We are hardwired to dismiss facts when they do not fit our world view.

“Most executives, many scientists, and almost all business school graduates believe that if you analyze data, this will give you new ideas. Unfortunately, this belief is totally wrong. The mind can only see what it is prepared to see!” (Edward De Bono)

“The mind can only see what it is prepared to see”! This understanding fundamental to  Edward Bernays the founder of corporate media propaganda, described in his books Crystallizing Public Opinion (1923) and Propaganda (1928) the masses as irrational and subject to herd instinct, and outlined how skilled practitioners could use crowd psychology and psychoanalysis to control them in desirable ways. His campaign for the tobacco industry in 1929 was to promote female smoking by branding cigarettes as feminist “Torches of Freedom”  

My father a senior accountant of a company taken over by  Procter & Gamble came home one evening visibly in distress a state that I never witnessed before or after (I was a child of maybe 10 years old) he was visibly shocked and said that the ideas influencing the Advertising department were nothing short of evil and involved manipulating the mind of the public.

see also “A Propaganda Model” by Edward Herman & Noam Chomsky Manufacturing Consent,  1988  https://chomsky.info/consent01/


Early beliefs formed by parents, friends, school policies, teachers, role-models, political propaganda, our cultural and religious background are almost invisible to us and as such are seldom transcended. A so-called nervous breakdown can sometimes be the beginning of an involuntary form of this transcendence of hard-wired personal beliefs.


The Sequence of information trap.

De Bono developed this idea that “The mind can only see what it is prepared to see”! He suggested that “We need creativity to break free from the temporary structures that have been set up by a particular sequence of experience.” He developed a training kit to illustrate this phenomenon that involved shapes given to individual participants who were split into two control groups. In the control group, “A” each individual was initially given a set of regular geometric shapes and asked to combine them to form one overall shape. Then some more complicated non-regular geometric shapes were given and asked to be added into the first combined shape. Group “B” was given the same total set of shapes but all at the same time. Group “B” had no problems incorporating all the shapes in one combined shape. Group “A” had difficulty and frequently some individuals rejected the second set as incompatible, only those in the “A” groups who were prepared to deconstruct their initial combined shape and start again were able to incorporate all the shapes together. 



Generally, it is true that “The mind can only see what it is prepared to see” and we are hardwired to dismiss facts that do not fit our world view! However, if we unreservedly incorporate this fact into our understanding and we are prepared to submit to the creative process, do the very hard work required (an act of intent) to deconstruct our own beliefs and world view (rather like an intentional nervous breakdown); we can learn to incorporate new incompatible information or facts into an updated view of our world. It never ends, remember, our current understanding is never final, only best available at our present stage of development.