The Illusion of Knowing

Albino Lab Rat

Wiki Commons – Copyright Nrets at en.wikipedia

If it weren’t for illusions, we’d all behave like lab rats.  Back in the day, laboratory rats were the vehicle by which psychology was going to understand all the “rules” of human behavior.  Behaviorism is still a powerful perspective, but today it is us who might be the “lab rats.”

Through the miracle of modern technology, all of us are being watched like lab rats.  That sort of statement used to be the mantra of paranoid schizophrenics, but today not so much.  Recently the news media have made this startling revelation: government agencies have the ability to watch and listen in on all communications throughout the world constantly.  And they do except, of course, for all us good folks with Constitutional rights here in the USA. Really!

Did I just publish something that will be read and flagged for “further study”?  With an immense database of past human behavior this notion is no longer inconceivable; however, it still might be impractical at this time.  What eases my mind is something called the illusion of knowing, which roughly translates “Things really aren’t always as they seem.”  If we accept this truism, then we can possibly appear less predictable and a bit more elusive.  I’m in favor of less delusion and more illusion.

Raffetto Group LogoWhat exactly is the illusion of knowing you ask?  Look at my logo to the right.  You first should see an R and a G and then maybe four circles behind the letters.  Right, of course, even though you know I’m tricking you.  There’s no “R”, no “G” and no “four circles” in that logo.  It’s a visual illusion based on an ambiguous figure for which you subconsciously choose to perceive by using what you already know, i.e., letters and circles.”  The illusion is powerful because we all have learned to impose simplicity on the complexity of our visual world.  Here’s the important part: imposing simplicity must be rule-driven to be successful.  And when you don’t possess the rules, then you are governed by the illusion of knowing to keep your world orderly and seemingly under control.

So here we sit, wondering if unseen people are reading all our emails, listening to all our phone calls, and putting the “eyes in the sky” on maximum magnification over our houses.  Of course that’s happening and has been for years, except back then* they used more rudimentary tools.  So either chill out or fight back, but in either case you must do so with your brain more than your body.  Why?  Because what you think and imagine is not self-evident to everybody and that can be more powerful than the “rules.” You may even discover an atypical power I’d call “purposeful-unpredict-ability.”

Think something new and keep the good thought!

All for now, I have to stop and answer a knocking at my door. “Twas the raven, nothing more.”

*For an amusing rendition of mind control watch The Prisoner a 17-episode British television series first broadcast in the UK from 29 September 1967 to 1 February 1968.

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Allen Raffetto

About Allen Raffetto

Allen M. Raffetto, Ph.D., the group’s founder, brings together psychology and business for clients throughout North America. He has worked extensively with companies in the Midwest since 1983. Dr. Raffetto holds degrees in psychology from Stanford University (B.A.), San Francisco State University (M.A.) and the University of North Dakota, (Ph.D.). His specialized area, cognitive psychology, includes studies of human learning, memory, perception and information processing. He was a member of the faculty and Chairman of the Psychology Department at Beloit College from 1969 to 1984. During those years Dr. Raffetto also held research appointments at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he studied the reading process, and at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, where he participated in an on-going study of how medical education transforms bright students into practicing physicians.

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