Sunday, 7 May 2017

Seeing And Expecting

"'People see what they're expecting to see, mostly...'"
-SM Stirling, The Sunrise Lands (New York, 2008), Chapter Fifteen, p. 352.

James Blish adapted Star Trek. People assumed that he wrote the TV series. One person kept saying that he had done so even though I contradicted her several times. Another guy said that he saw Blish's name in the credits at the end of an episode.

None of the POTA (Planet Of The Apes) films was called Return To..., yet a new POTA film was referred to as this. The title was then given to an animated series about a first visit.

I expect we can all cite examples of people seeing what they expect. Some of Poul Anderson's characters see an alien and immediately compare it with some Terrestrial animal even though, on closer inspection, the resemblance is not really there.


David Birr said...

A "people see what they expect to see" reference I find particularly amusing, given that you mentioned *Star Trek*, is that one episode of the original *Mission: Impossible* series included disguise artist Paris using that phrase — and Paris was played by Leonard Nimoy.

My first exposure to James Blish's writing was when an aunt gave me one of his *Trek* adaptations, the seventh collection. I was thirteen or so, and had never yet watched an ENTIRE episode of the series, which had ceased original broadcast about two years before. (I vividly remember seeing PARTS of three episodes while visiting other family, because one of my uncles was a fan.)

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Yes, I have to admit I've often seen only what I expected to see. Which is rather lazy of me, when I should be more CONSCIOUSLY alert to or aware of what is around me.

Not only do human characters in the works of Anderson found resemblances to terrestrial animals (or humans, for that matter) attributed to non human rational beings which were not truly applicable to them, but aliens have sometimes done the same. A Merseian in "Day Of Burning", on seeing David Falkayn, thought him a dirty caricature of Merseiankind. I remember this Merseian preferring Adzel, because he was "honestly weird."