I __________ , therefore I am.
Start looking for your missing word!

Issa Gammoh

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Humans: Expert Illusionists.


Let me start this article by playing a simple game with you

Can you find the link between trees and papers?
Well, this is an obvious answer. Of course, papers are made of trees.

You're right! alright that was fun lets have another one

Can you find the link between sand and glass?
Science students can answer that, again the answer is not that hard to find, glass is mostly made out of sand.

Great! but What if I ask you about the link between Samurai swords and Japan's nuclear reactors? Can you calculate how much time would you spend on wondering and focusing on empty thoughts or searching to find the right connections that would make sense to you? 

Well, It could take a while because we normally don't have or use this kind of a connection in our daily conversational or analytical lives. This concludes that a missing link definitely exists that previously fails to connect Samurai swords and Japan's nuclear reactors together and we have a gap between these 2 information which are stored in our brains.

But just like these two random objects, how many more missing connections that are not linking information together can you count?

Probably uncountable!

Why does this happen? 

- Unanswered questions
Beliefs forced by our parents or culture
- Learning without applying
- Forced beliefs due to social pressure

The Hermann Grid illusion

If you haven't encountered this illusion before take a moment and look at the grid in the figure above.

You notice that your eyes detect blury grey circles in the white spaces between the black boxes but if you try to focus your sight on anyone it would disappear!

Why does this happen?

It's a simple answer with a detailed scientific proof which I am not going to discuss here. In summary this optical illusion is a result of the high contrast between 2 colours on a grid close to each other and the weak mechanism of our brains attempting to recognize and simultaneously focus on both colours at the same time; the white spaces and the black boxes.

This results in creating an illusion of grey circles appearing in between the extreme colours forcing us to think that they really exist.

Hermann vs Brain Analogy

Our brain is in constant search and storing of information, especially when it is in under the influence of our parents, culture, friends, media, education, further education and the environment around. All of the previous factors and more contribute in adding to our knowledge increasing the number of information stored in our biological database.

The brain stores information based on association, the information is encoded and stored in a specific location inside our memories. The better we are in storing and retrieving information (Improved by exercising our memories) the better we are in accessing and linking this information together.

But what is really happening? 

Without being aware we are continuously storing information without linking any of what we store together, these stored information will look like this:

The color red indicates the location where an information is stored.

If we take a piece of paper and decide to map and resemble what our brain is doing to the information being stored on a paper grid, we will find out that the brain is naturally creating what would be close to a biological Hermann grid!

Where the black boxes on the Hermann grid represent information stored in specific locations in our brains and the white spaces represent the lack of information; pathways that fail to connect these information together!

How does this affect us?

Ever wondered why this equation is true?

Happiness = Expectations - Reality

Unfortunately, like our eyes being fooled with the imaginary grey dots that appear between the white spaces and the black boxes on the Hermann grid, our perception of reality is also fooled by the discrete accumulation of informations stored in certain confined regions together with the absence of enough links connecting these informations together, creating false assumptions and false illusions in the true situation of our present, in the accuracy of our past memories and the expectations for our future.

Leading us to either disappointment or excitement.

This is extremely stressing and highly dangerous to our psychological and brain health.

What should be done? 

1- Never try to focus on assumptions you try to make to yourself, things or others given by your mind about the past, the present and the future. Because most of the time they are nothing but imaginary grey circles of illusions.

2- Have a yoga or a meditation class once in a while! the more attentive you are to your internal cognitive self (what yoga teaches) and your external environment, the more you are able to develop such connections between dis-related ideas and information.

3- Know what is exactly contained in your black boxes (Information, memories) and your white spaces (The missing links) in your biological hermann grid (Brain) and try to find the correct links or relationships between them.


The more you link things, information and memories together
The less confused you will be
The less you are likely to have illusions or make false assumptions about your past, present and future.

The more you will be able to see the world and your life in its true unbiased colours.

4- Increase your knowledge but at the same time apply this knowledge to your daily life and create links between information stored in your brain as well as your senses.

5- If you are not sure about the right link that you should establish between 2 random information always ask the people around you for their different opinions and existing links.

The more you ask the more you will have options to chose between links. Your brain will always chose the link that is more convincing to you; which is the easiest route which has the least resistance to connect and transfer signals between your information. 

6- Exercise your memory.


As shown below in the pictures, when you integrate enough links in the hermann grid and analogously have more neurones connecting stored information in your brain, the illusion of the imaginary grey circles tend to disappear! and the more we are in a state of mind that is closer to reality. 

A reality that is clear, lacks illusions and rejects false assumptions.


Thank you for reading.



  1. Very interesting! the analogy is impressive!!

  2. Thank you Rami! :) glad you enjoyed it.

  3. Excellently written Issa, I love it. great job 3anjad!
    btw, i created this "blogger" account bas 3ashan a3melak comment! :P

  4. Thank you Rannoon! Means a lot that you liked it. Yalla don't use your new blogger only for commenting, start a blog of ur own :)