Paranormal Illusions – Reality Check

Peripheral-Drift-Illusion-

The image above appears to be moving, but you know it isn’t. It’s a trick of the brain called the peripheral drift illusion. Many people have seen this and have no problem accepting that the image isn’t really moving.

The image below is caused by the same peripheral shifting of the brain and makes it appear as though the white dots are changing into black dots randomly between the corners of each of the squares. Of course you know they aren’t.

mind-trick-magic-dots

It’s not hard to identify images like these as illusions and accept that our brain isn’t perfect and has truly been fooled – even when we are consciously aware that is not real.  The sites that display images such as these openly profess they are illusions.  Yet we can’t stop our brain from seeing the wrong thing.

If we can accept the fallibility of our brain regarding these images, why then is it so hard to accept that our brain can be wrong in so many other instances such as hearing words in random background noise or faces in window reflections?  The effect of “paraedolic” anthropomorphism has been demonstrated and proven time and time again.  But yet, there are so many people who adamantly insist that what they are seeing or hearing is real…not an illusion.  They insist their mind could not be the culprit behind the anomalies that present themselves in such mundane and non-informative ways.

The reason for this adamant denial is sourced from yet another psychological effect called cognitive bias.  Our brains tendency to “assemble” information that aligns with our desires or beliefs and any idea or bit of information that doesn’t align is sharply rejected.  Often to the point of irrational anger.

As humans (living animals) we rely on our senses and brain for all of our knowledge and experiences. It was our perceptions and critical thinking process that allowed us to speak and understand. It taught us to walk and eat and fend for ourselves. We have no choice but to trust the validity of our own mind and senses… especially when it regards something near and dear to our heart or something into which we have staunchly invested our interest.  Let’s face it, our brain is our only interface to the outside world. It’s not a pleasant experience to conceive its fallible nature.

That being said, it only stands to reason that when a concept or opinion is presented that challenges not only our mind but our beliefs and wants as well (regardless of how logical it may seem), the default reaction is a sharp and swift dismissal.  Be careful. While the cause of a stubborn, non-objective opinion in response to seemingly anomalous phenomena may seem a natural condition of our psyche, it is dangerous to our growth as an intelligent race.  Every “patriotic” defense of an unsubstantiated perspective is a truth left undiscovered and a hindrance of progress.

Next time you see a face in a window reflection or hear your name being called in the heavy background noise of a poor recording, just stop and think for a moment. What seems more likely? That your easily fooled brain has done it again or some mysterious inter-dimensional being is trying to communicate with you through a bad photograph or poor recording

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