We want to control life. That is why, the majority of decisions and actions are motivated by certain patterns. They make life easier. To the great regret, those patterns create everyday illusions, which may lead to unexpectable consequences.
First of all, what does the term “illusion” mean? According to World English Dictionary, “illusion” is a false appearance or deceptive impression of reality or belief. The mirror can be an appropriate example as it provides an illusion of depth.
Every day, all actions are followed by some illusion. Quite often, we are even not aware of how deeply we stuck into it. The authors of a popular book The Invisible Gorilla and Other Ways Our Intuition Deceives Us Christopher Chablis and Daniel Simons make such a statement that we do not accept the real life as it is a filter with some convictions. They can be affected a lot by different things causing an illusion of perception.
The authors classify everyday illusions as the ability of the brain to cut off the corners on the way of solving a problem or making some decisions. It seems to be normal and very convenient. Such kind of thinking may result in unexpectable consequences. They also say that intuition is no more a helper in a difficult situation as we are used to believe. Intuition is nothing but an overloaded summary of the previous experience and we should not rely on it all the time as this scheme has many flaws. As a rule, we use intuition while making a decision grounded on incomplete information about an object or a problem, for example. Doing so, we let the brain use some system created on the basis of previous experience in this field. This does not mean that the final decision we make is right. As Simons and Chablis write, “Our vivid visual experience belies a striking mental blindness”.
They insist that all persons are full of different kinds of illusions that come along with us every day. In the book The Invisible Gorilla, there are described main types of illusions and how they are able to fool us. The most wide-spread ones are an illusion of knowledge, illusion of memory, illusion of cause and illusion of confidence. All their statements have a scientific background. Remarkable experiment conducted 10 years ago, which gave the name of the book, is the best illustration to the illusion of knowledge. We are confident that if something extraordinary happened, we would surely notice it. This persuasion is far from reality as the experiment with the gorilla has shown. The essence of it was the video with two teams in white and black playing basketball and the task to count how many passes the white team makes. People were so concentrated on counting that could not even notice a girl wearing a costume of a gorilla who appeared in the middle of the video. We are sure we see exactly what happens, but it is not so. The brain sees what it wants to see, but not necessarily the truth. The illusion of knowledge obstructs the relationships where we suppose to know how it should be. To the great regret, in many cases, we have no idea of the real state of things. On the whole, the illusion of knowledge plays a cruel joke making persons overestimate their abilities and potential.
The illusion of memory without a doubt makes life brighter, but not better. As a rule, we have a faint image of something that occurred a long time ago and imagination starts painting the bright pictures of fantasy, but not the reality. We want to believe that all the memories are like a film, but if we are not able to recollect certain facts or visual effects, then the brains create it. Therefore, the memory is more like fictional than a documentary film.
The next type – illusion of cause – provides us with the fast conclusions matching the cause and consequence, which may be two parallel happenings. For example, a great number of people suppose that vaccines cause autism. This is a wrong conviction, and it may lead to a fatal result. Just imagine how many innocent persons have been imprisoned because of false thoughts of witnesses that correlation means causation?!
The worst illusion is the illusion of confidence. Sometimes, we believe that we can do more or that we are better than we are. The most difficult thing is to remain honest without any self-justifications. Otherwise, we begin to create a new illusion, which is called “Ideal-me-exists”, but reality proves us wrong in the convictions and then we have problems with self-identification.
The personality of Hitler illustrates the illusion of confidence quite well. He was the very person who made the whole nation believe that they were better than they were. He created the most terrific and strong illusion about the supremacy of Aryan nation that overestimated him. He was so confident in his invincibility as an invader that conducted such aggressive politics. He wanted others to believe in his unlimited abilities. He wanted to be a God. The danger of illusion of any type is in short lasting. The majority of people understood it, but unfortunately too late while the Second World Was had already been launched. I hope this example makes every person think of the role of illusion in their life and the way how illusions can become a weapon for killing people without any reasonable purpose.
As to me, there is one question, which cannot stop interesting me. What is the fear of death if no more but just an illusion? Why are we so confident that it is too bad? What if it is just an illusion of confidence where we substitute the reality by fears and persuasions? We do not know for sure what would be beyond it. We cannot take into account all those shows and TV programs with persons insisting they saw “life after life”. Almost all of them are eager to make money or fame this way. Let’s take the unborn child as an example. It has been growing for nine months in definite conditions with definite physical parameters and rapidly all the conditions are changed. Is not it a death? We are used to calling it “the birth”. Probably, the end of life here is the beginning somewhere else. Thus, we are stuck in the illusion believing it is bad.
Whatever it is, all we have to do is to fight all fears and aberrations in order to clean the mind for the most important questions.