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Perspective and Illusion

38 39 The carToonIng mInD us and thempressing the right buttons Our brains have changed very little since the time we were cavemen. We like to think of ourselves as civilised, advanced kinds of folk, but the truth of the matter is that our attention is still easily grabbed by exactly the same basic things as thousands of years ago opposite. These conceptual cartoons, usthem, thisthat, betterworse, danger, or sex underlie many of our programmed biases, and are regularly accessed by storytellers, advertisers, and politicians. They are all essentially illusory, and it can be a valuable exercise to attempt to see them as such. In particular, we evolved to respond to immediate personal crises, rather than slowly advancing global ones. This is one reason why, as a species, we find it so hard to stop our current destruction of Eden. A frog, placed in a pan of water slowly heated to boiling, will not jump out to save itself, instead boiling to death, because, like us, it is hardwired to recognise only sudden changes as profoundly dangerous. Similarly, a hungry frog surrounded by sleeping flies will starve to deaththe flies arent buzzing about so it cant see them. Optical illusions are one of the easiest ways of getting your brain to realise just how clichd and prejudiced it has probably become. These headlines could apply to events in any period of history from the present back to primitive times. All play on our cartoon hopes and fears. Our minds fill in assumed details from limited information to an astonishing degree. Opposite Washerwoman pail after Gregory Mexican frying an egg. Lu c ia n , B r is to l 1 9 88
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