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 happening. 

 

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 were wrong.

 

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 we do.'"

 

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 Articles Page

 To go to the brief introduction to intentional efforts to obstruct, or avoid reality

 To go to discussion of the Matter of Opinion

 To go to the Articles Page.

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