Forget Waldo, where’s Tarzan?

I have this video you need to watch. Okay, so maybe you don't need to–but it might tell you something interesting about yourself. It did for me. I was completely stunned. I'll paste it here so that you can watch it if you want. The email I received included another clip before this one where the presenter told you the video was about six students playing basketball. Three wearing white t-shirts, and three wearing black. The idea is that you are to count the number of passes made by the white team. He said there was a marked gender difference in how people perceive the number of passes. Was he ever right! I counted sixteen, Marty swears there are only thirteen. See what you get:

http://viscog.beckman.uiuc.edu/grafs/demos/15.html 

I hope it works–I wish I could figure out how to paste a copy of the video that was sent to me, but I can't get it right.

Just so I don't give the answer away, let me write on another topic for a few moments.

If I were a member of congress, elected by my constituents to represent their wishes in Washington DC–am I morally obligated to vote to reflect their wishes? What if my own morals suggest I vote against them? I was reading today about the failed bailout vote (which I know nothing about either way) and the members of congress were heard in many instances to say that they personally believed in the measure, but that they had to vote for their constituents wishes. One congressman put it this way: "My job's on the line here–elections are in five weeks. It's too bad that it didn't pass, but what can you do?"

I'm probably one of the local joes who howled loud enough to make them think twice about passing the bill, but I don't know if I can respect an elected official that votes against his conscience just because elections are coming up. Can I? Do I want him to represent his conscience or the people? Should be the people, right? But it still seems cowardly to me. Sorry Congressmen/women, we aren't going to love you, no matter how you vote in this one. In the immortal words of that really old guy whose CD I even own and listened to in the shower this morning, but I can't remember his name–"Any way you look at this you lose." Simon and Garfunkel?

Anyway, back to the video.

Did the link work? If not, let me recap for you. The group of students throw the ball around for I don't know, one minute, maybe only thirty seconds. Like I said, I counted sixteen passes. Then the presenter told us to watch it again, only this time, not to count passes, just sit back and watch the whole scene, all the people. 

That's when I realized that I didn't see the man in the gorilla suit. I kid you not–a man in a gorilla suit walks across the screen–even pauses in the middle of the group of players, and pounds his chest or waves–something ridiculously obvious. And I didn't see him at all, the first time through. Let me here tell you that my father didn't see the gorilla the second time, either; he was still counting passes, trying to figure out if we'd got the right number.  So no gender difference. That's just to make you really focus on pass counting. The point is that we can miss really obvious things if we are primed to look for something else. 

Marty saw the gorilla the first time–but only counted thirteen passes. My daughter saw someone in black walk through, but didn't notice that it was a gorilla. She also counted sixteen passes. Hmmmm.

My question is this. How many men (or was it a woman?) in gorilla suits am I missing in my children's lives? My own life? More importantly, how many times do I lose patience with someone else who isn't seeing the gorilla that seems so very obvious to me? And what are they looking for that makes them miss it? Is there any way to help them step back and look at the whole scenario, or am I doomed to forever stand in the middle of the room pounding on my chest, howling unheard primal screams?

 

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3 responses to “Forget Waldo, where’s Tarzan?

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