept that I found most compelling was the one discussed on page 53 regarding sight. Schulz states " the link between seeing and knowing is not just metaphorical." In other words, the things that we are able to view with our own eyes, we regard as true. Consequently, we regard the ideas in our heads as true due to things that are visible to us.

Courtney said...

"...being wrong is often a side effect of a system that is functioning exactly right."
pages 58-61 talk about how our senses perceive things the way they are supposed to but not always the way they are. I found it interesting because of this new debate abut whether this dress was blue and black or white and gold. It depends on the way you perceive the dress but Google says the dress is blue and black. Its an interesting concept and definitely coincides with the concept of illusion in everyday life.

cassidy oliver said...

The most interesting idea discussed in Chapter 3 is the idea of perceptions. Our perception is basically the way we interpret the world around us. One flaw within most humans is that we see our perception as reality. But in fact what we see and the reasons for it is an illusion because it is only true to us. Because that, proving your perception as reality to others. Humans try to prove their perception because no one likes to think their senses, which is where the perception came from, has failed them. Questioning your senses and perception can lead to a bigger segment, questioning the world around you

Fiona H. said...

The most interesting or compelling thing about the chapter that stood out to me was the discussions about mirages. I found it interesting that the man saw an entire continent because I've never seen a mirage of something that didn't just look like water.

Lindsey McCall said...

The most interesting illusion was the mirage illusion. I think it was most interesting because it puts emphasis on the fact that things aren't always what they seem, whether it be the example of the puddles of water on a highway or seeing a guy and a girl talking and assuming they're possibly in a relationship.

Jacquesia H. said...

I also think the mirages were the most interesting. Thinking that you aren't always seeing why you think you are is a strange thought. Most of all that stuck out was the fact that we assume, like how we jump to conclusions about the relationship of two individuals.