Our Eyes Don’t See

That seems like a wildly wrong idea. We have lived our lives with the idea that our eyes see and our ears hear. Neither is true.

We see, hear, smell, taste, and touch with our brain. The various organs are the tools to acquire data for the brain to process.

There are ways to know that

  • Take your eyes, and the study of optics. A lens like the one in our eye creates an image on the screen that is upside down. Our brain conveniently turns it over.
  • There is a place in our eye where the optic nerve connects to the retina. Our eye fails to process any light that lands there. Do you have a blank dot in the center of anything you look at. Of course not, your brain fills in the blank using the surroundings as a guide.  You could check that for yourself with a simple test. Visual Blind Spot
  • Your eyes see slightly different images. Your brain combines them to give us depth to what we see. 3-D.
  • Your ears hear directionally and your brain combine the sounds. Do you think a symphony orchestra is organized randomly or do they do it the way they do for easiest mixing?

Our brain does its best to makes sense of any stimuli that come our way. The problem is it makes sense in terms of what we have learned, experienced, and believe. You may have noticed people who become brain-deaf when there is an opinion they don’t agree with. Similarly, they see what they understand easiest. That’s what they already know about or agree with.

Each of us does it.

Where the problem arises. 

We each idealistically think other people reach the same conclusions when presented with identical and objective inputs. You may have noticed that in the real world that happens seldom. Even never.

It is harmful to think others think exactly the way you do. When you think information matters and the other is exposed to identical information and reaches a different mind place, conflict results. If we treat conflict as an affront to our ego, it grows greater. You can see people tune out when something that contradicts one of their sacred views. Cognitive dissonance is your enemy.

Examine the differences from an open-minded position. Maybe you are wrong. Maybe both of you are wrong. Maybe if you work together you can find a better way to look at the problem and both of you will benefit. To improve both positions it’s necessary to understand the other person.

A thought from conflict management. “It is not enough to know what the other person thinks, it is necessary to discover how they came to think what they do.” You must see their connection to objective facts and reassess your own at the same time.

Be aware of thinking patterns.

Edward De Bono has explained that inputs do not matter as much as how we think about them. We each have organizing patterns that drive the meaning of inputs and no matter the inputs, we reach predictable conclusions. Your personal strong beliefs (biases) are always part of the pattern.

Is it even possible to be objective?

The bits to take away

You probably cannot find another person who thinks exactly as you do.

You probably don’t recognize the thinking biases that change how you process information.

If you think people are evil you will reach conclusions that match that expectation. Similarly if you think they are good.

Part of communicating better is understanding yourself. Work at that.


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I build strategy and fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate ways and alternate timing to achieve both spending and estate distribution goals. In the past I have been a planner with a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency, a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business. I have appeared on more than 100 television shows on financial planning, have presented to organizations as varied as the Canadian Bar Association, The Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Banks – from CIBC to the Business Development Bank.

Be in touch at 705-927-4770 or by email to don@moneyfyi.com

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