Making a startling discovery, a scientist has claimed in his new book that the evolution of vision has provided humans with four real superpowers: telepathy, X-ray vision, seeing the future, and speaking with the dead.
And, as it turns out, these superpowers have been instrumental in shaping the way people interact with one another and see the world.
Mark Changizi, a neurobiology expert and assistant professor in the Department of Cognitive Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has detailed the most basic scientific assumptions about human vision in his book, titled 'The Vision Revolution: How the Latest Research Overturns Everything We Thought We Knew About Human Vision'.
"Our brains don't come with user's manuals listing all the powers we're capable of - much of what our eyes can do is still not yet known. That's why I think this is new, important, exciting stuff, because we are still today learning about powers we didn't even know we have," said Changizi.
The new book is a guided tour in which Changizi sets out to answer four misleadingly simple questions-Why do we see in color? Why do our eyes face forward? Why do we see illusions? And why does reading come so naturally to us?
The short answers of the above questions are-because we are telepathic, because we have X-ray vision, because we can see into the future, and because we can commune with the dead.
However, the longer answers are more like that of Charles Darwin, for example, our X-ray vision is actually advanced binocular vision that developed to allow our primate ancestors to see the forest through a vast clutter of leaves and trees.
Our telepathy is actually our color vision, which evolved to allow us to sense the emotions on the faces of others.
And our clairvoyance is actually an ages-old hack that enables our minds to compensate for the one-tenth of a second lag between when we see something and when our brain receives the visual information.
In The Vision Revolution, Changizi has tackled the four questions with a unique, interdisciplinary perspective.
A self-described "square, stick-in-the-mud, pencil-necked scientist," he has employed humor, a sprinkling of pop culture references, and intuitive everyday analogies to paint a rich picture of leading-edge theoretical neuroscience and evolutionary biology.
"In targeting the book toward non-experts as well as my research peers, I believe it becomes more exciting for both kinds of readers.
Non-experts don't want a book written just for non-experts. They want to read a book they know is genuinely part of the scientific conversation. And experts don't always need to have all the enjoyment sucked out of their readings, as in most journal articles," said Changizi.
The new book, which hit store shelves this month, is published by BenBella Books.