June 19, 2024

Perception and Reality

Pure science, it is said, is always looking for errors in its interpretations.

When I was a youngster, Pluto was a planet, and the atom was the smallest particle.

In the 15th century, the Earth was both flat and the center of the universe.

The narrative of the time, the perception of how things worked, was comfortable for most of the people. But it was not accurate. Science, in the centuries and decades since these perceptions, has proven them all inaccurate. I believe I can safely assume the scientific facts we take for granted today will be disproven in the future and alter our collective narrative of how nature, physics, and even mathematics work. These are great examples of where perception is reality…. My perception about Pluto and atoms was taught to me by science teachers.

So that’s the macro example of The Matrix’s blue pill / red pill meme. People who believed all the “facts” mentioned were “blue pill” folks willing to accept their place in the system (the Matrix) and the rules as they’d been taught. Red pill folks, on the other hand, had access to reality… and eventually proved all these facts in error. In the 17th century, Galileo (definitely a red pill guy) was imprisoned by the Catholic church and made to recant his theory that the Earth rotated around the sun instead of the other way around, in order to save himself from being executed. See how perception can trump reality when we’re not looking to correct our errors?

The blue pill is the metaphor for being comfortable within our personal narrative of how we fit in the world and how we interact with it. It defines our “comfort zone,” even when some of the beliefs sometimes aren’t comfortable at all. It can be seen as the situation where naiveté is bliss.

The red pill is the metaphor for opening the senses to all new data, whether or not it supports our current narrative. It’s like pure science always looking to disprove its theories. It’s continuously challenging our narrative, looking for the components that aren’t accurate.

In The Matrix, Morpheus’s rule was that once you chose the pill, you were committed to that path. You would either experience a lifetime of accepting what you were, how you interacted with the world around you, and how that world worked with no possibility or reason to challenge it or even look for different perspectives. Or you would be cursed (or blessed) with full knowledge of reality no matter how offensive it could be to your understanding of how you interacted with the world around you and how that world worked.

Unlike Morpheus’s rule, I believe we can keep a bottle of each pill in our pocket. Be ready to use the red pill when we’re courageous—pop that baby and accept new data that just blows up your personal narrative and changes your perspective forever). Or pop that other one, which allows you to pull the blanket over your world and remain naïve, comfortable, and static.

Which would you pick? Which do you pick? When do you pick them? Because I believe you have that choice.

What do you want? What’s stopping you? Is that real or possibly just your interpretation? Are those roadblocks permanent? And do you have the courage to see the real picture that just might show you the path.

Red? Blue? You choose.


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