A friend of mine forwarded me this Pirsig quote (from his book Lila):
He had slept exhausted for most of the next day, and when he woke up and went outside it was afternoon. He asked someone how far it was to Cleveland.
You’re in Cleveland, he was told.
He couldn’t believe it. The chart said he was in a harbor miles from Cleveland.
Then he remembered the little ‘discrepancies’ he had seen on the chart when he came in. When a buoy had a ‘wrong’ number on it he presumed it had been changed since the chart was made. When a certain wall appeared that was not shown, he assumed it had been built recently or maybe he hadn’t come to it yet and he wasn’t quite where he thought he was. It never occurred to him to think he was in a whole different harbor!
Wherever the chart disagreed with his observations he rejected the observation and followed the chart. Because of what his mind thought it knew, it had built up a static filter, an immune system, that was shutting out all information that did not fit. Seeing is not believing. Believing is seeing.
Anyway, Confirmation Bias goes a long way toward explaining our willingness to see Jesus in a pane of glass or the tinkerings of God in our evolutionary past (but then, perhaps the bias is blocking me from seeing God’s full and perfect plan as revealed in the Bible or Koran… I’m heavily inclined toward the former).
In any case, there’s no getting around that we see what we want to see—that when you are a hammer the world is a nail…
And people say this sort of thing all the time, mocking the masses for their mass-like singlemindedness, their herd-mentality…
…it is always the ‘other guy’ who is missing reality, who is biasing his thoughts with the litter of his childhood—the misinformation passed down through so many generations of ancestrial cattle…
But it’s not the other guy—it’s me, and it’s you.