Perception is Reality

 

We were at a small, intimate dinner, and that evening turned out to have a profound impact on me. For the first time, I was meeting a woman whom I’d heard about named Peggy Bassett, who had become a minister at the age of 50. She was adored by her community, and when I met her, she was a victim of ALS. Although she could still eat with us, she was in a reclining wheelchair. Yet her face glowed with serenity and joy. When one of the other guests asked her just before dinner how she was doing, she replied with some effort, “I’m just fine in here.”

I’m just fine in here.

Forty years later, those words still resonate in my heart.

* * * * *

Living in a chaotic, confusing, and trying world, it’s difficult to know what is real anymore. We can observe what other people do and what they say, but are the times really as awful as many people say? How does one measure the emotional pain of one person, or even the resounding joy of another? What happens when perceptions of reality are wildly divergent within any community?

I first heard the quip, “Perception is reality” from Tom Peters, who was the Service Quality guru of the 1980s, writing the popular book, In Search of Excellence. He reminded us that no matter what we provide to a customer, how hard we try to give them what they wanted, their perception of our product or service was what mattered most. We needed to know then, and now, what the customers wanted and a way to provide it, if we wished to keep their business.

But government, the media, and other powers don’t think of us as their customers. In the time of Covid-19, citizens and their need to know what is happening with the virus, the vaccines, and with the statistics is essentially ignored. So we are left to form our own opinions. It almost doesn’t matter how many statistics we study, how many precautions we take (or ignore): in the presence of experts who have multiple agendas, we are forced to form our own perceptions. Thus, we have people who choose to do nothing, because they believe that the experts are so unreliable or political, they may as well live their lives as normal people. We also have people who, in the absence of clear information, assume the worst, that they will likely die if they don’t follow the rules, and so wear masks, avoid crowds, stay away from restaurants and the like.

And then there is the messy middle: those of us who muddle through what we know, get our vaccines, and try to live an ordinary life.

The problem with all of these approaches is that our perceptions take on the weight of some kind of truth. We become convinced, out of conviction, fear, or pure stubbornness, that we are right. And that everyone else must be wrong. Even for those of us who say that everyone has to make their own analyses and decisions, which they are entitled to do, a quiet part of us still knows they are wrong and we are right.

Because perception is just about all we have to understand our lives.

* * * * *

The most important perception I hold is that there is almost no way of really knowing what is true (except for the divine). So, we make our choices about what is “real” based on intuition.

As long as the experts are determined to exert their power and control; as long as the people are fearful of contracting the virus or giving it unwittingly to someone else; as long as citizens continue to comply and not resist, we will have different perceptions and see the world in conflicting ways.

I’m not sure what is worse: living under constraints or living with the tension of people whose perceptions cause them to see their world as a dangerous place.

The conflicts with experts are everywhere. We believe our legislators are out to meet their own agenda; they could care less about the citizenry of either party. The media also has its agenda, and they seem indifferent to whether we believe them or not. And the determination of so many leaders in society to do as they wish causes us to perceive them as power-hungry, uninformed and ego-driven. Our needs are secondary.

* * * * *

One step we can take is periodically to check out our perceptions: do they make sense today? Is there new data I believe I can trust and re-evaluate my positions? Is my perception a healthy one, or is it causing unnecessary damage in my life? We will continue to form, massage, and even change our perceptions so that we live a reality that makes sense to us. We seem to have no other choice. And yet the lesson I learned from Peggy Bassett so long ago is relevant to all of us today. No matter what is happening in the outside world, we can choose—yes, choose—how to perceive and function in today’s world. Most people don’t believe they have that power; they likely don’t believe in the power of faith, or the support they can receive to live without debilitating fear. But Peggy, beyond her disease, her suffering, and her limitations, knew that she had a choice about her state of mind and heart. And you can make that same choice, reminding yourself–

I’m fine in here.

