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Monday, 7 December 2015

Review of Incognito: Chapter 2

Reviews | Moose

I will say it again. Incognito is the most fascinating read of any book. Period. (That I have read. And I'm not sure that I've even said talked about its fascination to you guys, but I've definitely thought it, and I guess that is my mind creating memories for me - A nice little on topic comment there!).

Fascinating. If you want a read that will stimulate your mind and get you thinking, then I urge you to read it!

Buy in the US here.
Or in the UK here.
I'm sure you can get it in any other book store/amazon if you do not live in these countries.

Chapter 2 - The Testimony of the Senses.

In short, you cannot trust your brain as there are so many external stimuli that can affect its processing. The chapter finishes with the sentiment that fighter pilots are told to "Trust your Instruments". As opposed to your senses. This reminds me of a story that I heard of a group of fighter pilots returning, after the conclusion of the Second World War, from a routine flight just off Florida. The lead pilot saw a group of islands, thinking it was the Florida Keys and believed that he was well of course. He decided that he didn't trust the instruments, instead putting faith in his own knowledge. To cut a long story short, instead of heading North back to Florida, the team ended up flying East further into the ocean until the planes ran out of fuel and they crashed into the ocean. The instruments were later found to have been working fine. Trust your instruments.

I mean, obviously trust the brain to some extent, but do not believe everything that your mind is telling you.

Some interesting thoughts that I found out:
- The Brain works on a 'Need to Know'.
This means that it will pay attention to any stimulus that it needs to. This means, to me, that when you need to focus on a certain thing, the brain will do so. This can be anything on the level of needing to escape from a life and death situation, where the brain will focus all it's energies on Survival and escape. Even when you are asked to study a certain aspect of a photo or portrait, the eyes will pay attention to certain aspects of the artwork and make assumptions based on that.

It got me thinking about the aspect of using focus to enter the 'game mode' as an athlete. I play American Football, and I asked myself what I do to get myself in that mindset to play. What music do I use? What do I think about? What may distract me? And if I look back on my previous performances, the mindset that I go into the game, definitely affects how I have played in the past. Definitely something for me to pay attention to in the future.

- The Brain misses things that it isn't concentrating on.
Interestingly, on this point, there is a blind spot in your vision which is actually significant enough to impair your vision. It is important to note that the brain will actually fill in aspects that it needs to in order to account for this downfall of our vision, creating what it thinks will be there.

It is a reason why, statistically, you are more likely to be in a motor accident near your home. Being comfortable with your surroundings, and knowing what you NEED to know, you may miss certain aspects of what is going on around you. You may miss that pedestrian crossing the road, or that motorbike driving along, because your brain effectively becomes lazy, and your mind has created the stimulus that it believes is there in that moment.

- Senses have to be learned by the brain.
Firstly, it is important to note that there are more senses than just sight, sound, touch, etc. They are the obvious ones of course, but there are other ways that the brain uses certain information. For example, learning how to catch. Your brain does not exactly know where it is going to land, as in accounting for wind, velocity, etc, it just learns to keep the body running and you will eventually cross paths with it. Therefore, as a Defensive Back, in American Football, in order to help myself to gain more interceptions in the season, I would be doing justice to my performance by having someone throw to me and judging the flight of the ball for myself. This is something that I have actually been implementing in my on field workouts.

It also may explain why pass catchers in the NFL have a tougher time catching balls thrown my a left handed QB than a right handed one, and why receivers need to put time into 'meshing with the on-field distributor of the ball.

- Seeing has very little to do with the eyes.

Ultimately, it is all about the way that the brain uses the information. I will let the book explain this when you read it, but I thought it was important to note that through the manipulation of nerves in the tongue, or the back, a blind person can "see" their surroundings. In fact, this has been used to help people see more effectively in the dark and in murky waters, and could be the next step in creating superhumans! (I added that bit in, of course. The book is too high-brow for that kind of thing. Of all the powers I could have though, I wouldn't choose the ability to see in the dark. I guess I will have to wait for the ability to turn invisible, or even stop time....)

It got me thinking though, what else could we do to manipulate the senses of the brain. Eventually, could we use it to cure Depression or other mental disorders? That's a question I would like to delve into. Let's finish the book first though!


There is so much more about the chapter, but these are things that really interested me in particular.

I'm currently reading Chapter 3, and should have an update on that very soon (as early as tomorrow).

Before I go though, I will leave you on one thought that interested me in the conclusion of the Chapter:
"We are not conscious of most things until we ask questions about them."

Get asking guys! Who know's what you may find.

Moose Out.

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