14 AUG 2021


How do we see the world?

What is perception? How do we see the world? How do our senses trick and lie to us? Through a series of simple experiments you can try at home we look at all these questions. We then delve deeper into our perception and understanding of the world around us. Most people perceive themselves as above average, can’t take on new ideas and misremember events. Being aware of this will help us all understand the world and each other with deeper respect.

Experiments on perception

You can follow along with the podcast using the below experiments and links.

Experiment 1

The Ebbinghaus Illusion. Which orange dot is largest?

See more

Experiment 2

Explore your blind spot.

See more.

Experiment 3

Make a hole in your hand!

See more.

Experiment 4

Making faces disappear!

See more.

Book recommendation

Experiment 5

Eternally ascending scale.

See more.

Risset’s accelerating rhythm!

See more.

Experiment 6

The missing fundamental

See more.

Pitch perception

See more.

Tonal speakers.

See more.

Experiment 7

Sine Wave Speech

See more.

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool

William Shakespeare, As You Like It

Experiment 7b

Inattention deafness

See more.

The effect of phones

See more.

We found that when volunteers were performing the demanding visual task, they were unable to hear sounds that they would normally hear. The brain scans showed that people were not only ignoring or filtering out the sounds, they were not actually hearing them in the first place,

Dr. Maria Chait

We see so little of the world through our senses. The same is truth with our understanding.

Abstruse Goose

There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception

Aldous Huxley

Experiment 8

Illusory superiority

See more.

We are subject to ‘social desirability bias’, a deep-seated need to make ourselves look good, to present a positive impression or to give the responses we think are expected.

Duffy, Bobby. The Perils of Perception

Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world

Arthur Schopenhauer

Book recommendation


This transcript is automatically generated so may contain errors.

2nd a charred.

Security off.

Episode I think.


Yeah, I think.

It's nine months ish.

We've had a little bit of.

A summer break, haven't we?

Yeah, if you're in your some holidays, so we thought we'd chill out a bit. That's why we haven't recorded for a while.

But in that time, we've set up our store. Yeah, you can get some Christopher Child and your YouTube Gaming channel merchandise such as T shirts and cushions and cops.

Even hoodies.

Yeah, that's right. Yeah, what else have we been up to during our break?

We've been doing the big butterfly count.

We saw loads of red Admirals, a couple of common yeah, common Blues I think, and holly Blues.

Yeah, gatekeeper loads of those or Medi Browns actually wasn't, I think.

Notes we couldn't quite decide to some of.

Them yeah, difficult to do so if you've got kids or even if you have kids, get the big butterfly count app. This in the UK and you can go out butterfly hunting. Can we have drumroll please? I'm done.

Uh, we entered the my Rd cars competition and we.

Won highly commended.

Twice twice yes.

So we want a new microphones. I haven't arrived yet, but we have invested in a microphone arm, so this the first time we've ever recorded without me holding the.

Microphone, yeah, this is actually really cool. It feels more professional. I mean, we're still doing it in a.

Wardrobe but yeah.

Yeah, yeah yeah. Anyway enough, rabbiting.

Shall we get on with the.

Show Yep.

On with the show.

OK, this week this week.

This episode we are going to look at perception.

Both perception.

Episode so you can join in at home. Just go to our website. The accuracy of a child calm and look for this episode.

Now Anton, do you?

Understand what is meant by perception.

What it means to perceive something?

I think so.

No, I. It's like your view of something. It's like how you perceive it. Take it in or see something.

Yeah, also kind of how you understand it. Yeah, so it's your way of maybe understanding, but the truth of an idea according to your views or knowledge or it could be your perception with your sentences. So how are your eyes, ears, brain taste? All your senses are interpreting something.

And or it could be if you perceive something you become aware of it or conscious of it.

So when you look around at the world, do you feel you kind of get?

I couldn't understand.

An understanding of what you're.

Looking at usually.

For example, now I'm looking at the microphone.

Yeah, I'm I'm perceiving the microphone, yeah?

Yes, well, what about when you meet other people? Do you feel you've understand these people and all different types of people?

Yeah, you have like your.

Ideas about them. So if I don't know someone was wearing.

Bring a hat, but it's in the middle of summer you'll be.

Thinking like what, what, what?

Are they doing? Maybe I come from a northern region where it's colder.

And what about the economy or politics? Do you think you understand those?

I don't know.

Well, it turns out that most people are really, really bad understanding these things.

We also see things that aren't there and our brain takes loads of shortcuts and we have biases and we have opinions and also have really terrible memories at remembering the details.

So what we're perceiving, whether it's through our senses or what we think about the world probably isn't right. But the real problem is, is that we don't actually realise that we're really bad at this stuff we actually think.

We're pretty amazing and the majority of people perceive.

Themselves as above average.

I guess they make a new average above average is the new average.

Yeah, both average is the new average.

I like that, yeah.

That's going to be my inspiration or like catch phrase.

I'm inspirational talk.

I'm not sure how inspirational is very.

So we're going to work our way through a few experiments in this episode, which you can do at home and also maybe look at few studies to see where we're all going wrong.

