Blindness, Colors, Perceptions, God, Language
(Top Posts - Science - 012605)

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Regarding colors ...

People blind from birth are endowed with a great
advantage over sighted people in their senses apart
from sight, and to the extent that they are well-edu-
cated, they are fully aware of the concept called
colors.

Simply put, colors, for them, can be sensed via con-
text, similar to the way we sense colors, and with
the addition of lightwave meters, a person blind
from birth can, with appropriate training, skillfully
and without failure accurately ascertain an object's
color.

Whereas any non-color-blind sighted individuals
relate to color differently than do persons blind
from birth, or blind after birth, or color-blind at
some point, the naturalistic manner in which
color operates in human perception is far more
complex than most humans ponder, very often.

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Regarding God(s) ...

With blind faith, believers have no god to show
for all their effort, for blind faith believes in spite
of the evidence, not because of it.

A natural world? Fascinating to study, scientifically.

God? A fascinating study in that humans have, through-
out *written* history, come up with all sorts of conflicting
assertions and claims regarding assorted versions of
such beings. Scientifically? Fascinating to study the
psychology and sociology and history of human behav-
ior regarding God myths, a rich source of material re-
flecting what humans have imagined regarding unsub-
stantiated beings and places asserted to be alternate
realities.

Colors and blindness and God? Here's a thorough
exposition regarding such matters ...

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All should be able to relate to a person totally sightless
from birth by virtue of the fact that all of us cannot see
99.9 % of the electromagnetic spectrum. However, of
note, to totally relate to what it's like to be totally blind
from birth, needless to say, only those totally blind from
birth can relate to that, experientially.

One of my favorite stories on blindness involves Helen
Keller, and I'll relate that as a postscript to the following
details:

Comparing something existent and capable of being
adequately documented to a person missing the
sense of sight (clarification, many legally blind people
actually see color, and technological advances are
being made which are allowing totally nonsighted peo-
ple and partially sighted people to access the sense
of sight in varying ways) does not correlate to some-
thing for which no evidence exists (the imagined be-
ings, including God, angels, demons, Gods, devils,
jinns, the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, elves, gremlins,
goblins, ghosts, spirits, Allah, christs, etc.).

The lack of evidence for imagined beings (and, for
that matter, imagined places like heavens and hells)
remain non-empirical for everyone, including persons
with the full range of vision confined to a piece of the
electromagnetic spectrum (i.e., normally sighted peo-
ple), persons with sight who are color blind, persons
who have partial sight, formerly fully sighted persons
who have lost sight, or persons who have never had
any sight).

Speaking of sensing colors, no human is naturalistically
endowed with sight in the areas of infrared or ultraviolet,
radio or microwave, x-ray or gamma ray, but sensors
detect those waves. These are non-contentious issues,
unlike supernatural beings and places and the dogmas
attached thereto.

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Fascinating topic, that of light ...

Excerpts from
http://www.howstuffworks.com/light2.htm

... Light waves come in many sizes. The size of a wave
is measured as its wavelength, which is the distance
between any two corresponding points on successive
waves, usually peak-to-peak or trough-to-trough.

The wavelengths of the light we can see range from
400 to 700 billionths of a meter. But the full range of
wavelengths included in the definition of electromag-
netic radiation extends from one billionth of a meter,
as in gamma rays, to centimeters and meters, as in
radio waves.

Light is one small part of the spectrum.

Light waves also come in many frequencies. The fre-
quency is the number of waves that pass a point in
space during any time interval, usually one second.
It is measured in units of cycles (waves) per second,
or Hertz (Hz). The frequency of visible light is referred
to as color, and ranges from 430 trillion Hz, seen as
red, to 750 trillion Hz, seen as violet. Again, the full
range of frequencies extends beyond the visible
spectrum, from less than one billion Hz, as in radio
waves, to greater than 3 billion billion Hz, as in gamma
rays. ... visible light occupies only one-thousandth of
a percent of the spectrum.

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Also of technological interest, the wide array of sight
capabilities within non-human animals, all specialized
based on the evolutionary niche within each species
(a few examples follow) ...
http://www.philadelphiazoo.org/index.php?id=8_2_1

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Another item of interest on colors, about 8% of men
and 0.4% of women have some form of color blind-
ness per the following article ...
http://www.visibone.com/colorblind/

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About colors, perception, lighted/dark rooms ...