Published in Religion & Philosophy
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  1. Weeping Member
    Weeping
    @Weeping

    Susan Quinn: And yet the lesson I learned from Peggy Bassett so long ago is relevant to all of us today. No matter what is happening in the outside world, we can choose—yes, choose—how to perceive and function in today’s world. Most people don’t believe they have that power; they likely don’t believe in the power of faith, or the support they can receive to live without debilitating fear. But Peggy, beyond her disease, her suffering and her limitations, knew that she had a choice about her state of mind and heart. And you can make that same choice ….

    Yes! I’m not perfect at this, but I try. Instead of thinking: I bet that person at church didn’t say hello to me this morning because she doesn’t like me; I try to think something like: She probably didn’t say hello because her mind was occupied with something else. Instead of: That idiot driver. He must think he owns the road. How dare he cut me off like that; I try: Wow! Maybe he just got a call that a family member is dying. I hope he gets there in time – safely. If I were black, I’d like to think I’d look at Aunt Jemima and instead of thinking she was a racist emblem, I’d think: You go, girl! Look how far you’ve come! Woohoo!

    OK, so a couple of those may be a little crazy. But my point is that I feel happier when I try to focus on positive reasons for something happening rather than negative ones. I’m not always successful at doing that, but I feel better about things when I do manage to do it.

     

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Weeping (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: And yet the lesson I learned from Peggy Bassett so long ago is relevant to all of us today. No matter what is happening in the outside world, we can choose—yes, choose—how to perceive and function in today’s world. Most people don’t believe they have that power; they likely don’t believe in the power of faith, or the support they can receive to live without debilitating fear. But Peggy, beyond her disease, her suffering and her limitations, knew that she had a choice about her state of mind and heart. And you can make that same choice ….

    Yes! I’m not perfect at this, but I try. Instead of thinking: I bet that person at church didn’t say hello to me this morning because she doesn’t like me; I try to think something like: She probably didn’t say hello because her mind was occupied with something else. Instead of: That idiot driver. He must think he owns the road. How dare he cut me off like that; I try: Wow! Maybe he just got a call that a family member is dying. I hope he gets there in time – safely. If I were black, I’d like to think I’d look at Aunt Jemima and instead of thinking she was a racist emblem, I’d think: You go, girl! Look how far you’ve come! Woohoo!

    OK, so a couple of those may be a little crazy. But my point is that I feel happier when I try to focus on positive reasons for something happening rather than negative ones. I’m not always successful at doing that, but I feel better about things when I do manage to do it.

     

    Excellent effort, @weeping. That is exactly what I’m talking about. It’s not only helpful to think in the positive, but the ability to re-frame our perception is so very powerful. Your examples are not crazy at all. Every now and then someone will share something like the “being ignored” idea (I’ve done it too!) only it’s even wilder. I’ll ask, well, how do you know that? And I usually get, well isn’t it obvious ?? None of us is always successful at doing this–none of us. But those of us who do it live much happier lives with better relationships. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. OmegaPaladin Moderator
    OmegaPaladin
    @OmegaPaladin

    We have two main sources of knowledge about reality – authority and experience. I know that cars require fuel (or power if you have a Tesla) from experience. If someone said that Ricochet was a myth and did not exist, you could go here and demonstrate that Ricochet exists. Most of our knowledge is based on authority – for example, 99.9% of scientific knowledge is not something you have directly confirmed with an experiment. Experiential knowledge and already-trusted authorities is how you evaluate whether you view a source of information as authoritative. This why so many argument tend to bog down – people are citing conflicting authorities. When someone cites a media fact checker, most around here roll their eyes. Other folks take it as gospel truth.

    Susan, I must disagree with your position. Perception may matter more than reality, but reality has a tendency to overrule perception. If I strongly believe a knife will not cut me, the knife can still cut me. If I believe amygdalin is a cancer cure, I can still give myself cyanide poisoning without curing my cancer. Experiential knowledge slaps perception upside the head. Unless you can explain it away via cognitive dissonance, you have to get your perceptions in line with experienced reality.

    (There are stories and such in fantasy where belief and perception can change reality. I was in role-playing game where my character’s mad science worked because he believed it would work, and the laws of physics were literally just consensus. For better or worse, there is no evidence at all live in such a world.)