I also understand that this is totally normal and see if there's any ways that we can improve OK.

We might also find time to show you that actually sometimes you are quite amazing.

I mean, when aren't.

I well, that's true, yeah.

Now, because it's an audio based podcast, we are going to start with some visual.

Experiments sounds good.

Yep, and remember you can play along.

At the heuristic for child.com.

Experiment one, I don't want you to try and be too clever here. OK, you just have to say what?

You see, not.

What you know or might know the right?

Answer to be OK. OK so.

There's two orange dots and one is surrounded by large dots and one is surrounded by small dots. Now, can you tell me about these two orange dots? Which one is biggest?

I think it's the one surrounded by smaller dots, but I think I I know it isn't.

Exactly, so what's going on here is your brain is misinterpreting what it's seeing, and this is called the Ebbinghaus illusion.

And it's a really simple experiment here, but this is actually the first lie that our brain is doing, and this is the first time that we're actually seeing that our perceptions or aren't in the other world is being tricked.

And it's actually something beyond our control. So as you said, you thought they were the same size. They are the same size, but to our eyes.

Or our brain. They appear different size.

Now, what actually happens is your brain receives those circles in a couple different ways without you noticing. When you look at something first, your visual cortex right at the back of your brain will process that information and then it's pushed down different pathways in your head or in your brain. One route to score the ventral pathway and that goes to your inferior temporal cortex near your ears.

And there's another route called the dorsal pathway and that goes to your posterior parental cortex, which I can wear that is at the back somewhere I think.

Now the first time, that's all to do with how you consciously perceive things and how you recognise them. Whilst the dorsal pathway is how you interact with objects.

OK, so once about seeing something and knowing it's a cat and ones about maybe being able to pick it up.

So whilst the orange dots may look different sizes to your inferior temporal cortex, if you were to try and pick them up, your posterior parental cortex, we don't put your fingers to just the.

Right amount.

So the same for both circles.

So the two.

Parts have been actually perceiving the same thing differently, but you're not consciously aware of that.

There could be people who've got brain damage.

To one or other of these regions so they might be able to recognise something but not be able to pick it up properly in case they can't work out the.

Days or vice versa, they might not be able to recognise something, but can pick it up, which is really weird, isn't.

It there's a fantastic book that actually goes into lots of things like this, which is called the man who mistook his wife for a hat by Oliver Sacks. And I highly recommend people go and read it.

I should also say that done these experiments that were coming at the moment to come from a book called Mind Hacks by Tom Stafford and Matt Web, and you can find more about that at my.


Experiment two, so this is your blind spot. You see a diagram where they cross on the left and a dot to the right. Anton, I want you to close your left eye and look at.

And look at the cross with your right eye and you might move a bit closer to the screen and you should see the doctors here, yeah?

Ah, it's disappeared. Yeah, I remember this experiment as well. I like this.

So you might need to go back and forth a bit if you're not able to do this.

That's when it reappears.

Yeah, I think they're closer. You get the harder ACC. But there's like a specific spot that's.

Cool, do you know why this happens?

Nope, OK. So our eyes have actually got slightly odd design which we've got our retina at the back and we've got the axe on themselves in front of the retina, so the retina.

Is the light sensitive part OK?

But because all the, UM, no information that these cells are picking up has to be sent to the brain where you're nervous, and you're I, there's kind of a little hole or a gap in your retina, and that's your blind spot.

And whenever you're looking at stuff, your blind spots always there. It's not just when you're trying to look at something at the right distance, so whatever you're looking at right now, there's a blind spot in there somewhere in your perception.

OK, so let's.

Go from hiding holes to creating ones that don't exist.

Experiment three, so Anton I bet I can make a hold in your hand.

Oh she have.

A good yeah.

OK, you need a bit.

Of a four paper or something for this?

So let me go, grab some, roll it into.

Cheap about two centimetres wide, so this is a really simple experiment. Again, now I want you to look through this like it's a telescope.

Through one eye and then hold your other hand about halfway or longer. Like say, keep both eyes open.

Oh yeah, Oh yeah, I remember this thing.

And what can you see?


Hold in my hand, but it's really weird because.

Is the colour there's a little bit of colour inside the middle of the role of this one, so it looks like you try it 'cause it's so it looks like.

It's got shade and it's like I think it was particularly well with that specific role of.

Oh yeah, it says on the prints out, yeah?

It's a good one.

Yeah, so what's happening here is both your eyes are taking in the lights, but then your brain is. Combine that into one pitch.

Yeah, and then it. It doesn't know what to do because your hands say close to your face and then the tube is cutting off your other eye from seeing a broader expanse. It makes it look like there's a hole in your hand.

So we took this a step further.


These to believe that perception was one way, so we would think that light enters our eyes when we saw the world and went all the way up through the parts of our brain. But this isn't really the truth.

And we're going to demonstrate some of that by making a face.

Spanish, so this is a more involved experiment. I'm gonna have a full link to the instructions on the website.

