We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Anatomists have found that in most areas of the cortex, for every fiber carrying information up the hierarchy, there are as many as ten fibers carrying processed information back down the hierarchy...
Ten times as many going "down" than "up"? I find it fascinating that there are such identifiable anatomical structures which correlate with what we know well: perception is not "input." It's our brain and mind's interaction with the input not just in the cortex where we expect processing and interpretation to take place, but also back down to the sensory level itself.
So sensation itself is not passive reception: it is shaped by the cortex. Another quote:
[Y]our understanding of reality is a far cry from reality itself. Your understanding of reality is constructed in large part according to your expectations and beliefs, which are based on all your past experiences which are held in the cortex as predictive memory. This is worth repeating: Many of your perceptions—what you see, hear, feel, and think is real—are profoundly shaped and influenced by your beliefs and expectations.
I think it's a big leap from the micro-anatomy of basic sensory perception to the theme of construction of reality, but it's always a good topic. The piece is further quoted and linked here.
Photo: A stained cortical neuron in a sea of dendrites
I had a similar reaction. I think the language of the authors might go too far, although I also suspect that lay readers unfamiliar with perception and memory experiments might be quite surprised by the extent to which perception and memory are influenced and even determined by priming, expectation, previous experiences and post-exposure experiences. Well, at least I was when I first encountered some of the research.
Here's the quote I was looking for:
"The thought that you think, you think, which attracts to it; so you think it some more, which attracts to it; so you think it some more. In other words, when you have an expectation, you've got a dominant thought going on, and Law of Attraction is going to deliver that to you again, and again and again. And you say "The reason that I believe this, is because it is true." And we say, the reason that you believe it, is because you've practiced the thought. All that a belief is, is a thought that you keep practicing.
- Abraham-Hicks -"
``[Y]our understanding of reality is a far cry from reality itself''
Wittgenstein could do a comic essay on that, by taking it seriously.
Eddington felt that he could believe that this table is really a curvature of space, or that color is really electromagnetic wavelength, but he'd have trouble believing that time is really an entropy gradient. He was willing to go around without the lab coat occasionally and wonder about the words.
I'd start by asking if the first reality is the same one as the second , suspecting that the second is empty and the first is everything else. Call the second formal reality, and wonder how anybody knows what would fit it. It hides a process of inclusion and rejection that's repeated as often as necessary.
It's not far from the brain in a vat fantasy : ``That's you over there.''
Stanley Cavell The Claim of Reason is superb on expanding Wittgenstein into an American idiom.
Before we go too deeply into the philosophical implications of it all, it pays to remember that 70% of the brain's activity is just monitoring itself. This is part of that. The brain essentially regards the rest of the body as an annoying appendage, for which it spares as few resources as possible.
Assistant Village Idiot