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Mon Mar 1, 2021, 03:23 AM

My cat denies reality when it doesn't fit her experience.

I like to watch how pets react to new situations and solve problems.

My current cat, Ember, likes the fuzzy little wind-up toy chickens that stores sell in the spring, around Easter. This year I found a variation that looks similar, but is called a palm pet. When you hold it in your palm, it makes little peeps that sound exactly like a bird.

When Ember heard it she ran to the window to see where the bird was. I showed her the toy. She sniffed it, rubbed it, and looked out the window again. Each time it peeped, she jerked her head in a different position in the window, searching for the bird. She is normally very good at identifying the location of sounds. But, in her experience, the sound that the toy made could only come from a bird, and birds are only outside. Therefore, in spite of me holding the toy next to her to see where the peep came from, she continued to seek the source outdoors. She is normally a very clever cat, smarter than some I've had. But she could not believe new evidence before her eyes that conflicted with her previously learned experience.

A previous cat of mine, Leo, used to be fascinated with the cat in the mirror when he was a kitten. But, it didn't act like he expected another cat to act, so he was puzzled. Since he couldn't figure it out, he refused to look in mirrors after that. Turned his head away if I held him to a mirror. Would not let me turn his head to look. His attitude was like, "That does not compute, so I refuse to acknowledge it at all."

Then I realized how often people are like that, too. Indoor cats, with their limited experience of new situations, can be excused for sticking to set patterns of thinking. But what's our excuse as humans?



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Response to wnylib (Original post)

Mon Mar 1, 2021, 03:59 AM

1. You'd like the short book, the Fur Person

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Response to Karadeniz (Reply #1)

Mon Mar 1, 2021, 04:03 AM

2. Never heard of it. Do you have a brief summary?

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Response to TexLaProgressive (Reply #3)

Mon Mar 1, 2021, 08:11 AM

14. May Sarton. Boy I haven't thought of her in awhile

Thanks for the memories!

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Response to wnylib (Reply #2)

Mon Mar 1, 2021, 04:16 AM

5. Based, probably, on the author's cat, it traces cat's search for the right housekeeper and his life

In the home he selects. His explanations of his view of things are so in keeping with what a cat is surely thinking, it all makes perfect sense! I enjoyed it so much, I googled other cat stories to read and on every list of best cat books, it was listed! It's the best little cat book that no one's heard of until you start looking. The author had a long and wide-ranging career and is really talented.

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Response to Karadeniz (Reply #5)

Mon Mar 1, 2021, 04:43 AM

7. Thanks. I will look for it. Sounds good.

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Response to Karadeniz (Reply #5)

Mon Mar 1, 2021, 12:12 PM

20. Thanks, found the Kindle edition on Amazon for .99!

I think I might have read it a thousand years ago or so.

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Response to wnylib (Original post)

Mon Mar 1, 2021, 04:15 AM

4. K&R

and well written.

Thanks for posting.

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Response to wnylib (Original post)

Mon Mar 1, 2021, 04:25 AM

6. Years ago

First, very sweet stories about kitties. Enjoyed that.

I don’t have an answer but have been wondering a lot about this phenomenon, what with The Big Lie continuing.

This has been well over a decade ago, but research came out about people’s reluctance to record what they ate while dieting. They seemed to prefer denial or obfuscation over an assessment of the facts.

In another situation:

I was puzzled in my work with teaching writing. Why did some students turn in good essays while others turned in poor work or worse yet, nothing at all? So I had them keep a record of the time spent on the assignment. It emerged that that the poor performers spent little or no time on the assignment.


There seems to be an emotional component here, which would require a response that could enable a softer or more gradual acceptance of what some like to call the “cold, hard facts.”

Now think of Hawley this weekend, claiming that the US liberated slaves. This goes a step farther—making up an “alternative fact.”

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Response to NJCher (Reply #6)

Mon Mar 1, 2021, 04:51 AM

8. Right, and wasn't it Abe Lincoln who emaciated the slaves? 👀

Now think of Hawley this weekend, claiming that the US liberated slaves. This goes a step farther—making up an “alternative fact.”

