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Perception Is Not Reality

Subtitle: Distinguishing Among Perception, Perspective and Fact is the Key to Decision-Making.

It is not what you look at that matters; it is what you see. Henry David Thoreau.

You see persons and things not as they are, but as you are.

Most people do not distinguish among facts, perspectives and perception.

In decision-making, problem solving, conflict management, negotiation and mediation, there is usually a step by step process. Regardless of the number of steps, there is usually a staged process that represents the logical communication process that is most likely to lead to a resolution. Stages may be the following:

-Introduction (Names, meeting ground rules, goals)

-Distinguishing first the facts and then perspectives/perceptions.

-Identification of issues.

-Creation, discussion and selection of options.

-Plan of Action or agreement.

So in stage two, it is vital to distinguish among facts, perspectives and perceptions.

If it is a FACT, then it is worth time to seek agreement.

Example: How many chairs are in the meeting room? A says 12 and B claims 13. A and B should clarify. B is counting the instructor’s stool as a chair so the facts are now in agreement.

If it is a Perspective or Perception, do not expect agreement. Instead listen, seek to understand and value.

-Perception is more machination of the mind.

-Perspective is an opinion, a view.

Perception is the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses.

Synonyms: Recognition, Realization, Cognizance.

Perception is Not Reality.

Perspective is a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.

Synonyms include position, point of view or outlook.

Several quotes capture the essence:

-We see what we want to see.

-We see what we are accustomed to see.

-We see what we need to see.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from their point of view” Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mocking Bird

“Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but not to their own facts.” Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Senate Sage

“They who know only their own side of the case knows little of that.” John Stuart Mills, 1859, (sic)

“Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye…First take the log out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye. Jesus, Matthew 7:3-5

Book: Apollo's Arrow, 2020

The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live

NPR’s Fresh Air featured Christakis, 10/29/2020.

He captures the essence of Daniel Moynihan quote above. He believes that we here in US, maybe the world, should focus on scientific facts first especially on topics like

-Climate change

-Gun Violence



After folks agree basically on the facts, then they can enter into disputing and arguing their perspective.

-Example: Climate Change

According to the NOAA 2019 Global Climate Summary, the combined land and ocean temperature has increased at an average rate of 0.07°C (0.13°F) per decade since 1880; however, the average rate of increase since 1981 (0.18°C / 0.32°F) is more than twice as great.Aug 14, 2020

-For example, with gun violence:

The rate of firearm deaths per 100,000 people rose from 10.3 per 100,000 in 1999 to 12 per 100,000 in 2017, with 109 people dying per day. In 2010, there were 19,392 firearm-related suicides, and 11,078 firearm-related homicides in the U.S.

-Example: Abortions in the US.

In 1968 there were 76,000 and in 2018, 21,500.

Example: COVID Pandemic

As of October 15, 216,025 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported in the United States

After people basically agree on the facts-the research, then they can espouse their perspectives-their disputing nature.


Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD, MPH, is a professor at Yale University where he is the Sol Goldman Family Professor of Social and Natural Science, in the Departments of Sociology, Medicine, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Statistics and Data Science, and Biomedical Engineering.

Emotional Intelligence

This approach of first considering the facts and then the perspectives is an emotional intelligence approach.

National expert Alan Korinek describes a “two tier brain” concept:

-The upstairs brain (rider) which gathers information and thinks. Sometimes this is a slow process.

-The downstairs brain (horse) which is the survival part of the brain. It often reacts fast and is triggered by certain words and events.

Some might call this the horse and rider approach. The horse is strong and fast, but needs the rider for direction.

More Perception Examples and Exercises:

Exercise-Six or Nine: Think of this exercise. Write the number “6” on the floor. Have two people stand on top of the number and the bottom of the number. One sees “6” and the other, “9.”

Exercise-Blind Men and Elephant: Remember the old story of the Blind Men and the elephant. The picture is entitled Blind Men Appraising an Elephant by Ohara Donshu, Edo Period (early 19th century), Brooklyn Museum.