But you'll need a white wall or a surface and a partner for this and also mirror.

It's not working very well here. I think our mirror.

Might be a bit too small. Yeah, I was thinking that.

What should happen though? Your partners face or you're looking at, just start to disappear. But quite often when the last things to despair will be the eyes and the mouth is a bit weird. Yeah, because.

Is it because that's how you recognise the person or something?

I think so, yeah, and they're so you're kind of critical to.

Our understanding and such important features.

You're struggling with this effect. You might want to swap eyes that you're using with the mirror or swap sides.

Will swap person as well.

Course not passing, Yep.

It could be done that anyway, because sharing is caring.

But yeah, very true yes.

So when your brain is trying to comprehend what it's seeing, it's building up.

A more complex understanding at each level, so start off with kind of dots of light and the cones and rods of your eyes.

Then those will become, say, lines and forms and shapes.

And objects and scenes.

And then things you recognise like people.

Faces, yeah, but every?

Level of this processing being compared or with what we're expecting to see? Yeah, then our brain can start to make a decision on which bits it want.

And which bits it doesn't actually need, so I think that's pretty why your eyes in your mouth might stay longer because it feels it needs those bits like you're saying to try and recognise somebody.

OK, so that's our visual experiment saver.

So let's do some audio, one shall.

We Yep.

This is called shepherd scale, so are.

You ready?

It's best with headphones, so you got your headphones on.

And you're ready to go.

Now listen to this. OK. And what do you notice?

Special leave it for a few seconds.

It's going in like.

It's going in like.

It goes from a lower one to a higher one and then it goes back to the low and into the higher one.

Like in the loop.

It's continually getting higher and higher, isn't it? So this is the attorney ascending scale up, so part of your brain is going to think it's gonna get really high pitch scene, but it never does.

And then to help you understand what's actually going on, I gotta visualisation here of.

The Shepard tone. So the tone is a more continuous sound rather than the individual notes.

I know this is linked to on the website.

So can we work out what's going on there?

We see the pictures that.

We did not like that.

So what actually happens with the Shepard tone or these shepherds scales is?

It's like the same sound being played layered being from a lower pitch to a higher pitch over.

And over.

Again, yeah, so as.

The first kind of iteration of it starts getting.

High pitch it really.

Gently fade in a much deeper one, which then get higher and higher and higher and replace.

The original so.

Yeah, I noticed that once.

Now it's cool.

You can actually do the same thing not with the pitch, but with the speed, and I like to listen to my podcast speed up so I like this effect. So this is called resets accelerating rhythm.

Are you ready?

Second, what's happening?

Can't hear you.

It's getting faster.


Now that just got slower again, I'm just going to.

Do the same thing.

It doesn't sound as starts the beginning though, does it?

I don't think.

So in your head, it should seem like it's getting quicker and quicker and quicker and quicker.

All the time.

So, like the shepherd scale, again, here, it's the same bit of music.

Starting on stone, getting faster, being looped and then slowly fading over one another.

We're going to experiment 6 now. It's called the missing fundamental.

So when you listen to musical notes, there's actually those are layered frequencies there, and they're measured in Hertz. So that's basically how many times something vibrates every second. OK, yeah, so do you understand how sound travels?

I think so.

How does it?

Travel, no idea.

When something makes a noise, it vibrates the molecules in the air and those are going to kind of knock against or push the next little molecules, and he's going to push the next ones in the next ones in the next ones.

And so it goes into your ear then, so your eardrum or parts of your are going to vibrate. And then you're gonna hear that sound. So I've got a couple of.

Demonstrations or frequencies here. OK, so this is 130 Hertz, you ready?

OK, so this is 260 said double.

And this is 520. Just double again.

OK, So what happens when we increase the Hertz?

It gets a little more high pitch.

Yes, yes. The higher the frequency, the higher the pitch.

Now when a.

Musical instrument is played is made up with the lowest base or fundamental pitch and also higher ones that harmonise with it, so their frequencies are multiples of the original.

So it could be at the base or the fundamentals 100 Hertz. Then you could have two hundred 304.

Hundred 500.

OK, all of your fundamentals 200. Then you have 406 hundred 800.

Yeah, and the relative levels of each of these frequencies is going to be one of the things that makes different instruments.

Sound the way they do.

Now, the pitch that we actually here.

Comes from the fundamentals that very bass note and you can do a couple of tricks with this.

If you remove the 200 Hertz fundamental frequency from something you actually still hear it. OK, so your ear can work out what the base fundamental frequency should be, so you actually perceive the missing fundamental.

All of the frequencies can be shown as WAVY lines and then the higher the frequency, the longer the wave.

Will be yeah.

If you overlap all of them, they're going to meet.

If we got frequency of 200 and 400, for example, for every one 400 wave, there's gonna be two 200.

And on the second one, they're.

Going to meet OK. Does that make sense?

To you, because 200 + 200.

Exactly, yeah, so the bottom of the 2nd 200 going to match the bottom of one 400. It make more sense for the diagram that we have on the website. It's it's a tricky 1 to explain.

