Friday, November 7, 2014

But How Could I?

Married to a gay man? How could you have not known?  How could you have been so clueless?

Of course, these are questions I asked myself. I think it doesn't necessarily come down to a lack of intelligence, although I am certain that I suffered from neural atrophy as a result of the obsequious nature that I developed in the cult, not to mention the lack of any mental stimulation.

I am in no position to defend myself, nor should I. But in the interest of understanding how such a bizarre situation could occur and continue, I will present the following.

As I mentioned before, just as the eyes are subject to visual illusions, so the rest of the brain can be easily deceived. A very strong mental illusion is the concept that we see what we are looking for ("seek and ye shall find"), and its reverse, we don't see what we are not looking for.

The former, seeing something we are looking for, is clearly portrayed by this story that occurred "in December 1978 when a red panda escaped from the zoo in Rotterdam, Holland. Red pandas are not indigenous to Holland. Besides being rare, they are distinctive in appearance and cannot be readily mistaken for any other sort of animal. To alert people in the area and aid in the panda’s return, the escape was reported by the zoo to the press. At the same time the newspapers came out with the missing red panda story, the panda was found dead near the zoo. Even though the panda was already dead, over 100 red-panda sightings were reported to the zoo from all over the Netherlands."*

What did the people see? They saw what they were looking for.

To illustrate the reverse, not seeing something right before our eyes, I will borrow an example from the book The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us. The authors relate the story that occurred on January 25, 1995 in Boston. Police were called to pursue a car full of suspects in a shooting. The suspects stopped their car in a cul-de-sac, got out, and each of them ran in different directions.

One officer on the scene, Michael Cox, a black, plain-clothes policeman in the antigang unit, chased a suspect who was climbing over a chain-link fence. As he was climbing, the officer's jacket got caught on the wire, and then he was hit on the head from behind by a blunt object, maybe a baton or a flashlight. He was then pulled from the fence and beaten; meanwhile the suspect escaped on the other side of the fence.

When the police who were beating Cox realized he was a cop, they stopped and ran away, leaving him unconscious and seriously injured. 

The case of the suspect was solved, but the issue of the beating remained open for years. No one admitted to beating the plain-clothes cop, and none of the 60 policemen who were on the scene even admitted to seeing the beating take place. When officers who passed by the scene in pursuit of the suspect were questioned about the beating, the best they could come up with was to say, "I think I would have seen that." The truth was that they were so focused on chasing the suspect that they genuinely didn't even notice. 

This case inspired the now-famous experiment that illustrates the illusion of attention, the invisible gorilla. The authors made a short film of 2 teams of players, one wearing white, one wearing black, who passed a basketball back and forth. Volunteers were to watch the film and count the number of times one of the teams passed the ball. Their answers were actually beside the point. In the middle of the film, a woman dressed in a gorilla suit walked to the center of the picture, beat her chest at the camera, and then walked off, staying in the film for a 9 seconds. The number of people who noticed her was less than half! Even more significant was the surprise shown by the participants when they were shown the gorilla on the film. How could they have missed it?

They only saw what they were looking for, and they had no idea that they could have overlooked something so blatantly obvious.

So it was with my marriage. I saw what I was looking for, and I was blind to what I was not looking for. And so it was in my life in the cult, as well. There were plenty of obvious things that I was not seeing.

*http://www.nsta.org/publications/news/story.aspx?id=53418

2 comments:

  1. Don't worry dear, I am gay and was born into this cult, I have also studied a lot of gay history and it is very understandable that you both thought you could live together and this gay thing would either disappear or be suppressed--After all, that's what major religions especially Christianity teaches you, But on the contrary, it's far from the case...btw if you are interested in reading my memoir, you can. it's called, "Cult Child Tells All" and is available on Amazon....Much blessings and strength to you as you go about discovering your new life....Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for your kind and encouraging words!

    I suppose if there had been open dialogue about sexual preferences in our marriage, things might have been different. The lack of honesty and my obliviousness were toxic.

    You must have had a somewhat confusing time facing up to your sexuality having been raised in the "Sodomy is sin" mindset of the cult. Kudos to you for overcoming and moving on. Wishing you all the best!

    ReplyDelete