You Fillet my Senses, Like a Magnetic Greyfield #21 #cong23 #reality


Our senses keep us alive, but they don’t tell the truth. And can diverge to hold different realities in the same body.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Reality is shaped by our perceptions and can be easily confused.
  2. Evolution has given us the ability to see things that aren’t there.
  3. Our perceptions are subject to alteration, influenced by factors like evolution and sensory variations.
  4. Splitting the corpus callosum can lead to differences in perception and even personality between the brain hemispheres.
  5. This suggests that reality is subjective and can vary, even within the same body.

About Will Knott:

A nerd who usually asks questions and changes things.

Contacting Will Knott:

You can contact Will via Bluesky, Mastadon and LinkedIn.

By Will Knott

Reality is an agreement based on our perceptions, barely. But we can confuse our senses.

The image above is a “Necker Cube”. It’s a simple line drawing of the edges of a cube. But is the square on top the front or the back? Look at it, and watch it flip to the front and the back over and over while you observe it. Your experience changes, but the image does not. Which one is “real”?

The ability of your brains to see non-existent monsters hiding in a bush is an evolutionary advantage… The cautious monkey survived better than the reckless one. Just ask the mice (1). The effect is seeing things that are not there. Also our perceptions are incomplete and can be altered.

By altered, I’m not speaking about imbibing interesting chemicals (not even on unusual mushrooms found on a geology tour), I’m talking about evolution.  You cannot see in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum. At least most of you can’t. Aphakia (2) is a condition in which the crystalline lens is absent from the eye, which results in blurry vision, and ultraviolet light not being filtered from the eye. So some people have something in common with insects and reindeer (3). Others of you are colour blind. Either way, the agreed definition of “red” can be disputed for varying degrees of red apples.

Perceptions are not reality. “Red” is a convention that gets disagreed with the further you drift away from the central FF0000 point. There is no agreed edge to hot, cold, bitter or sweet.

And you can experience a world of no colour. Hemi-achromatopsic via transcranial magnetic stimulation near the V4 area of the left hemisphere to cause temporary impairment, will cause your red apple you are looking directly at, to have the colour drained away from its right hand side and fade to grey until you stop the impairment. (4) (If you stimulate it, things just get trippy).

Our senses have evolved to tell us what we need, not to tell the truth. It’s not unfair to think that our senses speak to us in metaphor. It’s a desktop interface hiding the command line processing that exists in the microscopic and the macroscopic fields, while we toil in the emotional ones. However we still need to treat the interface seriously.

Bitter exists to inform us of potential poison. Fitness beats truth, because it lies enough to use proxies to keep us alive, even if you like lemons. And colour interpretation is an indicator of ripeness, or warnings.

Brain mappings, or mis-mappings lead to synesthesia. This is the “condition” where your senses are mixed up due to overlapping brain processing areas. Sounds have shape or colour. Numbers have flavour. These people have different interfaces to reality, but its not an impairment. (interesting for brain mappings, the part of the brain that processes nerve feedback from the genitals are beside the area that processes nerve feedback from the toes 5). We do not have a formula to calculate our experience of tasting an apple. But butchers can sometimes discover things, frequently the discovery of the brain control areas occur while the brain is open for other reasons.

Joseph Bogen and Philip Vogel earned the nickname “the West Coast butchers” as they intentionally, and with care sliced the brain of Bill Jenkins in half in the February of 1962. And Jenkins quality of life improved. In the decade that followed, they split brain after brain. Each person they operated on suffered from severe and intractable epilepsy. Their logic was that the seizures were due to a car crash of signals in their brain, and by performing a corpus callosotomy the collision of neural activity was halted.

When the callosum is cut, the hemispheres can no longer consult themselves and come to an agreement. If Bill closes his left eye and is shown the word “key” and is handed a bowl of objects to pick with his left hand and is told to pick out the object he read, he could pick out a key. With his left hand however, no idea. Show only his right eye the word “ring”, and we would pick out a ring with his right hand, even if he could have picked up the key. The left brain keeps secrets from the right brain. (6)

So one half of the brain is determining reality differently. It can continue to the point where each half develops personality differences. This can reach the point where one side is an atheist while the other is devout. (7)

If reality is able to be distinctly perceived in one body with the same history and genetics, then the closest we can have is just an agreement.


