If a large tree were to fall into the forest without there being a creature around it that could hear it, would the tree make a sound?
At first glance, the answer to the question seems simple and even intuitive, but what if the question is more complex than it seems?
The first to ask this question was the Irish philosopher George Barclay in 1710 in his book A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, and he said that in order to answer that confusing question, we must first define what is healthy?
Sound is nothing but mechanical waves that travel through physical mediums from the sound source to the receiver’s ear, and the sound itself is nothing but vibrations. When the ear receives it, it converts these vibrations into electrical signals that the brain in the sound translates we know.
And it’s precisely that point that complicates Barkley’s question. Those vibrations of a falling tree would never turn into sound if there were not an ear to receive it and a brain to translate it into the noise we know. . Therefore, the fall of the tree is not enough to make a sound, but in addition to the presence of a medium through which the sound moves, it is necessary that there be a living being that receives these waves and converts them into sound. , and therefore we can say that there is no sound if there is no one who can hear it.
It’s like the way radio works, the base station sends waves into the air to be received by a radio of a certain frequency in your house, and then the radio changes those waves into sound that you hear, but what if you do not have a radio? What if no one in the world owns a radio? Then the radio waves would still be waves, vibrations and never change into sound.
Therefore, the sound simply does not have an objective existence (it does not exist on its own), but its existence is sensual and impossible without your presence. The presence of those who listen is a prerequisite for the existence of the sound, and without it the sound becomes non-existent.
Most interestingly, this idea not only depended on sound, but expanded over the years in the minds of philosophers, and interest in sound shifted to interest around the world, and some even began to believe that the world does not exist either, if there is no mind that understands and translates its existence through its senses.
The world does not exist outside the mind
In 1819, the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer expressed the idea of the sensory existence of the world in his book “The World is Will and Representation” by saying:
Here Schopenhauer does not deny the existence of the world in a real (objective) way, but he denies his separation of the mind in a sensual way, we do not see the world as it is, but the world is the one that represents each person differently according to the person’s ability to understand and his ability to see what is around him, so if someone stops What is the world saying? From a purely Schopenhauerian point of view, it is impossible to answer a question like this objectively, because the world differs from person to person.
It is like seeing the world through glasses that consist of our past experiences, the circumstances of our upbringing, and the beliefs that lie within each of us. And those glasses prevent us from seeing the world as it is (with its objective existence), and therefore we live and die in a hypothesis, a hypothesis built on the basis of the shape of our glasses through which we look at the world. , and consequently our vision is limited to what our hypothesis can confirm and only, even if it means blinding our eyes to Clear Facts, as long as that blindness will serve the hypothesis we have built in our minds from an early age.
Do you believe none of this? Do you think you can trust your senses and be sure of the reality of the world that reflects your glasses?
It is a pity to tell you, dear reader, that this is exactly what the participants in the “hidden gorilla” experiment said before the experiment forced them to change their minds.
Can you trust what you see?
Harvard researchers called two teams, one in white and the other in black, and each team had a ball in their hands. While this was happening, the viewer was asked to count the number of times the white team hit the ball. moved.
Meanwhile, about halfway through the experiment, a black gorilla appears in the middle of the room, or more precisely a man in a gorilla costume, standing in the middle of the two teams for a few seconds, hitting his chest several times in a row and then disappears again.
It is strange, dear reader, that after completing the experiment, the researchers asked the viewers what they saw, and the shock was that more than half of the viewers did not notice the appearance of the black gorilla in the first place. . How is it ?!
The gorilla appeared in the middle of the room for a few seconds, and even hit his chest several times, but most people did not notice it and no one noticed it.
How did it happen?
Scientists attribute this to the phenomenon of selective attention, which often forces our minds to ignore details and even events in order to focus on the main event.
For example, in the experiment, the main event was the number of times we caught the ball, but in life, the main event can be a difficult experience we go through, such as losing a loved one, ending a love affair, or going through ‘ a bitter depression that limits our view to what improves that psychological state Ignore everything else.
The main event is rather the business of our daily lives that gives no one the opportunity to pay attention to small details or sniff the flowers on the way, as the famous American proverb reads.
Not only did some scientists do this, but the American physicist “Leonard Mlodinov” took it to another level, as he said that the main purpose of selective attention is to protect our minds from dealing with the confusing randomness of the reality and its many details that can drive us crazy.