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Response to progree (Reply #8)

Mon Mar 1, 2021, 04:53 AM

10. I think you meant "emancipated"?

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Response to wnylib (Reply #10)

Mon Mar 1, 2021, 04:55 AM

11. Nope, I meant emaciated, as an example of some idiotic thing Josh Hawley and people like him might

think in their garbled bizarro-world view of American history.

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Response to progree (Reply #11)

Mon Mar 1, 2021, 04:58 AM

12. OK. I get it.

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Response to wnylib (Reply #12)

Mon Mar 1, 2021, 05:00 AM

13. 😂❤️

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Response to NJCher (Reply #6)

Mon Mar 1, 2021, 04:52 AM

9. I usually waited until the last minute

to turn in papers, especially if they were only essays. For research papers, I collected information, but waited to put it all together. But, I always got good grades on them. Once I got into writing them, I did put in the time, which usually meant an all nighter. I wrote, rewrote, and had arrows and marginal notes all over my rough draft.

I needed the sense of urgency to get inside myself and pull out what I wanted to say.

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Response to wnylib (Original post)

Mon Mar 1, 2021, 10:02 AM

15. Our excuse as humans us that are memories are better and we have cultural learning

So you remember and act in accordance with what society tells you, even if it's just from an old book written thousands of years ago and the things they tell you aren't even in the book.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #15)

Mon Mar 1, 2021, 11:07 AM

16. Cultural learning has the advantage of

being able to pass on knowledge so we don't need to reinvent the wheel in each generation. It is also a means of passing on wisdom in the form of customs and stories which can be built on, reinterpreted, or rejected as circumstances change and new perspectives develop. It's the ability to change and adapt that is missing in some people.

The same is true of an individual's life experience and indepedent learning. The memory of what we experience and learn on our own, like my cat's awareness of birds outdoors, needs to be examined and updated from time to time when we encounter people and situations that don't fit the boxes we put them in.

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Response to wnylib (Reply #16)

Mon Mar 1, 2021, 11:30 AM

17. Yeah it needs to be updated, but we are biased towards not doing that unless forced to.

If your cat was starving, he'd start looking inside the house for birds. But until then, it doesn't occur to him to look elsewhere.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #17)

Mon Mar 1, 2021, 11:51 AM

18. I don't think that change is always

a consequence of being forced into it. Sometimes there is an "aha!" moment of recognizing inconsistencies between something we "know" and a situation in front of us.

I had a junior high teacher who used to tell us that from time to time in our lives we would need to pause, look around us, and reevaluate our perspectives about ourselves, life around us, and who we thought we were in relation to others and what we thought we knew. I did not understand him then, but did remember what he said later when I did understand his point.

Regarding my cat and looking for birds inside the house (instead of outside) if she was starving, she would still starve. No indoor birds here. But I think (hope) she would be smart enough to seek other sources, e.g. raiding cupboards or howling for attention from someone. This hypothetical situation assumes, of course, that I would not be around, since I would move heaven and hell to make sure she had food if I was present.

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Response to wnylib (Reply #18)

Mon Mar 1, 2021, 11:56 AM

19. Yes that's all true. I had teachers like that too.

As I got older, one surprise I have found is that while I listened to teachers like that, so many of my contemporaries didn't.

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Response to marylandblue (Reply #19)

Mon Mar 1, 2021, 12:22 PM

21. I think I remembered what he said

because it puzzled me and therefore got my attention. Like most kids that age, I thought that personal growth and learning stopped when we reached some final state of adulthood. But of course it doesn't and that's what adolescence is all about - finding our own path in life, accepting parts of what we learned as children, rejecting other parts, and finding our own truths, knowledge, and experiences to replace what we reject. Sometimes rejecting is only an act of rebellion. Other times it is deeper than that.

But even in adulthood, we still grow and change. That process does not end with the end of adolescence. It slows down a bit, maybe, but continues throughout life. And that is basically what the teacher was saying - it's a lifelong process, but only if we are open to it by taking time to pause and reflect once in a while.

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