“The parable of the blind men and an elephant originated in the ancient Indian subcontinent, from where it has been widely diffused. It is a story of a group of blind men who have never come across an elephant before and who learn and conceptualize what the elephant is like by touching it. Each blind man feels a different part of the elephant's body, but only one part, such as the side or the tusk. They then describe the elephant based on their limited experience and their descriptions of the elephant are different from each other. In some versions, they come to suspect that the other person is dishonest and they come to blows. The moral of the parable is that humans have a tendency to claim absolute truth based on their limited, subjective experience as they ignore other people's limited, subjective experiences which may be equally true.”

Exercise-Older or Younger Woman: Another traditional, optical illusion is the picture where some see an older woman and others, see a younger woman. Staff Writer Yasemin Saplakoglu (September 21, 2018) speculates that how one sees the illusion might reveal how old one is.

"My Wife and My Mother-in-Law" is a famous optical illusion that depicts both an old woman looking off to the left and a young woman facing away, looking over her right shoulder. (The old woman's nose is the young woman's chin.)

(Image: © public domain)

Do you see an old woman or a young woman?

They are both trapped in this famous optical illusion that first appeared on an 1888 German postcard and was later adapted by British cartoonist William Ely Hill, who published it in a humor magazine in 1915 with the title "My Wife and My Mother-in-Law." But the person you see first could be affected by how old you are, according to a new study published Aug. 23 in the journal.

“Using Amazon's Mechanical Turk, an online crowdsourcing platform, researchers showed the illusion for half a second to 393 U.S. participants between the ages of 18 and 68.”

“They were then asked if they saw an animal or a person and, if they said a person, what the sex was of the person. If the participants answered both questions correctly, they were asked to estimate the woman's age.

Most people saw the young woman, but then again, there were more younger participants (with only five above 60). The younger population tended to see the younger woman who is facing away, looking over her right shoulder and the older population tended to see the older woman looking toward the side.

Overall, the younger the participant was, the younger they said the woman was — and as the participants' ages increased, so too did the age they gave for the woman in the illusion. The youngest 10 percent of participants estimated the woman's age to be 12.1 years younger than the oldest 10 percent of participants did. This could be due to an "own-age bias," according to the paper.

We process faces from ages similar to our own more thoroughly and holistically than those of other ages, they wrote. Further, the findings could also be in part due to sociocultural practices in the U.S. that tend to be less inclusive to the elderly, according to the researchers.”

Exercise-Is it a duck, rabbit? Horse? There is another traditional, optical illusion where when people look at it half see a rabbit; the other half, see a duck; and some, even see a horse.

Exercise: Older Man Painting Self Portrait by Looking Into the Mirror. There is another great image of an older man looking at himself in the mirror and painting a picture. The picture he is painting is of a much younger man which is how he views himself.

Exercise: Image-Older Woman in Wheelchair is looking in the mirror and sees a ballerina.

More Relevant Quotes:



What we See and don’t See along with Provoked/Selective Seeing.

-Travis is under the impression that Larry wears the same baseball cap-Costa Rica all of the time. In reality, Larry has 35 various hats that he varies usually based on color to his so called outfit. J

-A lived and played in Dupont Circle for 30 years and did not see the owls on top of buildings. (Owls to scare the birds.)

-Customers go to the Soho Coffee Shop bathroom and often fail to see the large sign with the code so they ask staff for the code. J

-Gym users fail to see the faucet for water bottles so they lean over trying to fill their bottles from the drinking faucet.

-David was a member of the gym for 15 years. One day he goes into the shower, turns on the faucet. The stream is weak so he think it is broken, but on further examination he sees for the first time a switch on the faucet: tub/shower. He switched the faucet to shower and had a strong stream.

-Debbie was born and reared in Springfield, Ohio, but until lately did not know the major business of Woebers Mustard was founded and operated out of this city. Of course now, Debbie see Woeber trucks daily.

-Kerry has a window Air Conditioner in his office. He uses the AC remote daily but only after a year realized that the remote has a magnet so he was able to attache it to the mental file cabinet.

