Posted by: sailingspirit | February 7, 2013

Finding Reality In A Fun House

In my series on unbelief, in particular the most recent post found here, we’re talking application and action.  What to DO about the presence of unbelief, disbelief, or even ignorance because believing is hard when these are present.  I previously wrote about balancing the scales, to use an analogy, by adding more of what’s lacking so you can more easily get to the point of purified faith.  In the case of your senses, where insufficient proof fails to help you believe or contradictory proof thwarts your belief, I offer some tactics today: prove your senses unreliable so you take their credibility down a few notches.  Then, by comparison, what you believe because of some other source will be much more convincing for you.

Ten Family-Fun Tactics for Putting Your Senses In Their Place:

fun house mirrors

(Photo credit: ninahale)

Example: #1   Go to a traveling fair’s Fun House and look into the mirrors.  Do you believe that your head is suddenly twice the size of your body?  Do you believe that you are one moment taller, the next shorter?  Your eyes are telling you this is true based on looking into a mirror.  So how is it that you come to the conclusion that one mirror is to be trusted and another not?  Is it the mirrors that have the final say about what is true, or something else?

Example #2:   Go to a movie theater and put on a blindfold.  Are the sounds you hear around you, such as car horns honking or glass breaking, birds chirping or water running, footsteps on the stairs or package crinkling to be believed as actually happening on all sides of you?  When you hear them, do you duck or reach for an umbrella?  Why not?  Where does the knowledge come from that pre-determines what sensory inputs you will or won’t believe in that situation?  Your ears tell you that many things are happening, but how do you conclude the candy wrapper next to you is real when other things aren’t?

Example #3:   Go stand in front of a mirror or store window in which you can see your reflection.  Close your eyes, then raise your arms out to your sides to what you believe to be a completely level, horizontal position.  Hold them there, then open your eyes.  Were you close or off by a long shot?  Ask several other people to do the same thing, and count how many actually get it right.  Next, lay face down on the floor in the Super Man position.  Close your eyes, then ask a friend or family member to lift your arms up by your hands, maybe a foot or two from the floor, and to lower you back down again as slowly as possible.  Say “Stop!” when you think your nose is about to touch the floor again.  Then, open your eyes.  How close were you?  Can your proprioceptory senses be fully trusted as absolute truth?

Example #4:   Ask someone to gently touch your bare back in several different areas with the eraser end of a pencil.  Report when you feel a touch and when you do not.  What percentage of the touches you reported feeling were accurate?  If you think someone is touching you but isn’t, or think someone isn’t but they are, what does that teach you about the reliability of your sense of touch?  Which body parts are more reliable than others?  Find out why.

Example #5:   If you’ve tried tasting food with a stuffy nose, you know that even your digestive senses can be tested.  Find two scents with which you can instantly turn on or off your appetite.  Make Dirt Dessert using crushed Oreos and brown sugar for a convincing soil and sand combo, and see just how literal you have to get before you can’t bring yourself to eat it.  Then try smearing the scent of one food under your nose before eating another food.  At what threshold does your knowledge of the truth not stand up to your senses?   Now go online and look up how a product like Sensa works, and see how these are related.  The purpose of fasting is to strengthen your mind-over-body control by forcing this contradiction, helping you believe what is true not just what you feel, so look up the topic and educate yourself on what the body really can and cannot live without, and for how long.

Example #6:   Visit any driving school or anti-drunk driving rally to try the goggles and other such devices that simulate for the wearer what it is like to be drunk or drive while impaired.  Is the road really slanted?  Are the trees really moving?  Is the speed and direction you think you’re moving in accurate?  Your senses are faithfully reporting to your mind what they know to be true, and your body is stumbling along in an attempt to cope, but does that mean your experience reflects reality?  Do the other people watching you agree with what is true?  Once again, how do you determine the instances in which your senses can be trusted and in which they deceive you?  What is the over-riding authority of truth?

Example #7:   Take a flying lesson at your local hobby airport and ask the pilot to demonstrate IFR flying to you.  This means Instrument Flying, following what the gauges on the dashboard say because you’re above the clouds or in some other way not able to fly by vision alone.  In what instances do your senses disagree with the instruments?  Would it be safe to fly by senses alone?  Now go online to the FAA database; how many accidents have there been because people chose to trust their senses instead of their instruments?  What does this prove to you about the conditions the human body was designed for and which it was not?

Example #8:   Go to a magic show and compare the illusions to what you think is true.  Have the people really disappeared or been cut in half?  How do you know?  Try learning some magic tricks of your own and see if you can fool someone else.  How different is it to be the magician than the audience?  What makes your experience so much different than theirs, and how can you be sure that even though you’re the only one in the room who believes so, your belief about what is real is more true than the majority?  Is it really about the senses, or about what you know?

Example #9:   What percentage of eateries use red, orange, or yellow as their primary color for their logo and dining area?  While waiting for an elevator, do people push the button more or less when there’s a mirror nearby?  When choosing between hallways, bathroom stalls, or other places where one has a light and one is dark, do people choose between them equally?  Go to a public place near you, such as a shopping mall, to do some observations for yourself.  Then compare your own tendencies.  Afterward, to the extent you’re able, eliminate the influence of the outside world for a couple of weeks and note the changes in your own thoughts, desires, priorities, feelings/stress level, behaviors, and even spending.  Notice how easily humans are manipulated by design and suggestion.  Who is most in control of you, and who benefits the most?  How easily can you change the balance of control?

Example #10:   Contact your local college campus and sign up for a few of the Psych experiments.  (They’re always begging for more participants, so they’ll be thrilled to have you.)  If the time works for you, also ask to sit in on a class or two.  Any Psych 101 class will teach you how humans are about as opposite of logical and dependable as it gets, such as the hundreds of ways humans consistently screw up memory, recall, judgement and decision-making.  You can find a quick list of roughly 300 of these on Wikipedia, and take a survey.  Which do you fall victim to most often?  Is it the same for friends or family members you know?  Does either of the sexes perform better?  How does this affect your confidence in your own or others’ ability, especially when it comes to what is or is not believable?

This ought to give you a plenty good start, and surely there are many more ways to discover how the body (and mind) can be easily fooled.  If you find some, feel free to share them here!  My hope for you is that by discovering the limits of your senses, and making a point of determining exactly where your locus of belief is rooted during those situations, you’ll not only be more skilled at determining Truth from “fact,” but also have more ammo with which to defeat the Enemy’s barbs of argument.  From now on, you can poke holes in his theory, standing firmly and faithfully on a higher source of belief, having a much richer understanding and appreciation of the advice:

“Lean not on your own understanding….keep My word in front of you at all times….My word is Truth….walk by faith, not by sight.”

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