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Stefan Kengen - The Deception of Perception - Berlin Z-Day, 2015

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The Deception of Perception, Stefan Kengen ZDay, Berlin Germany, March 14th 2015 WHODUNNIT? [The Inspector] Clearly, somebody in this room murdered Lord Smythe who, at precisely 3:34 this afternoon, was brutally bludgeoned to death with a blunt instrument. I want each of you to tell me your whereabouts at precisely the time that this dastardly deed took place. [Maid] I was polishing the brass in the master bedroom. [Butler] I was buttering his Lordship’s scones, below stairs, Sir. [Lady Smythe] Why, I was planting my petunias in the potting shed. - Constable! Arrest... Lady Smythe! - But... but how would you know? - Madam, as any horticulturist will tell you, one does not plant petunias until May is out. Take her away. It’s just a matter of observation. The real question is how observant were you? Did you notice the 21 changes? (And action!) - Clearly, somebody in this room murdered Lord Smythe who, at precisely 3:34 this afternoon, was brutally bludgeoned to death with a blunt instrument. I want each of you to tell me your whereabouts at precisely the time that this dastardly deed took place. - I was polishing the brass in the master bedroom. - I was buttering his Lordship’s scones, below stairs, Sir. - Why, I was planting my petunias in the potting shed. - Constable! Arrest... Lady Smythe! It’s easy to miss something you’re not looking for. [Applause] The Deception of Perception . The Deception of Perception Or How Your Brain Fails You On A Daily Basis Thank you very much. It's great to be here. So, a quick show of hands, how many of you have seen this video before? Ahh 3, 4 people, 5 maybe. How many of you got any of the changes? 3-4-5 people? How many have you didn't get any? Ahh, OK. I rest my case: the whole room. It's fascinating, isn't it? Ok, also erstmal möchte ich mich vielmals bei Franky und TZM Berlin bedanken. Es ist eine sehr große Ehre für mich, hier zu sein, und hoffentlich werdet ihr nachher nicht zu enttäuscht sein. And for those of you who didn't get that, it was just me sucking up to the German chapter. [Laughter] Okay, speaking of me, I'd like to point out that I am not a scholar, I'm not a scientist. I'm here to try do get your juices running. I'd like to present you with a lot of information that I hope that you'll pick up on and take to the next level. So if you think I'm full of shit, please go ahead- debunk me. I want you to do that; I want to validate ... all this information that I’m about to share you. Okay. Now were going to do a brief introduction of neuroscience if you will, which is just kind of a few pointers about the history. Many people think neuroscience is kind of a new field, a new topic - it's not really. People have been fascinated with the brain for thousands of years. So we find for instance reports of the euphoriant effect of poppy plant seeds in the old Sumerian records, and many people would be familiar with Hippocrates who discussed epilepsy as a disturbance of the brain way back when. And back in the scientific era if you will, of the Muslim world in the year 900, Rhazes describes seven cranial nerves and 31 spinal nerves in his medical work of the time called 'Kitab al-Hawi Fi Al Tibb' or something like that, I'm not exactly sure how to pronounce that - please don't hold that against me. 1543 - the Dutchman Andreus Vesalius posts his work called 'On the Fabric of the Human Body' and gives the fullest account of the brain anatomy to that time. He got a lot of stuff wrong but he got an impressive amount actually correct. Fast forward a little bit. Can't really talk about science without mentioning this guy. 1859 - Darwin ... comes along and shakes up the whole scientific process from then. Moving along... In the year 1900, Sigmund Freud comes along and tips the boat again if you will, introducing what is effectively the ... field of psychology which is still debated today. And of course, bringing it a little closer to home, in the 1970’s Benjamin Libet at the University of California did a series of studies that basically shows that the brain is engaged in decision-making activity long before we’re actually aware of it. And this is of course very controversial stuff and he's been heavily debated. One of his most verbal critics is Daniel Dennett, who is in his own right really great guy - I recommend his work here. He is a cognitive scientist and philosopher and he's got a great book ‘Consciousness Explained’ which I heartily recommend. And this guy will be familiar to a lot of you; Peter just mentioned him - one of my favorite scientists and science ... how do you say that ... communicators. I like his work because he's very good at understanding how these causalities work and he’s very good at describing to the rest of us who don't understand any of this stuff, how it works. So