“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
― Marcus Aurelius
– So many things in our lives that we experience and accept to be “true” is simply a matter of perception.
– Often we make the mistake of thinking that just because we see or hear something that because we experienced it, it must be what reality is.
– That the way the we experience the world is the way the world really is.
– But the Stoics remind us that everything in our experience is simply our perception of it, and that our perceptions are quite often wrong.
– And that we should be prepared to let go of anything we hold as “facts” or “truth” because at any moment we could get new information and be completely wrong.
– We see this with optical illusions. We see imaginary things in the shadows.
– We see this in mistakes by eyewitness testimonies that are completely contradicted by video footage of the same event.
– Everything that we experience is just data signals coming in and our brains are doing it’s best to interpret what those signals mean.
– Is that a saber tooth tiger or just strange looking bush?
– Is that a bear or gnarled tree?
– It looks to what it learned from the past and tries to compare it and match it to what it’s seen or heard before.
– The other day my partner sent me a link to an video which played a voice speaking a word.
– The strange thing is that some in some people heard the word “laurel” and others heard the word “yanny”.
– In some cases, people could heard both words as if they were superimposed over each other.
– If you haven’t heard this, I’m going to play it for you now.
– I only heard laurel. My partner heard yanny. And as we sat together and listened it was so strange that we were listening to the same thing yet heard completely different words.
– The NYT website has a special player so you can adjust the frequencies to hear both, so I’ll adjust it to move between the two.
– I’ll also put the link in the show notes, so that you can find it later.
– But the point is, that most of our reality is simply subjective. We get the signal and try to make is mean something, and those things that we think are solid facts, are simply an opinion. And truth is very dependent on our perspective.
– Now this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t believe anything. The point of Stoic rationality, and the basis for the scientific method is one that states, “This is the best opinion, based upon the information that I have. I could be proved wrong at any moment, so I should be willing to be open to changing my mind.”
– Or the most succinct way I’ve heard this put is, “Strong opinions, loosely held”.
Link to the NYT player: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/05/16/upshot/audio-clip-yanny-laurel-debate.html
Photo by Mathilda Khoo