Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Change Blindness ...

This is an experiment to see if participants can recognize sudden dramatic change. By this experiment 75% can not.

This reminds me of my favorite episode of LA LAW ... Harry Hamlin playing the role of attorney Michael Kuzak is cross examining a witness who claims to have seen his client (a black man who was allegedly wearing dark clothes) in a dark alley for a few seconds - committing a murder. He questions the eyewitness [paraphrased from memory]

Facing the witness:

Kuzak: "So I want to confirm, you are telling this court that you could identify my client, a black man, wearing dark clothes, in a dimly lit alley?"

Witness: "Yes."

Still facing the witness - pacing in front of her on purpose, purposely playing with his tie:

Kuzak: "How long have you been on the witness stand today?"

Witness: "I'm not sure I understand."

Attorney Kuzak stops in front of the witness, leans over the stand, purposely tucking his tie into his jacket.

Kuzak: "How long have you been here testifying today?"

Witness: "30 minutes maybe?"

Kuzak starts talking as he turns his back to the witness:

Kuzak: "You've gotten a good look at me? Would you say I'm an attractive man?"

Opposing attorney: "Relevance, your honor?"

Supreme Court Judge: "Mr. Kuzak, this court requires strict adherence to procedure, we aren't here for legal games or lolly gagging."

Kuzak turns around as the judge is speaking, agreeing to the admonishment.

Kuzak turns his back to the witness again.

Kuzak says to Witness: "What color of tie am I wearing?"

Witness: "I don't know."

Kuzak: "Can you give me a guess, a pattern, a polka dot?"

Witness: "Red striped."

Kuzak turns around (LA Law victory music cues in the background). Kuzak's tie is solid blue.

Kuzak: "This witness claims to have seen me for 30 minutes or more, yet can't even tell a single detail about my tie. It seems she can give specific details about a two or three second encounter from a 20 foot or more vantage point about a black man, wearing dark clothes, in a dimly lit alley?"

(LA Law victory music is very loud.)

Next scene shows Kuzak, in his final series appearance, and his client walking out of the court shaking hands; smiling.


One thing this should teach us is to always be observant. If you happen to be in a bank or a convenience store that may be silently robbed or if you see unusual behavior - you can't imagine how small details you give to police can lead to an arrest. It's amazing in the video, that these people didn't notice the change. It's amazing in the scenario I mentioned that the witness didn't notice the detail that was the same - even though it was being flaunted on purpose for her to notice right in front of her face.

* video via Daring Fireball

1 comment:

I am a lover of children's literature said...

NBC did a similar story several years ago. I remember they put a picture of two women on a wall, one unattractive and the other very much so. Babies, they noted, would look and stare at the attractive woman much more often then the unattractive one.

When children were asked which woman was the smarter one, all of the children said the attractive one was smarter, nicer, etc.

Also, NBC had two actors, one ordinary looking, the other a model type. Both men were sent in for a job interview. The unattractive man had the perfect resume, the model guy had a lot less experience, or education, and was far less capable of handling the job.

Guess who got the job?

Correct: the good looking one!

After the manager gave the job to the unexperienced good looking guy, NBC asked the manager why he gave the job to the less qualified, but better looking guy. The manager, a man by the way, was shocked.... he had no explanation... except to say that he looked to be the better choice.

Also, on the same show, they pointed out that if your good looking, and white, your chances of being acquitted in a trial goes way up, but if your average or homely, and especially if your black, then your chances of being found guilty goes up as well!

The conclusion of the NBC broadcast was to show that the human mind is very easily influenced. Good looks automatically, in the mind, translates to being good, etc., while the reverse is true as well, if your not good looking then your probably not so honest, or smart, etc.

In other words: we believe what we want to believe! It's just as Jeremiah states in Jer. 10:10 when it says, " the human heart is deceitful above all things!"