How People's Perceptions of Reality Evolve
A version of Confucius' observation above has been added to the page of "Evidence" at the link below.
How do people who are so similar at birth learn to think and behave so differently? Obviously their environments influence
greatly how their thinking evolves. Often children learn the perceptions of their parents. The evidence shows that the children
of parents who have strong political or religious perceptions are likely to have similar perceptions. This fact shows that many
people do not have the freedom to evolve realistic perceptions of reality. Throughout human history, children have been taught
many perceptions that were false. The great variety of conflicting perceptions currently taught to children is conclusive
evidence of children still being taught false perceptions. Parents who want to help children develop realistic perceptions of
reality can help best by teaching the children to think logically and to consider what they are taught in light of the related
evidence. So much of what children are taught does not make sense in light of conflicting evidence. The following from
How People Learn from the National Research Council, helps explain the great disparity in people's perceptions.
"Research on early learning suggests that the process of making sense of the world begins at a very young age. Children begin
in preschool years to develop sophisticated understandings (whether accurate or not) of the phenomena around them. Those initial
understandings can have a powerful effect on the integration of new concepts and information. Sometimes those understandings are
accurate, providing a foundation for building new knowledge. But sometimes they are inaccurate. In science, students often have
misconceptions of physical properties that cannot be easily observed. In humanities, their preconceptions often include stereotypes
or simplifications, as when history is understood as a struggle between good guys and bad guys. A critical feature of effective
teaching is that it elicits from students their preexisting understanding of the subject matter to be taught and provides
opportunities to build on - or challenge - the initial understanding."
Socrates observed that "There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance." So much of what people have learned is,
in fact, ignorance because it is inconsistent with verifiable evidence. Often this is due to people not understanding evidence and
alternative views that disagree with their perceptions. One huge source of ignorance is people's overconfidence that their
perceptions and beliefs are true. The fact that their perceptions disagree with those of other intelligent people does not shake
their confidence. In fact, people are taught to accept certain scientific and religious perceptions on "faith," regardless of the
perceptions' inconsistencies with evidence and logic. There may be benefits to some false perceptions, but history and our own
experiences tell us that unrealistic perceptions generally cause more harm than good. Overconfidence causes people to stop
questioning and thus stop being able to correct misperceptions. Currently within our civilization we have enormous self-perpetuating
systems of belief comprised of teachers/elders who are certain of their beliefs teaching students/children to believe the same
perceptions with the same certainty. Perceivable Reality might help break this cycle of narrow learning and teaching.