    • #3
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    We have two main sources of knowledge about reality – authority and experience. I know that cars require fuel (or power if you have a Tesla) from experience. If someone said that Ricochet was a myth and did not exist, you could go here and demonstrate that Ricochet exists. Most of our knowledge is based on authority – for example, 99.9% of scientific knowledge is not something you have directly confirmed with an experiment. Experiential knowledge and already-trusted authorities is how you evaluate whether you view a source of information as authoritative. This why so many argument tend to bog down – people are citing conflicting authorities. When someone cites a media fact checker, most around here roll their eyes. Other folks take it as gospel truth.

    Susan, I must disagree with your position. Perception may matter more than reality, but reality has a tendency to overrule perception. If I strongly believe a knife will not cut me, the knife can still cut me. If I believe amygdalin is a cancer cure, I can still give myself cyanide poisoning without curing my cancer. Experiential knowledge slaps perception upside the head. Unless you can explain it away via cognitive dissonance, you have to get your perceptions in line with experienced reality.

    (There are stories and such in fantasy where belief and perception can change reality. I was in role-playing game where my character’s mad science worked because he believed it would work, and the laws of physics were literally just consensus. For better or worse, there is no evidence at all live in such a world.)

    Interesting! So help me think this through. I think we can agree on a definition of perception, but I’m talking about the fact that most of us create our own reality. I may perceive that amygdalin will cure me–my perception has created my reality–but that doesn’t make it true. It sounds like you are defining what is called objective reality and I’m not sure how far we want to go in debating that state. We can both say that water is wet and we breathe air and that we need both to live. Certainly experience can change our perceptions, as you say (although we know that the Left doesn’t know that), but if we choose to ignore what is right in front of us, we will: we will create our own reality. We may be wrong, but that’s another issue. Does that make sense?

    • #4
  5. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    Perception *affects* reality in that it influences behaviors. Old marketing saying: “It doesn’t matter how great the science behind your new dog food is, or how brilliant your ad campaign, IF THE DOGS WON”T EAT IT.” The dog’s perception will show up in the reality of your P&L statement.

    If people perceive that electricity is already easy to store and batteries will follow a Moore’s Law curve so that we can store several weeks’ worth at little expense, then that perception will lead to candidates being elected who will try to suppress all forms of energy other than wind and solar (this may have already happened) But that perception won’t make the batteries any better, and won’t help those believers when they are freezing in the dark.

    “But government, the media and other powers don’t think of us as their customers. In the time of Covid-19, citizens and their need to know what is happening with the virus, the vaccines and with the statistics is essentially ignored. So we are left to form our own opinions.” This is a very key point. Governments are treating the population as consumers to be managed rather than as citizens who are participants in the decision-making process…indeed, it has been argued that in our system, citizens effectively are, and should be treated as, officers of the state. See my post from 2020, Do the Lord Chancellor and the Archbishop Approve?

     

     

     

     

    • #5
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    David Foster (View Comment):

    Perception *affects* reality in that it influences behaviors. Old marketing saying: “It doesn’t matter how great the science behind your new dog food is, or how brilliant your ad campaign, IF THE DOGS WON”T EAT IT.” The dog’s perception will show up in the reality of your P&L statement.

    If people perceive that electricity is already easy to store and batteries will follow a Moore’s Law curve so that we can store several weeks’ worth at little expense, then that perception will lead to candidates being elected who will try to suppress all forms of energy other than wind and solar (this may have already happened) But that perception won’t make the batteries any better, and won’t help those believers when they are freezing in the dark.

    “But government, the media and other powers don’t think of us as their customers. In the time of Covid-19, citizens and their need to know what is happening with the virus, the vaccines and with the statistics is essentially ignored. So we are left to form our own opinions.” This is a very key point. Governments are treating the population as consumers to be managed rather than as citizens who are participants in the decision-making process…indeed, it has been argued that in our system, citizens effectively are, and should be treated as, officers of the state. See my post from 2020, Do the Lord Chancellor and the Archbishop Approve?

