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We make right what cannot be

December 7, 2012

What do we do when we observe something that -in our experience- cannot be true? Do we really make it right in our minds, even if it means we’re kidding ourselves? I would really like to think that I’m not doing that, but probably there is no way of knowing that… right? If we want to consider all the options, even the seemingly impossible ones, we should stop kidding ourselves!

In a previous post “The future has a way of arriving unannounced“, I argue that in order to strive for a situation where we are aware of all the options we have, what I call the options optimum, we should not only search for options, but also allow ourselves to find options we were not looking for. Serendipity. Now, if we really want to be good at that, we should probably not only be good at finding stuff we recognise, but also stuff we think cannot be. Right?

So maybe we should distinguish two types of serendipity (yes, I like structure, can’t help it), defined as:

  • Serendipity of the known: The talent to find stuff we were not looking for, but recognise as something we can use.
  • Serendipity of the unknown: The talent to find stuff we were not looking for, did not recognise and didn’t even know were possible.

Striving to develop these talents can probably make us less biased, better at weak signal detection, and eventually even more creative. The better our receiving capabilities (See post “Optimising my receiving, processing and sending capability“), the better we can make sense of things.

A wonderful example of people unconsciously ignoring observations to make right what cannot be is the following video by Derren Brown.


Person swap, Derren Brown

Serious disclaimer: I’m not pretending to be genious, this whole blog is just one big experiment doomed to fail beautifully! 😉

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From → Change blindness

One Comment
  1. For another experiment, and explanation on “change blindness”, see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38XO7ac9eSs

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