Thursday, February 12, 2015


Speculative fiction writer William Gibson, in his novel Pattern Recognition, wrote :
“We have no idea, now, of who or what the inhabitants of our future might be. In that sense, we have no future. Not in the sense that our grandparents had a future, or thought they did. Fully imagined cultural futures were the luxury of another day, one in which 'now' was of some greater duration. For us, of course, things can change so abruptly, so violently, so profoundly, that futures like our grandparents' have insufficient 'now' to stand on. We have no future because our present is too volatile. ... We have only risk management. The spinning of the given moment's scenarios. Pattern recognition”.

Astrologers use pattern recognition when attempting to predict the future. Future configurations of the planets, similar to configurations which have formed years, decades or centuries before, small patterns and huge ones, are basic ingredients of astrological prediction. Pattern recognition can aid astrological searchers in other ways too. There's an interesting except from Michael Ledo's book The Secret Astrology of the Bible
Snip (click on image for a bigger version). Read more at the link above:

As we watched a TV series, The Bletchley Circle via Netflix last week, the subject of pattern recognition came up.

The series' theme features four women who, during World War II worked together at a secret facility at Bletchley, England, to decipher German military codes for the British military. The series begins in 1952, nine years after the war. The first episode opens as Susan, one of the four, learns about a series of murders in the London area. She soon recognises patterns connecting the murders. This discovery encourages her to use her old code-breaking skills. She contacts her war-time colleagues for support, after unsuccessfully trying to convince the police to investigate her theories about the crimes. Thereby hangs the tale, completed in the first series. We have yet to watch season two's story.

Currently doing the rounds of movie theatres there's a big-screen, factual, story of code-breaking and pattern recognition. The Imitation Game. It hasn't reached our local cinema yet - probably never will. We shall patiently await its arrival to Netflix.
What we call chaos is just patterns we haven’t recognized. What we call random is just patterns we can't decipher.
~ Chuck Palahniuk


mike said...

A program I watched several years ago delved into human pattern recognition and correlations. Part of the conclusion was that humans excel at matching variables toward cause and effect, but our intelligence allows for drawing correlations where none exist. The scientific method was developed to test and-or reveal hypothetical correlations of variables. The modern application of statistics allows for the degree of correlation to be quantified. Surprisingly, both science and statistics can fail, as we often see when two identical studies yield conflicting results. In reality, science and statistics don't fail us, but it's the human process of assessing the problem to be solved, the variables involved, and data interpretation of the observations that support the study. Or as Einstein put it, everything depends on the relationship between the observer and the observed. To take it one more, the paradox of Schrodinger's cat provides that the quantum nature of our universe has matter in multiple states of existence, each with different possible outcomes. Patterns represent a form of human entanglement that defines our perceptive experience to ourselves individually and each other, within the appearance of space and time.

Cogito ergo sum (Rene Descartes)
I think, therefore I am.
I am thinking, therefore I exist.

Twilight said...

mike ~ I've just been looking up definition of two words related to this topic: apophenia and pareidolia.
It appears that pattern recognition occurs on a variety of levels, some of them, as you mentioned, turn out to be of no general significance.

I think those instances where a person sees, for example, what he/she thinks is the face of Jesus in the pattern made by the charring on a slice of toasted bread (pareidolia) are most often invalid patterns - although if the person perceiving the pattern sees benefit in it - well....whatever! :-/

Are there really any false patterns? Or is there simply lack of understanding or empathy with the pattern recognizer?

As you quoted, from Einstein - everything depends on the relationship between the observer and the observed

LB said...

Twilight ~ A number of astrologers have noted a link between asteroid Pallas (2) and pattern recognition, a gift that, as you said, lends itself to the study of astrology:

Speaking of pattern recognition, in the photograph you included of "The Bletchley Circle" cast, I recognized Anna Maxwell Martin as the same actress who starred in the BBC production of "Bleak House".:)

mike (again) said...

Well, it's nice to know that non-believers of astrology can say we are suffering from apophenia, but we in turn can say they suffer from randomania...LOL.

Twilight said...

LB ~ I hadn't read of that link before - thanks for the link. Yes - a pattern is there, or so it would seem from the examples quoted.

Anna Maxwell Martin in Bleak House - well, well well! Yes - I could easily see her as a Dickens-type. I think you'd enjoy The Bletchley Circle, LB - if it's available at your library.

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Um...from the link:
Michael Shermer coined the word "patternicity", defining it as "the tendency to find meaningful patterns in meaningless noise"

Michael Shermer, professional skeptic -
what a cold and boring life he must lead, writing and lecturing. Now there's meaningless noise if ever I saw or heard it!

mike (again) said...

Twilight, your pareidolia example of charred toast profiling Jesus is intriguing. When findings like this occur, there is typically a much larger population that accepts this original sighting of Jesus-toast, which leads to long viewing lines, then the Jesus-toast is put on ebay for bidding and consequently sold...usually with full details and accompanying photograph in the newspapers, evening news, or magazines. Those that also see the Jesus-toast image declare it to be a sign from heaven, which in turn bolsters their religious belief, individually and collectively. At the point of Jesus-toast's collective acceptance, it transforms away from pareidolia and becomes a religious surrogate that reinforces faith. Then the cycle repeats itself, but on tree bark, Doritos, pancakes, or whatever...Virgin Mary one time, Jesus another. LOL!

LB said...

Twilight ~ Thanks. "The Bletchley Circle" is going on my list!

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Yes indeedy!

Those instances where astronomers and others try to make sense (as we define sense) of markings seen on the surface of distant planets viewed through earthly telescopes. In most cases they make guesses then decide they are wrong.

We know so little of what's really out there, but guessing can be fun, if nothing else.