I really recommend his stuff, and these implications have far further reaches then we tend to think on a normal average level. So here he is in a small clip with Alan Alda, discussing the justice system. [Alan Alda] So, what do you see as the... the contribution of neuroscience at some point to the justice system? Does it start in the court room, or should it start all the way at the beginning, reframing our laws? [Dr. Robert Sapolsky] Well, you know we professor types state things in these very cautious, qualified ways so I'll do that here and just say... the whole system has to go. Modern criminal justice system is incompatible with neuroscience. It simply is not possible to have the two of them in the same room. [Applause] Well he said it- must be true! [Laughter] Well actually, there's more evidence to support this claim; it's not just taken out of thin air. Right here in Berlin you have something called The Computational Neuroscience Centre in Berlin, and this is John Dylan Hanes who is the leader of the theory and analysis of large-scale brain signals, and I think the way that he summarizes it just says it all: “Decisions don't come from nowhere but they emerge from prior brain activity. Where else should they come from? In theory it might be possible to trace the causal pathway of a decision all the way back to the Big Bang. Our research shows that we can trace it back about 10 seconds.” And then was some kind of usual scientific humility he goes on to state that “Compared to the time since the Big Bang that's not very long.” He’s completely just validated all that Benjamin Libet did previous, so this is interesting. Okay so where does that leave us today? It leaves us with a range of different kinds of neuro “stuff” to look through. We’ve got Neuroendocrinology, Neurobiology, which is kind of the hands-on stuff, then you got Neuropsychiatry - the pathology of it all, you got Neuropsychology, you know, "let's talk about it," and then you have Neurophilosophy - it’s like “what's it all about?” and then of course you have a lot of Neurobollocks! which you could call it. There's a lot of interesting, interesting information floating around out there. Now, how many of you are familiar with this statement? “We only use 10% of our brain capacity.” Yeah? Oh, about half the room. How many have you believe it to be true? Ahh, not very many. Thank god, you're on the right path here people, that's good. Okay. Well, in the words of Barry Gordon at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, "It turns out that we use virtually every part of the brain, and that the brain is active almost all of the time. Let's put it this way: the brain represents three percent of the body's weight and uses 20 percent of the body’s energy." And then he goes on to state... “Ultimately, it's not that we use 10 percent of our brains, merely that we understand about 10 percent of how it functions.” So if you're going to go with that 10 percent number, use that one. It’s much more accurate. Okay? Here’s another great guy I want to recommend to you, his name is Christian Jarrett. He's a young British scientist - cognitive neuroscientist. He’s a science writer, he’s got a great blog. By the way all these links are available to you. I’ve got a PDF with all of this stuff in it so if you want it, it's gonna be in the video link, later on. He’s got a great book, ‘Great Myths ... of the Brain’ and among his peers, he's really well respected for really grasping what this stuff is all about. Okay, so let's move into some practical stuff here. This is what I like to call Your Unreliable Brain. Now, your brain is hit with approximately 400 billion bits of information per second. You have about 100 billion brain cells. About 10,000 neuronal connections connect each of these, and you have about 1 trillion interactions going on in your brain per second. 2,000 of these can reach your immediate consciousness, and seven of these can reach your immediate memory, one of which you can actually react upon! So these are the odds people - that's what you're up against! Okay? I'm gonna do some simple experiments here; it's not gonna be visible to everybody, but this is known as selective perception and here are a couple of visual examples of that. I realize because of the size of the room many of you are probably not going to perceive this, but I mean, go home and check it out later on if you haven't already. Now this first one is known as the Ebbinghaus Illusion, and as you stare at this image you're probably going to feel a little bit queasy because it kind of feels like it's wobbling all around. Of course is doing no such thing, but your brain is telling you that it is. This next one is the Herman Grid and as you stare at this, you're gonna see strange little grey dots appear in the cross-sections of this image. And of course there's no such thing as a grey dot in sight but your brain tells you that there is. We've got these