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Donald Hoffman: "Our perceptual system is our window on the world, but it's also a conceptual prison". Seeing may be believing but, says cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman, it shouldn't be. For millions of years the Australian jewel beetle's reproductive strategy proceeded very effectively.

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Then, Homo sapiens - and its habit of dumping used beer bottles - entered the picture. Unable to distinguish between these brown glass containers and the shell of a potential mate, the male beetles began attempting to copulate with discarded vessels. That such a simple organism lacks an accurate perceptual system may not seem surprising.

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But you'd think that - beyond the occasional optical illusion - this isn't a problem a creature as evolutionarily developed as humans need to worry about. We evolve to survive - so the more accurate our perception, the better. Not so, explains Hoffman: "Evolution isn't about truth, it's about making kids. Every bit of information that you process costs calories, meaning that's more food you need to kill and eat.

So an organism that sees all of reality would never be more fit than one tuned only to see what it needs to survive. Hoffman's argument goes further than the claim that, like the beetle and the beer bottle, our perception is not accurate enough to discriminate between objects that resemble each other. Not only do perceptual systems not evolve to capture the details of the real world, he argues, there's no reason to believe that the objects that we see have any correspondence to things that exist outside our minds.

So we might fudge details to save energy, but how could it be more useful to construct a view of the world that bears no resemblance to how it actually is?

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Hoffman's favoured analogy is the desktop interface. In the same way the physical objects that we see are just symbols, and the space-time in which they seem to exist just on the desktop of our specific interface to some objective reality beyond. Most of us think we are our stories. Who wrote it? Better yet, actually sit down and write it.

Focus your perception on creating a new reality , one where you are in charge of the story.


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Take back the job as screenwriter and director, and stop just being an actor. Everything begins with a decision — decide now to be in charge of your own perception of reality. Do you trust them to have your best interest in mind?

The many subtle differences across languages might actually change the way we experience the world.

Featured photo credit: Andreas Kind via unsplash. Featured photo credit: Martin Dawson via unsplash. Lifestyle Lifehack Advertising. Tony D. Clark Tony is the blog owner of "Success from the Nest".

When European astrologists began to explore space and question the position of the Earth in our universe, it took a long time for the rest of society to accept the practice of questioning a fundamental belief, let alone the results. Even when they provided scientific evidence, people were too baffled by the prospect of misconceiving a basic principle. It was too unsettling, and it had heavy implications regarding religion and our ability as humans to understand our world.

Perception can clearly create barriers to progress and an objective worldview. These barriers do not only drive us away from an accurate understanding of our surroundings, they also drive us away from each other.

All forms of argument stem from this issue. When people argue, it is because they both view a topic in a different way. This disagreement sparks debate on which perception is right, and therefore how to act in the situation. It is difficult to break these barriers. To disassociate bias from our outlook and have a more objective perception, or even to merely acknowledge and account for the separation between perception and reality, is no easy task.

Does the world exist, or is life just a dream? Do we have free will, or are all of our actions predetermined by past events? Questioning the foundations of our world and lives is daunting. However, to reduce the weight of the task, we can start by dissociating the complex metaphysical concepts from the day to day applications of perception. There are many great questions that have baffled us and will continue to baffle us for centuries to come, but a more realistic goal is to instead try to reduce the thickness of the filter we inevitably put on reality when we attempt to observe it.

Understanding the concept of perception can make a huge difference in happiness and personal well-being.