Our Filters

Lots of filters

Photo filters are quite popular these days. They’re cool because they add personality to a photo with minimal work.

It turns out that OUR PERSONALITIES are also the output of a number of personal distorting filters applied to the universe.

Imagine an unbiased, uninterpreted, unsimplified, unprocessed, view of the universe.

Then think about how you view the universe.

How many filters, distortions, and processing are there between you and the unfiltered universe?

To help make the point, think about COLOR. The application of color to the universe is the result of a brain filter. One that translates a small segment of the light spectrum into a map that relates each frequency of light to a color that represents a specific blend of those 3 colors.

Then there are the filters that translate shapes, textures, sounds, smells, movements, depths, etc into similarly simplified, but meaningful, objects that are easier to manipulate in our brains.

Then there are the filters that try to simplify things so that we can survive in a constant overload of information. We create filters designed to pull out the important information so that we can toss the rest. This means that we are always on the look out for NEW information, SHOCKING information, and information that VALIDATES our existing theories about the world.

Then there are the filters that bias our brain to prefer information, ideas, things, people, etc that are close to us and useful to us. A person dying 10,000 miles from us has a completely different weight than a person dying in our arms. An idea that will make us $100 right now has a completely different weight than an idea that will make us $100 in a million years.

These filters are somewhat chaotically organized as a list of Cognitive Biases.

Then there are the filters that protect us from harm. That shuttle off ideas of death, mortality, and cosmic insignificance. That comfort us by only letting information through that we feel prepared to deal with.

Then there are the filters that we think make us stand out in the world. The filters that help us preserve our personalities in such a way that we are “go getters” or “detail oriented” or “really into cats”. By preserving filters that give us personality, we are more likely to be noticed, loved, respected, and feel like we actually belong here.

The result of all of these filters is that our personal view of the universe is much more distorted than any Instagram photo.

If you took away all of the filters, our brains would have nothing to do and we would just sit in a firehose of information that eventually washed us away.

It is by filtering, distorting, simplifying, processing, and biasing the world that we have any form at all.

We have no choice. We have to hold on to your filters. But choose them wisely, and if at all possible, remove the filter that makes us believe we have no filters on at all.


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