ambiguous images - these go way back, several centuries - and some of you might be seeing a young girl with her head turned looking to the back of the room. Others of you might see an old lady looking slightly to the left, to the front of the room, and to help you a little bit, here is the young girl- you can kind of see her eyelash, a tiny little nose and chin there with her scarf, and those have you who see the old lady, you’re going to see two eyes facing the front with what was a chin before is now the nose, and the small nose is now a big wart on that. So, these are interesting, interesting images. Next are these physiological illusions which are really funny. The Swiss artist M.C. Escher did a lot to popularize these back in the '80s. These are kind of impossible 3D images and of course the impossible cube - some of you might be familiar with this - and then you have the trickery of light. Most will agree that the tile here marked with an ‘A’ is visibly darker than the tile marked with a ‘B’ but as as you see when you connect them they are in fact the same color, and this is the trickery of light. And speaking of trickery of light does anyone even remember this one? A of couple weeks back, this went viral all over the world. This is from the Danish media- it was on the TV, it was in every newspaper, and of course it's the infamous dress syndrome. Here is the infamous dress - actually there is a both blue and a white version. But, it all began with this guy, one of my other favorite people on the planet, Doctor Neil Degrasse Tyson, who is of course the theoretical astrophysicist and the director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York, a great science communicator, and he tweeted this the other day in relation to this image. "If we were honest about the shortcomings of human physiology then 'optical illusions' would instead be labeled 'brain failures'." And I think this says a lot. We think it's kind of quaint and funny and all that, but it's really stopping us from understanding what's going on around us. And speaking of understanding what's going on around us, has anyone noticed anything about this slide? Use your perceptive powers. The comment! Right. What's that all about? I swear wasn’t looking for it, I just went to the original tweet and that was the first comment made in that section. And I thought to myself- oh my god we've got a long way to go! I mean ... Okay, so just break it down a little bit, I'm not gonna take you through the whole physiology of it all but this is a cross section of the human eye. I am gonna explain a little bit of what's going on. You've got something called the fovea which is like the focal point of the eye. What you have here is a graphic representation of the human left eye. On the Y-axis you have the distance away from the eye, on the X-axis you can see your visual acuity kind of dropping to either side. What's happening here is the brain can only ... focus on one thing at a time so it kind of makes up stuff all the time. So that's why you get this wobbling effect and the grey dots appearing and all that, so your brain isn't really reliable at all. Another way to look at it- the light spectrum is completely immense yet the human visual ... capacity is only between 400 and 700 nanometers. So on the short wavelength we got stuff like deadly gamma rays and X-rays that we cannot perceive until it's way too late and we're dying of cancer... (huge amount of pain). And the same thing goes on the longer side of the spectrum. You've got stuff like microwaves. We can't perceive radio waves or broadcast bandwidths at all so we're really rather limited here. Okay jumping forward a little bit, there's a great website out there that I really recommended - it’s called AsapScience. They’ve got a YouTube channel with a lot a great videos explaining a lot of these physiological phenomenon so I really recommend that. I’m just going to do a few here because I think they're really interesting. This one is called the McGurk effect, and it is the “effect of a perceptual phenomenon that demonstrates interaction between hearing and vision in speech perception.” And instead of just mumbling all about that I'm gonna play it to you. [Announcer] Listen to Greg speaking. bar bar bar bar bar bar What do you hear? If you heard "bar bar bar" you'd be right. But how about now? far far far far far far Chances are you've heard "far far far" this time, with an F, except you didn't. In fact, the audio didn't even change between the two videos. Strange as it may seem what you hear depends on which video you're looking at. Go ahead, take turns watching each video and see how the sound morphs. This is a perfect example of something called the McGurk Effect which shows how our visuals can alter but we believe we're hearing. Fascinating, isn't it? [Applause] Right, here's another one that I totally love. I'm not gonna even bother explaining it because it's gonna sound completely like