Truth or Perception?


I came across some intriguing reactions to this video on Facebook. Please watch it first before reading further or you won’t understand what I’m referring to.

The video shows swans feeding Koi Carp and as such it is well received as a heart warming and tender exchange between different species. The comments I saw expressed how people are touched by this and one comment states they thought that, by example, humans could be nicer to each other.

However the tone of comments changes when someone expresses a different view. The point they put forward is that the swans are in fact feeding on dry pellets that they cannot digest without absorbing them in water and the Koi are catching whatever they drop.

This other view point attracts a lot of comments about this person trying to spoil their enjoyment and that the new viewpoint is wrong whilst a few others agree with it.

When you first watch the video it has the title Swan feeds Koi. If you watch it again and accept the different explanation it is difficult to get the same degree of enjoyment from it! I could now see it as though the swans were looking for clear patches of open water.

There are two viewpoints the first is assumed to be an altruistic action on behalf of the swan. This is assumed despite it not being a usual trait that is seen. In fact without this rarity value it might as well be a video of ducks eating bread. In order to explain it to ourselves we need a rational explanation and the “Swan Feeds Koi” as an altruistic action fits this nicely. As soon as we read the other view point it challenges our assumption, hence the annoyance either at ourselves for falling for the illusion or at the provider for challenging our reasoning.

It was interesting that no one challenged the “swan feeds Koi” heading as wrong because it wasn’t. Either way all we are seeing as different is intent, whether the swan intended to feed the Koi or they did it by accident.

I find people reactions to the comments interesting. There are the acceptance of what they were intended to see and how good it made them feel. There are complaints about those spoiling it by explaining it in biological terms and there are no complaints about being “misdirected” by the original title. People do want to feel good even if it’s by being manipulated to feel that way. It proves that in any exchange there is always influence be it good or bad. In this case was it bad manipulation to make good? Did all who shared it believe it? Or did they just want to make someone else feel good? As with the Swans does intent really matter if it arrives at good effects?

I see this in every day life. Our perceptions produce our explanations of reality. If someone challenges that reality we can either adjust our own or carry on with or own and think they need to adjust theirs (an argument to be had or to avoid). Both sides see their own view through their perception without realising that “true” is only a matter of perception.

Only rarely are things black or white and when we exclude others views because they conflict with ours, or hold back our view so as not to offend others, then we all miss out on the wonderful world of shared learning.

The biggest and most common problem comes with holding our own internal arguments between our conscious and unconscious processes, but that’s the discussion for another day!

What do you think?

stevenblakemba Comments