June 16, 2006

The Story We Create Ourselves In 1.2: Apophenia

Do you remember the little exercise we did using the "truth" interactive I found at interact10ways? It led me to a little epistemological speculation:

Did you find your mind searching for connections between the pictures that made up each scene? Did you find yourself synthesizing those (imagined/created) connections into a story that linked all the pictures together?

I bet you did. I think this is the way human minds work.

Sense data prompts the search for connections.

Connections inspire the creation of a story.

The story gives sense data meaning.

As it turns out, there is a name for this: apophenia.

Apophenia is the experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or meaningless data. The term was coined in 1958 by Klaus Conrad, who defined it as the "unmotivated seeing of connections" accompanied by a "specific experience of an abnormal meaningfulness."
And, as it turns out, it was once considered a component of psychosis—but if you ask me, it's a gift.

bk_keywords: epistemology, klaus conrad, apophenia.

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