By Jonathan12 Comments

Your Brain Is Lying To You

Can you trust your brain?

It’s a more important question than you might think, and more importantly if you think you can out-think your brain, you are probably greatly mistaken.

Say what??? Out-think your brain? That’s crazy talk isn’t it?

Well yes. On the surface that seems like a silly statement at best, but consider this; how many times have you had a gut instinct to do, or not do, something, and decided to think about it and ultimately end up doing something that was contrary to your original instincts?

How did that work for you? Did you find that your decision to second guess your yourself, or out-think your brain resulted in you ultimately making a better decision?

I recently acquired eyeglasses

For a long time I thought I had somehow escaped inheriting the need for corrective lenses that both of my parents have. But then, not too long ago I was walking down the street in Victoria with my girlfriend when we somehow got into a discussion about our eyesight (she, unfortunately has fairly poor eyesight, without her glasses she sees only a blur). During that conversation in which I pondered whether I should get my eyes checked or not, she challenged me to read some signs up ahead, and to my surprise the signs which were perfectly readable to her with her glasses on,were nearly impossible for me to read without doing some major squinting.

Believe it or not, I still didn’t think I needed glasses, and the only reason I ended up going to get my eyes checked was because I happen to know the owner of a boutique optical store in Vancouver and I got the idea that I just might look good with a pair of glasses on.

Yes, that’s right, it was vanity that lead me to get my eyes checked.

So I made an appointment one day on an impulse and while I was waiting in the office I half expected I was going to be sent home with a diagnosis of “it’s in your imagination”. But that’s not what happened. I was diagnosed with astigmatism, which basically means my eyes are not quite as round as they should be. This creates a kind of “halo” effect as it causes light to be focused in two places instead of one. I was just so used to it, I thought it was normal.

Having glasses was a revelation, for the first time in my life I knew what truly sharp vision looked like. However, as my optometrist warned, everything looked a little distorted when I had my glasses in on. Vehicles in front of me looked like they were tilted slightly forward, and if i looked down when I walked it seemed as if the ground was slightly too close to me. But by far the most noticeable distortion was when I was looking at my computer screen. What had previously been a perfect rectangle was no distinctly trapezoidal in appearance, wider at the top.

But I have had my glasses for several weeks now…

…and a funny thing has happened. Just a few moments ago before I started to write this article I took my glasses off to scratch and itch by my eyelid. As I did so I glanced at my screen and noticed that it was now trapezoidal, except in the opposite orientation, now the top appeared narrower. I put my glasses back on and witnessed my screen become perfectly rectangular. I took them off again: trapezoid. Back on: rectangle.

My brain has now compensated for the fact that my glasses cause some distortion in exchange from sharpness. It is now running a Photoshop lens correction filter in real-time. Before I even have time to think about it, my brain has already calculated the exact compensation necessary to correct the distorted image my eyes are seeing through my eyeglasses, and allow me to see the shape as I know it should be.

I have no opportunity to argue or interfere, the process happens on a level beyond my control. No matter how hard I try, I will never see the distorted image my eyeglasses are transmitting to my eyes again, though I know without a doubt they continue to do so. That is, unless I stopped wearing my glasses at all for several weeks and then put them on again.

The lie that is not a lie.

Your brain is lying to you. And the lie is the truth. It knows the answer before you ever have time to think about it. It’s done all the calculations for you. It’s taken your vast database past experiences, your emotions, your personality, and your needs and desires into account and come up with a solution for you. It’s done it all for you, like the supercomputer that it is.

And then you decide to think about it.

When we over-think things we get into trouble. We take an already perfected answer and try to improve upon it. We do this especially when we are worried or under pressure or afraid, or trying to prove something. We do it when we don’t like the answer we already have, or when we are trying to please someone else by setting aside what we really want and we need to convince ourselves that we aren’t.

But over-thinking can be dangerous. It’s not unlike over-steering a car, if you aren’t careful, you’ll lose control completely, as an ironic twist of fate when control is what you are trying so hard to maintain.

Maybe you should trust the lie.