Toxoplasma gondii makes mice bravely reckless


Usually caused by a cataract operation, or trauma. However it does occasionally occur during foetal development.


What Can Animals Sense That We Can’t?

4 The V4 area

Desimone, R., Schein, S. J., Moran, J., and Ungerleider, L. G. 1985. “Contour, color and shape analysis beyond the striate cortex,”,inferior%20temporal%20cortex%20(IT)  Vision Research 25: 441-52; Desimone, R., and Schein, S. J. 1987. “Visual properties of neurons in area V4 of the macaque: Sensitivity to stimulus form,”  Journal of Neurophysiology 57: 835-68; Heywood, C. A., Gadotti, A., and Cowey, A. 1992. “Cortical area V4 and its role in the perception of color,”  Journal of Neuroscience 12: 4056-65; Footnote taken from “The Case Against Reality: How Evolution Hid the Truth from Our Eyes” by Donald D. Hoffman.

Desimone, R., Schein, S. J., Moran, J., and Ungerleider, L. G. 1985. “Contour, color and shape analysis beyond the striate cortex,”,inferior%20temporal%20cortex%20(IT)  Vision Research 25: 441-52; Desimone, R., and Schein, S. J. 1987. “Visual properties of neurons in area V4 of the macaque: Sensitivity to stimulus form,”  Journal of Neurophysiology 57: 835-68; Heywood, C. A., Gadotti, A., and Cowey, A. 1992. “Cortical area V4 and its role in the perception of color,”  Journal of Neuroscience 12: 4056-65; Footnote taken from “The Case Against Reality: How Evolution Hid the Truth from Our Eyes” by Donald D. Hoffman.


“Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind” by  V.S. Ramachandran and Sandra Blakeslee


Sperry, R.W. 1974. “Lateral specialization of cerebral function in the surgically separated hemispheres”


The Curious Case of the People With Split Brains


Split brain with one half atheist and one half theist

The Unreality Within #17 #cong23 #reality


Reality is defined by the brains of humans. Brains of humans are the product of a fallible and undirected process of evolution. Here, Brendan cite examples from his own life where the reality of his perceptions were questionable, emphasising the need for communication, collaboration, and rational reflection in the search for the impossible: Objective reality.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Don’t trust your senses.
  2. The brain is incredibly powerful – not always in our favour
  3. In situations where reality is in doubt, find other witnesses and try to avoid conforming your accounts of what happened.
  4. Beware the echo chambre.

About Brendan Caulfield:

A lifelong science fiction nerd, Brendan bounced through the pinball table of life from meaningless job to meaningless job until he found steam workshop facilitation.

Now he finds peace and fulfilment in igniting the spark of curiosity and creativity in young minds.

He loves space-science and engineering, TV and film production-design, computer games, and 3D printing.

If he could wave a magic wand, he’d be a Starfleet officer or a pioneering Mars colonist.

Contacting Brendan Caulfield:

You can connect with Brendan on Twitter or send him an email.



By Brendan Caulfield

Fundamental forces.
Gravity, Electromagnetism, Weak and Strong Nuclear Forces, The Higgs Field, Quantum mechanics…
Elementary particles.
Quarks, leptons, neutrinos, electrons, positrons, photons, muons, gluons…
Atoms and light.
Substances in sheets and knots and ropes.
Substances that react to electron flow with a physical contraction.
Substances that react to electron flow with a chemical release.
Substances that change in chemical reactions.

Substances that combine all these structures and reactions into nerves that transmit impulses to other structures that carry out complex chemical and electrical and physical routines as a result.

Substances that think about these inputs and believe they know what this thing called “REALITY” is.

I am one such substance – or more accurately, I’m a conglomerate of many substances that influence and react with one another according to patterns set down by 4.5 billion years of trial and error.

