Some Who Can’t See Believe They Can

Posted on 23 Jul 2017


A blind person with visual anosognosia is completely certain he can see, despite all evidence to the contrary. At first this sounds impossible, but it's a real syndrome. A person with it is blind but does not know it: As far as their self-awareness is concerned, they think they can see perfectly. [art link]

Anton-Babinski syndrome, more commonly known as “Anton’s Blindness,” is a rare symptom of brain damage occurring in the occipital lobe. Those who suffer from it are "cortically blind", but affirm, often quite adamantly and in the face of clear evidence of their blindness, that they are capable of seeing.

Failing to accept being blind, the sufferer dismisses evidence of their condition and employs confabulation to fill in the missing sensory input.  … Neurologist Macdonald Critchley describes it thus:

… It may be some days before the relatives, or the nursing staff, stumble onto the fact that the patient has actually become sightless. This is not only because the patient ordinarily does not volunteer the information that they have become blind, but he furthermore misleads his entourage by behaving and talking as though they were sighted.

Attention is aroused however when the patient is found to collide with pieces of furniture, to fall over objects, and to experience difficulty in finding his way around. They may try to walk through a wall or through a closed door on his way from one room to another. Suspicion is still further alerted when they begin to describe people and objects around them which, as a matter of fact, are not there at all.

Thus we have the twin symptoms of anosognosia (or lack of awareness of defect) and confabulation, the latter affecting both speech and behaviour.


Persons with this condition would obviously require very special care to ensure that they do not obtain jobs as taxi drivers. 🤔

On a small scale, visually, you have a type of this too. Everyone has a visual blind spot which we are convinced we do not have. 

Some process in our brains interpolates the blind spot based on surrounding detail and information from the other eye, so we do not normally perceive the blind spot.

More critically, we each have mental blind spots about ourselves and the world. Think about this as it applies to your life:

Certainly, in ourselves and in others, is not proof.

It is possible to be 100% certain of something and to be 100% wrong.

The unfortunate fact that we see the certainty of others as proof of truth has caused immeasurable human misery, and in some cases, perpetuation of shared delusions for generations. We humans are illogical and we are also largely blind to that fact.

Accepting our collective "logic blindness," could lead to new agreed upon standards of evidence and methods established, tools to help us "keep it real." This already happened. Remember the highly effective scientific revolution?

Unfortunately, we are seeing new high tech dark ages, even a glorification of loss of touch with reality. We have gone from a situation where the most thoughtful and careful thinkers reached people with information, to a chaotic echo chamber where everyone can hear everyone else and truth is lost in noise. 

[artist] There is a way out, the same way we ended the last Dark Ages, by getting smarter: deny dogma, uplift each other by fact checking what you share, and make it culturally cool and fun to have reasonable doubts, to investigate and to share findings. Remember Sherlock Holmes? The original written stories taught people how to reason things out using clues. Remember Myth Busters? Investigative journalism? 

Check facts before passing it on. Pass it on.

Posted in: Biology, Mind