Inattentional Blindness Explains Everything


When you’re looking for something else, you miss a lot.  That’s the idea behind the psychological phenomenon of “inattentional blindness.”  From an abstract listed on iPerception:

Inattentional blindness—the failure to see visible and otherwise salient events when one is paying attention to something else—has been proposed as an explanation for various real-world events. In one such event, a Boston police officer chasing a suspect ran past a brutal assault and was prosecuted for perjury when he claimed not to have seen it. However, there have been no experimental studies of inattentional blindness in real-world conditions. We simulated the Boston incident by having subjects run after a confederate along a route near which three other confederates staged a fight. At night only 35% of subjects noticed the fight; during the day 56% noticed. We manipulated the attentional load on the subjects and found that increasing the load significantly decreased noticing. These results provide evidence that inattentional blindness can occur during real-world situations, including the Boston case.

So when we’re focused on one thing, we tend to miss other things.  For instance, when the Obama administration is focused on stimulus spending and disrupting the health care system, they’re missing this:

On the other hand, maybe the American voter is suffering from inattentional blindness.  They’re focusing so hard on finding a job they’re missing the good news that’s out there.

There is good news, isn’t there?

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  1. Profile Photo Inactive
    Rob Long:

    There is good news, isn’t there? ·

    Um, nothing springs immediately to mind.

    Well, Wimbledon is on, and I am going today :-)

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  2. Profile Photo Member

    The good news is that the bad news keeps getting worse. Maybe, finally, we will face up to what we are doing to ourselves.

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    For those who haven’t seen it, the Invisible Gorilla is a great demonstration of inattentional blindness.

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  4. Profile Photo Member

    Inattentional blindness is the reason Frodo & Sam were able to get to Orodruin – Sauron never conceived of the idea that someone might wish to destroy the ring instead of use it.

    ‘Alcohol-induced inattentional blindness’ would be the scientific term for beer goggles.

    It all boils down to a lack of situational awareness. It is very difficult to train oneself to be constantly aware of one’s surroundings. Humans can only process one task at a time. What we call multitasking is really just rapid shifting between tasks, which is never as effective as keeping one’s attention -Squirrel! – focused on one task at a time.

    The bottom line is that every now and then you have to step back and take another look at the big picture.

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    All true. Then there’s denial, when people just don’t want to face or admit to a disturbing or dangerous situation.

    Obama still has a 44% approval rating.

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    Hello? Texting-While-Driving… We really needed another psycho-social science study to tell us what we already knew. Were the “researchers” working under a government grant? Let’s take a minute and think up all the obvious things we can get grant dollars to “study”. Howabout situational deafness in teenagers or spouses? Huh? Oh, sorry, I didn’t hear you.

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    I think the “Friday Night Document Dump” is related to this phenomena, such as in this case

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    Rob Long: So when we’re focused on one thing, we tend to miss other things.

    Someone give this man a government research grant. Maybe a leftover from the stimulus package.

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  9. Profile Photo Member

    Is that like the MSM focusing on how Stupid the number 2, Sarah Palin, is and totally missing the Stupidity at the top of the other ticket?

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  10. Profile Photo Inactive

    What? Did you say something?

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  11. Profile Photo Member

    Then there’s the hideous Bugblatter Beast of Traal. It’s constantly ravenous and unstoppably aggressive, but also incomparably stupid: you protect yourself against its attack by covering your head with your towel. It assumes that since you can’t see it, it can’t see you, and you can safely make your escape.

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    Paul A. Rahe: The good news is that the bad news keeps getting worse. Maybe, finally, we will face up to what we are doing to ourselves. · Jun 21 at 5:38am

    Don’t underestimate the capacity of human beings to rationalize away bad news. There was an interesting quote from a young Syrian journalist:

    “People in Damascus might be well educated, but they’ve got the wisdom or emotional development of a teacup. They still reason by comparison. It’s not ‘What could Syria do with its resources?’, it’s more like, ‘Look at Iraq, look at Lebanon. We don’t want to have a civil war like Iraq.’ But in Lebanon and Iraq, civil wars were fuelled by evil proxies such as Syria and Iran. In Syria, we are the evil proxy.”

    Let’s hope that things don’t have to reach the level of Assad’s Syria before the bulk of Americans wake up.

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    Peter Gøthgen – Squirrel!

    That bit there literally made LoL.

    To quote Larry the Cable Guy, “That right there’s funny, I don’t care who ya are!”

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    Stuart Creque: Then there’s the hideous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.

    Hitchhiker references are always appreciated. Thank you.

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  15. Profile Photo Inactive

    Funny, I hadn’t noticed this until you pointed it out.

    • #15
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