To believe that I could be unerringly correct in what I interpret as being “real” is arrogant folly. I’m the result of hundreds of thousands of generations of creatures that succeeded to the point of reproduction – but to reach that milestone does not actually require a realistic outlook on my environment.

When I was a kid, I used to imagine my senses were lies – that I was a specimen in a vat being fed false experience so I could be observed and studied by some congregation of superior alien beings just a few feet from me.

Many years later, The Matrix came out, and I realised I wasn’t the only person to experience that suspicion. Years after that, I finally realised that the word “Solipsism” encompassed that feeling: “Maybe I’m the only thing that’s real”.

When I was in the scouts, my entire troop managed to convince ourselves that we had seen the ghost of the groundskeeper of the ancient hostel we were bunking in. A ghost we knew to expect because of the scout leader’s adept ghost story told to us earlier that evening.

My parents and I (and many other cars in a line of traffic that night) witnessed a shape-shifting geometric pattern of glowing, featureless, flat discs hovering low over the traffic on a road through Northern Ireland in the mid-’90s. It shifted from car to car as if scanning the occupants. (despite including this one here, I remain convinced that this occurred as described)

When I was in college, I awoke unable to move one night. I’d had sleep paralysis before – I knew what it was, I knew not to fear it. What was different this time was that a noise in my (locked) room had awoken me. A swishing of fabric.

There was a woman standing behind my computer chair. The swishing noise was this interloper holding some item of my clothing and rubbing it between thumb and forefinger like its presence perplexed her.

She was dressed in a white shirt blouse and a black waistcoat with black slacks, like a hotel staffer. I tried to ask her how she got in through my locked door. All that came out of my still-paralysed mouth was “hssss sss sss”. That caught her attention and she dropped the item in her hand on the floor.

She seemed to hear me, but be unable to recognise any logical source for the sound. She sat on the edge of my bed and searched with her ear for the sound. Despite having turned toward me, her face stayed dark, it was like her hair cast an impossible shadow, or like there was no face in there at all.

As I continued to hiss unintelligible questions at her, she zeroed in on the sound with her ear until she was leaning right over me.
It was at that point that the muscles in my torso woke up, and I sat bolt upright almost involuntarily. I headbutted my way through her head and the woman burst into motes of vapour and dissipated.

I sat there for a few moments contemplating what had happened, observing the room.
She had left an imprint on the bed where she sat.
The item of clothing she dropped on the ground was nowhere to be found.
I examined myself: Cold sweat, heart hammering in my chest. The outward manifestation of fear. Inwardly, I felt calm and curious: Had I really just witnessed a ghost?

I thought on that: This was a new house. My housemates and I were the first occupants after its construction. As far as I was aware, this was farmland prior to the construction of the estate. The woman was dressed like a modern professional woman. None of this fit the usual haunting tropes.

I turned on my computer. I set the power settings to leave the monitor active overnight, opened notepad, set the text size large so it wouldn’t be missed and typed “Ghost-Girl: If you read this, type something here”. In the morning, nothing else had been written.

A few days later, a psych-student friend of mine told me about “Sleep Hypnagogia”, a failure of the wake-up routine where your brain keeps dreaming images into your perceptions while you’re awake. In reading up on it, I found accounts of witch and alien and ghost encounters that often had amazingly coincidental details with my encounter, like seeking the sound and popping into a cloud of vapour when impinged.

I list these events because they are (for the most part) examples of the machinery I use to interrogate and define my reality… failing.

Reality at its most fundamental is inaccessible to us. We cannot taste quarks or witness molecules bonding. Our senses, insofar as they can be trusted, are sensitive to macro-scale events – that which mattered in our evolutionary past. As such we take shortcuts, we generate abstractions and synthesise based on inference.

Reality will therefore, unfortunately, differ depending on who you ask. We have processes and technology to compare and contrast our realities to varying levels of rigour. These range from simple communication at the most primitive, to the Scientific Method at their height.

Somewhere in the middle, sits CongRegation.