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Seeing is not always believing

shadowAt one time eye-witness testimony was the gold standard in criminal trials. Certainly I can remember that being the case. Over time, however, we began to get an appreciation of just how BAD we are at seeing, remembering and recalling. 

Nowadays the situation is almost reversed. Eye witness testimony is regarded with great suspicion, to the extent that it is now unlikely that a trial would even go ahead if there was only eye-witness testimony with no other collaborating evidence.

When I speak to theists the issue of 'witness' is never far from the surface. If we are debating religion - as I am inclined to do - then it is almost a certainty that, at some point, the theist will resort to an argument along the lines of 'well what I saw/experienced/felt was enough to convince me that God exists'.

I am not limiting this to religion, however. Religious-type beliefs usually rely on a similar 'conviction' on the part of the believer. This applies to conspiracy theorists, alien abductees, spiritualists, and a host of other belief systems for which there is little or no empirical evidence.

If we experience something then we are reluctant to even consider the possibility that it didn't really happen as we remember. Our only link with external reality is via our senses. If we can't rely on our senses then what CAN we rely on?

Nevertheless, the evidence is conclusive and the matter is beyond doubt - our senses are constantly creating perceptions, and memories, of things which did not happen, or did not happen as we recall them. This is not a matter for debate - the evidence is clear and conclusive.

In this essay I will show just a few examples of how your senses can deceive you.


Dealing with vicious misandry
 

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