I recently came across a video that is absolutely fantastic. It’s called the Invisible Gorilla. It’s a test of attention and illustrates something called Change Blindness. If you think you are an observant person, these videos may change your mind. I’m going to share a few videos, so if you are reading this in an email or RSS reader, you’ll want to click through to the site to view the amazing videos.
Here is the first called The Selective Attention Test.
Watch the video and then we’ll see how you did? According to Daniel Simons only about 50% of the people pass this test. I find this amazing. The first time I saw this video, I already had read about it, so I knew what to expect. Happily he posted another video also.
In this video called The Monkey Business Illusion, he expects you to be on the lookout for changes. Watch this one and see how you do.
How did you do? Be sure to tell me in the comments. I was able to see the gorilla and one of the other changes, but I missed one change.
I consider myself to be rather observant, and I must say it really irritates me to have missed anything. I have even practiced becoming more observant by mentally reminding myself to pay attention and see things I might not normally see. I practice this from time to time. Sometimes I’ll do it while driving to work, or maybe while walking in the park, or even when sitting outside my house. So when I miss things and I’m really trying to see them, that is most irksome.
Even though it’s irksome, it’s actually pretty normal. Like I said earlier, about 50% of the people miss the change. I find this absolutely fascinating. Why is it that we miss things so easily? The concept behind this is called Change Blindness. It’s actually the same concept behind sleight of hand, but seeing it in videos like these bring that concept to a whole new level.
Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons are the creators behind these videos. The have recently published a book called The Invisible Gorilla. In the book they use a variety of stories and counterintuitive scientific findings to reveal an important truth: Our minds don’t work the way we think they do. Judging by the videos, I’m going to have to agree with that statement.
The really eye-opening part of all this is that this Change Blindness has real world consequences. Imagine making a turn at an intersection, and while looking for cars you miss seeing a pedestrian, bicycle, or motorcycle. Imagine convicting someone of a crime you witnessed based on the fact that you knew it was them, and later through DNA testing you find out it wasn’t. These are just a couple of examples. The book, The Invisible Gorilla, is full of many more.
I want to share one more video with you. It’s from a Ted Talk on Counter Intuition by Daniel Simons.
I am completely amazed at all this. I’m going to have to pick up the book. If you’d like to order the book, you can order it from Amazon here: The Invisible Gorilla
Be sure to check out the follow-up to this post on Being Observant.