Brains are interesting. Fascinating, in fact. Sometimes I think I should have been either a neuroscientist or a psychiatrist but, with the former I might have to dissect actual brains and with the latter I would have to deal with annoying, messed up people all the time, which is not one of my talents. (You see why I never decided what I want to be when I grow up?)
Anyway, like I was saying, brains are fascinating. We’ve been watching the series (on the History Channel) Your Bleeped Up Brain. It’s very similar to another series, Brain Games, but it’s better, I think. They seem to try a little more to explain the science instead of just, “Watch this; see how we can trick you!” So far nothing in the series has surprised me. It’s all stuff I knew already but it is still interesting to me. Last night we watched the episode about superstition. They seemed to be trying to avoid offending anyone. It was more about our brains finding explanations for things we don’t understand and why we cling to those explanations even when they are proved to be wrong.
They showed a bit about seeing faces in random patterns. Like everyone else, I do see faces everywhere but I don’t ever see it as a sign of any kind. To me it’s just another way for me to entertain myself. It’s a kind of optical illusion. I do sometimes fantasize about finding a picture of Jesus on a rock or in the grain of a piece of wood or something and selling it for a fortune on eBay.
The thing I think we all have a hard time with is accepting that other people’s brains are in some ways different from our own. For example, my brain likes words and it likes for them to be correct. (“Correct” meaning, the way I first learned them, whether they are actually correct or not. “Kilometer” is one that I think the majority of us in the U.S. learned to pronounce incorrectly. I know how it’s supposed to be pronounced but to me right sounds wrong and always will.) I understand – and on one level I accept – that not everyone’s brain likes words the way mine does and that this is not a sign of intelligence or lack thereof, but still, my brain wants what it wants and it very much wants everyone to stop typing “there” when you mean “their” or “they’re,” and other common mistakes.
My brain also has a bit of a problem with hints and I sort of think this might be part of the liking words thing. Whenever someone is hinting or trying to convey something to me non-verbally, even if I do get what they are trying to tell me, my brain keeps urging me to shout, “Just say it already!” I really try not to do that because I know I’m the weird one in this case but again, my brain wants what it wants so I have a bit of difficulty responding to hints. Strangely, that doesn’t mean that I don’t use hints myself sometimes. Yeah, my brain is bleeped up too.
What other people’s brains want I don’t entirely understand. I am an intelligent and tolerant person (At least, I understand that tolerance is a virtue and I should be more tolerant.) but I have a hard time understanding what drives other people, especially obviously intelligent people. Idiots (and there are a lot of those in the world) can be easily dismissed but when I run into an obviously intelligent person whose understanding of the world is completely different from mine (such as people who voted for “the other guy”) a part of my brain automatically wants to label that person “idiot” also, even though I know better. This seems to be one of those things, like seeing faces, that all of our brains have in common. And when the other person is someone we know and like our poor brains may not know how to handle the situation.
I guess most people don’t think about this stuff. Maybe if more people were educated about the way our brains work the world would be a more peaceful and tolerant place? Or maybe not. We all believe what we want to believe – that we are right and they are wrong – so even if we understand how our brains work we will each continue to think that our own brain is somehow better than all the other brains even if some of those other brains can do calculus and ours can’t.