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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Failure to Notice

The BBC News has an interesting article on our failure to notice changes in the scenes that confront us at every moment, especially where our vision is concerned.  Of course it relates to a scientific study that has been made on this situation, and the conclusion of the whole matter seems to be that it happens because we focus on particular things that, for one reason or another, grab our attention, while we ignore the rest, which is not that earth-shaking a conclusion.

My question is: how could it be otherwise?   All the senses are limited in some way, and they're not designed to be all-sweeping, not to mention all-reporting to the brain.   And the brain has to be discriminating in what it chooses to dwell upon, or else there would be a big mess going on up there eternally.

The studiers have devised a game that they use to test the failure to notice.   Meanwhile note that the article that I cite here is titled "How Blind to Change Are You?"   But I don't like the term the researchers are using for this phenomenon or malady, "blindness to change," because I have to take eyedrops twice a day for the duration, to keep glaucoma under control, and "blind" is not one of my favorite words.  The article had a couple of videos that were like that game, but I couldn't bring myself to use them to test myself.  Yet I would very much like to get a copy of that game and to play it, because the failure to notice is a regular bugaboo of my life.  And probably the biggest effect of it is to be constantly losing things that, more often than not, are right there in front of me.  I hate to think of how many of my waking hours are spent looking for missing things that are not missing at all.

So, even with studies like this one, it's hard to see what can be done about failure to notice.

This makes me think of films you see of various kinds of operatives in training to be spies, special forces teams, the CIA, and the like, in which supposedly these men are trained to notice each and every detail in each and every scene that they go through, during their missions of deception and mayhem.  

I always thought, and still think, that that is a big crock, just like the operations for which those people are in training.

But then, while on the one hand I tend to stay tightly focused on one thing or another, on the other hand I am easily distracted and diverted by what others may see as being highly extraneous, such as the sounds of birds and insects and the formations of clouds.

I see nothing wrong with that. 


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