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What Your Mind Will Not Let You See

mind see selective attention unconscious

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#1    Still Waters

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 12:30 PM

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?


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#2    libstaK


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Posted 12 June 2013 - 12:41 PM

Neither of those experiments are at all good, here's my take on the second one below:


Okay, that stunt was not a very good experiment, but twenty years later the eminent psychologist Ulric Neisser did a better job. He filmed a video of two teams of students passing a basketball back and forth, and superimposed another video of a girl with an umbrella walking right through the center of the screen. When he asked subjects in his study to count the number of times the ball was passed, an astonishing 79 percent failed to notice the girl with the umbrella. In the years since, hundreds of studies have backed up the idea that when attention is occupied with one thing, people often fail to notice other things right before their eyes.
- The subjects have been given the perception the purpose of the experiment is to count the number of times the ball is passed.
- The subjects will be focussed on the ball
- The subjects would be well within their rights to filter out any distractions that might make them lose count as it could be a purposeful ploy to ensure their failure.
- Their minds could come to such a conclusion in a nano second and get on with it - leaving their focus and therefore memory totally engrossed on the number of times the ball was passed.
- The experiment was flawed because it created a specific mindset in the subjects that allowed for filtering due to competitive instincts and the egoic need to be right about the number of times the ball was passed.  They may have been selective but consciously selective rather than the mind not letting them see the girl.

Edited by libstaK, 12 June 2013 - 12:46 PM.

"I warn you, whoever you are, oh you who wish to probe the arcanes of nature, if you do not find within yourself that which you seek, neither shall you find it outside.
If you ignore the excellencies of your own house, how do you intend to find other excellencies?
In you is hidden the treasure of treasures, Oh man, know thyself and you shall know the Universe and the Gods."

Inscription - Temple of Delphi

#3    Beany


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Posted 12 June 2013 - 01:49 PM

I think I read somewhere that our minds have to filter, otherwise we would become overstimulated and unable to organize all of the input, assign relative importance, etc.; that if there weren't filters we would be bogged down by all of the minutiae that's presented to our sensory organs. I think, could be wrong, that's one of the symptoms of autism, inability to filter, which feels like a constant assault on the senses. Not sure about this though, I'll need to do a little research.

#4    Babe Ruth

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 12:43 PM

A very good article about human perception.

It reminds me of 2 things--the new movie "Now You See Me", which is about the deception of magic tricks (and more), and the phenomenon of cognitive dissonance, so prevalent in the species.

Yes, the mind is a wonderful thing, despite its limitations and shortcomings.

Also tagged with mind, see, selective attention, unconscious

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