    You know, being managed by the people who are supposed act on my expectations doesn’t quite cut it! ;-) So much for serving the people. Great expansion of my argument, David.

     

     

     

     

    • #6
  7. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Susan Quinn: No matter what is happening in the outside world, we can choose—yes, choose—how to perceive and function in today’s world.

    Which has an effect on how we do function. Sometimes the thing we choose to believe is a thing about how well we can function in the world.

    So sometimes a belief can create a fact.

    Not that it changes the physical facts about virus. There’s perception, and there’s perception. And there’s reality, and there’s reality.

    Technically, I’m self-promoting, but never mind that; let me promote a great philosopher who understood this stuff:

    https://rumble.com/c/c-603965

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  8. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    I know at least a couple people who are legally sane, but not in complete touch with reality. One has paranoid hallucinations, and the other has grandiose delusions. These are not the type of people referred to below. The following refers to sane, well-adjusted, and otherwise mentally and cognitively healthy people.

    Scott Adams, many whose opinions I find wrong in many details but others generally surprising in their thrust, says that essentially the Press (the media and social media) is the actual government, and the legal government follows, even is forced to follow, what has been predetermined and programmed in to the public’s consciousness. His view is that the Press present an idea or an event, and then convince the public that this is valid, is happening, and is already done (thinking past the sale) and then once this position is accepted by the public, the legal government enacts these ideas into law (essentially rubber stamping them), presenting them as fulfilling the natural views and expectations of the public.

    He also says that people can be persuaded that that which is obviously false in true; such that he and those similarly trained, can hold a pen in front of your eyes, and convince you (persuade you, is his euphemism) that he is not holding a pen in front of your eyes, to the point that you don’t even see the pen, and you will swear that there is none.

    Adams explains that he had studied this extensively and is a “licensed hypnotist” and can persuade at least some of the people of anything all of the time.

    This process explains why both sides of the political scale believe the other side to not be sane. When there are two mutually-exclusive views of reality, only one at the most can be correct. Some are hypnotized (or persuaded) to believe that which is not true and the others are presumably not hypnotized at all. But perhaps in some cases, neither side is correct, and the truth is a third view, that is only known by those doing the persuading.

    • #8
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Flicker (View Comment):
    This process explains why both sides of the political scale believe the other side to not be sane. When there are two mutually-exclusive views of reality, only one at the most can be correct. Some are hypnotized (or persuaded) to believe that which is not true and the others are presumably not hypnotized at all. But perhaps in some cases, neither side is correct, and the truth is a third view, that is only known by those doing the persuading.

    Fascinating, @flicker. I have been hypnotized, and a person cannot be put under if they resist. But if a person doesn’t know what is happening to him or her, there is danger ahead. I’ve heard that theory about the media and leadership; I personally think there is initiative coming from both directions, but I have no evidence to support that premise. I especially appreciate the part of your comment I put in bold. Very possible.

    • #9
  10. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):
    This process explains why both sides of the political scale believe the other side to not be sane. When there are two mutually-exclusive views of reality, only one at the most can be correct. Some are hypnotized (or persuaded) to believe that which is not true and the others are presumably not hypnotized at all. But perhaps in some cases, neither side is correct, and the truth is a third view, that is only known by those doing the persuading.

    Fascinating, @ flicker. I have been hypnotized, and a person cannot be put under if they resist. But if a person doesn’t know what is happening to him or her, there is danger ahead. I’ve heard that theory about the media and leadership; I personally think there is initiative coming from both directions, but I have no evidence to support that premise. I especially appreciate the part of your comment I put in bold. Very possible.

    Yes, that’s the scariest part. There is so much antipathy on both sides, I wonder if this is all the result of policies, or the chief policy goal itself. I wonder if we aren’t all being emotionally manipulated. I see that antipathy is reasonable in many cases; there have been egregious injustices. But I see it now in people who previously have been fairly equanimous. It’s one thing to be reacting to masks, and stay at home policies. And even to be reacting to the very bad recent political events and on top of that looking at the prospects for the future. It all makes simple sense, but it is (probably) unhealthy to live this way.

