National Blog Posting Month – February 2014 – Perspective
Prompt – Do you think it’s possible to ever truly see the world from another person’s perspective, or are we held so tightly to our own way of viewing the world?
I honestly don’t think it’s possible to view the world from another person’s perspective. Perception is a fascinating thing. It’s based in part upon neurons and chemical interactions. It’s also based on experiences, whether remembered of buried.
When it comes to perception, I think about colors. Take the color teal, for example. Is it a shade of green or a shade of blue?
How about the color white? Well, are you a physicist or an artist? White is either the mixture of all wavelengths of light, or the absence of pigment.
Now, consider how people view a situation, like a major snow storm. I’m thinking of what happened in Atlanta last week when it actually snowed there. Now, it’s a complex story as to why things went so wrong in Atlanta, and much of it had little to do with the actual snow. But let’s think about how people view the snow. Floridians are horrified by any temperatures below freezing. Where I live (near Rochester, NY), three inches of snow is nothing but a nuisance leading to a slightly longer than usual commute. I certainly wouldn’t run to the store and buy groceries, nor would there be any manner of storm warnings here for three inches of snow.
Our perceptions are based on our experiences. I’m used to snow. I think teal is green. I think of white as the absence of pigment.
What’s important is that we should all recognize that we perceive the world different. I can never fully explain how my world looks to me, but I can try to explain it in ways accessible to others that do not share my experiences. I can listen to other peoples’ descriptions of their world. We can’t discount a person’s recollection of an event because their perception differs from ours. We have to accept that our own perceptions may be misleading.
This is one thing I love about science. It is an effective (though not perfect) way to eliminate errors of interpretation because of differences in perception. We quantify things. We assign probabilities. We either support or refute our ideas about how things are. Science is one approach to finding truth beyond our personal biases.
Because we can’t see the world like anyone else does, but that doesn’t make any person’s perception any more or less correct than our own.