Pattern matching and the human mind

The human mind is a pattern-matching machine. I have a habit of pattern matching license plates as I drive. Since I work in the field of IT, I’ve developed quite a list of acronyms that I recognize and can match for. My license place, for example, contains the letters AJX, which I expand to AJAX.

This behavior, I believe, gives us great insight into how the mind works. First of all, the mind is wired to try and make sense out of the environment in which it finds itself. It is almost as if we expect the world around us to make sense.

Second, our pattern matching abilities are commensurate with the patterns we know about beforehand. One of the strongest patterns all humans excel at recognizing is that of the human face. We are so good at matching it that we often come up with false-positive matches where we see “faces” where none really exist.

Third, our pattern matching is surprisingly fluid. Our minds, often unconsciously, will go to great lengths to match a pattern even if the data we are given isn’t an exact match for an existing pattern. That is what happens when I expand my co-worker’s license plate to read ‘bible’ even though the actual letters are BLE.

Now one could believe, I suppose, that this powerful pattern matching ability just magically arose through the combination of random mutation and the liberal application of time (though not infinite time). However I would argue that our cognitive systems, our mental faculties, themselves bear the markings of design. And because of that I believe that the human mind is among the most powerful evidence that exists for an intelligent designer being at the heart of the world we find ourselves in.

In fact, we might call this entity the intelligence designer.

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One response to “Pattern matching and the human mind

  1. Pingback: Implications of a pattern matching mind | Reason To Stand

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