    And to the point of your post, I wonder if that isn’t the greater goal, one above the rest, greater than the goals involved in writing the news and the laws: stealthily suggesting and inflaming righteous indignation to the populus, one side against the other.

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  11. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    The fact of perception is in reality. Perceptions themselves are not real – if the phrase “not part of reality” can be said to describe anything at all, then it describes perceptions. I suggest that the fact of your perception is in reality, but my perception is not.

    “Susan perceives X” is an observation I can make, and so can anyone else – hence it’s part of reality. My perception of X is not real – I can trust that statement because my perception of X cannot ever be directly verified by any observer (even me.)

    • #11
  12. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    Lovely essay, except for the sling of arrows directed to at least 40% of the population.

    Regarding those of us who appear to be living our lives normally: Yes, it is true we do see the agency “experts” as holding and regurgitating opinions and “facts” as being worthless. But that doesn’t mean that there are not real facts out there. We have actually spent a lot more time listening to experts who know about the COVID situation, the vaccine situation and other health related matters than those who listen to the bought and paid for “research” from bought and paid for “scientists.”

    As of Jan 13th 2021, Japan has 2/125th the fatality rate of the USA. All you will hear from the media is that since Nov 8th 2020, their fatality rate has doubled. In that nation, the health officials saw to it their people received prescriptions for HCQ protocols or for favipiravir.

    Should the media induced hypnosis ever be overcome by the Truth, I hope it happens before our Social Security Fund and pension funds have been obliterated by the need by the “experts” to tap into these massive pools of monies in order to fund the CARES Act and other stimulus efforts that are continually expanded.

     

    • #12
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Barfly (View Comment):

    The fact of perception is in reality. Perceptions themselves are not real – if the phrase “not part of reality” can be said to describe anything at all, then it describes perceptions. I suggest that the fact of your perception is in reality, but my perception is not.

    “Susan perceives X” is an observation I can make, and so can anyone else – hence it’s part of reality. My perception of X is not real – I can trust that statement because my perception of X cannot ever be directly verified by any observer (even me.)

    I appreciate your expanding on my ideas, @barfly. I think I understand. On the bolded sentence above, you’re saying that the fact of my perception is in reality, but your perception is not. But is the fact of your perception also in reality?

    • #13
  14. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Barfly (View Comment):
    My perception of X is not real

    Really?

    • #14
  15. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):
    My perception of X is not real

    Really?

    Yes, really. Perceptions, mental models, ideas, feelings – these things are immediate to the person holding them, but that person is forbidden (by the word of God and by reason) to holding them to be real. They are even less immediate to other observers, but the fact that the person holds them is real.

    • #15
  16. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):
    My perception of X is not real

    Really?

    Yes, really. Perceptions, mental models, ideas, feelings – these things are immediate to the person holding them, but that person is forbidden (by the word of God and by reason) to holding them to be real. They are even less immediate to other observers, but the fact that the person holds them is real.

    I would think that the perceptions of a person are real to that person, even if they are false perceptions. And the memory of that perception can be real even if the memory is false. Maybe the problem here involves the distinction between what is real and what is accurate; what is perceived is not necessarily real, but the perception itself is real, as is the memory of the inaccurate perception.

    In other words, misperceptions are real, even if the misperception is not accurate.

    No?

    • #16
  17. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):
    My perception of X is not real

    Really?

    Yes, really. Perceptions, mental models, ideas, feelings – these things are immediate to the person holding them, but that person is forbidden (by the word of God and by reason) to holding them to be real. They are even less immediate to other observers, but the fact that the person holds them is real.

    I would think that the perceptions of a person are real to that person, even if they are false perceptions. And the memory of that perception can be real even if the memory is false. Maybe the problem here involves the distinction between what is real and what is accurate; what is perceived is not necessarily real, but the perception itself is real, as is the memory of the inaccurate perception.

