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Fundamental Insights

1) Reality is a story, told to us by our brains.

Our brains are artists, not mirrors
Our experiences do not reflect reality itself, but
rather a construction, or representation of
1) This construction process involves a lot of
guesswork – filling in the gaps
2) This subjective representation occurs within
the brain.


We only have access to a limited subset of Reality The limitations of our sensory-perceptual system are due to: Ø the sensitivity of our sensory mechanisms Ø our attentional capacity .


. We have to fill in a lot of gaps.most of the time. but rather.. Ø But this means that we are not directly interacting with reality.Ø Perception is a process of creative storytelling and inference making... . Ø This is highly functional. we are creating a fiction about reality. and we hope it s a pretty close match.

. and the patterns of sensory stimuli it is currently experiencing.But how does the Mind perceive Reality? Ø Perception can be thought of as a process of PATTERN-MATCHING (note: this isn’t ‘correct’. but it’s a useful starting point…) Ø It is as though our brains look for a correspondence between patterns that have been stored in it through our past experience.

it either guesses about (if it has some reasonable info) or ignores entirely.e.. knowledge ) to decode incoming sensory signals Ø thus. is largely what it sees in the present Ø what it cannot decode.Ø the brain uses its pre-existing patterns (i. what the brain has learned to see in the past. or just sees what it wants/ likes to see .


? MOM ANTS MAGIC BUFFALO uhhhhhhh. ??? .

told to us by our brains. This construction process involves interpreting patterns of sensory information based on preexisting patterns stored in the brain & body. Implications? We don t live in the real world. we can therefore improve our own experience greatly. There are systematic ways in which we make errors in this construction process. but in a constructed world. .Fundamental Insight #1 Reality is a story.

Fundamental Insight #2 Attention! .

stereotypes: -  And we rely on subtler. implicit ( unconscious ) signals. when engaging in reasoning and decision making -  e.g. .We take shortcuts: -  We rely upon heuristics or rules of thumb..

gender & classical music .Biases Of course. race & job applicants. gender/race & essay quality. often so subtly that we are unaware of these biases. and we can therefore be led astray by our own beliefdriven expectations. relying so heavily upon our beliefs makes us biased. our biases can actually create their own reality! self-fulfilling prophecies e..g. Because perception --> behaviour.

Biases are often based on our motivations. which can alter the information we pay attention to. and the meaning that we read into our experiences. the information we dredge up from our memories. .

and we have quite a bit of control over that process .What we can learn from our biases Humility – we have many biases. we do not see reality as it is Empowerment – our perceptions of Reality are constructed.

and many other things. ATTENTION is critically important.The Primacy of Attention Because of our limited info processing capabilities.. studying & distractions . emotions & attention). how well we perform on tasks. ATTENTION determines how we are affected by the circumstances of our lives (e. brain surgery.g.g. ATTENTION is what largely determines the reality we experience. cell phones & driving.. e.

What is the secret to happiness? . ATTENTION is something that we can learn to control to an extraordinary degree.The Primacy of Attention And most importantly.

listening to music .Ø Attention affects Quality of experience. wine/food tasting.. Ø e.g.

but of course.. a complex network of biological/neurological processes). the brain lives in the body.You might like to think that you live in the real world. which lives in the world. and the re-embodiment of the mind opens up the possibility of immense unconscious.. -. .e. but you don t.Fundamental Insight #3 EVERYTHING is the same!!! (i. . The total organism is far more complex than the cognitively structured ‘mind’ may suggest. implicit processing of information.. you live in your brain.