Ça ne représente pas un chapeau. This is not a picture of a hat.
C’est un boa constricteur qui digérerait un éléphant. This is a boa constrictor who is digesting an elephant (Extra brownie points de crédit pour le lecteur qui a répondu en français). Please don't be impressed with my French. I can read it, and translate some, but under pressure I might be able to ask, "Where is the boulangerie?" My teachers did say I have excellent pronunciation though.
These are the childhood drawings of our misanthropic pilot who later used them to test adults.
"Whenever I met one of them who seemed to me at all clear-sighted, I tried the experiment of showing him my Drawing Number One, which I have always kept. I would try to find out, so, if this was a person of true understanding. But, whoever it was, he, or she, would always say: "That is a hat." Then I would never talk to that person about boa constrictors, or primeval forests, or stars. I would bring myself down to his level. I would talk to him about bridge, and golf, and politics, and neckties. And the grown-up would be greatly pleased to have met such a sensible man."You might protest and say that I asked a trick question. But it is not a trick question at all. If you answered the survey by choosing a color, you most likely did so because you believed me when I said the picture was of a hat. That’s your fault, not mine. Just because I say the drawing is of a hat, which in reality I did not, does not make it so.
The fact is we are being tricked every day. We are tricked into buying things. We are tricked into believing we need certain things. We are tricked into thinking that things are supposed to be a certain way. We believe what people tell us, and what teachers teach, without so much as cocking our heads and saying, "What the hell are you talking about?"
I didn't trick you. You tricked yourself. The mind is trained to believe. Skepticism is learned. I asked what color is the hat? Chances are you looked at the color and didn't even think to question whether it was a hat or not. You are not stupid. But chances are you are probably an adult.
I spend a lot of time with kids who are young enough that their brains are not prejudiced regarding the information they take in. Let's take magnets for instance. If you take two round refrigerator magnets, the kind with the large hole in the middle, and slide them both onto a pencil, with the same poles facing each other you probably know that they will not touch. If I asked you why you might give me an explanation about reverse polarity, magnetic fields, or some other scientific gobbledeegoop.
Show that to a young child and ask them why they think the magnets aren't touching. They might say, "Magic," and they'd be correct. They might just stare in amazement, trying to figure out the mystery, looking at the magnets. They might want to take the pencil and the magnet from you and experiment and try and figure it out.
Between the adult who gives the gobbledeegoop and the child who is in wonder, who would you rather spend your time with?
The world is throwing information at you all the time and wants you to believe that the boa constrictors digesting elephants are really hats.
Are we really being tricked, or is it that we are only fooling ourselves? Is the real truth that we want to be fooled? Is the real truth that we want to avoid reality because it’s too ugly, too painful, too real? The brain is trained to recognize things it’s encountered before to be the same. We pass over such things and dismiss them as hats when they are really boa constrictors digesting elephants.
But I think, deep in their hearts, people want to believe. They really do. How else to explain Pampers? He didn’t gain his devoted following simply because the media and the DNC shoved him down our throats. If the hearts of Americans were not dying for what the Pampers brand was said to have represented (some of us were smart enough to realize that Pampers is a hat, not a boa constrictor digesting an elephant), there would not have been the almost slavish response to the marketing. People want to have hope. People want to see change. And it is only the most crass, heartless bastards that take advantage of that for their own personal gain, and then leave the believers on the side of the road even more bankrupt than they were before (and if you are one of these people and think that's not what's already happening, get back to me in four years and tell me how you feel).
So what do we do about this? If we are faced with tricks on a daily basis, and our brains are always being fooled, what do we do? How do we break the cycle? We have to learn to have critical minds. We need to understand who we are, and what our needs are so that we don’t get fooled into accepting imitations, fooled into accepting that which we don’t need. We need to think outside the box…well, really inside the box, like the Little Prince.
The Little Prince requires a sheep. The misanthropic pilot thinks to himself that he cannot draw as he was discouraged from doing so after adults failed to see the elephant being digested by the boa constrictor. Now his head is filled with arithmetic, geography, history and such, so he tells the Little Prince that he cannot draw a sheep. The Little Prince says, "That doesn't matter. Draw me a sheep..."
After 3 attempts produce sheep that do not meet the Little Prince's needs, the pilot draws a box.
He explains to the Little Prince that the sheep is inside. "That's exactly the way I wanted it!" he exclaims.
Is the pilot fooling the Little Prince? Hardly. The Little Prince knows what he needs.It’s perfect for him.
Can you see it?
If you want to stop being fooled you’re going to have to learn how to see the sheep inside the box. You’re going to have to think back to when your mind was purer, when it wasn’t trained into being tricked. When you knew what you wanted and needed.
Ken Kesey said that we should be living our lives like we were starring in our own movies. You are the director. You cast the actors. You use chiaroscuro to fashion mood. You can do one of two things with your star power. You can trick people, or give them something real. You can give them the perfect sheep inside of the box. And if they are real too, they will thank you, and take excellent care of it.