As a two-time All-American golfer for the University of Georgia, I can personally attest to the illusory perspective that the hole is larger on some days compared with others, as Andrea Anderson writes in “Towering Targets” [Head Lines].
That being said, my purpose for writing you has nothing to do with golf or any other sport but addresses the topic of perception itself as it relates to what people perceive to be true. Your article mentioned a general consensus that “what we see is often not an accurate reflection of the world around us.”
Forget about the size of a baseball; if what you say is true about the inaccuracy of our perceptions, how can we be as sure as we are about the perception of our enemies—especially when you mix in some fear, anger and emotional sensitivity? Is our perception accurate enough to justify hurting or killing our enemies? Shouldn’t we be more concerned about finding the truth behind our perceptions?
At this point in our evolution, I would hope that humankind could reach a general consensus on what is real. Unfortunately, that does not appear to be an accurate reflection of the world around us. I recommended this story to all of my friends and encouraged them to question the accuracy of their judgments. Great article!
REMEMBER THE BAD
“Lingering Lies,” by Valerie Ross [Head Lines], reports that even when people understand, remember and believe a retraction, misinformation will still affect their inferences. Perhaps it should. After all, something makes lawyers reveal inadmissible evidence. Or, using the example in the study, there was probably a reason the original report said the bus passengers were elderly instead of a young hockey team. Without knowing why information was said to be wrong, can we really dismiss it? Perhaps the hockey team’s coach was elderly, thus confusing the person who gave the first report. Remembering what was told us incorrectly might give us clues to a more complete picture.
commenting at www.ScientificAmerican.com/Mind
RELIEF FROM PANIC
Regarding Paul Li’s answer about panic attacks in Ask the Brains, I would like to relate my own experience. Many years ago I started getting panic attacks. I couldn’t drive over bridges or on freeways. I couldn’t go to concerts or movies or be in enclosed spaces such as elevators. My attacks were just as Li described. I was debilitated for many years.
Then one day I heard on NPR about a young woman whose doctor put her on propranolol to keep her heart rate from rising. I realized that if I could keep my heart rate under control, maybe I could avoid panic attacks altogether. I called my doctor, and he said that this drug is used for stage fright. That is exactly how a panic attack feels.
I started taking propranolol, but it took three months before I got up the nerve to test its effect. I finally called a good friend, and we drove across every bridge in my city. I felt great and have never had another attack since. For me, propranolol is a miracle drug.