Congenital deficiency in the mind or madness?
According to Mlodinov, our minds have a serious innate defect that makes them unable to handle the randomness of reality and the conflict of events, and therefore our minds tend to link events to each other, patterns between one event and another. find, and devise them even if necessary.
All this so that our mind can serve the hypothesis that tries to find an explanation for everything that happens to us and to prove that our experiences are different from the experiences of others, knowing that all the experiences go through the average person, happened to millions of people before him and will happen to billions after him. But of course this applies to the average person, not someone unique like me (quote for the 7.7 billion people living on earth today).
That is why the American physicist in his book The Drunkard’s Walk gives the example of the lucky person who won the lottery because he bet on number 27.
Of course, his choice was random and had no specific explanation, but as we said, random things only happen to normal people, so when they asked our lucky guy why you bet on number 27 in particular, he confidently replied:
(If you did not notice, dear reader, the result of 3 x 7 is 21, not 27, as our friend happily thinks).
Our friend does not look very intelligent, does he? But put yourself in his shoes, who wants to think he’s a normal human being? Who wants to abandon their mind’s tendency to find patterns to feel a little balance in their life? Who would dare to live in a random world, recognizing that not everything has a cause, not every event has an explanation, and not every experience has a justification?
The mind’s obsession with patterns is the secret of mankind’s perseverance
Of course, the human mind’s obsession with finding and inventing patterns does not seem like a healthy phenomenon, so why do our minds carry such a birth defect that might drive some of us crazy?
Scientist Michael Shermer answers this question by saying that the human mind’s obsession with finding patterns is one of the main reasons why mankind has survived so far.
In his book The Believing Brain, the German scientist explains his theory with a simple example:
Go back in time 3 million years, and imagine that you are a primitive human being walking in the middle of the plains of Africa in search of lunch for you and your children, and suddenly you have a rustling sound between the grass behind you heard. So, what is the source of the sound? Does the wind soothe the static weeds? Or a predator moving towards you to devour you?
Sometimes your answer to this question can be a matter of life or death. The mind therefore always tends to find patterns between everything around it, and also quickly finds links between the sound of the rattling of the grass and the possibility of a predator that is going to kill you, this is the pattern that your mind automatically chooses without thinking.
The process of finding or finding patterns is what Shermer calls “pattern formation,” and it leads to two types of errors:
- The first type is the “false positive”, which is the belief that a pattern exists when it does not exist.
- The second type is the “false negative”, which is the belief that there is no pattern when the pattern does exist.
What kind of mistake would you prefer to make in the former case: to think that there is a predator behind you when there is nothing, or you think there is no predator when it comes to you?
Therefore, the mind always tends to make the first type of mistake and the tendency to believe that there is a pattern, even if the percentage of truth is small. Therefore, we must also acknowledge that our reason is due and that moral defect in our lives and the lives of our ancestors and even our grandchildren, even if it means that we make many mistakes of the first kind, there is no objection to it, the most important thing is that we never make mistakes of the second type.
Conclusion: Do not fall in love with your hypothesis
If reality is not as real as we think, and our sensory perception is not as accurate as we dream, but also our mind deceives us most of the time, which blinds us to sometimes see what lies ahead we are, and make us see what is not present at other times. And if our senses are not so reliable, and the standards of reality so meager, what should we do about it?
Here is an important quote from the British Nobel Prize-winning biologist Peter Medawar, who says:
Not necessarily that everything you see is there, and not necessarily that everything you see is there in the first place. This means that for you the world is a hypothesis that only exists in your head, you pay attention to things and ignore others, and you should rather not believe everything you see, but be flexible with your hypothesis of the world and yourself constantly remind that what you see is not the world, but your perspective on it, not reality but the angle You choose to look at reality through it, not objective reality, but simply the result of the deception of your senses .
Be humble and flexible enough to constantly update your hypothesis, and even question it and your mind’s if at any point you feel that your hypothesis is not in your favor.
Again, this is just a hypothesis, not a fact and not inevitable, because if we look at the world, we will not see the sun above us, nor the earth below us, but rather an eye. who sees the sun and a foot that feels the earth, so always remember, when the ghost of certainty attacks you or the arrogance of the mind enables you, never fall in grams your hypothesis.