In now, lots of telephones. They don't actually pick up frequencies below maybe 3 or 400 Hertz, but most adult voices are lower than that, so the missing fundamentals, actually fundamental to how our frameworks.

But this isn't the interesting part. Now listen to this.


Don't listen again, Yep.


It's the second sound higher or lower than.

The first one.

I think it's.

Now there's no right or wrong answer in this, because both of those notes have actually had their fundamental removed. Now some people here the first notice higher, and some people the 2nd.

To quote linguistics professor Tyler Perry actually pitch only exists in our minds. It's perceptual quality.

So why might this be? Why might some people will hear one higher than the other one lower than the other?

I'm not sure.

I love it is.

Thought to come down to the language that we speak, and if it's a tonal language or not. Now Chinese is a tonal language and English isn't.

So in Mandarin, a word could have several meanings depending the tone or the pitch that the speaker uses. So I'm going to play what's affected the same sound here, but a different pitch. OK, so the first one is.

OK, yeah.

This is hemp.

And scold.

So they're all the same sound, aren't they got?

A different pitch.

So maybe if your ear your brain has got used to hearing.

That type of variation, then you become better or it changes the way that your brain perceives sound.

So in this study research, Elizabeth Patete and Peroni.

Invited 40 native English speakers and 14 native tone language speakers. To listen to 72 pairs of tones which has had their fundamental frequencies removed and then they asked him to indicate whether the teams went up or down and they discovered that English speakers are more attuned to notes harmonics. Whilst tone language speakers are more tuned to.

The fundamental.

So our language can change how we perceive sound.

But it he said, you start letting language from birth. So you're Audrey. System is influenced by the language you're exposed to from day one and Perugini added to that.

We are interested in how brains change with experience and how our experiences Peters pays us to certain auditory skills.

Like how when we look at something visual, it's going.

To it doesn't pass.

Through our

Brain yeah, and the same is also true sound.

So speech is mostly processed on the left hand side of your brain and other sounds on the right hand.

Side speech to see fundamental to humans that it gets specially routed and processed, allowing you to pick it up and crowd. So should we do another experiment to see if that happens?

So this is experiment 7 which is sine wave speech and it's a fun run. This this experiment, devised by Chris Darwin, who's a professor of experimental psychology.

So I want you to listen to another audio clip. Are you ready? Yep, and I want you to turn what it sounded like when it's done.

Sounded like alien talk.

Hey Linda, OK.

Now shall we prime your brain into hearing speech?


So I'm going to play a short sentence and then do the original sound together.

She cut with her knife.

Do you understand it now?

Yeah, I've seen that before.

She's a couple more.

OK, so I'm going to play the original funny sound. Then these speech and then the original funny sounds. Let's go.

She earned her skirt.

Yeah, I still hear it the second time with the original sound.

It's cool, hey and one.

More yeah.

They're buying some bread.

I got that one the first time.

We understood it to.

G yeah.

I thought was like they're eating some breads, but it's actually they're buying some reads it close.

They're pretty.

Pretty please yeah. So you can kind of get your brain prepared to hear voices, but I don't know actually how long that primed sensation stays, but like you just said there, you actually get that last one. You sort of got before you head out. The sentence was.

Our brains are really highly developed to react and prioritise certain stimulus and inputs, such as listening to speech. So this leads us into our next expiration of perception.

The effect of focus and concentration. Now I've got a clip here that I want you to listen to and it's a bunch of people preparing for a party.

It's quite long, so I'm going to cut most of it out of the podcast, but you can listen to it on our website and also works best with headphones.

Now what you need to do is listen really.

Carefully to this, to the.

Female voice is OK, so I'm going to tell you after.


This is experiment #7.

Well, we looked nice, doesn't it?

Say you better get it right and so.

I think she she's coming at 4.

OK, it's quite hard to.

Listen to the women, isn't it?

A couple of bits where I was really easy and then at the beginning of this sort of mid bear it was harder.

Did you know something funny though?

Anything else going on?

Yeah, in the background there's like they're really like, yeah, I think I got distracted by it slightly, but I didn't. I wasn't fully sure.

OK, you picked up on that, yeah?

Yeah, so this is similar to the the classic Gorilla video.

There's like some basketball players.

This and then someone just walks through the scene with the gorilla suit on, but you get late told to focus on the.

Ball or blue flowers or something?

That's right, yeah, you gotta count how many times people catch the the bull wearing the blue bibs and that actually works really well.

Oh yeah.

I think this audio one isn't as good. There might be better examples than this, but it shows that when you're concentrating on something you can really easily miss something else, so I'll put the video up.

On our website as well, yeah, even if you kind of know about it, you can still miss it.

This is really cool, yeah?

And this is an example of what's called inattentional deafness.

A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience seems to show that you're hearing in your visual parts. Your brain actually share what's called neural capacity, so think of it like a computer that's trying to do too much, it's.

Gonna stay down.

So when one part of the brain is really busy with something.

There may be another part has to pause.

Yeah, there's a brilliant example of this in a podcast called a Neurologist explains and in one episode they interview a professor called a psychology professor called nearly.

