The human brain has an amazing capacity for extrapolating from limited or garbled information in order to make sense of its world. You’re probably all familiar with reading sentences where the words are mixed up in order, or where some words are actually missing, yet the brain reads the sentence as if it were orderly or complete. In fact, this phenomenon is called “completion” meaning that the brain “completes” the sentence despite the missing information.
This is a uniquely human capability, based on our use of complex language to understand and control our world. But it’s not always a good thing.
I came to this realization this past week, and with of all things, my exploration of Glorious One-Pot Meals (GOPM). Let me explain:
During the last year, I’ve been reading Leisureguy’s extensive exploration and documentation of GOPM. Now, Leisureguy is an excellent writer, and his descriptions from the very beginning have been thorough, detailed, and accurate as to this cooking method. There was no ambiguity. His enthusiasm should have triggered in me the realization that this was not just the “same old, same old” that I already knew. But every time I read his posts on GOPM my mind said, “Been there, done that”, “Yeah, I get it, this is just another slow-cooker method”, etc.
My mind took the information he provided, compared it against it’s own data-bank of experiences and “completed” its understanding in terms that were familiar to it, so that it could move on to other things (the mind hates ambiguity, so it wants to understand and compartmentalize everything before moving on).
Last Saturday, I was on the receiving end of the same experience. At card night, The Group (who are also loyal readers of this blog), teased me for my overly enthusiastic (to them) tendency to jump on “bandwagons” when in fact GOPM was nothing more than another example of “Garbage can cooking” (a term I coined some years ago to describe lazy cooks who just throw everything into one pot and boil the hell out of it). Now, remember, they’ve never actually cooked a GOPM, but just the little they read told them that it was nothing more than what they were already familiar with…the same mistake I had made during the last year.
My efforts to explain that this wasn’t the same thing met with even more ridicule, so I finally gave up and vowed to cook them a GOPM next time we’re hosting card night at our home. Seeing would be believing, I felt.
What I did realize from all this is that understanding that this is the routine modus-operandi of the brain/mind, we should always question our preconceptions and assumed understanding of new phenomena….we might just be very wrong.