apophenia explained


In my recent posts I have mentioned making connections and seeing patterns. By random meandering through the blogsphere I have found a description: Apophenia: the experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or meaningless data (wikipedia).

I have also been trying to find the classic perceptual illustration of the dalmation that is, essentially, a collection of shapes that our brains organise into the message - look, a dalmation. If you have never seen a dalmation (or a dog), then you have no experience to connect so you may not see the dog at all. I have heard or read somewhere that the indigenous people of south america could not see the shapes of the spanish vessels on the horizon becasue they did not have anything with which to associate. I guess that is possible?

Of course then there is the Gestalt theory that suggests:the primacy of the whole in perception, not as an accumulation of perceptions of its parts but in something more. Our perceptions are subconsciously constructed towards the end of creating a perception as stable, or as "good" as possible. Our conscious mind is then presented with this organised percept of the whole.

I suppose that is why we enjoy novelty, but only when it has a safety cord. I call it the New/Knew phenomenon. Think about music, even when something is strange and different we like our tunes to conform to a genre at least. A hip hop rendition of Stairway to Heaven might be a curious thing, but we have the umbilical cord to the past in a way that the Kronos Quartet will never have.

I have begun adding a list of blogs that I regularly visit, I'll keep you posted.

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