Levy she got her students who create experiments to test for inattention deafness. And then she looked at the test results for our.

Students and when about.

80% of people were deaf in those experiments. She actually had to go and have a look herself, but she didn't believe the results, and he didn't believe the sound was being played, so she actually had to ask her.

IT department to double cheque that this I was actually playing, so that's how powerful it can be. So she knew about it.

She has set the task and she knew what she was trying to, what was going to happen and it's still.

Yeah, it's.

Affecting her, that's weird.

To quote Doctor Maria shaped, we found that when volunteers were performing a demanding task, they were unable to hear sounds that they would normally hear.

The brain scan.

Showed that people were not only ignoring of filtering out the sounds, they were not actually hearing them in the 1st.

That's like the UM gorilla and basketball player video where.

You're concentrating on counter yet, so I guess that would be the the morning demanding task.

Exactly mobile phones have been shown to cause inattention deafness as well.

Considering that Kush live.

A research at the University of Virginia says.

I'm not doing accidents this time, by the way. You might have noticed.

The findings simply suggest that our constant digital stimulation may be contributing to increasingly problematic deficit of attention in modern society, which is a little bit worrying, I think attention is important.

So we've looked at how our eyes and our ears and our brain makes sense of the world. But perception is about more than just that. It's also about what you think and what you believe.

Study after study has shown that we are terrible at making good judgments about things that we ignore. Facts that we're strong biases and, uh, walked or incomplete understanding of so many things.

And it doesn't seem it's bad, it's normal. OK, we're all like that, but it's important to be aware of it.

And there's a good chart from abstruse goose, and this will be on our website now. If you take a look at this, do you understand what it's showing?

Have a look at the things.

It is showing.

How we can hear more than we can stay? I don't.

Know OK, so it's a chart and in the middle.

Of it it says.

All you can hear and all you can see happens here.

And it's a tiny part of the chart, isn't it? So you've got the electromagnetic spectrum along 1 axis, so that's going to be.

Things infrared X rays, radio waves, things that we don't pick up on. You just pick up and visible light. You've also got the range of human hearing which goes from.

About 20 Hertz to 20 kilohertz, so just.

A really really.

Really tiny portion of what's going on out there we perceive, and even what we do perceive. We are kind of warping with our brains as well. And what makes sense for us to survive?

And the caption on the chart says, in the grand scheme of things, we're all pretty much deaf and blind.

Now the reason.

Why I show you this is you could really easily change the axis on those graph from electromagnetic spectrum and the frequency of sound to any other topic can you. You could replace them with history.

Or climate change or kovid, or obesity, or the economy. So many things, and I think it's still represent an accurate view of what we know about it. Any individual just knows a tiny portion of these really complex subjects, don't they?

And we'd also have biases about what these subjects are or what we believe them to be, which is a bit like how our brain is interpreting and changing the signals, isn't it?

But Despite that, lots of people will talk on a subject as if they're an expert like I'm trying to hear about perception, and I'm certainly not not at all.

So the average person in.

The streets there probably only consumed.

A few hours of information on any of those subjects.

They might have watched the news about something they might have read the paper about. It may even have.

Read a book.

And that doesn't mean you actually know a lot about it, and they probably also haven't actually truly studied what they're looking at.

They haven't really tested their ideas or maybe look for other competing ideas and forms a good opinion of what's right or wrong.

Like we only see visible light, not X rays or radio waves are mainly here. Really narrow band of sound in our heads. We still see that out. The absolute truth of the world despite our brain lying about it.

And that's exactly what we do with our beliefs about everything that we understand about the world as well. And throughout your life you're gonna meet loads of people who are experts on different subjects.

So being able to think critically about what they tell you is a really valuable skill.

To learn, yeah.

How does what they say fit in with what you understand? Are they right? Are you right? It's the truth somewhere.

In the middle, a Shakespeare rate. The food I think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.

Oh deep.

Let's look at some examples of how people perceive themselves and others around them.

Did you know that most drivers think they're above average?

Probably yeah, so the majority of people think they're better than the majority.

Like we were saying.

Before the.

New average is better than average.

And there's been lots of studies on the sea called illusionary superiority.

One from the US showed that 93% of people believe that their driving skills are above average, lost in speed and only 69% of people did.

Very honest.

Boringly, after what we've discovered about inattention deafness, he study showed that 36% of people said that they're above average when texting or emailing.

Which is really scary.

But this doesn't just happen in driving. People also have the same thoughts about their memory, their immunity, Tobias, their health and so much more.

Some of this could actually be a cultural thing, so like the missing fundamental was based, maybe on your language and culture, it seems to be that in Western nations.

The participants are more likely to overestimate their abilities than people from, say East Asian countries where they underestimate their abilities and maybe shows that in the West the ego and the individual, and that you're special and super is really important culturally.

Yeah, but which one do you think it's better to have? Like thinking a lot better or thinking or what?

I, I guess you could think of it as really positive, really negative, but then that kind of makes the negative ones aren't bad, which it isn't.

