Re: Knowledge vs. Belief LO2756

Jim Michmerhuizen (
Mon, 11 Sep 1995 23:22:23 +0059 (EDT)

Replying to LO2747 --

On Mon, 11 Sep 1995, jack hirschfeld wrote:

[ um, snippity, down to... ]
> Nevertheless, it brings to mind a conundrum I have been playing with for
> the past year, namely: In a computer-generated 3-D image, which we
> "experience" off a flat page by looking at it a little cross-eyed, what is
> "real", the 2-D set of squiggles which all can see, or the 3-D space we
> experience? If drawn a certain way, these pictures "feel" like you could
> poke your finger in. ...and how does that connect to the "reality" we
> perceive every day?
> I raise this question in this context, because people who see the 3-D
> image testify that they "know" it is there, while those who do not see it
> express disbelief: They are often unwilling to "know" it, even
> anecdotally.

Desultory thinking out loud here...

How or why does the conundrum question come up? It's not exactly a
question of immediate practical import, is it. On a casual glance, the
paper looks like _this_, but if I squidge my eyes in a certain way, it
looks like _that_. Well, at the urinal in the men's room, staring at
little square tiles, if I squidge my eyes the same way, the tiles look
like they're a hundred miles away. Some ways of seeing things are better
than others: the tiles are _not_ a hundred miles away, and that's all
there is to that.

In any frame of mind other than this reflective one, wouldn't you just say
that what's really there is the page with the funny periodic decorative
pattern, and what's _not_ is the highly schematic 3d thingy of no
determinate color that jumps into your brain when you've finally learned
how to squidge your eyes up just the right way? I mean, suppose you were
trying to explain to somebody who'd never seen one of these books:
wouldn't you describe it in some common-sensical way like this? Would you
try to describe it by the conundrum question? I think not. At any rate,
_I_ certainly wouldn't: it would be too confusing.

In this case, it seems to me, as in many others, a wide range of ways of
describing the situation are available that could help somebody who hadn't
experienced it imagine what it was like. THE CONUNDRUM QUESTION IS NOT

Ok, so the question clearly doesn't come up as a practical way of
characterizing the experience for someone who hasn't yet learned to see
the 3d pictures.

Well then, it's for those of us who _have_ seen the page both ways. But
is it even that much? The experience itself is not confusing at all to
me, or to anybody else. The cartoon-like 3d thingy that I see is
obviously not the same as whatever it's an image of. Of _course_ that's
not a real rhinoceros... . I had to work real hard to "make it come out."
If I can see it at all, that's an accomplishment, not a cause for alarm.

Um. Maybe the question is "how can one and the same piece of paper appear
first one way and then another?" But I don't see how _that_ can really be
what the question is about, either.

"How can those apparently meaningless cycles of color-squiggles contain
the code for that pair of owls?"

Are we getting closer? How the one image can somehow be latent within the
other and yet be completely invisible in it? How, on a simple visual
inspection, can the meaningless squiggles of a hologram contain the image
that the laser reveals?

Or (back on the social and the L-O mark) how can a single group of people,
in a single meeting, exhibit such a dizzying infinity of structures all
mutually orthogonal, incompatible, without obvious cross-relation, and
still fit in a single room and a single hour.

Uh, gimme a minute. I'm sure I can look it up somewhere.

     Jim Michmerhuizen
     web residence at
. . . . . . . . . .   Actions speak louder than words   . . . . . . . . . .
 . . . . . . . . . .        but not as clearly         . . . . . . . . . .