Sometime within the past year someone sent me an email with one of those visually deceptive tests. The challenge was to count the number of times three people in white shirts passed a ball back and forth during the video. Making it difficult was that there were also three players in black shirts passing another ball.
Concentrating as hard as I could I counted 17 total throws. At the end of the video I waited to see how close I was when an unexpected question appeared on the screen: “Did you notice the gorilla?” “What gorilla?” I thought.
I was then prompted to watch the video again and amazingly noticed a person wearing a gorilla suit walking right through the middle of the six people throwing the balls. I had absolutely no awareness whatsoever!
It was a shocking example of what all of us may do every day. How often do we not accurately see what is happening right in front of us? As the saying goes: “Eyewitness accounts are notoriously unreliable.”
More and more I realize that I can’t really do two things well at the same time. How often have I been busy talking to my companion while driving and missed a turn? Why when I am nearing a destination, not knowing the exact route, do I turn off the radio? Why do I hit the mute button on the remote control when my wife is talking to me? Do you notice things when you are not looking for them? After you have lunch with someone can you remember the color of the clothes they were wearing?
My larger point is, are you always sure of the accuracy of what you believe? As we all heard in elementary school and high school, “check your work.” It always pays to take a careful look, get the other side of the story, and confirm what you thought you saw or heard.
Do you have an image in your mind of what the typical homeless person looks like?