A Scientific Look At What It Means To Be Human

Everyone, who can think rationally, will agree that we are here because of evolution. We are the culmination of a nearly imperceptible but unrelenting force of genetic micro mutation for 85 Million earth years. We are the most diversely smart creature to walk this planet yet and we are still evolving. Although all living things can be considered the same at certain level – the least common divisor being Carbon atoms – humans are different in that humans know ‘I’. That which is self and the self knows that it is inside one’s own organic definition of self. We tell other people what our personality is, sometimes to impress and other times to defend, and when no one is looking we let out our other personality. There are a few more of those inside us, some are righteous, some are devious and they are all visible under the universal eye – commonly referred as the mind’s eye which apparently does not judge. It assumes whatever personality we choose and see outside and inside of one’s organic vessel with the ‘eye’. More and more, psychologists and behavioral scientists are finding out that our choice of personality is not totally under our control, that a massive amount of external factors and internal states of one’s being have an incredible amount of control over our minds, that the personality we assume is not so much a conscious choice but a subconscious shoo-in. What you think you know is actually what your subconscious mind decided to let you know and, here is the scary part, what you don’t know is beyond human comprehension.

The brain is an exquisitely sophisticated organ that can perceive and analyze information better than any computer. You could blind fold someone to zero visibility and stick their hand out the window and they will instantly sense the sunlight on their arms. But the brain is also primitive compared to things that have existed in nature before it came along. A human brain perceives only a mathematically negligible fraction of the total stimuli that are available for it and that is why when you are out and about driving on the road, you see the tail light of the car in front of you but not the dog in the side-walk well within your visual range. When you turn to look at the dog, you see the dog and its caretaker but you don’t see the shape of the bolt in the bright red fire hydrant right in front of the dog. You brain ignores these information, because they are irrelevant to your conscious choice of the subject to focus. But when you try to remember the hydrant, after coming home, the brain makes up for the missing information with any sensible data that it can plug-in so suddenly you think you saw a hexagonal bolt on the fire hydrant. Our brain devours facts with passion, but when necessary it chooses conceit. For all its sophistication, the brain’s true genius lies in its ability to make sense of our surroundings and make us feel safe in the face of missing information.

If you consider this contradicting behavior of the brain, you may question the idea of reality all together. So much of our actions and decisions and manifestation of ‘self’ is dependent on the perceived reality and if we cannot be certain of the reality of our surroundings then all this might as well be a dream. One’s intuition can only lead us so far, and not any further, because one’s brain does not have the knowledge to realize or the strength to face the false reality, which is not a choice, and its ramifications on the perceived and often fiercely guarded ‘self’. Time to bring in the scientists.

Neuroscientists and researchers Richard J. Davidson,R. Beau Lotto, V.S. Ramachandran will show you how the brain works, how it learns new things, how it adapts to changing stimulus and how it can even feel and react to amputated limbs in this program, titled ‘Being Human’ which gives you an astonishing look at the power and the vulnerabilities of our brain. The link I have provided focuses specifically on sensations and perceptions and through various simple experiments, on stage, backed with several research studies, Davidson, Lotto and Ramachandran will show you why you are not really who you think you are and more importantly what you think is real is not really real.

Being Human: Perception & Sensations

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