“But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.”
Everyone knows the answer to the old question: Which is heavier, a pound of feathers or a pound of lead? Yet the first time most of us were asked, we wanted to answer that it was the pound of lead. Researchers may have discovered why we naturally think the pound of lead is heavier.
Canadian researchers used a size‑weight illusion that has been fooling people for over a century. It uses two boxes of identical weight, even though one is twice the size of the other. Subjects usually expect the larger box to be heavier, so they apply more effort to lift it. After lifting each box five or ten times, subjects learn to lift each box with the same effort. Nevertheless, they now believe that the smaller box is heavier. Researchers found that the knowledge of how hard to grip something and how much force is needed to lift it is processed in one part of the brain. But the estimation of an object’s weight is processed in a different part of the brain – that part of the brain that processes thoughts based on our expectations. While these two parts of the brain communicate, it appears they don’t share everything. The result is the illusion that the smaller box is heavier.
Our expectations color how we interpret the world around us. This is why scientists who believe in evolution often cannot see the clear evidence of the Creator. Because our perceptions are tainted by sin, we need the additional corrective of God’s revealed Word.