Yeah, I think it's probably better to not massively overestimate your abilities, because what I'm going to show you is that people are judging himself too highly, and that's not a good thing.


Now we're going to quote Confucius here. Who said real knowledge is to know the extent of 1 to ignorance?

One of the books that I read when preparing this was called the perils of perception. Here's how we're wrong about nearly everything.

The author, Bobby Duffy, has spent a lifetime studying people and being involved in a large scale studies and all manner of topics. OK, so he's an expert on this.

Not so he thinks.

Looks oh so he thinks yes.

Right, so let's go into experiment 8.

Now this test is more about what people will think and what you think or what you think people think. So we start with happiness.


So this is a survey that Bobby Duffy would have done.

In the survey, people were asked to judge their own happiness and the average happiness of people where they lived. Now there's no data for Guernsey, so I'm going to use the UK for this.

I've got two questions for you. One is about what people thought others would answer and the other is about what the person himself feels.

So question one, when people in the UK were asked what percentage of the population they thought were rather or very happy, what did they say? Would you recommend?

I think they said about 50% ish around that.

OK so 50% yeah question two, what percentage of the population actually said that they were rather or very happy?


80 OK.

2280 yes 70%.

I think it's still going around that people see.

In the UK, people yes that 47% of people were happy but the reality is that 92% of people said they were happy.

So it's a.

Big difference, isn't it you?

I should have stayed, I did. I don't. Yeah, maybe along right because I thought that was people were going to say like half and half but.

You got the weight cut away.

I I knew I should have gone higher.

Yeah, you got about the right thing, so either you've been.


Listening, it's what I've been saying, or you're just naturally gifted.

What do you think the unhappiest and happiest countries were?

I think that I don't want to.

Say you don't want to say OK, so the study found that Russia was the least happy country, but still 73% of people said they were happy, but Sweden top the chart.

With a whopping 95%, that's why they're being dark half.

The year, and they're nearly.

Bordering it well, they are bordering it.

So there aren't. They was filled in the way.

That's actually.

Not too far away from Britain's one.

Though, however, the speeds thought only half the people in their country were happy.

And that was pretty much common everywhere.

In each countries surveyed, they massively underestimated the level of happiness.

So people think that other people are less happy than what they really are, in the same way that they think that you think you're a better driver, but you don't think you're better driver than you.

Are you don't?

Drive yet do.

You not telling you, OK?

Daniel Kahneman, author, are thinking Fast and slow talks of the experiencing self and the remembering self.

And people, humans, generally you actually have really bad memories, and we often misremember or actual enjoyment of an activity at a.

Later date, yeah.

And we also mix up our remembering self and are experiencing self with our remembering self, rewriting our opinions of an experience.

So there's an example which might make it more sense, so somebody could listen to beautiful music for 20 minutes and they're really enjoying it. And right at the end.

Screeching sound, yeah, and they will say it ruins.

Their experience terrible, but for.

90 minutes and 57 seconds they were enjoying it, but then the remembering self will remember the end or something and that negative and that will be how they bring that memory back. Not all that good stuff that came before.

This could explain why people underestimate the happiness.

Of people around them.

So in the moment of being asked how happy they.

Are and they give apostrophe play.

But when asked about the broader population, they might think about or remember, say the negatives in society, or things that affect them, and then rate that lower.

I think.

That could be because of news as well, because usually they do like drastic bad stuff. Maybe that could be some of the.

Reason and it goes to be another example of the.

Better than average.

Effect yeah people have.

Another reason may also be how and by who the question was asked.

So in online surveys, the level of happiness is reported generally lower than when asked face to.

Face, that's probably because there was another thing where people are more often too.

Say like I don't mean the things or something if it's over.

A message not face to face.

See, I guess he got the protection. Yeah, yeah.

And when you're anonymous or something, or behind a screen, yes, a barrier.

We are subject to social desirability bias. Deep seated needs to make ourselves look good, to present a positive impression or to give the responses that we think are expected. That's from polls or perception.

OK, time for another question. In GB, what percentage of the population is overweight?

Ah, 40% can I can, I guess.

America you can.

Get Americans value about.

90% OK that.

You're trying to upset Iraq and listeners again, aren't you?

It's actually 62% of people are overweight or obese in Great Britain.

But the guest was only 44.

Oh, not too far away from America, actually.

Yeah, it's pretty similar to America, yeah?

Sorry then.

Yeah, you owe them an apology.

I was just doing the above average.


No, actually it's quite terrifying that.

Nearly 2/3 of people are too fat.

But the guest is much lower, so this is a bit different to that.

Of is.

It isn't it. Yeah, so why do you think that would be?

Not sure actually.

So there's a couple of theories.

And one is that if something is complex or complicated, it might be harder to estimate. Now your overweightness is measured in BMI.

Such a body mass index, and it's not the most intuitive measurement, so it's your height divided by your weight squared, so it's not a calculation that people were going to easy do or put into context.

And another idea is that the more normal something becomes, the more accepted it becomes, so that the more people who are overweight, the bigger the problem.

