I'm eager to write about a newfound typo in my recently published book, "Break Free of Dogma," for a couple of reasons. One is that this gives me another chance to plug my book, which is prominently displayed at the top of the right sidebar.
Also, I've got some deep thoughts about the typo that I just discovered in the book. It came to light today after I gave some copies of the book to my fellow Tai Chi students.
Handing a book to Jeremy, I told him that several of the mini-chapters refer to Tai Chi, such as the last one. I turned to that page, reading aloud the mention of how our Tai Chi instructor, Warren, reacted when I wore a t-shirt with the Chinese symbol for Wu, which indicates negation or nothing.
I was shocked to see that rather than saying I wore it to my Tai Chi class on Monday and today, in the book it says boon Monday and today.
Wow. The original blog post had "on," but when I copied the post content into a Pages file, autocorrect must have changed "on" to "boon." I then proceeded to proof read the manuscript at least three times, failing to see the typo each time.
This is common in human perception.
For example, our eyes don't faithfully reflect what is out there in the world, as a mirror would. Instead, the brain actively makes predictions about what it expects to see, filling in aspects of reality in surprising ways -- such as by eliminating the blind spot with surrounding images.
Some process in our brains interpolates the blind spot based on surrounding detail and information from the other eye, so we do not normally perceive the blind spot.
I expected to read "on, in part because I'd written the blog post that became a chapter in my book. So my brain failed to recognize the "boon" typo.
The lesson is that we can't always trust what we believe we're perceiving, because the brain often fails to show us what is really there.
A classic experiment along this line is a video of a person in a gorilla suit walking through some people passing a basketball back and forth. When an onlooker is asked to count the number of times the basketball has been passed, typically they fail to notice the "gorilla."
Expectations play a large role in perception. This is one reason I'm deeply skeptical about tales of mystical experiences. Almost always these reflect whatever religious teaching the person embraces. Muslims rarely, if ever, have a vision of Jesus, but Christians do.
Likewise, followers of a guru will claim they had a vision of him or her, not a vision of the Buddha or Krishna.
Thus almost certainly mystical visions are produced by the mind of the person having the vision, since otherwise we'd have to accept that a supernatural realm is populated with every conceivable religious entity that has appeared to devotees of the thousands of world religions.
I came to recognize the typo in my book. But most religious believers never realize that they are creating their own inaccurate images of their chosen faith.
So just as it makes sense to have several people proofread a book, something I chose not to do, claims of a mystical vision need to be examined extremely closely and skeptically, since chances are that vision has been fashioned by a human mind, not an actual divinity.