Jan 21 2014

A New Wrinkle on Change Blindness

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23 responses so far

23 Responses to “A New Wrinkle on Change Blindness”

  1. SteveAon 21 Jan 2014 at 8:47 am

    The Wiseman video is incredible. Fooled me on all counts.

  2. CWon 21 Jan 2014 at 8:59 am

    I have seen that Wiseman video several times and I always forget about the tablecloth.

  3. Kawarthajonon 21 Jan 2014 at 9:14 am

    There was a great article in either Scientific American or Scientific American Mind a couple of months ago that went into detail about how poor a picture our eyes actually take of the world. It also talked about how there are significant blind spots in our eyes that impact what our eyes can see. What we experience, however, is something completely different – we see a smooth, clear picture because our brain does so much processing and fills in the blind spots so we don’t ever notice they’re there. It was especially surprising when the article pointed out how to find your blind spots and I became aware of them. The Wiseman video had the same effect on me.

  4. nybgruson 21 Jan 2014 at 11:19 am

    There was a good TED talk on this sort of topic. The guy was showing how we need processing power to actually notice changes and that he can sap away our ability to pay attention. Very cool video. The major changes are blink changes but there are subtler ones that happen right in front of you that you’ll miss. I found it worth watching.


  5. Andrew Cooperon 21 Jan 2014 at 11:19 am

    It’s an excellent video: required viewing for all school students at some point in their education. And everyone else, of course.

    On a related point, if anyone is interested in learning about psychology – specifically social psychology – I would strongly recommend this Coursera course https://www.coursera.org/course/socialpsychology The course references the Wiseman video during its coverage of the social construction of reality. It also covers confirmation bias and much, much more.

    I took it on its first presentation last year and while I knew about some of the material it covered the presentation by Professor Scott Plous at Weslyan University is absolutely excellent and both thought provoking and highly practical. I think it would be of interest to all sceptics.

    I’ve tried a couple of Cousera courses but this has been by far the best and it’s the most popular course on Coursera in terms of enrolments.

    Hope you don’t mind the buzz marketing but the course is free to take.

  6. Sherringtonon 21 Jan 2014 at 11:48 am

    I seem to recall a study from a few years back where researchers had participants look over a room and then, while they were not looking, removed an object. It was shown that even if the people could not identify the missing object, tracking of their eye movements showed that they spent a good amount of time searching in the area where the object had been. This seems to fit in with this. (I tried to track down that article, but could not find it. I even looked at the PLOS One paper to see if it was mentioned in the introduction or discussion, but could not find it). DISCLAIMER: I am repeating this study from memory and therefore this is subject to usual reconstruction of memory that occurs in these circumstances.

  7. ccbowerson 21 Jan 2014 at 1:27 pm

    “The guy was showing how we need processing power to actually notice changes and that he can sap away our ability to pay attention.”

    I wonder how noticing changes correlates with variations in attention, for given person and across people. I imagine that if I have trouble concentrating on the activity, that my attention may stray towards those things that may change (like shirt color), which would otherwise be ignored as irrelevant by a person focused on the activity.

  8. Will Nitschkeon 22 Jan 2014 at 2:03 am

    Sorry, Steve but why is any of this new? For example, in most countries the coinage have distinct images on them, usually at least on one side. If a person in that country has no interest in coins they wouldn’t be able to tell you what images are on which coins even if they handled them hundreds of times a day. I’m sure if you’d pointed this out to Thales he would have yawned…

    Perhaps it’s more interesting to try to figure out why we know what we know, rather than point out the enormous and seemingly endless failings of human brains. At some point travelling down this particular rabbit hole starts becoming a waste of academic time.

  9. Andrew Cooperon 22 Jan 2014 at 5:08 am


    Steve discusses what might be new about this in his conclusion. Rather than object to the whole idea of research in this area why don’t you deal with the specific points he raised? Your surmise about coins isn’t relevant I’m afraid. Even if it was, it hardly amounts to a case against properly researched peer reviewed findings. If you’re not interested in this topic and can’t see its relevance you are probably reading the wrong blog.

  10. Bruceon 22 Jan 2014 at 6:34 am


    Perhaps you should change your name to Will Nitpicks. I do wonder why you keep stating this blog and the research it covers is a waste of time. I think it is well worth the entertainment value every day now to see what you will say in response to every blog. If nothing else, the studies are indirectly providing me with entertainment through your pokey pokey negative comments.

    And guess what, you just wasted even more time reading a response to your waste of time comment on a blog that you think is a waste of time about a study you feel is a waste of time.