Any pun intended?

Oh ah, Oh dear.

So this even extends to news reports warning that people are overweight. So just the very act of messaging that there's a significant number of obese people makes people more comfortable with that idea because it's become normal.

For them to hear people overweight.

So that actually makes it really difficult for you.

Things change.

Yeah, well health gain health warnings I think. So how do you do health warning if you keep saying everybody is too fat?

Yeah, oh, that's normal. It's OK. Downtilt fact that's.

How people are.

What do?

You do.

Sure, try not to be.

Yeah, yeah, so at least the problems of.

Yeah, where do you go from there?

Which fire reduced the problem, yeah?

You get similar skied results between reality and what people perceive with sugar consumption. So out of every 100 people in your country, how many do you think eat more sugar than the recommended daily limit?


About 50%.

OK, sufficient people eat more sugar and.

Do you think you eat more sugar than the recommended daily limits young child?

Depend depend depend.

He likes sweets.

Depends what day but.

I didn't think so.

Let's have a look, shall we?

I can't even.

Stand Great Britain.

The perceived social norm.

Is that 69% of people?

Eat more than their daily recommended amount, but only 44% of people do.

That's true, it's like that.

Probably self reported so you don't know how accurate.

It is.

In each country tested, the perceived level of national sugar consumption was higher than what they said themselves that they consumed.

I related a pattern with these statistics.

Some of them are exactly the same. They guessing guesses are pretty much exactly the same, like 369% a couple of 6466 and the 70. These are the closest.

Well, you'll see that in every case people are.

Either over or under resting something quite dramatically, and in most cases if somethings overestimated in one country it can be overestimated in another as well, isn't it?

And in every case where an individual rate of the general population, it's more negative than how they rate themselves, we're all biassed to think we.

Are better than others.

Well, there may be some listeners out there who aren't that biassed, but generally we're all biassed to think that we are better than others.

When paired with the other aspects of human psychology, you start to understand why we become so bad at perceiving reality and even worse, taking our new knowledge and using that to refine our understanding and what Cass Sunstein calls asymmetric updating will happily accept something that will fit our own narrative of the world, even if the evidence against it is really small.

Has been entirely discredited.

Don't do this quote.


Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.

Do you know what means? No, I think it's going to be.

What you see as the reality in the world or what you understand that's the limit of it. That's the truth. That's what's right. You don't look beyond that.

Ah yeah.

But you get groups of people called super predictors and they are really good at one thing. What do you think it is?

Predicting, yeah, predicting things and getting these predictions right. Ah, do you know what their special powers?

Being really good at like like guessing the weather next day.

How do you think they can do that though? What gives them that ability? And no, it's about more than just whether this through all sorts of things.

By being weatherman.

They they believe they filled the power.

No, exactly don't need to tell you.


They have the ability to.

Take on new information and change their minds.

So basically their their minds like play dough so it can change and change to how it needs.

To exactly, yeah, that's a good example.

But it's human nature to want. Your idea is validated because it hurts to be wrong or criticised.

And unfortunately, the modern world, and it's pretty worse than ever. So throughout history, people have always banded together into groups that have shared their ideas.

Yeah, so like religions.

Yeah, or any any sort of greevil party or belief there.

But biassed journalism, social media, personalised search, and discovery algorithms, they're all pushing content that fits people existing narratives.

Our services such as Google and Facebook get more and more personalised and targeted to individuals existing perceptions of the world. It's going to become more and more of an echo chamber and only get worse.

The news they see the people they talked to, the experts they here have already been targeted at them. BBC journalist Evan Davies tells it.

This has been talking about working in the media first, simplify, then exaggerate.


He says that those in the media have to sell their programmes to editors and audiences by puffing up facts beyond anything they deserve.

What makes it worse is statistics and scientific papers. They're really complex and they're hard things to understand and a lot of people, including journalists, that don't even know how to read or interpret the data they're.

Seeing and they just can't be bothered.

And yet people lazy.

As well.

And now another little quote here, from powers of perception. While we shouldn't think there was ever an age of perfectly neutral information, we also shouldn't kid ourselves. We're travelling towards a world where this information has more opportunity to be created and travel faster.

So this is graph the two bars on. Yeah, measuring some tax cuts, yeah?

And would you say that there's a big impact? There are the.

Yeah yeah, it's only like a like.

8% difference between the lowest point that you could get in the highest point that you could get that it.

Looks massive.

Exactly you.

Got it there, they've.

Exaggerated, so the lowest one is 35% and the highest one is 40%.

Yeah, but the graph starts at 34 and goes up to 42%, which means that visually.

Difference looks massive, but in reality it's only a couple.

Of percent.

So that's from Fox News, who we know probably aren't particularly honest or good at these graphs.

That may not, actually.

Be poorly designed, but rather deliberately designed to twist a message and change people perception AKA fake news.

When we build the truth and I do truth in inverted commas in our heads REIT, our perceptions are two way process.

Just like when you're seeing so when you read a fact it doesn't just end your head on altered and change how you think correcting what was wrong before.

