Welcome to ThisIsNotThat

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Created in 1999 to focus on differences that make a difference, the content and format on this site has evolved over the years.. And to be honest, during some periods the site has stagnated. Now that I’m approaching my retirement years (not to be confused with “my retirement“), I look forward to devoting more time and attention to discussing  differences that make a difference.

The world in which we live is a world of differences. Of course it’s also important to recognize similarities — that’s the basis for our human capabilities to create and manipulate symbols for language and thinking. When we ignorantly or intentionally disregard differences, however, we don’t behave in accordance with what we know. Troubles inevitably follow.

The Premise of ThisIsNotThat

(anticipatory drum roll, please)

What we perceive as ‘the world’ is not ‘the world out there’ — what we perceive is merely an abstraction of ‘the world out there,’ mediated through each
individual’s nervous system.

Those are my words from my 2009 eBook, Here’s Something About General Semantics. But if you doubt the neurological validity of this statement, here are similar conclusions  from four experts:

Neurobiologist Christof Koch (The Quest for Consciousness: A Neurobiological Approach, 2005): “Conscious perception is, in a sense, a con job of the brain. It suggests there’s a stable world out there and there’s a very simple relationship between what’s out there in the world and what’s inside our head but in fact it’s a very complicated relationship. It’s actively constructed by our brain.”

Jeff Hawkins, founder of Palm Computing (On Intelligence, 2004 with Sandra Blakeslee) and founder of the Redwood Center for Theoretical Neuroscience: “Your perception of the world is really a fabrication of your model of the world. You don’t really see light or sound. You perceive it because your model says this is how the world is, and those patterns invoke the model. It’s hard to believe, but it really is true.”

V.S. Ramachandran, MD, Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition and Professor with the Psychology Department and Neurosciences Program at the University of California, San Diego, and Adjunct Professor of Biology at the Salk Institute (A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness,2005): “Our brains are essentially modelmaking machines. We need to construct useful, virtual reality simulations of the world that we can act on.”

Nobel Laureate Francis Crick (Astonishing Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul, 1995): “What you see is not what is really there; it is what your brain believes is there… Seeing is an active, constructive process. Your brain makes the best interpretation it can according to its previous experiences and the limited and ambiguous information provided by your eyes.”

I advocate teaching and applying an informed world view deliberately derived from what we currently understand about ourselves and our world … without deference to dogmas, traditions, or what passes for culturally-dependent “common sense.” That’s the premise and underlying world view of ThisIsNotThat.

I hope you’ll find something of value here to learn, practice, and teach.

Thanks for stopping by.

Steve Stockdale

DBA ThisIsNotThat.com since 1999