Blog: Why Labels are Dangerous to Thinking - 2013-12-27

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F0.png Why Labels are Dangerous to Thinking December 27, 2013, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large

Pattern Recognition

It is an easily observable fact that the human mind excels at pattern matching. We do it all the time. We see patterns or shapes that are familiar to us. There is nothing wrong with this - it is a crucial element in our very survival to be able to recognize things we have seen before, to have on file the traits and characteristics of things which we need to get along in life.

However, the mind can sometimes be too good at this. Often we can see patterns or shapes in things that are actually just random jumbles of different elements. Examples of this also happen every single day, such as seeing monsters in cloud formations, thinking an open shower curtain is a person waiting to pounce on you in the bathroom, or seeing faces on almost everything from a piece of toast to the side of a building. Scientists and skeptics have even coined words to describe this pattern-making trait of human thinking, calling it apophenia and patternicity.