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12 Comments:

  • Mick says:

    Hi Jonathon,
    Great article. I have been wearing glasses no to correct an astigmatism for 2 years. After my recent new glasses the trapezoid effect was rather pronounced and I was a little worried. Your article has put me at ease. I have discovered that now I’m adjusting that the trapezoid effect is now reversed when I remove my glasses. Now just waiting for my brain to catch up.
    Thanks for the insight.
    Regards Mick.

  • Dan says:

    @35 I decided to visit the optometrist and found out that I have a slight astigmatism. I feared that my 1st ever prescription was messed up as well, due to the distortion that only seemed to be on the left upper side of Sq objects. After googling the distortion I’ve come to the conclusion that in time my eyesight will adjust, and Im going to hold off on asking for a re-exam. Its just trippy how everything looks like a 3d movie. I have been hearing that I can wear my “reading glasses” while driving and I wonder if this will effect my afar sight. New to glasses so I don’t want to screw my eyes up unnecessarily. But thanks for the blog put my mind at ease.

  • Beth says:

    I have had my new glasses for about a week, and am being made insane by the trapazoid (keystone) effect. I’m a graphic and landscape designer and not seeing right angles will not work for my work. And actually, the wider upper area is curved so really, it makes me think I’m seeing things looking slightly upward in a cylinder. Lines of type are slightly curved at the tops of pages.

    I realize this has now been some time since your original post, but can you remember how long it took for you to stop seeing the trapazoid with your glasses on?

    I don’t want to be a baby about this, and I’ve already had them remake the glasses once—actually 2 pair of them. But it’s making me nuts.

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Beth,

      It really wasn’t that long, a couple of weeks or so. After my eyes adjusted I started seeing the trapezoid effect with my glasses off instead. But over time my brain caught up and now I it compensates for glasses on/glasses off pretty much instantly.

      The short answer is I think you can stop worrying. You will definitely adjust in time, and probably fairly soon.

      • Beth says:

        Thanks so much for the quick reply.

        It’s good to know that my brain will catch up pretty soon. Hope my sanity lasts until then. Ha!

  • Krystal says:

    Thank you. I searched this topic online because I am having the same problem and was considering complaining to my eye doctor. Now, I know this may be normal, I’m not the only one going through this, and I will continue to make observations throughout this week. Your article was very helpful and offered peace of mind to me.

  • Geoffrey Forrest says:

    I think your obsevations are interesting, for you, you are very self involved. Why don’t you discuss and admit some of the “bad” things you have done and why? Huh?

    • Jonathan says:

      Interesting.

      I have a feeling that English is not your first language, so I am keeping that in mind as I reply to your comment; perhaps I am misunderstanding you.

      However, it certainly appears that this comment is intended as an insult, and I find that puzzling. What possesses a person to visit a blog and take the time to insult the writer?

      I have a couple of challenges for you. First I challenge you to find a single person on earth who is not self involved. They simply don’t exist. I have simply chosen to share my thoughts with the world. The world, and that includes yourself, is free to regard or disregard them as it sees fit.

      As for writing “bad” things about myself, I have this to say: I write what I am inspired to write. I don’t find “bad” things all that inspiring, though I have certainly not been above sharing my challenges on this blog, and if you do a little looking, I am sure you will find some examples.

      Why don’t you share some of the bad things you have done? Maybe it will give me some ideas as to the kind of bad stuff you want to read about.

      Best,
      Jonathan

      • Donna says:

        I just happened upon you blog and I have to say I enjoy your ramblings. I am a little confused at the comment Geoffrey made but love your kind hearted response.

        PS. Just got new prescription and the trapezoid is driving my crazy. Thanks for posting your experience

        • Jonathan says:

          Thanks Donna,

          I was pretty confused by Geoffery’s comment too!

          Jonathan

          • Chris says:

            Thanks, I wasn’t able to find this detailed info in German, only that over time the trapezoid distortion will vanish.

            But I searched for the whole process, if I will develop a similar issue without glasses and if that will stay or vanish too. I had a huge fear, that it would stay and asked myself, if it might help to not wear the glasses the whole day.

            This blog is the first detailed report I found about the whole correction process. Good to know, that I will just need to be patient for a few weeks.

            Thanks

            Chris