What Is Ambiguous Perception And How To Get Around It

When you look up the phrase ambiguous perception or ambiguous images on the Internet you are most likely to encounter the image that looks like a rabbit from one angle and like a duck from another. You are also likely to see another one in which an image of a lady that looks like an older lady from one angle, but like a young girl from another. A third example is of a cube, which distorts your perception of what is the near side and what is the far side. Entertaining images aside, ambiguous perception plays a huge role in our daily lives, in the way we see the world around us. So, what does this look like in real life, and how to get around this ambiguity?

Mercury, the planet being the closest to the Sun, one would imagine it to be the hottest planet in our Solar System. But actually, it is not. Venus, the second closest planet to the Sun is the hottest at around 465°C, and it beats Mercury by around 40°C. The reason for this being carbon dioxide traps most of the heat from the Sun. Also, the cloud layers also act as a blanket. So, the whole planet is like a giant greenhouse, the reasons for such a high temperature.

The ambiguous perception here being that Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun must be the hottest. The fact here being Venus is the hottest, due to the reasons mentioned above.

Also, as a Chess enthusiast and a half decent player, I know that the moves made by my opponent and the resulting board layout are not what they seem. Only by understanding all possibilities around all the pieces, and trying to think a few moves ahead, do I get some form of clarity about my opponent’s intent, which helps my strategy.

The thing about ambiguous perception is, it happens to us in our daily lives. It only crops up when the situation is not favourable to us. We tend to assume people do things a certain way, or things are setup in a particular way, to put us at a disadvantage. That is human nature, and we are all wired that way.  However, we can train ourselves to find our way out this. Three things to get you started on this are:

  1. Do not assume what you see in the first instance is the truth

It could be the truth, but there may be other things at play. Question the obvious, and try to look at the situation from all possible angles, and outcomes to get a well-rounded understanding of what is going on. Two things will happen. Either what you see is what it is, or there is something deeper going on.

  1. Be curious and probe

Curiosity is a valuable human trait when applied correctly. This correct application of curiosity is by far the single most important influence on the world as it is today. Millions of inventions, discoveries, and the resulting innovations are a result of curiosity, and it starts with a simple question; “what if…”.

  1. Strategise and act

Once you have done the above two things, then you should be in a better position to strategise and act according to what the situation demands. The ideal outcome is one that leaves you either better off or at the same position. Again, remember it is like a game of Chess, you may lose a Bishop early on, but that might give you an advantage later in the game, when you are going for that check-mate. That is why I insist on strategise, then act.

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