Eye of the Beholder
This is one of the
intentional ways to get us not to look harder and deeper.
It says "There's no point in doing that, because reality is
totally subjective. It's in the eye of the beholder."
This is similar to the assertion that everything is a matter of
opinion (also discussed on our web site).
Turns out there are bunches
of people who say that reality and/or truth is all in the eye of
the beholder. They say this over and over and over and over and
over and over and over and over and over and over and over
and...(but you get the point). Someone even makes and
sells a button that you can put on your shirt, which says this.
In other words, there are folks that want you to think reality
is really just in the eye of the beholder, and truth is truly
just in the eye of the beholder. Do you agree? We
don't and here's why...
Our short Answer
But, see, there are those who
think it is, and they think that by saying it is in the eye of
the beholder over and over and over and over and over and
over...they will eventually make it true. For those who are
interested, we'll explain why they think this below.
Our longer answer
Well, let's just take a look, a good
hard look, and then, let's decide on our own. We started with
the story of Henry and George on our Home Page, a story that helps
explain why we think it's important to look at what really is
Let's begin by taking a look
(literally) at a couple examples concerning our
perception of reality
And finally, let's take a look at
why there are folks so bent on convincing us reality and truth are both only in
the eye of the beholder (that is, subjective).
We suspect you probably have figured this out
on your own, but we said we'd get back to this, so that's what we're going to
do. And we think there may be at least two possible answers:
1. They, themselves believe this.
They see truth and reality as
mutable (i.e., changeable), because both are just subjective, mental things, and
of course we can change our minds.
Social Construction of Reality: And now is the time for us to point out that
there are, in fact, a few aspects of reality that are indeed mutable, because
they are socially constructed. One is the reality humans create when we build
things. So, for example, we can make the environment really accessible to
everyone by constructing building that are accessible. The second is the
reality of mental attitudes. In other words, whether correct or incorrect,
humans can have attitudes and beliefs that are really in their minds. And just
so you know, both of these are part of what is referred to as the "Social
Construction of Reality," which you can look up online and read more about.
We think that there are some
folks (for example, the "neocons") who've embraced this notion
much too fully, with the result that they don't realize that in
spite of all social constructions of reality, there is indeed an
objective reality out there. For example, people once
believed the universe really rotated around our planet, but they
Self-fulfilling Prophecy: Also, have you heard of the self-fulfilling
prophecy? Well that when you believe something is true, act on that belief and
thereby make it true. In other words, one result of a rigid belief in the
social construction of reality (or the notion that reality is only in the eye of
the beholder) can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. More about that elsewhere on
our web site.
2. They want to influence your perception
of reality and thereby influence your behavior.
For example, they want you to think social
welfare is really socialism, when it's not. Another example is the statement
that evolution is a theory, when it's a fact (theory only comes into play when
we try to explain why and how evolution occurs).
On October 17, 2004, Ron Suskind, in an article in The New York Times
Magazine, reported that an aide to
President Bush (latter attributed to to Karl Rove) "said that guys like me were
'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who
'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible
reality.' ... 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued.
'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while
you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating
other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort
out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what
In other words, in keeping with the mistaken notion that ALL reality is socially
constructed, this aide was saying something like the following: "Reality is what
I say it is." So, for example, they wanted us to believe there actually were
weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, when there really weren't.
The word is bias. As we have
noted above, reality is objective, but our perception of reality is subjective,
which means it can be affected by our biases and thereby distorted and open to misperceptions. Since this is the case, we've
devoted a whole section of our website to the matter of bias and how we can
recognize, manage and to the best of our ability minimize the effect of our biases (the
scientific method is one technique). Click the
link below to see what we have to say about biases.
Click links below to visit other
pages describing intentional efforts to obscure reality, or to return to the
go to the brief introduction to intentional efforts to obstruct, or avoid reality
go to discussion of the Matter of Opinion