We believe what we see – or do we?

I heard a story from a professor who attended a Cambridge University science lab to watch flowerpots being levitated with mind power.

The lab was packed to the roof with sceptical professors. At the front of the room lay 5 flowerpots on a bench, standing along side was his colleague. To create atmosphere the audience was asked to chant the sacred word Om, over and over again. After a few minutes all the pots rose 5 cms or so, the professor was turning red in the face with effort. After a few minutes the pots crashed, causing noise as they did so.

Afterwards many in the audience refused to acknowledge the pots had risen, despite a wooden ruler having been slid under them at their height, the loud noise caused as they crashed and the video which clearly showed it to be true. But to many in the audience, the idea that levitation could exist was just too foreign to accept, so their minds would not allow it.

The pots were lifted by a noisy electronic magnet, hence the need for the chanting. The experiment was testing the mind’s perception not levitation. The results were sadly as expected.

Our mind is blinkered by our experiences and knowledge. No one is immune. It makes our lives and creativity less. How can you make your mind more open? What will you do about it?


I received a comment to this post asking me if I was advocating to eliminate scepticism.  As the comment highlighted weaknesses in my message I include it, and my response here: 

The commenter said: I don’t get it Jennifer. You’re trying to say that if we see a magician doing some tricks we should keep an open mind and believe it’s true? I think we need more sceptics to challenge easy propaganda or we’ll fall to the tyrants.

My reply: What I was trying to explain, not as well as hoped, was that some audience members did not see the pots rise, when in fact they had. Disbelief in the mind’s capability for levitation stopped them from seeing what in truth did happen. The pots actually did rise up, but the beliefs of certain audience members stopped the sight from registering in their minds.  We see this in our everyday actions, like when we can’t find our car keys then when we ask some to help us, they look in the same places… and find them right away. So no, I am not suggesting we accept lies as truth, as I agree this is a slippery slope to bad living, but rather to open our minds to the possibility that our biases are stopping us seeing what is true.  


Some earlier posts:

–> Layering – that’s how great learning occurs

–> What to do when someone criticises you

–> In whose interest are we working?

–> I love micromanaging

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