Inattentional Blindness Makes You Blind To The Unexpected
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There are 32 coffee mugs in the image below, but did you notice that one of the coffee drinkers is a gorilla? If not, blame inattentional blindness. As it turns out, your mind is capable of making unexpected objects invisible right before your very eyes.Also called the "monkey business illusion," inattentional blindness refers to our inability to see objects if they're not the primary focus of our attention. According to a 2012 Smithsonian Magazine article by Experimental Psychologist Daniel Simons, "We consciously see only a small subset of our visual world, and when our attention is focused on one thing, we fail to notice other, unexpected things around us—including those we might want to see."
You Won't See All The Dots At Once In This Optical Illusion
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A seemingly simple line and dot optical illusion by Akiyoshi Kitaoka, a professor of Psychology at the College of Letters, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan, went viral online. Why? This black dot illusion can trip anyone up, as it shows a network of gray lines on a white background. Within this matrix, there are 12 black dots, each at the intersection of some gray lines. The maddening part about this is that you can't see all the black dots at once. One reason we can't see all the dots at once is due to our not-perfect peripheral vision. The density of photoreceptors in our eyes plummets in our peripheral vision, meaning if you're not staring straight at something, it becomes a lot harder to make out. But you can also blame lateral inhibition. Because the black dots sitting at gray line intersections do not contrast as much, our brain washes over the dots with gray, rendering them invisible. To see it in action, check out the video below.
Scientists Make Stale Chips Taste Fresh With An Audio Edit
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For a study published in 2004, participants wore headphones as they bit into 180 identical Pringles potato chips and rated each one on its freshness. The headphones let them hear real-time audio of the crunch with each bite, but what they didn't know was that the researchers were subtly changing the sound: they boosted or lowered the high frequencies of some chips and turned up or down the volume on others. The results showed that people will rate a chip as tasting fresher if the crunch has more high frequencies or a louder volume, and more stale and soft when the high frequencies or volume were turned down. This interaction of multiple senses, known as crossmodal perception, is nothing new. In fact, the researchers got the idea from a phenomenon called the "parchment skin illusion," where scientists can change your perception of your hands' texture by altering the sound you hear when you rub them together.
Key Facts to Know
Crossmodal perception occurs when two or more of your senses interact with each other. 0:44
People associate sweet and sour tastes with high-pitched notes and umami and bitter tastes with low-pitched notes. 2:32
Auditory-taste synesthetes taste flavors on their tongue when they hear certain sounds without requiring any food present. 3:37
These Hearts Are The Same Color, But It Doesn't Look Like It
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Optical illusions don't tell us much about our vision. Instead, these illusions give us insight into the way our brains interpret colors and images. After all, our brains decipher visuals; our eyes are just the messengers. Our brains may actually perceive colors based on how they compare to surrounding colors, not just from the color itself. The "flash lag illusion" reveals an interesting thing about our brain as well: that we're living ever so slightly in the past. Roughly 80 milliseconds in the past, that is, because it takes some time for our brains to perceive images.
The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy
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500 years ago, Nostradamus wrote these words: "Beasts wild with hunger will cross the rivers, the greater part of the battle will be against Hister. He will cause great men to be dragged in a cage of iron, when the son of Germany obeys no law." Battle against Hister? Son of Germany obeys no law? Clearly, Nostradamus predicted the rise of Hitler. Not so fast: all we have to go on are these few similarities to details in World War II. Assuming such a bold prediction requires us to focus on the parts that match up with our conclusion and ignore the ones that don't, such as "beasts wild with hunger will cross the rivers," and the fact that "Hister" is actually the Latin name for the Danube River. This is an example of the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy: making an argument based on certain information, then using that same information to confirm it, often while dismissing whatever doesn't support it. This fallacy is related to the clustering illusion, a cognitive bias that leads people to see a pattern in what's really just simple randomness.
from PBS Idea Channel
Key Facts to Know
The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy is when an argument is made and confirmed using the same set of information. It's named after a story of a Texan who shoots at the side of a barn, then paints a bullseye over the holes to make it look like he's a great shot. 0:18
A Texas Sharpshooter ignores information outside of a desired result. Only things which have hit a target drawn after the fact are considered worthy. 0:51
The Texas Sharpshooter is related to confirmation bias, where people people tend to interpret things in ways that confirm their own beliefs while ignoring information that challenges them. 2:06