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  • The Deception of Perception, Stefan Kengen ZDay, Berlin Germany, March 14th 2015

  • WHODUNNIT?

  • [The Inspector] Clearly, somebody in this room murdered

  • Lord Smythe who, at precisely 3:34

  • this afternoon, was brutally bludgeoned

  • to death with a blunt instrument.

  • I want each of you to tell me your whereabouts

  • at precisely the time that this dastardly deed took place.

  • [Maid] I was polishing the brass in the master bedroom.

  • [Butler] I was buttering his Lordship’s scones, below stairs, Sir.

  • [Lady Smythe] Why, I was planting my petunias in the potting shed.

  • - Constable! Arrest... Lady Smythe!

  • - But... but how would you know?

  • - Madam, as any horticulturist will tell you,

  • one does not plant petunias until May is out.

  • Take her away.

  • It’s just a matter of observation.

  • The real question is how observant were you?

  • Did you notice the 21 changes?

  • (And action!)

  • - Clearly, somebody in this room murdered

  • Lord Smythe who, at precisely 3:34

  • this afternoon, was brutally bludgeoned

  • to death with a blunt instrument.

  • I want each of you to tell me your whereabouts

  • at precisely the time that this dastardly deed took place.

  • - I was polishing the brass in the master bedroom.

  • - I was buttering his Lordship’s scones, below stairs, Sir.

  • - Why, I was planting my petunias in the potting shed.

  • - Constable! Arrest... Lady Smythe!

  • It’s easy to miss something youre not looking for.

  • [Applause]

  • The Deception of Perception .

  • The Deception of Perception Or How Your Brain Fails You On A Daily Basis

  • Thank you very much. It's great to be here.

  • So, a quick show of hands, how many of you have seen this video before?

  • Ahh 3, 4 people, 5 maybe.

  • How many of you got any of the changes?

  • 3-4-5 people? How many have you didn't get any?

  • Ahh, OK. I rest my case: the whole room. It's fascinating, isn't it?

  • Ok, also erstmalchte ich mich vielmals bei Franky und TZM Berlin bedanken.

  • Es ist eine sehr große Ehre für mich, hier zu sein,

  • und hoffentlich werdet ihr nachher nicht zu enttäuscht sein.

  • And for those of you who didn't get that, it was his me

  • sucking up to the German chapter.

  • [Laughter]

  • Okay, speaking of me, I'd like to point out that I am not a scholar,

  • I'm not a scientist. I'm here to try do get your juices running.

  • I'd like to present you with a lot of information that I hope that you'll pick up on

  • and take to the next level. So if you think I'm full of shit,

  • please go ahead- debunk me. I want you to do that; I want to validate ...

  • all this information that I’m about to share you. Okay.

  • Now were going to do a brief introduction of neuroscience if you will,

  • which is just kind of a few pointers about the history.

  • Many people think neuroscience is kind of a new field, a new topic -

  • it's not really. People have been fascinated with the brain for thousands of years.

  • So we find for instance reports of the euphoriant effect of poppy plant seeds

  • in the old Sumerian records, and

  • many people would be familiar with Hippocrates

  • who discussed epilepsy as a disturbance of the brain way back when.

  • And back in the scientific era if you will, of the Muslim world in the year 900,

  • Rhazes describes seven cranial nerves and 31 spinal nerves

  • in his medical work of the time called 'Kitab al-Hawi Fi Al Tibb'

  • or something like that, I'm not exactly sure how to pronounce that -

  • please don't hold that against me.

  • 1543 - the Dutchman Andreus Vesalius posts his work called

  • 'On the Fabric of the Human Body'

  • and gives the fullest account of the brain anatomy to that time.

  • He got a lot of stuff wrong but he got an impressive amount actually correct.

  • Fast forward a little bit.

  • Can't really talk about science without mentioning this guy.

  • 1859 - Darwin ... comes along and shakes up the whole

  • scientific process from then.

  • Moving along...

  • In the year 1900, Sigmund Freud comes along and

  • tips the boat again if you will, introducing what is effectively the ...

  • field of psychology which is still debated today.

  • And of course, bringing it a little closer to home,

  • in the 1970’s Benjamin Libet at the University of California

  • did a series of studies that basically shows

  • that the brain is engaged in decision-making activity

  • long before were actually aware of it.