Like site, it's a two way process. That's what we expect to see and what we are saying. So all your existing knowledge and beliefs are travelling in the opposite direction to what they're meeting, and maybe different parts of the brain are also seeing and interpreting.

Things differently then you decided this new information is of value or not and which bits you're going to extract, which bitsy which bit stains.

So when people.

Throw around clearly wrong or misleading or badly treated information. It can be really dangerous.

There's also the idea that we can only perceive what we have the language to describe.

So maybe somebody who doesn't have the language to talk about complex subjects, it's going to find it more difficult to you and understand.

Them, yeah, I think I've seen things like that before.

Returning to our sense of sight for a moment, on clear days, distant objects seem closer than they are our senses and brain are lying.

Like with site we need the same awareness.

With what we believe?

I'm going to quote again from power to perception here.

However, it is possible to learn when our initial perceptions are likely to be biassed. We can slow down and consider whether we're being LED astray.

So when we're making a decision on whether to climb a hill.

Which is stop to think whether that some it looks much closer than it really is, because it's a clear day.

Remember back to the chart showing how little our senses perceived.

Psychologist Richard Gregory thinks that 95% of the information that hits our eyes is lost by the time we reached our brain.

So we only interpret a fraction of everything.

That we see app. That's his perception.

But it's his perception, yeah, how well he studied.

That have he just guessed it?

But that's exactly.

The same as how we interpret some complex subjects.

And that's where the problems start to begin. Something like the economy, you only know a tiny percentage of how that works.

I think the best summary of the problems this courses and.

Our inability to.

On a challenge, our own perceptions comes from Philip K. ****

Maybe each human being lives in a unique world. A private world different from those inhabited and experienced by all other humans.

If reality differs from person to person.

Can we speak of a singular reality?

Or shouldn't we really be talking about plural realities?

And if there are plural, realities, are some more true, more real than others? What about the word of the schizophrenic?

Maybe it's as real as our world. Maybe we cannot say that we're in touch with reality and he is not.

But should instead say.

His reality is so different from ours that he can't explain his to us and we can't explain hours to him.

The problem then is that if subjective worlds are experienced 2 differently, there occurs a breakdown in communication and there is the real illness.

And if you want to understand more about how we perceive the truth, listen to. A neuro scientist explains podcast on the subject.

Yeah, they got a really good show a couple of shades actually on it.

And also remember I am no expert on this, don't take everything that I've said as 100% accurate.

I might have misunderstood something and I think I might have actually made something up slightly too.

Well, at least you don't think you're better than average, so not the the new normal average.

I know I'm certainly not better than average. I blow average away. Actually, that made any sense.

But you get all sorts of weird things in perception, so I was reading the man who mistook his wife for a hat and there was one study there which is 2 twins and they saw.

Well, I'm not sure how they saw the world, but for their maths and numbers were really important and that's what brought the world alive for them and they would be able to spot numbers and maths and patterns in everything around them.

So they saw the world differently. There's another guy as well who come come, what's wrong with him, but I think he's in his 60s.

And he couldn't form new memories, and he was convinced he was still 23 or something and he would talk about the world as if he was still that age and everything I talk out would have been things from his life 40 years earlier.

Yeah, but.

He looked at himself in a mirror and he.

Sort of breakdown. He can understand it and he had like a really strong adverse reaction to herpes. He thought had some horrible hideous trick being played when he saw this old face looking back at him, and thankfully because he couldn't form new memories.

He didn't remember that pain that he suffered, yeah, but it shows that.

Our perceptions are our brains, their their fragile things, yeah.

And that is the end of the show on perception.

Talking about that, that's not Canon.

Yes, we are a member of that's not Canon, which the podcast network with lots of other shows, and I'm going to play a trailer for one now. You should listen to.

Second, I'm search and we are the hosts of. Now that's interesting podcast.

Hi, I'm Travis.

Here we talk about the topics that catch our interest and hopefully spark your curiosity to dig deeper into the world around you.

Go into enough detail to get a better understanding of the topic with cover.

Say just.

A bit above your average pub chat.

We talk about.

Everything from conspiracy theories here on Earth to Rovers on Mars and everything in between.

Find us on whichever platform you get your podcast fix.

Thank you very much for.

Listening, did you enjoy it?

Thank you.

I did I, I hope that SNS did too.

Please visit our social media. Where are we?

We are at Twitter.

Yeah, QHR pod Curie child pod.

Uh, yeah Facebook.

Facebook yeah I've got a website which is.

Uh, the curious TV charred com.

That's right, and if you go to shop.accuracyavatar.com you can buy.

Hoodies, cushions, T shirts, and.

I'm more yeah more yeah.

I'm I'm such a new thing.

Yeah, and and you can also get Anton Gaming one so so cheque out its.

Gaming channel that is on YouTube and curiosity of a child aiming.

What's it called?

That's right, yeah. So all sorts of awesomely cool, amazing things. Make sure you get out and about as well.

Explore the world question things, but not in a horrible way up. Just be aware of the world around you.

Bye OK.