Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Just another gravel barge....
Expectations mold perception.
What you think you're going to see colors what you think you saw.
This can't be emphasized enough, since most people never get beyond using their current beliefs, not only as a screen to mask out information that doesn't agree with those beliefs, but as a filter to distort what they're seeing. You can't convince them otherwise because they don't allow themselves to process contradictory information. They can't even perceive it's there.
I'm no different, as illustrated by this momentary exchange on the Madison Street Bridge a couple weeks ago.
A long gravel barge was moving up the river. I've often seen these barges, loaded with gravel, heading to points elsewhere. Something about it — the lookout on the bow maybe — made me whip out my phone to take a picture of the gravel barge going by. My wife observed that it was probably destined for Oak Street Beach.
"The gravel?"I said, as we started to walk.
"No, the sand," my wife said. "It's a barge full of sand."
"No, it's...." I began, then stopped, and actually looked at the barge disappearing under the bridge. Wouldn't you know it? She was right. It was sand. I would have sworn it was gravel. In my defense, I never really focused on what the barge was carrying, just that it was a barge full of something. Usually, it's gravel. This time it wasn't.
I'd be an idiot to insist that, appearances notwithstanding, it's still a barge of gravel because that's what I thought it was, initially. So sad that those surveying our political or cultural landscape can't adjust their perceptions with similar ease. They're expecting gravel because it all looks like gravel to them, and by God, it must be.