Another item of interest on colors, the impact of nearby
colors on perception, and the impact of lighting on both
colors and perception. In a totally dark room, for example,
if someone said they had a blue ball, would you believe
them?

[in the motif of analogy, a lengthy one follows]

Well, you might believe them, or you might think they were
deceiving you. Even in a dark room, you might ask to hold
the ball, to verify there actually was a ball, even though you
would not be able to visually ascertain the ball's color.

Once the light was turned on, the truth would be revealed,
in a manner of speaking. If you had not asked to hold the
ball in the dark room, could you be sure any ball shown
after the light was turned on was indeed the same ball
claimed in the dark room?

In any case, assuming a ball is shown, its color would be
determinable in a manner of speaking (as blue can border
on green or purple quite easily, so the actual color of a so-
called blue ball may be contentious -- also of note, the light
in the room the ball is viewed in impacts the perception of
its color, so in a room with blue light, the ball's color would
be perceived differently than in a sunlit room or a room with
green light, red light, or purple light -- even in a sunlit room,
the colors of the walls and the colors of the windows the
sunlight was passing through would impact the perception
of the ball color).

Would any of the afore-mentioned scenarios change the
nature of the ball? No, but there are substances that actually
change physical color based on environmental factors like
heat, and those would have to be taken into account as a
possibility. Also, needless to say, the ball would not be a
ball were it to be altered (by burning, compressing, freezing
and breaking, ripping, or other methods), so its character-
istics and existence are constrained by environment and
the actions of others.

Would there be a way for the ball's color to be accurately
determined, based on an objective measurement of the
spectrum of non-filtered sunlight it reflected? Certainly.

Would that color be blue? Well, it would be whatever word
is assigned to its point on the electromagnetic spectrum
(and hey, I didn't even mention the possibility of it being
a complex array of intermingled colors, or even, for the
purpose of trickery, a colorless clear ball).

Obviously, the scientific method is the optimum way to
reveal the ball's color, colors, or lack of color. Claims
about the ball's color don't alter the nature of the ball.

As previously mentioned, there may never have been
any ball at all (in the dark room), there may have merely
been claims. With the light on, the characteristics of
a ball (perhaps the same ball as was in the dark room,
perhaps not) may be examined, thoroughly.

With the concept called God, there is no ball to hold,
whether the room is dark or brightly lit, but there are
innumerable claims regarding a ball (or, in the case of
polytheism, lots of balls), and no way to validate any of
them, as humans spend inordinate energy pretending
to toss a ball around that cannot be sensed, measured,
seen, heard, touched, or evidenced in anything but an
imaginary way. Many humans even think their ball is all,
but most suspect (in moments of clear and dispassion-
ate reasoning) that there really is no ball at all.

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Postcript: Helen Keller

Excerpt from Carl Sagan's classic "The Dragons of Eden:
Speculation On the Evolution of Human Intelligence",
describing Helen Keller's (who could neither hear, see,
or speak) first exposure to human language:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0345346297

One day, Miss Keller's teacher prepared to take her for
a walk:

She brought me my hat, and I knew I was going out
into the warm sunshine. This thought, if a wordless
sensation may be called a thought, made me hop and
skip with pleasure.

We walked down the path to the well-house, attracted
by the fragrance of the honeysuckle with which it was
covered. Someone was drawing water and my
teacher placed my hand under the spout. As the cool
stream gushed over my hand she spelled into the
other the word water, first slowly, then rapidly. I stood
still, my whole attention fixed upon the motion of
her fingers. Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as
of something forgotten--a thrill of returning thought;
and somehow the mystery of language was revealed
to me. I knew then that W-A-T-E-R meant that wonder-
ful cool something that was flowing over my hand.
That living word awakened my soul, gave it light,
hope, joy, set it free! There were barriers still, it is
true, but barriers that in time could be swept away.

I left the well-house eager to learn. Everything had
a name, and each name gave birth to a new thought.
As we returned into the house, every object which I
touched seemed to quiver with life. That was because
I saw everything with the strange, new sight that had
come to me.

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