    . . .

    No?

    No. Reality is facts. False perceptions seem real to the person. But if they are false then they are not real, not even to the person. Their only reality is that described in a sentence like “It is a fact that I have a perception.”

    In other words, misperceptions are real, even if the misperception is not accurate.

    Yes.

    • #17
  18. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):
    My perception of X is not real

    Really?

    Yes, really. Perceptions, mental models, ideas, feelings – these things are immediate to the person holding them, but that person is forbidden (by the word of God and by reason) to holding them to be real. They are even less immediate to other observers, but the fact that the person holds them is real.

    I would think that the perceptions of a person are real to that person, even if they are false perceptions. And the memory of that perception can be real even if the memory is false. Maybe the problem here involves the distinction between what is real and what is accurate; what is perceived is not necessarily real, but the perception itself is real, as is the memory of the inaccurate perception.

    In other words, misperceptions are real, even if the misperception is not accurate.

    No?

    No. Reality is facts. False perceptions seem real to the person. But if they are false then they are not real, not even to the person. Their only reality is that described in a sentence like “It is a fact that I have a perception.”

    We’re arguing about definitions here. Facts don’t occur. Reality occurs. A perception occurs. A perception really occurs. Perceptions are real. That it occurs is a fact when talking about it. But a fact is more of a mental construct. The fact is the description of the occurrence, not the occurrence itself. Just as a minute is not time but a mental construct of a bit of time having occurred. But a minute is not time itself.

    When God perceives that you had a perception, just because I can’t detect it, doesn’t mean that it didn’t occur in you, and it doesn’t mean that is wasn’t noticed by God.

    Other people’s perceptions may not be perceptible by an outsider, and an outsider may not be able to prove that one occurred in another person, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t real or didn’t occur.

    • #18
  19. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):
    My perception of X is not real

    Really?

    Yes, really. Perceptions, mental models, ideas, feelings – these things are immediate to the person holding them, but that person is forbidden (by the word of God and by reason) to holding them to be real. They are even less immediate to other observers, but the fact that the person holds them is real.

    I would think that the perceptions of a person are real to that person, even if they are false perceptions. And the memory of that perception can be real even if the memory is false. Maybe the problem here involves the distinction between what is real and what is accurate; what is perceived is not necessarily real, but the perception itself is real, as is the memory of the inaccurate perception.

    In other words, misperceptions are real, even if the misperception is not accurate.

    No?

    No. Reality is facts. False perceptions seem real to the person. But if they are false then they are not real, not even to the person. Their only reality is that described in a sentence like “It is a fact that I have a perception.”

    We’re arguing about definitions here. Facts don’t occur. Reality occurs. A perception occurs. A perception really occurs. Perceptions are real. That it occurs is a fact when talking about it.

    Yes.

    But a fact is more of a mental construct. The fact is the description of the occurrence, not the occurrence itself. Just as a minute is not time but a mental construct of a bit of time having occurred. But a minute is not time itself.

    Ok, sure. (The dictionary doesn’t agree, but sure. It’s like saying a “fact” is a “true proposition” and thinking of “propositions” as mental things. That’s fine.)

    When God perceives that you had a perception, just because I can’t detect it, doesn’t mean that it didn’t occur in you, and it doesn’t mean that is wasn’t noticed by God.

    Other people’s perceptions may not be perceptible by an outsider, and an outsider may not be able to prove that one occurred in another person, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t real or didn’t occur.

    Yes, and in the sense in which it is real it is real for everyone–including the people who don’t have the perception!

    • #19
  20. Mim526 Member
    Mim526
    @Mim526

    Regarding the Left’s perceptions and our perception of them…. For most of my life the assumption was that people will act in their own best interests. Kids can be Lefties but when they get their first paycheck and realize how far the govt is reaching into their pocket, they will become more conservative.

