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Critical thinking, intuition and other keys to “perceptual intelligence”

Brian Boxer Wachler is a successful eye doctor, and he turns out to be a proficient writer, too.

Read it on getAbstract

In his new book Perceptual Intelligence, Boxer Wachler draws up a new guide for defining how humans perceive and interpret the world.

“We all sense reality through our own perceptual filters,” Boxer Wachler writes.

He spoke to getAbstract about his book:

Everyone is familiar with IQ, of course, and there’s also the relatively new idea of emotional intelligence. You’ve defined something new. What is perceptual intelligence?

Boxer Wachler: Perceptual intelligence is how we interpret our experiences to make better decisions based on separating fantasy from reality. It can be improved, just like any other type of intelligence. If people want to make better decisions, they definitely need to improve their perceptual intelligence. It affects business decisions, financial decisions, athletics, keeping in shape, religion. The most popular chapter in the book is the one about sex. Some people have said it’s really improved their sex life. One thing we talk about in the book is the role of fantasy with a partner. The book gives people that freedom to understand that it’s OK to fantasize.

You talk about people with low perceptual intelligence being more susceptible to peer pressure and following the crowd. That seems to be a particular danger when making investment decisions.

Boxer Wachler: The reason that happens is that a lot of people don’t have confidence in themselves to make decisions. So the natural thing is to look around at what other people are doing. We call it the herd mentality. We talk in the book about Bernie Madoff. From Steven Spielberg all the way down to people with very modest means, people were investing with Madoff. The reason he had so many clients was that, on the surface, everyone was doing well. You had that social influence.

How do you analyze the 2016 U.S. presidential election through the prism of perceptual intelligence?

Boxer Wachler: During the campaign, the TV host Conan O’Brien hired a company that ran focus groups with Donald Trump supporters and Hillary Clinton supporters. They played audio of an impersonator saying terrible things in each candidate’s voice. When the Trump impersonator said something incredibly offensive, the Trump supporters were just defending and explaining away the comments. And when Clinton said something offensive, her supporters just explained it away. It’s funny to watch, but when you think of it, when people have strong emotions, it overrides any logic.

So how do I overcome that sort of biased thinking?

Boxer Wachler: We see emotions becoming the driver behind decisions. In any area, whether it’s politics or business or marketing, as soon as somebody’s emotions are getting triggered, that’s a red flag. The needs that are driving the decision can override any logic. Having well-developed critical thinking is very important to perceptual intelligence.

How can I improve my perceptual intelligence?

Boxer Wachler: Recognize if you are starting to feel an emotional direction. That’s what we call having insight about your feelings. Once you have insight, you can start to think about your decision. If it’s about a financial proposal, or a news story, you have to recognize the emotional triggers before you start to get excited about something. You also need to understand when to listen to your intuition and your gut feeling, which is totally different from having high critical thinking. Even though I’m a physician, I acknowledge there are a lot of things where we don’t understand how they work. Someone with high perceptual intelligence has a form of enlightenment, if I can go so far as to say that. I’m not a Buddhist, but having enlightenment is having a real self-awareness.

How would you rate Donald Trump’s perceptual intelligence?

Boxer Wachler: The fact that he surprised so many people in the U.S. and the world shows that, for what he wanted to accomplish, he is very smart. We know that he’s very intelligent. He has a high level of intelligence when it comes to achieving goals. He perceived what the truth was, according to his base. He was able to understand how to create a base and speak to his base. The people who thought he was a joke, it turned out their perception was wrong.

About Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler

Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler is a world-renowned ophthalmologist, a pioneer in the field of Keratoconus treatment, LASIK, and other advanced vision correction techniques. In 2010, Dr. Boxer Wachler received international recognition when he restored the eyesight of Olympic bobsledder Steven Holcomb, who won gold that year in the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler has spent the better part of two decades treating people’s sight, giving him a unique insight into how we use the gift of vision, including our power of perception. His new book, Perceptual Intelligence, (praised in reviews by Dr. Phil, Dr. Travis Stork, Caitlyn Jenner, Montel Williams, Apolo Ohno, and explores the science of perception.


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