Saturday, February 15, 2014

Inattentional blindness

Did you ever look for an item that was right under your nose? Did you ever fail to notice something that was obvious and happening right in front of your eyes? This is a phenomenon called inattentional blindness.

The following demonstration requires that you don't read the rest of this article before playing the following video and taking the test.

Note: play the video in full screen for better effect!

The author of this test explains that it works for about 50% of the people. And people for whom it didn't work have a hard time imagining how other people may not have seen the gorilla. But we're all susceptible to this inattentional blindness. If you didn't get fooled by this test, you would be, by another test.

In order to push further this notion, psychologists have decided to test expert observers to see whether they're also susceptible to inattentional blindness. So they tested radiologists whom they tasked with finding pathologies in CT scans of lungs. 83% of them have been blind to the extra little thing:


When we haven't noticed something, we should not conclude that it wasn't there. And this sort of reasoning is important in courts. There are other famous(-ish) examples where we didn't see something very visible like the Pandoravirus which was so big that researchers never even thought about looking for a virus of that size.

There might be a cow in your living room right now, without you noticing! ;-)

Food for thought.

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