    That is no longer true in America with the far Left. They will destroy neighborhoods, cities, states with their awful policies, move to another state and do the same thing all over again. It must be said though I feel uncomfortable doing so, that a dedicated activist far Left person in America is essentially a brainwashed zealot who always expects someone else to pay the price for their transgressions. We who are not of the far Left should proceed cautiously and accordingly. That is not some domestic terrorist, outer Mongolia militia-speak call to arms, but the painful realization of someone who wishes very much it were not so.

    On a brighter note, I was reminded watching this clip of the distinction between liberal and Leftist. Americans can disagree on many things yet still come together on the main things. To Susan’s point about choosing our path, this is a woman of the Left who no doubt will get crucified for choosing to publicly align herself with someone more conservative on the basis of their joint belief in Constitutional freedom.

    • #20
  21. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Susan Quinn: The conflicts with experts are everywhere. We believe our legislators are out to meet their own agenda; they could care less about the citizenry of either party. The media also has its agenda, and they seem indifferent to whether we believe them or not. And the determination of so many leaders in society to do as they wish causes us to perceive them as power-hungry, uninformed and ego-driven. Our needs are secondary.

    Yep.

    • #21
  22. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I know a few of you have emphasized this point already, but I feel compelled to do it again. I’m enjoying the discussion of the ways to define perception and reality. I also want to remind you, however, that to me, the most important idea is that we all have our own specific perceptions of our world, and we draw conclusions (form a reality in our minds) that are unique to each of us (although there is obviously overlap). The conflict comes from our believing that our own conclusins are TRUE, and that anyone who doesn’t see that “fact” is misguided or wrong. Once a perception becomes “true,” for many people, there is no room for exploration or discussion. TRUTH IS TRUTH.

    • #22
  23. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    We must remember Camp’s First Rule of Intelligent Conversation.

    If you want a valid answer, you must start with a valid question. All participants must agree on the statement of the question, the definitions of its terms, and its implicit assumptions.

    With that rule in mine, I give my opinion. I humbly confess that it may not be (a) true, and that if it is not, it may either be (b) false or (c) meaningless, though it can only be one of the three.

    If “perception is reality” means this: Every specified thing that one (or more) person perceives and believes to be real, for example…

    • a football in the air that the players and spectators of the most recent Superbowl game perceive and believe to be real
    • a monster in the living room that a person having a psychotic episode perceives and believes to be real

    is real, then I disagree.

    In the first case, what the people perceive is real. In the second, what the person perceives is not real.

    • #23
  24. Mim526 Member
    Mim526
    @Mim526

    Sorry for the *duplicate*.

    • #24
  25. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Mim526 (View Comment):

    Sorry for the *duplicate*.

    Did I miss the original, @mim526?

    • #25
  26. Mim526 Member
    Mim526
    @Mim526

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Mim526 (View Comment):

    Sorry for the *duplicate*.

    Did I miss the original, @ mim526?

    No, just edited typo in earlier and created duplicate instead. Though now that you mention it…I think this part of your post deserves special mention:

    Susan Quinn: One step we can take is periodically to check out our perceptions: do they make sense today? Is there new data I believe I can trust and re-evaluate my positions? Is my perception a healthy one, or is it causing unnecessary damage in my life?

    While it is necessary to recognize there is Truth and not just each person with their own truth, one of the primary characteristics of classic liberalism/conservatism as opposed to the Left is the allowing for differing opinions. We shape and form our opinions by receiving and evaluating new information. And we like for someone to have good basis for an opinion when sharing it with others.

    We can get entrenched in positions on Ricochet, but someone rarely hesitates to call out what they perceive as even a whiff of genuine autocratic know-it-all. Even if it’s silently by not responding to a comment *grin*.

    • #26
  27. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Susan, I’m not sure that I’m following your argument here. You seem to imply a belief in the existence of objective truth, but then state that it is virtually unknowable. (“The most important perception I hold is that there is almost no way of really knowing what is true (except for the divine).”) Of course, people don’t all agree about the divine, and I think that determining divine truth is generally more difficult than determining more mundane truths.

    As a practical matter, I think that the problem of “perception being reality” is often a question of determining the motives of other people. We can observe the behavior of other people, but we can’t be sure about their motivations. Other people can deceive us and manipulate us.

