Struggling with Meaninglessness

searching meaning in meaninglessness

Filling In The Gaps

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I’m sure we all know what a blind spot is all about. But let’s just try it out here for fun, shall we? Close your left eye with your hand and slowly move your head towards the screen focusing on the characters. At certain distance, the black circle on the right will vanish. That’s a pretty big blind spot.

However, isn’t it astonishing that despite unable to see the circle, we could still see the straight line and green background? If blind spot is ‘indeed blind’, wouldn’t it make sense that we will not be able to see anything  or total emptiness on the region? The blind spot is an area which is insensitive to light hence .. blind. Yet, there’s no dark spots in our vision and we almost have a perfect vision.

As to my understanding, this is a trick deployed by the brain to compensate the imperfectness  design of our eye. Our brain perceive the pattern of our vision and ‘predict’ what the blind spots will see and just slip in the predicted image. Basically, filling in the gaps. That’s why we could see the line and green background but not the circle.

On one midnight, while being drove home by a friend after a night-out, i thought i saw a tall man standing on the side of the road from the corner of my eye. But when i turned my head and look directly on the object, i realized it was actually just a telephone booth standing beside a tree.

If i am a superstitious person, i would have believed that’s a manifestation of spirits. But as a person who believe there are logical reasons for everything, i know that’s actually a combination between Pareidolia and my blind spot. (Pareidolia is a psychological condition which caused a tendency to see images of human faces or body in a very vague image.) Again, my brain is doing the duty of filling in the gaps albeit fooling myself.

Is this the only situation which our brain fills in the gap? I don’t believe so. I also believe this is how the ‘follow your guts or instinct’ work – The brain constantly fills in the gaps without your conscious awareness.

There is one day i was walking around a housing area, eating a freshly made burger and contemplating about life. Suddenly, i heard some footsteps running towards me from behind. I was startled and my first instinctive reaction was – Oh-no-a-dog-is-chasing-after-me-because-it-wants-to-eat-my-delicious-burger. (amazing how much information is processed in a split second). So, when i turned my back, i was preparing to defend myself against a dog. To my surprise, it was just an elderly man doing his evening jog. Apparently my instinct was wrong.

For the next few minutes, i kept asking myself why the heck i thought it was a dog instead of an old man? Not long after that,  I figured it out, and it’s a very simple answer actually – because i have the knowledge that there are quite a number of dogs in that area (house dogs and a few stray dogs), and i naturally and instinctively linked them with the activity i was doing – which was eating the burger, hence created the false idea that a dog was chasing after my burger. Yes, pretty irrational thought i guess, but hey, it’s not like every human being is irrational. So, i guess i’m still pretty normal.

I believe the way how filling in the gaps work echoes the philosophy of Evolution – it is not perfect and perhaps will cause some error in the way of how we think and perceive the reality but nevertheless is good enough to keep us surviving the world.


Written by elan85

July 2, 2008 at 6:29 pm

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