Saturday, July 18, 2015

When does a pile of stones become a wall?



It seems our brains are only too willing to recognize shapes, patterns and structure.  We give the universe the benefit of the doubt.

When we look at the stones we've started stacking, our eyes have a built in tendency to recognize the plane and line of a wall with only the minimum of prompting. 

Studies show that our brains are strangely pre-ordained to make this visual order out of chaos.

This ability to find order where there is none is something we can’t turn off.  

We mentally begin to construct the form of the wall out of the slightest beginnings and rearrangements of rubble around us. Just looking at the few stones that we have already piled in front of us requires this ability to organize and see order, even when there isn't very much yet. Creating that order seems to come naturally because we actually see it before it happens.

We are logical beings, so we visually anticipate the form the wall will be taking, and logically it does take on that form . It is the logical structure we have already seen.

Stones fit together 'because'. But they don't just fit causally, they look like walls because we impose reason on the stones.

We delight to re-arrange the stones so they not only work, but they make sense visually. 

This bias towards seeing stones 'ordered' before they are is a function of vision and cognitive anticipation. 

It is a positive human tendency and worth thinking about the next time you come across something looking like it is possibly becoming something else.

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