Model: the gift of disorientation

May 3rd, 2018

An example from the book told the following:


Imagine a white bunny in the corner of a room. You cannot see it's face, because it's hidden in the corner. All you can see is one big ball of fluff.

Seeing this ball of fluff, you can deduce:


We're in the living room. It probably either a toy, a pet or pet's toy.

There are no small children living here. Not a toy.

I did not see a dog, and the people I'm visiting are not really dog people. Not a pet's toy.

Kinda looks like it could be a bunny. It's a bunny



This would go in rapid fire in your head, probably with different options and different heuristics. But all the same, you would see some options, exclude the unlikely ones and come to a conclusion about it.


Children before a certain age cannot yet deduce logically. They should not be able to recognise it. Yet some are able. What you would typically see is the child running into the room. Notice the ball of fluff. Stand still because there is something unknown. And after a while shout out "Bunny!".


The book goes further to explain that people with dyslexia can go into disorientation .This usually happens automatically when coming upon an unknown.


Going back to the child it means isolating the bunny from the room. Picking it up. Looking at it from all sides and directions. Trying to match the unknowns (in this case the bottom and the parts facing the corner) with things it knows. And see if anything matches. All of this happens in the mind's eye.

Once they learn that things can be inside other things. For example by watching someone put something in a box, or take something out a box. They learn to dismantle objects and to combine objects. Move the parts around and look at them from all directions.


This looking from different sides, dismantling, combining in the mind and all combinations thereof is called the disorientation. Using this mechanism to fill in the unknowns is a wonderfully useful mechanism. It works on everything you find in the world.

Except for words that is...

If you apply this mechanism, which has never failed you, on the letters of a word you don't know the meaning of...

Dismantling a word into it's parts. scrambling them around, and putting it together. Looking at it and the parts from all sides.

...the unknown word becomes an unintelligible mass of letters. Which maybe even contains combinations of letters that would never occur in the language. One big mess.

Letters change depending on which side you look at it: q <-> p, u <-> n, ...


It does not work on words.



For all other purposes, it can be an amazing gift though.


Imagine an engineer who can dissemble a machine in the mind. Combine it in another way and see what the result would be. Move one part a little and does it make that scraping sound? Remove or break one part, does the machine fail in the same way it fails now?


Or for solving problems. Or for creativity. They are often helped by looking at something from a different perspective or angle.


Or a software developer trying to fix malfunctioning software. Dissemble pieces of interacting, change parts and reassemble.



I have even been able to apply this to reading as well. I've somehow learned to not disorient letters, or words, but only meanings. When reading, and coming across a word I don't know. I keep it in my mind as a blank/unknown. More context  from further reading, causes the possible meanings of the blank to become less and less.

It becomes more and more exhausting when there are more blanks, and when blanks are closer to each other.


When I'm in 'predictive reading' mode, this goes to the extreme. I read a couple words per sentence/paragraph, and combine these words in all possible combinations.

The place of the words in a sentence often contributes to the meaning. So reading like this looses exactness, which needs to be guessed from the context. But it gains immensely in speed. And it trades the need for concentration with the need for intuitive disorientation.


Example: when I happen to only read the words "A" "likes" "B"

  • "A likes B"

  • "B likes A"

  • "likes A B"

  • "A B likes"

  • ...

I ignore the meaningless combinations. I don't know exactly which influences which. But usually with context and extra knowledge I can guess.



But perhaps the most useful part I get from it, is my ability to doubt things I am certain of.


In software development. When I have checked all possible places where a problem could be caused. And thus the problem is impossible to occur, yet it does. I can choose to go into disorientation about everything.

  • I see the problem occurs, but does it really.

  • I know the problem could not possibly originate from a certain location. But maybe it does.

  • ...


Macro disorientation is exhausting. But sometimes... Things I know, things I am 100% sure of are wrong.


(src: Book: The gift of dyslexia)