The Bugs in Our Mindware – Issue 24: Error

Three baseball umpires are talking about how they play the game. The first says, “I call ’em as they are.” The second, “I call ’em as I see ’em.” And the third says, “They ain’t nothin’ till I call ’em.”

Most of the time all of us are like the first umpire, thinking that we’re seeing the world the way it really is and “calling ’em as they are.” That umpire is what philosophers and social psychologists call a “naive realist.”1 He believes that the senses provide us with a direct, unmediated understanding of the world. But in fact, our construal of the nature and meaning of events is massively dependent on stored schemas and the inferential processes they initiate and guide.

We do partially recognize this fact in everyday life and realize that, like the second umpire, we really just “call ’em as we see ’em.” At least we see that’s true for other people. We tend to think, “I’m seeing the world as it is, and your different view is due to poor eyesight, muddled thinking, or self-interested motives!”

The third umpire thinks, “They ain’t nothin’ till I call ’em.” All “reality” is merely an arbitrary construal of…

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