Documenting the Coming Singularity

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Inattentive? It's Not You, It's Your Brain

Blogger's Note: I know, I know, your brain is you, but I liked the catchy title...

Scientific American - 6.11.13 by Keith Payne

Scientists probe the biases of “unconscious selective attention”
Image: iStock/ Hamza T├╝rkkol
It was a summer evening when Tony Cornell tried to make the residents of Cambridge, England see a ghost. He got dressed up in a sheet and walked through a public park waving his arms about. Meanwhile his assistants observed the bystanders for any hint that they noticed something strange. No, this wasn’t Candid Camera. Cornell was a researcher interested in the paranormal. The idea was first to get people to notice the spectacle, and then see how they understood what their eyes were telling them. Would they see the apparition as a genuine ghost or as something more mundane, like a bloke in a bed sheet?

The plan was foiled when not a single bystander so much as raised an eye brow. Several cows did notice, however, and they followed Cornell on his ghostly rambles. Was it just a fluke, or did people “not want to see” the besheeted man, as Cornell concluded in his 1959 report?

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