Daily Nugget of Gold 1427

The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” – Helen Keller

Daily Nugget of Gold 1427

Beauty is in the Mind of the Beholder

No, we didn’t trash the old saying carelessly, we wish to speak the truth today. We’re going to look more closely at the magic of sight and the primary organ of it- the brain. Yes, you need eyes to see, but the brain works its magic with fairly imperfect cameras, so to speak. It’s sort of like having Photo-shop running continuously and on demand. We’ll explain.

It turns out that our eyes aren’t perfect, not by a long shot. Our eyes have blood vessels and nerves which are between the lens and the retina, and our optic nerve leaves a giant blind spot in the field of our vision. The only place we actually have a clear picture hitting the retina is in the center of where we’re looking, everything else is actually fuzzy. So why don’t we see things this way, with a blind spot, blurred by blood vessels and the like, and fuzzy on the edges? We owe our incredibly crisp and detailed vision to our brain. What it can’t ‘see’, it fills in for us using its best guesstimations.

The “software” program of our brain instantly kicks into gear when we open our eyes and see something. Immediately, a third or more of our brain gets to work, millions of synapses begin firing and these not only turn the ‘upside down’ picture on the retina ‘right side up’, the brain begins the job of translating the information taken in through the optic nerve into something we believe is reality. Wavelengths of light become color in our mind, there is no color in the world, but our mind translates different wavelengths of light as a rainbow of colors.

Another function of our brain is to take the information our eyes send through the optic nerves and match patterns against our stored memories and use them not only to tell us what’s out there but to give us information as to what we’re seeing. The brain can do this faster than the fastest computer and it stores a vast array of patterns of objects and conditions for this purpose. This isn’t to say that our brain gets it right 100% of the time, it doesn’t. You’ve seen a variety of optical illusions, things that you know are one way but our eyes (brain) tell us it’s different. These expose the weaknesses of some of the shortcuts the pattern recognition capabilities utilize to create our world.

When we open our eyes, we should know that we aren’t seeing “the truth” but rather an instantly and carefully constructed representation of the things we’ve evolved to see- and its purpose has always been to keep us alive long enough to have and to raise kids. All of the other wonders and blessings of sight, those were just a nice bonus. A really, really, REALLY nice bonus.

Question of the Day to Ask Ourselves

How can I use my sight more effectively to be more successful in helping others?”

Copyright 2015 Kevin Littleton, all rights reserved.

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