mumbo jumbo but you’re going to get it once you actually hear what's going on. Check this out. [Announcer] Listen to this audio clip of the gradually climbing tune. ♫ ♫ ♫ ... And yet if I play the exact same clip back to you it will sound like it's only continuing to climb higher and higher. I swear this is the exact same clip I just played. You can rewind that section of this video over and over and check for yourself. Try it. Each time you start it over the tune is seemingly climbing even higher. It's called the Shepard Tone Illusion, of which there are many variations. It's true. I mean you have to have a long time pass and do other stuff before you can actually reset that effect, so be careful what you trust when you hear stuff. Okay, just a little bit of fun facts about the human auditory system. If you look at other animals, elephants have been reported to be able to hear as low as 5 hertz actually; it's not on this graph. Mice can hear upwards of 100,000 cycles per second and dolphins up to as much as 200,000. Now humans - we're here. We’re between 20 and 20,000, most a little less, and it will actually decline as you get older all the time. So, we can’t hear what's going on around us either. Okay I'm just gonna tie this into a little bit deeper topic, something known as cognitive dissonance and, I'm not gonna go into it too much, just present you with the guy who actually coined the term and recommend you the book which is fantastic - Dr. Leon Festinger, and he also has a great quote I think just kind of summarizing his work which is “I prefer to rely on my memory. I had lived with that memory a long time. I am used to it, and if I have rearranged or distorted anything, surely that was done for my own benefit.” That kind of ... summarizes that whole- that's how we feel about ourselves and how we feel about our way of perceiving things, but is very far from the truth. Okay. To wrap things up, how does is apply to TZM or anyone? Well I think it applies in major, major huge ways actually, because - what are we? Well, we're a social movement. What does that entail? It entails social interaction. And if you don't understand your own perceptions, you have no chance of understanding everybody else’s perceptions. So, of course, it's about communication, and you need to understand what communication is, what that entails, and that begins by understanding how your brain functions. Also of course, we’re global in scope. We want to transcend borders. We want to ... break down artificial borders that separate people whether they are racial or sexual or national or whatever. And in order to do that, we have to really understand what's going on, on a cognitive level if you will. And even though its global, top down in that sense, it starts with you! Each and every one of you have to improve in order to improve upon the rest of stuff. So, I'm going to give you some recommendations here. Lumosity.com is a great training website. It's not free but it's very, very well sourced and [a] very scientific way of training different areas of how your brain works and I recommend it to anyone. It's just a small series a games- you spend 5-10 minutes on it every day and you actually improve in a lot of areas. Next, I also want to point out that most of the American and European universities are now putting their curriculum out there for free, at places like iTunes U, other places. You can find most of what's out there absolutely free and you can follow any course and some of them you can even take a degree just by watching that. It's not the same merit as actually going to the school but I mean the info is out there and again I would recommend Sapolsky’s work on “human nature” if you will, because that's really mind opening. Also, there's a great YouTube channel called TheraminTrees; some of you may be aware of this. It’s got a great series of what's known as transactional analysis, which is a very good way of looking at conversational techniques on how you can find yourself in a loop, not getting anywhere and how to get out of that. It's very easy to understand and apply. So, I’ve been with the Movement now for the better part of 6 years anyway and I've come to learn that patience really is not a virtue, it is a necessity, because it's hard work. As Gilbert said, you kind of expect coming in, changing the world tomorrow- doesn't work like that. So, I'm just going to leave you with a little afterthought here: If you improve upon yourself, you can’t help but improving upon the world in the process. So, thank you very much. [Applause] www.TheZeitgeistMovement.com

Video Details

Duration: 20 minutes and 44 seconds
Year: 2015
Country: Germany
Language: English
Producer: The Zeitgeist Movement
Director: The Zeitgeist Movement
Views: 70
Posted by: ltiofficial on Jun 17, 2015

Stefan describes how perception can deceive us into believe things that are not accurate.

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