-Susan has owned a 5 foot step ladder for many years that she used once a month on the average. She hires a handyperson who needs to use this same step ladder. As he uses the ladder he places his hammer and screw driver in the holes at the top of the step ladder which first Susan had never noticed and secondly if she had noticed would not realize their functionality.

-Sami’s friend worked for Senator Hillary Clinton. He requested that his friend get a signed picture for Coffee Shop Owners Helene and Fran. The Friend did. Sami proudly hung the picture near the register. Six years later for the first time, Sami noticed that his name had been included on the picture.

-A broke his arm and had to go through physical therapy. After many sessions he returned to the gym where he used to go daily for fifteen years. He for the first time, realized that their gym had the same physical therapy equipment that he had never noticed. Previously, they had no reason to focus on that equipment.

-Raymond was staying in the blue room at a Bed and Breakfast. One day while he was gone on business, the owner removed the window A/C and replaced it with a lovely piece of stained glass measuring 14 inches high and 22 inches wide. When the owner saw Raymond later that evening he had not noticed.

-Craig has owned a winter coat for five years. One day when riding on his bike, he thought he had torn the coat on both sides. When he examined it, he realized that this sophisticated coat had been designed to have air vents that had become unzipped.

Conclusion on What We Don’t See: We proceed through our daily lives, our daily routines without seeing a lot. In actuality, often there is no need to notice. But if one is involved in problem solving, conflict management, mediation or negotiation, one needs to open their eyes wide because some of the unseen items might be a key to problem solving or agreement.


PROFESSOR AND GRADES: A new professor decided to give a very tough test to his students to distinguish them. The average grade was 72 out of 100. Students were most upset. So he set the grades differently the next time with the top score of 137 meaning the average score was 96. Students were happy despite the fact that they got only 70% right.

Using Art to Explain Perspectives:

One professor uses art as a way to introduce the topic of “perspectives.” They place five pieces of abstract art about the classroom. Each student using post-it’s imagines the title of each piece of art and posts it around the art.

Students are astounded about the different views. One student can look at a piece of art and see a rainbow; the other, see a car wreck.

How can this be? Each student has had different life experiences, differing contact points, and differing visions plus different personalities.


Take this test. Mark each as a “fact” or “opinion.”

1. Weather person Chuck Bell of NBC says that this will be a

Nasty day and that is a fact.

2. Today, there is 100% chance of rain; winds up to 30 mph.

There may be up to 2 inches of rain during the next 48 hrs.

3. Charles Robinson of MD Public TV declares that Lt. Gov Brown failed miserably with Obamacare and he declares that is a fact, not his opinion.

4. The state of Maryland has spent over $300 million on their Affordable Health Care computer program. They expected 500,000 to register. Approximately, 300,000 have registered. They expected the registration would take 1 hour. 60% of those who contacted the site, state that it has consumed 36 hours.

5. The U.S. President has become an imperial President by issuing more Executive Orders than any other President.

6. Gerhard Peters in his article, Presidency, reports on the number of Executive Orders: -Bush=291; Clinton=364; Bush=166; Reagan=381; Carter=320; Ford=169; Nixon=346; Obama=168; Trump=192.

7. The Washington Post reports that the DC neighborhood of Columbia Heights is the fastest changing neighborhood in the US.

8. “Comedian David Letterman (retired in 2015) has affected all of us,”

Declared Joe Scarborough and “that’s a fact.”

9. District of Columbia’s Mayor ran a 2010 fraudulent campaign.

10. Five of the top Mayor Campaign Staff have pled guilty to felony corruption charges along with the felony plea of financiers who provided the funds for the so called, “Shadow Campaign.”

11. Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC says, The fact is that when American voters are engaged they will make intelligent choices.

12. IKEA: This is the acronym for the founder’s 4 daughters.

13. IKEA is the acronym for the founder: Ingvar Kampred; his farm: Elrataryd; and his town: Agunnargd

14. Oscar Pistorius and his attorney discussed the difference between a jury or judge trial. They decided that this case was so full of legal issues that a jury could not understand so they decided on a judge trial.

