Sights Unseen — The Monkey Business Illusion
by Irwin Kula
Before you read on, watch this video that was an Internet sensation. I guarantee you will be surprised.
If you are like the majority of people, including myself, who have watched this video you missed something that was right before your eyes.? You experienced the phenomenon called “inattentional blindness”. It turns out that we consciously see only a small subset of our visual world, and when our attention is focused on one thing, we often fail to notice other, unexpected things around us — including very major things going on right in front of our eyes.
This is why we can seriously have our eyes on the road and pay attention to our driving and honestly say we just never saw the deer that ran out in front of our car.
Seeing is much more than having our eyes wide open, we see far less of our world than we think we do.? Obviously this can contribute to real world problems whether it is TSA agents manning baggage scanners at airports or radiologists reading x-rays whose expectations and focus might actually make them more susceptible to miss things right in front of their eyes. ?Here is another video that is a bit more unnerving on what we can miss.
I have begun using these videos as a spiritual practice to cultivate humility and perspective– two important virtues and character strengths for human flourishing.? There are so many of these sorts of videos available and watching one as a weekly ritual has been quite illuminating.? I am reminded to be less sure of what I know, to be a bit skeptical about my own perceptions, memories and judgments, and to hold what I do know a little more lightly.? It is an entertaining and simple way to learn an important piece of wisdom.
Truth be told though, my wife does not buy my excuse of “inattentional blindness” when my intense focus in watching a football game on TV makes me miss her walking into the room!
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