January 26, 2011
This morning I was formulating a comic in my mind that involved Asok using the two sides of his brain like dual core processors. I imagined it was a skill he learned back at the Indian Institute of Technology. I took a break from creating the comic and checked my public email. The first message I read included a link to an article on Alien Hand Syndrome, which is what you can get when the two halves of your brain are surgically separated. Each half of your brain can start acting as an independent mind.
To make this even stranger, the two sides of my mind then got into a debate about whether this is a coincidence or something deeper. The rational part of my brain knows that coincidences of this sort happen every day, and it would be far stranger if I didn’t notice them on a regular basis.
But another part of my brain is operating at exactly the same time as my rational thoughts and it’s telling me that reality is nothing but a work of fiction that my mind creates for me on the fly, and in that context it makes sense that themes would sometimes repeat. In other words, thinking about Asok’s split mind nudged my imagination to conjure up a link to similar story while fooling me into believing I actually exist as a human body in this world at all. Perhaps coincidences are nothing but errors in the part of our minds that normally do a better job of convincing us that an objective world exists.
Meanwhile, the rational side of my mind is laughing at me because it knows that reality is exactly what it seems to be, and we are just a bunch of particles bumping around until something interesting happens.
And this made me think about the way we humans process new data. When I read the Alien Hand story, I saw it as strong evidence that neither the human soul nor free will exist anywhere but in our imaginations. But I suppose it’s no coincidence that I already held those views before looking at the evidence. We humans see what we want to see.
So I’m curious what you see in the story of the Alien Hand. Does your mind interpret the evidence to support whatever beliefs you already have?