15. Weather reported declared that Columbus Day would be rainy and cloudy; thus, a wasted day.

16. “It’s a fact,” so says Writer Tom Rogan, Writer for Opportunity Lives, that reporters are hesitant to write about black/white issues and the police.

17. Ally Bank has no branches and they say it is a fact that savings are greater.

18. Ally Bank claims because they have no branches, there is better service and that’s a fact.

19. Between 2000 and 2015, Social Security increased by 43%

-Heating oil by 159%

-Medicare Part B by 131%

-Dental visits by 83%

-Electricity, 63%

-Rent, 56%

-Basic phone plan, 52%

20. Insurance Expert Bob Rusbuldt commented on Channel 8 News Talk: There is a consternation among Republicans about Donald Trump and that’s a fact.

Answers: 1=Opinion; 2=Fact; 3=O; 4=F; 5=O; 6=F; 7=O; 8=O; 9=O; 10=F; 11=O; 12=O; 13=F; 14=F; 15=O; 16=O; 17=O; 18=O; 19=F; 20=O.

Law Professor Larry Ray Journal

FBI Director James Comey-Presentation on Clinton’s Emails

In 2016, October, Comey conducted a a highly unusual press conference that may have changed the Presidential election. Comey stated that this press conference is about “only the facts matter,” not opinions. Nevertheless his presentation was full of subjective phrases and words. This is Professor Ray’s analysis:

Facts would include the following:

-30,000 emails were submitted by the Clinton team and FBI examined.

-110 in 52 chains contained classified information.

-3 emails not included in the 30K contained Top Secret info.

-Clinton worked at the State Dept 4 years.

He failed to state the fact that 300 State Dept employees and experts used nonsecure emails.

His “nonfacts” would be the following:

-Clinton used several different servers.

-Clinton used numerous devices and administrators

-It is likely there were other work emails we did not find.

-We interviewed many people.

-She was extremely careless.

-Small numbers of emails contained “classified markings.”

-We did this competently.

-It is possible that hostiles gained access.

-It is possible that she compromised national security.

Remember this Movie?

Rashomon (羅生門, Rashōmon?) is a 1950 Japanese crime mystery film directed by Akira Kurosawa, working in close collaboration with cinematographer Kazuo Miyagawa

The bandit's story : Tajōmaru, a notorious brigand (盗人; nusubito), claims that he tricked the samurai to step off the mountain trail with him and look at a cache of ancient swords he discovered. In the grove he tied the samurai to a tree, then brought the woman there. She initially tried to defend herself with a dagger, but was eventually "seduced" by the bandit. The woman, filled with shame, then begged him to duel to the death with her husband, to save her from the guilt and shame of having two men know her dishonor. Tajōmaru honorably set the samurai free and dueled with him.

The wife's story : The samurai's wife tells a different story to the court. She says that Tajōmaru left after raping her. She begged her husband to forgive her, but he simply looked at her coldly. She then freed him and begged him to kill her so that she would be at peace.

The samurai's story : The court then hears the story of the deceased samurai, told through a medium (巫女; miko). The samurai claims that Tajōmaru, after raping his wife, asked her to travel with him. She accepted and asked Tajōmaru to kill her husband so that

Takashi Shimura as the woodcutter is sitting, Kichijiro Ueda as commoner on the left and Minoru Chiaki as priest on the right.The woodcutter's story

Back at Rashōmon gate (after the trial), the woodcutter explains to the commoner that the samurai's story was a lie. The woodcutter had actually witnessed the rape and murder, he says, but just did not want to get too involved at the trial. According to the woodcutter's new story, Tajōmaru begged the samurai's wife to marry him, but the woman instead freed her husband. The husband was initially unwilling to fight Tajōmaru, saying he would not risk his life for a spoiled woman

BIBLE GOSPELS: The synoptic Gospels are called synoptic from a Latin word, which means “seen together,” because the synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell many of the same stories, often in the same words, frequently following the same order. ... The gospel of Mark is different, because it begins with Jesus as an adult.


