27 June 2006

Learn This Word!

Apophenia: the experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or meaningless data. (ala John Nash in A Beautiful Mind)

Klaus Conrad coined the term and defined it as the "unmotivated seeing of connections" accompanied by a "specific experience of an abnormal meaningfulness".

He originally described it in relation to the distortion of reality present in psychosis, but it has become more widely used to describe this tendency in healthy individuals without necessarily implying the presence of neurological or mental illness.

In statistics, apophenia would be classed as a Type II error (false alarm).
(from the Wikipedia entry for Apophenia)

Here's the reason I think it's an important word / concept / idea / phenomenon: It has been suggested that apophenia is a link between psychosis and creativity.

The other reason this word matters: we are in an age when pattern recognition is more important than ever...


Dan said...

I wonder about the relationship between apophenia and hypomania. Any thoughts?

Gabe said...

Escpecially if your a strategic thinker. I think we should all strategically think. I feel too many people in our business get lost in the details leaving the grand plan in the hands of too few. They get pulled into the hairball. We need more gravitational force to pull a few more people out of the hairball.