  • And this is of course very controversial stuff and he's been heavily debated.

  • One of his most verbal critics is Daniel Dennett,

  • who is in his own right really great guy - I recommend his work here.

  • He is a cognitive scientist and philosopher

  • and he's got a great bookConsciousness Explainedwhich I heartily recommend.

  • And this guy will be familiar to a lot of you; Peter just mentioned him -

  • one of my favorite scientists and science ...

  • how do you say that ... communicators.

  • I like his work because he's very good at

  • understanding how these causalities work and he’s very good

  • at describing to the rest of us who don't understand any of this stuff,

  • how it works. So I really recommend his stuff, and

  • these implications have far further reaches then we

  • tend to think on a normal average level.

  • So here he is in a small clip with Alan Alda, discussing the justice system.

  • [Alan Alda] So, what do you see as the...

  • the contribution of neuroscience at some point

  • to the justice system?

  • Does it start in the court room, or should it start

  • all the way at the beginning, reframing our laws?

  • [Dr. Robert Sapolsky] Well, you know we professor types state things

  • in these very cautious, qualified ways

  • so I'll do that here and just say...

  • the whole system has to go.

  • Modern criminal justice system is incompatible with neuroscience.

  • It simply is not possible to have the two of them in the same room.

  • [Applause]

  • Well he said it- must be true!

  • [Laughter]

  • Well actually, there's more evidence to support this claim;

  • it's not just taken out of thin air. Right here in Berlin you have something called

  • The Computational Neuroscience Centre in Berlin,

  • and this is John Dylan Hanes who is the leader of the theory and analysis

  • of large-scale brain signals,

  • and I think the way that he summarizes it just says it all:

  • Decisions don't come from nowhere

  • but they emerge from prior brain activity.

  • Where else should they come from?

  • In theory it might be possible to trace the causal pathway

  • of a decision all the way back to the Big Bang.

  • Our research shows that we can trace it back about 10 seconds.”

  • And then was some kind of usual scientific humility he goes on to state that

  • Compared to the time since the Big Bang that's not very long.”

  • He’s completely just validated all that Benjamin Libet did previous, so

  • this is interesting.

  • Okay so where does that leave us today?

  • It leaves us with a range of different kinds of neurostuffto look through.

  • Weve got Neuroendocrinology, Neurobiology,

  • which is kind of the hands-on stuff,

  • then you got Neuropsychiatry - the pathology of it all,

  • you got Neuropsychology, you know, "let's talk about it,"

  • and then you have Neurophilosophy - it’s likewhat's it all about?”

  • and then of course you have a lot of Neurobollocks! which you could call it.

  • There's a lot of interesting, interesting information floating around out there.

  • Now, how many of you are familiar with this statement?

  • We only use 10% of our brain capacity.”

  • Yeah? Oh, about half the room.

  • How many have you believe it to be true?

  • Ahh, not very many.

  • Thank god, you're on the right path here people, that's good.

  • Okay.

  • Well, in the words of Barry Gordon at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine,

  • "It turns out that we use virtually every part of the brain,

  • and that the brain is active almost all of the time.

  • Let's put it this way: the brain represents three percent

  • of the body's weight and uses 20 percent of the body’s energy."

  • And then he goes on to state...

  • Ultimately, it's not that we use 10 percent of our brains,

  • merely that we understand about 10 percent of how it functions.”

  • So if you're going to go with that 10 percent number,

  • use that one. It’s much more accurate. Okay?

  • Here’s another great guy I want to recommend to you,

  • his name is Christian Jarrett. He's a young British scientist -

  • cognitive neuroscientist. He’s a science writer, he’s got a great blog.

  • By the way all these links are available to you. I’ve got a PDF

  • with all of this stuff in it so if you want it,

  • it's gonna be in the video link, later on.

  • He’s got a great book, ‘Great Myths ... of the Brain

  • and among his peers, he's really well respected

  • for really grasping what this stuff is all about.

  • Okay, so let's move into some practical stuff here.

  • This is what I like to call Your Unreliable Brain.

  • Now, your brain is hit with approximately 400 billion bits of information

  • per second. You have about 100 billion brain cells.

  • About 10,000 neuronal connections connect each of these,

  • and you have about 1 trillion interactions going on in your brain per second.

  • 2,000 of these can reach your immediate consciousness,

  • and seven of these can reach your immediate memory,