    This observation relates to Weeping’s comment #1, and to your prior post this week, Susan (“Can We Trust Anyone?”).

    If I generally think well of someone, I’ll be forgiving of actions that adversely affect me. If I generally think poorly of someone, I’ll be inclined to view even apparently good actions with a cynical eye.

    I don’t think that there’s an obvious, straightforward rule that we can follow in this area. Excessive trust is naive, while excessive suspicion is paranoid.

    • #27
  28. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Susan, I’m not sure that I’m following your argument here. You seem to imply a belief in the existence of objective truth, but then state that it is virtually unknowable. (“The most important perception I hold is that there is almost no way of really knowing what is true (except for the divine).”) Of course, people don’t all agree about the divine, and I think that determining divine truth is generally more difficult than determining more mundane truths.

    As a practical matter, I think that the problem of “perception being reality” is often a question of determining the motives of other people. We can observe the behavior of other people, but we can’t be sure about their motivations. Other people can deceive us and manipulate us.

    This observation relates to Weeping’s comment #1, and to your prior post this week, Susan (“Can We Trust Anyone?”).

    If I generally think well of someone, I’ll be forgiving of actions that adversely affect me. If I generally think poorly of someone, I’ll be inclined to view even apparently good actions with a cynical eye.

    I don’t think that there’s an obvious, straightforward rule that we can follow in this area. Excessive trust is naive, while excessive suspicion is paranoid.

    I agree with all you say, Jerry. In fact, I appreciate the way you’ve expanded on my ideas. We interpret other people’s “perceptions” based on just what you said–their motives, if we are aware of them, and our relationships with them. 

    • #28
  29. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I know a few of you have emphasized this point already, but I feel compelled to do it again. I’m enjoying the discussion of the ways to define perception and reality. I also want to remind you, however, that to me, the most important idea is that we all have our own specific perceptions of our world, and we draw conclusions (form a reality in our minds) that are unique to each of us (although there is obviously overlap).

    Form a reality in our minds? Why not say we form an account of reality in our minds?

    The conflict comes from our believing that our own conclusins are TRUE, and that anyone who doesn’t see that “fact” is misguided or wrong.

    It is impossible to have a belief and not believe that it is true. This is the source of disagreement. Why would that be a problem? It is also the source of rational debate, of education, of science, of discovering the facts, etc.

    It is not possible to have a belief and not believe that it is true. According, it is also not possible to have a belief and not believe that anyone who does not have that belief is lacking a certain truth. They are not necessarily wrong, though they are wrong if they disagree with that particular truth. They may or may not be misguided.

    And what on Earth is wrong with that? That’s what it means to have opinions and disagree. This is where the search for wisdom begins.

    Once a perception becomes “true,” for many people, there is no room for exploration or discussion. TRUTH IS TRUTH.

    If a lot of people agree that a belief is true and if they are not tyrants, there is plenty of room for exploration and discussion.

    But it looks like you would end it. Are you seriously telling me that I should not hold my beliefs to be true? If so, then you are telling me that I should not even hold my own beliefs. That is profoundly wrong.

    • #29
  30. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I know a few of you have emphasized this point already, but I feel compelled to do it again. I’m enjoying the discussion of the ways to define perception and reality. I also want to remind you, however, that to me, the most important idea is that we all have our own specific perceptions of our world, and we draw conclusions (form a reality in our minds) that are unique to each of us (although there is obviously overlap). The conflict comes from our believing that our own conclusins are TRUE, and that anyone who doesn’t see that “fact” is misguided or wrong. Once a perception becomes “true,” for many people, there is no room for exploration or discussion. TRUTH IS TRUTH.

    Or . . .

    Maybe everything I just said was misinformed. It depends on what you mean.

    You wrote “TRUE” and “TRUTH” instead of “true” and “truth.” Do you have some special meaning in mind when you write them in all caps? Something more than the dictionary definitions of “true” and “truth”?

    • #30