Can one really trust their senses and the interpretation of sensory data to give them an accurate view of the world? My initial reaction to this question was, sure why not. As I looked further into this inquiry I quickly realized there was much more to what we see, feel, and touch than what or senses pick up on. I plan to discuss and give examples of both the weaknesses and strengths of human sensory perception.
Our senses can be deceived to in many ways but there are three reasons that made me believe sensory perception can be inaccurate. First, for example, our vision can be limited biologically by only allowing us to see what is on the surface (Kirby & Goodpaster, 2007).
I’ll explain, if you look at a leaf from a tree with your naked eye that is all you see. Now, if you look at that same leaf under a microscope you will be able to see what you normally couldn’t. This is the example that got me thinking about how much I’m actually really missing out there.
Sometimes something as simple as what you do for a living can alter your perception. For instance a landscaper’s view of a landscape may differ from that of a car mechanics. This example shows that perception can be altered by what someone has grown accustomed to over the years. And in a sense they grow a bias toward or just do not acknowledge what another may see because of it.
... ensure their future child would have diverse immune systems. Our perceptions and evaluations of others are influenced by their smell, ... touch receptors for every square centimetre and about 5 million sensory cells. Touch is also an important tool in building ... nutritional deficiencies, etc are all detrimental to the sensitivity of senses causing us to perceive something mistakenly. The fact different ...
The third reason I believe there are inaccuracy of sensory information is the McGurk effect—an error in perception that occurs when we misperceive sounds because the audio and visual parts of the speech are mismatched (Strangor, 2010).
If you were to plug your ears and watch someone say something and then have that same person repeat back what they just said this time without your ears plugged you’re more than likely not going to come to the same conclusion.
On the contrary there are also things that contribute the accuracy of our sensory data that inevitably are the reason for our survival. The data from our sense of touch that is linked to our pain receptors can help us to avoid getting burned from something hot, much like our eyes ability to help us see whether or not it is safe to cross a street. Another thing that keeps our sensory data accurate is our brains ability to learn from past mistakes. Amputees often refer to feelings that still occur in a missing limb (ghost limb) even though the limb is missing the nerves are still sending messages to the brain. The amputee will eventually learn not to respond to these sensations knowing that they are false messages.
There are many contributing factors to our interpretation of sensory data. Some sensory data we are hard wired to react to in a certain matter like avoiding a flame because it’s hot. There are also conditioned responses to this data that is brought about as a result of our families, our cultures and locations of where we were raised. There are plenty of reasons way there are inaccuracies and accuracies in sensory information but the truth is these senses are the reason humans survived and thrived as long as we have.
Kirby, G. R., & Goodpaster, J. (2007).
Thinking, Fouth Edition. Upper Saddle, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Strangor, C. (2010).
Introduction to Psychology. MD: Flat World Knowledge.