(Visual, Audio or Kinesthetic)

Nine times out of 10, ideas are rejected not because their ideas are bad, but often it's because they don't know how to communicate them effectively.

If someone isn't receiving your information well or not giving one the feedback one requires - perhaps one needs to change the way one communicates with them.

Any good teacher will tell you that each student takes in information differently. There are:

1. Visual Learners: those that need to see pictures and graphs to visualize.

2. Auditory Learners: those who need to hear the information.

3. Kinesthetic Learners: those who need to engage in an activity in order to grasp a concept.


-Talk at a faster rate than many

-Sometimes called, spatial

-Whiteboards, photos, designs, diagrams

-Easily put together IKEA furniture by diagram

-Creative and color coordinated.

-Professions: Design, photographer, architect

Look, see, view, picture, show, observe, notice, focus, visualise, vision, glimpse, appear, short-sighted, spectacle, enlighten, illustrate, look into, glance, hindsight, reveal, perspective, outlook, make a scene, minds eye, take a dim view etc

Visual people might say things like:-

"Do you see what I mean?"

" Look at this."

" I would take a dim view of that." etc

In other words you are expressing yourself in VISUAL terms


Seeing: Kasie Hunt MSNBC Reporter stated, People can see him speak and know he relates to the people of Pennsylvania.

-Scot the Bartender: You see what I am saying?

-Can you see me honk?

-Washington Sports Club radio: Thanks for watching.

-It looks as if she is improving.

-Bill Maher to Cornell West: I see your point.

-Sen. Claire McCaskill: I will withhold judgment until I see the sworn testimony.

-NBC Reporter Scott Mc Farlane Want to see what he will say in testimony.

-Joe Scarborough: Watching tweets of Trump in re travel ban.

-NPR Morning Edition I saw you mention that phrase.

-NPR (radio) Science Friday, Ira Flatow: See you then.

-Willie Geist on Morning Joe: Watch talk radio today.

-Robert: They came to see the band at Dogfish/Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

-Singer Sara Bareilles: Her new book is Sounds Like Me and her most famous song is “I want to see you be brave.”


-Remember 75% of what they hear.

-Learn through discussion, group chat, read aloud instructions

-Emphasize key phrases. Vary pitch and tone.

Listen, hear, say, tell, discuss, sound, loud, soft, speechless, call, tongue tied, audible, report, earful,manner of speaking, remark, mention, tune in,note, tell the truth, sing, scream, shout, outspoken, message.

Auditory people may say things like:-

" I hear you loud and clear, clear as a bell."

"Have a word with him"

"I'm wondering what is the hidden message"

When one uses these types of words and sentences one are expressing one’s self in an AUDITORY fashion.


-Politico Mike Huckaby; You watch a political conversation and it’s loud and argumentative.

-Good to hear from you (stated during email)

-Doesn’t sound like any one is making any right turns. Traffic Reporter NBC

-Hear what I am saying?


-Struggle through lectures and conference

-Get involved. Role playing. Group work.

-Great during emergencies. (Running faucet example)

-Quick to react


-Talk more slowly to assess

One will use words such as:

Feel, care, touch, love , sense, soft, hard, stress, shock, pressure, carry.

Sentences may be along these lines.

"How do you feel about that?"

"Did you sense something just there?"

"What tickles your fancy today?"

This is called, expressing yourself KINESTHETICALLY - a new 'hard to spell' word for me when I heard it for the first time!

If one listens carefully to how one talks to people one will start to hear one’s patterns. And if one really pays attention to how others talk to one, one will hear their patterns.

Conclusion: To be a more effective problem solver, conflict manager, negotiator or mediator, one distinguishes among perspective, perception and facts. One opens the eyes widely to see not only the goal but what is around the periphery that may be impacting the situation. Further it is wise to pay attention to the preferred way that people learn new information. In that way, the information can be tailored to that person and the person will be more persuaded.


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