Robert Sapolsky on the human brain confusing the literal and metaphorical:
Volunteers were asked to evaluate the resumes of supposed job applicants where, as the critical variable, the resume was attached to a clipboard of one of two different weights. Subjects who evaluated the candidate while holding the heavier clipboard tended to judge candidates to be more serious, with the weight of the clipboard having no effect on how congenial the applicant was judged.
What do we make of this? If the brain confuses reality and literalness with metaphor and symbol with negative consequences, the opposite is also true:
Sapolsky points out that Nelson Mandela was wrong when he advised, “Don’t talk to their minds; talk to their hearts.” He meant “talk to their insulas and cingulate cortices and all those other confused brain regions, because that confusion could help make for a better world.”