Language traps us in our perceptions

Did you ever learn the words to a song as a youngster and much later find out that you had misunderstood them so long ago, but every time you sang or listened to the song you heard or sang it the same way that you understood as a child?

Well, there are also things that are misunderstood by entire groups and sometimes those groups include almost everyone on the planet. 

Things that we see every day may not actually be what we say they are.  But we all say the same thing about them so there is a worldwide agreement about something that is right before our eyes but we don't really see.

These mistakes continue to be reinforced because they are trapped by our language.  By language I don't mean English or Russian, I mean language as in the words that we use to describe our world, that we use to communicate with one another, that we use to think with.

Here are two very common words that everyone uses all the time and in doing so blinds us to what is actually happening.  Sunrise and sunset.

But how can we not see what we see?  To anyone who stands and looks at the sky, it seems clear that the Earth stays in one place while everything in the sky rises in the east and sets in the west once a day.  The sun and stars all "rise" in the east and "set" in the west.  What could possibly be clearer?

Until the 16th century everyone didn't "think", they "knew" that the sun and stars went around the Earth.  It was so obvious.  The kind of thinking is called Geocentric, which means Geo (Earth) centered. 

But the closer the movements of the planets and stars were observed, the more questions arose that couldn't be answered in this Geocentric model. Nicolaus Copernicus answered these questions with a new model of the solar system.  His observations revealed that, contrary to popular opinion, the Sun was the center of the solar system and the planets revolved around it.  This became known as Heliocentric, which means Helio (Sun) centered.

The Merry-Go-Round

Imagine that you're sitting on a carved and painted wooden horse on a lovely old fashioned merry-go-round and it begins to move.  As it moves the people and the trees and buildings that are not on the merry-go-round look like they are going past you.  But you know that the people and trees aren't spinning – you are spinning.

Well, the Earth is like a very, very large merry-go-round and we are all on it and it's spinning.  We all know that the Earth spins, we learned that as kids, but it doesn't appear to be spinning.  But every 24 hours (1 day) it spins completely around one time.  We don't notice or feel the spinning like we do on the merry-go-round because the Earth is huge. 

If we were riding on the merry-go-round and a friend was standing on the ground, every time the merry-go-round spun one time our friend would "appear" for a short time and as the merry-go-round continued to turn in a short time the friend would "disappear". 

But wouldn't our view of our friend look just the same if the merry-go-round was not turning at all, but our friend was standing on a round moving sidewalk that surrounded the merry-go-round and was spinning around the merry-go-round?

It would look to us sitting on the merry-go-round that our friend would "appear" and "disappear" over and over again, the same way that it would look if he were standing still and we were spinning.

Why bring this up?

I bring this up because I have learned that when we begin to look at the Sun "rise" as the sun "appearing" because we are spinning on the merry-go-round called Earth, and the Sun "set" is actually the Sun "disappearing" because as the Earth spins the view is constantly changing slowly before our eyes and the view soon no longer includes our friend (or the Moon or the Sun), it is a different view. 

This is easier to understand if we watch the night sky over the space of a few hours.  As the Earth spins new stars continue to appear in the east, look as though they are moving across the sky toward the west, and finally disappear over the western horizon.