Reality Is *Very* Different from How Your Brain Perceives it

By using magnetic fields to disrupt local brain regions, scientists have recreated the kinds of distractions that happen in daily life. It turns out these distractions greatly color our perceptions.

What's the Latest Development?

Magicians have made a living out of exploiting short circuits in the brain's wiring. Now, psychologists are taking their tricks and testing them scientifically, showing how colored our initial perceptions of the world really are. In one test, an experimenter stopped strangers on the street to ask for directions. When two confederates walked between them, blocking the stranger's view, the experimenter switched places with one of the stooges, but in the majority of cases, the stranger continued giving directions, not noticing that they were talking to a completely different person!

What's the Big Idea?

What is happening inside our brain when it misperceives the world in such glaring ways? Scientists believe that simply distracting our attention is sufficient to alter our perception of the world in drastic fashion. By using a transcranial magnetic stimulator to disrupt the parietal cortex, which controls attention, scientists have found that individuals failed tests which asked them to distinguish between the faces of two different people. "Such blind spots confirm what many philosophers have long suspected: reality and our perception of it are incommensurate to a far greater degree than is often believed."

Photo credit:

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Dead – yes, dead – tardigrade found beneath Antarctica

A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.

(Goldstein Lab/Wkikpedia/Tigerspaws/Big Think)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
  • The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
  • Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Keep reading Show less

This 1997 Jeff Bezos interview proves he saw the future coming

Jeff Bezos, the founder of, explains his plan for success.

Technology & Innovation
  • Jeff Bezos had a clear vision for from the start.
  • He was inspired by a statistic he learned while working at a hedge fund: In the '90s, web usage was growing at 2,300% a year.
  • Bezos explains why books, in particular, make for a perfect item to sell on the internet.
Keep reading Show less

Why are women more religious than men? Because men are more willing to take risks.

It's one factor that can help explain the religiosity gap.

Photo credit: Alina Strong on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
  • Sociologists have long observed a gap between the religiosity of men and women.
  • A recent study used data from several national surveys to compare religiosity, risk-taking preferences and demographic information among more than 20,000 American adolescents.
  • The results suggest that risk-taking preferences might partly explain the gender differences in religiosity.
Keep reading Show less