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The Invisible Gorilla Summaries

Autor:   •  August 8, 2011  •  3,476 Words (14 Pages)  •  4,877 Views

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Chapter 1: I Think I would Have Seen That

Chapter one introduces the first everyday illusion that our minds are subject to: the illusion of attention. Dan and Chris, psychology professors at Harvard University, conducted an experiment, "The Invisible Gorilla," that tested a subject's visual attention and awareness. During the experiment, which was recorded, a team would move around and pass a basketball back and forth, and the subject was told to count each pass. Halfway though the video, someone in a gorilla costume walked behind the players, thumped its chest, and continued to walk, noticeable for approximately nine seconds. Surprisingly, half of the subjects completely missed the gorilla! This experiment is widely known and is taught in many psychology classes around the world. Because people devote all their attention to one particular task or area, they will usually not notice unexpected objects, no matter how obvious they may seem. There are multiple cases that exemplify inattentional blindness; one case is that of Kenny Conley: a police officer who was chasing down a murder suspect and ignorantly passed a fellow officer who was being assaulted. Despite several interrogations, he consistently denied ever witnessing the assault of his colleague take place. Without any evidence to support his claim, "he was indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice." In another circumstance, a US submarine surfaced under a Japanese fishing vessel, despite the captain having thoroughly examined the particular area before ascending. Inattentional blindness is also often times the cause behind road collisions. One type of collision occurs when a car goes to make a left hand turn while a motorcycle is crossing the intersection. This mostly happens because even though the motorcyclist is in plain sight, the car driver is not expecting to see a motorcycle, but rather another car. Attempts to make motorcyclists more noticeable are fruitless; Steve Most (Delaware) and Brian Scholl (Yale) conducted a similar gorilla experiment in which a red cross traversed a black and white screen, the "red gorilla" experiment. Astonishingly, 30% of the subjects completely missed the red cross. Another collision occurs when the driver is engaged in a conversation on their cell phone. While people tend to believe that as long as they are looking at their surroundings and have their hands on the wheel, they will be able to accordingly react to any given situation, driving while using a cell phone is comparable to driving intoxicated. While using headsets would seem to help the problem, since the driver doesn't have to worry about holding the phone and is able to keep two hands on the wheel, it has no apparent effect; the driver's attention is still on the task of the cell phone conversation. Other cases involve training for pilots using a head-up display with an unexpected plane projected on the runway, a famous violinist playing a magnificent piece at a local subway station in MANHATTAN, accumulating very few listeners, and a surgery in which a precondition, guidewire, was not removed after the surgery, causing infections, despite X-rays having been checked by multiple doctors. While everyone's mind is subject to the illusion, certain professionals are able to void out the effects IF it is in their area of expertise. However, as we continually progress in technology, we become only more subject to inattentional blindness.

Chapter 2: The Coach Who Choked

Chapter two introduces the second everyday illusion that our minds are subject to: the illusion of memory. "The illusion of memory reflects a basic contrast between what we think we remember and what we actually remember. One case involves the accounts of Indiana coach Bobby Knight and one of his players, Neil Reed, about an incident that took lace during one practice. According to Reed, Knight went off on him for incorrectly performing a drill, but he stood his ground. Knight then approached him and grabbed around his throat. Assistant coaches and players tried to separate the two of them. According to Knight, however, attested that he "might have grabbed Reed by the back of the neck and moved him over. If I were to choke him, I would think he'd need hospitalization." Other coaches and players have stated that Reed's account is "totally false". A video of the encounter leaked and proved that Reed was indeed incorrect. Despite this video evidence, however, Reed still believed what he remembered. Memories can differ over short amounts of time as well, as with the case of Tyce Palmaffy and Lindsey Meltzer. Stopped at a red light, they spotted a bicyclist being beaten by a masked man. When Lindsey got a hold of 911 and explained the situation, Tyce argued a different occurrence then what she had recalled moments after witnessing the event.

The movie industry is common area in which evidence of the illusion of memory is exposed. Because scenes are usually filmed out of order, a script supervisor is appointed to make sure the different scenes will match up in the end. However, even they are subject to the illusion. Well-known script supervisor Trudy Ramirez, who has held her position for 30 years, admits that she is not even immune to the illusion, but takes steps to help prevent as many errors as possible, such as taking notes. In many cases, however, people deny that they are blind to changes in their memory, prompting Dan to conduct an experiment to test this "change blindness blindness." He and his friend, Daniel Levin, created a video in which a man gets up out of his chair walks through a door, down the hallway and picks up a pay phone. When he enters the hallway, however, the actor is switched. Surprisingly, none of their subjects noticed the change!

When someone is asked to recall where they were on 9/11 and what they were doing, many people will be able to give a very detailed answer. Despite the extraordinary detail that may be presented, does not justify that it is an accurate account, such as in the case of George W. Bush. President Bush was in Florida reading a story to an elementary school class at the time of the bombing, and displayed a stunned reaction when informed by his chief of staff of the second bombing. Bush recalls seeing the plane cash on TV before going into the classroom; however, there was no footage of the first crash until long after the bombing. Other cases that portray the effects of the illusion of memory include an account of Chris's friend of how he met 'Captain Picard,' which was actually Chris's memory, and an experiment conducted by Stefanie Sharman in which subjects were asked to make realistic decisions on which "life-sustaining treatments they'd want


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