  11. BillyJoe7on 22 Jan 2014 at 7:37 am

    The biggest waste of time on this blog for a long time has been reading and responding to WN.

  12. tmac57on 22 Jan 2014 at 10:31 am

    ntbgrus,-That TED talk was fun to watch.I only caught a small portion of his misdirections even though I was really watching for them.

    Here is a link to a site that has many examples of change detection tests:


  13. Will Nitschkeon 22 Jan 2014 at 8:14 pm


    I’ve taken a closer look at this study and the more I’ve read the more depressing it gets. Psychology seems to be stuck in a loop, going around in endless circles. Rather than waste more time on figuring out what people can’t do, perhaps these researchers could do something constructive, look work in vision detection research. I.e., build actual mathematical models of vision systems that could be implemented in software. If they are not smart enough to work in those areas, that’s fine. Maybe they need to review why they are doing what they are doing and opt out of the field so that very limited academic resources can be used more productively by smarter people. There is nothing in this paper I learnt that I didn’t read about 30 years ago. The conclusion didn’t even attempt to describe how what they had just done might in any way be of any actual value, theoretical or practical.

  14. shchasmon 22 Jan 2014 at 9:02 pm

    Do any of these studies resemble what was presented in the videos? It seemed to me that all the videos were examples of misdirection or demonstrating that our brains aren’t really efficient at multitasking. Every video asks the viewer to focus on something (cards, a conversation, counting basketball passes, etc…) while changing generally insignificant details. It seems we would have little difficulty detecting many of these changes if we weren’t deliberately distracted, like cell phones and driving. Even the guy giving directions seems to be just merely misdirection, changing a detail he could probaly care less about because he’s focusing on a task. I’m by no means an expert in anything…Just practicing critical thinking skills.

  15. Davdoodleson 23 Jan 2014 at 12:53 am

    I’m with Will N.

    I don’t like much of anything, nothing here is interesting or new to me, and nobody is very clever.

    So, I’ll hang around this blog pointing that out, incessantly, for some reason.

    Rather than, you know, starting my own blog about things I like, which are interesting, new, and clever.

  16. SteveAon 23 Jan 2014 at 7:41 am


    I don’t think deliberate distraction is the issue. It’s not like we walk around with a 360 degree radar than only focuses on one thing when we’re asked to. We’re focused on something all the time, only taking in a fraction of the reality that surrounds us.

    My favourite example of change blindness is the white bartender who drops behind the counter to get a customer a glass and comes up as a black guy. I’ve seen it done a number of times. Hardly anyone notices. No distraction there. It’s just life.

  17. SteveAon 23 Jan 2014 at 7:44 am

    @ Will N

    We’ve had some first-class dingbats trolling on this forum over the years. Frankly, were used to better. A lot better.

    If you’re not smart enough to work in this area maybe you need to review why you’re doing what you’re doing and opt out of this field.

  18. Will Nitschkeon 23 Jan 2014 at 4:53 pm


    Perhaps you could write an interesting blog post on why amateur skeptics resort so easily into ad hominem?

    Here is a tip. 3 quick bullet points on why this research is important/relevant or what benefits or possible benefits it might provide, would have been devastating to my case, if you could have thought of clever things to write. Your actual response makes you look like (some) of your audience of readers.

  19. rezistnzisfutlon 23 Jan 2014 at 7:36 pm


    Us “amateur skeptics” aren’t resorting easily to ad hominems so much as we’re responding to you, a known troll. You’ve shown your true colors and most of us here don’t want much to do with you, and certainly don’t take you seriously. That’s why it’s easy to resort to minor ridicule in your case.

  20. Bill Openthalton 24 Jan 2014 at 4:52 am

    Will Nitschke

    Since you’re the person who introduced the term amateur skeptics, pray do enlighten us and let us know who, in your opinion, are professional skeptics?

  21. SteveAon 24 Jan 2014 at 7:11 am

    @Will N

    “Here is a tip. 3 quick bullet points on why this research is important/relevant or what benefits or possible benefits it might provide, would have been devastating to my case, if you could have thought of clever things to write.”

    What on earth makes you think you’re worth the effort?

  22. shchasmon 24 Jan 2014 at 11:09 am

    Will N, your very own words are devastating to your case.

  23. adamwhoon 04 Feb 2014 at 4:14 pm

    Generally good but he fell for the monoculture argument.

    GM crops are no different from traditional or organic crops when it comes to monoculture. The banana example is a red-herring because bananas a clones whereas GM crops generally are not.

    Essentially the monoculture argument is an argument against all industrialized farming which is fine if everybody becomes vegetarians or we have a fraction of the population.

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