Humans are pattern detection machines.
We’ve evolved everything we needed to detect the patterns that mattered to our survival and reproduction. Our brains assemble the patterns to create our reality.
Then our minds match the patterns up to meaningful heuristics that are already stored in the brain. Patterns are nothing without meaning so we search for meaning.
If we’ve already learned a meaning for a pattern, great! We match the pattern to the meaning.
If we haven’t learned a meaning, we search. Or, dangerously, we misapply a different meaning.
It is meaning that is the most important. Wisdom is born from the accumulation of correct meanings.
Image from Flickr Commons: Cassiopeia A: Cassiopeia A in Many Colors by Smithsonian Institution
“Time is this rubbery thing,” Eagleman said. “It stretches out when you really turn your brain resources on, and when you say, ‘Oh, I got this, everything is as expected,’ it shrinks up.”
The Possibillian : The New Yorker.
I can relate to Eagleman’s memory of the suspension of time during his childhood fall. I experienced it once as my car launched into the air over a ravine, tree branches whipping by, and also during a fall from a galloping horse, and while in the basket of a rapidly deflating hot air balloon plunging towards a swamp.
Like Eagleman and his grad students, I feel bedeviled by time. Tasked to invent a test for an industrial organizational psychology class, I wrote a measurement for “time sense.” But my test was primitive and rudimentary, especially compared to Eagleman’s methods using EEG, fMRI, musicians, and dropping subjects into a horrifying 110 foot free fall backwards to a net.