Recalibrating Your Pattern Recognition Machine, Part 2

Adrian Hanft
3 min readSep 10, 2016


Last week I warned you that if you create something authentic, your masterpiece, it will most likely be ignored or attacked by people who have nothing to compare your creation to. People have to put things in mental boxes in order to evaluate things. It’s human nature, or what I call the pattern recognition machine.

I suggested that if your work is going to be change the world you will have to recalibrate the pattern recognition machine. What a bunch of bologna, right? What does that even mean? Let’s deconstruct that concept a bit more…

Remember the last time you shopped for a car? After you did your research, let’s say you decided on a used Nissan Rogue. One zombie-mobile among a sea of vanilla all of a sudden comes into focus for you. The next time you are on the road you will start spotting Rogues everywhere.

Are there suddently more Rogues in the world than yesterday? No, your attention has just been tuned to notice something that you previously ignored.

The name for this phenomenon is reticular activation. Your brain filters out 99% of the data that is blasting your senses at any moment. This is done pre-consciously. You can’t realize that you have spent your entire life ignoring Rogues until after your brain has been activated to their existence and their upgraded relevance in your life.

Your reality is defined by a pre-conscious filter that selects what items are worthy of your attention. Your beliefs are reinforced because your filter only picks out items that it has been trained to highlight. This is called confirmation bias and it is why one person sees Donald Trump as a villain and the next person sees him as a savior. Both are rational points of view when you understand the pattern recognition system inside people’s skulls.

How would you go about changing someone’s opinion of Donald Trump? You would think that a rational, fact-based argument (pro or con) would be enough to persuade someone of your point of view. You would be wrong.

Changing someone’s opinion requires you to change that person’s reality. You have to change the filter, the part of the brain that is working long before rationality and logic kick in. You need to hack the pattern recogntion machine.

What do the following two questions have in common?

“Have you noticed how every time Trump makes a statement someone will twist his words to try and make him look racist?”


“Have you noticed how every time Trump speaks he reveals himself to be a racist?”

Do you see it? This is the red Nissan in the sea of zombie-mobiles. Reticular activation. Depending on how your brain has been primed, you will embrace one of these statements and reject the other.

Let’s get back to the subject of your masterpiece. I have good news. Recalibrating the pattern recognition machine is not as hard as converting a Trump hater or supporter. You have already taken the first step by simply acknowledging the machine exists. I will tell you more next week in part 3.

You won’t want to miss my next story, because you are starting to imagine how much data you have already lost due to your pre-conscious filter. How could life be different if you could control that filter? The easiest way to avoid missing my next post is to follow me on Twitter (@ade3) or here on Medium. Stay creative.



Adrian Hanft

Author of User Zero: Inside the Tool that is Reshaping Dystopia