Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Perception is nine-tenths of knowledge, right?

Oh, the cliché goes something like that, I think.

In any case, our subject for torture today is the idea that once we've seen something enough times, we can know it, be entirely familiar with its nuances and even replicate it.

And then there's the letter g

In print, that is.

It doesn't look remotely the same as the way we write it.

For us, should we ever write anything by hand anymore, we have a circle at the top and a stick going down on the right-hand side, with a curl to the left at the bottom.

In print, however, it doesn't necessarily look like that.

Instead, it actually looks like a cat with a skinny torso and a very particular attitude.

A circle at the top, but a stick curving down on the left-hand side and, oh, just try to write it.

That's what researchers at Johns Hopkins University tried to get participants in research to do.

Just look at the results.

No one can do it.

No one can even ingest what they see and replicate it.

Yet it's the common way that g is expressed in so many books that people read.

It's even online a lot too. No, not here, but go to many a website and you'll see the posing cat with the unusually skinny torso.

If I sat you down now with enough food, water and Sauvignon Blanc for the next five years, I feel sure that you wouldn't be able to count the number of times you've seen this g.

I also don't believe you'd learn how to write it.

The researchers say that only one person managed to write something even close to the actual shape of the letter.

No one offered a truly accurate interpretation.

So, they posit, when we see something so many times, it doesn't mean that we necessarily see it at all.

And we don't necessarily have any idea of its actual components.

This might explain so much.

It seems that our cognitive abilities have serious gaps, ones that aren't easily explained.

Could it be these that the Russians shovel their fake news through?

I was just kidding. Gee.

Published on: Apr 5, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.