Here’s something that is obvious intellectually, but that nobody ever seems to understand emotionally: Human experience is never objective. It is always calibrated to some norm.

For example, people who love rock and roll often think that classical music lovers are crazy, because they only listen to weird quiet music without a beat. To a rock’n’roller, classical music sounds like nothing is happening.

And of course the obverse is true as well. To a lover of classical music, rock sounds boring. There is little chromatic structure, loads of repetition, and not nearly enough dynamic range.

What’s interesting here is that each is thinking that the other is missing everything that is essential. The confusion is mutual.

This happens in so many spheres of life. Religious people believe that atheists are missing out on everything that is spiritually essential, and atheists believe the same about religious people.

Meat eaters believe that vegans are living in an aesthetically impoverished world, reasoning that a vegan diet is a strict subset of an omnivorous one. Yet vegans know, from experience, that there are vast empires of flavor which the meat eater does not even know about.

The way our tastes are calibrated strongly influences our view of the universe. Even if we know better on an intellectual level, our emotions give us the false impression that everyone else’s experience of the world is a sadly impoverished subset of our own.

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