Los Angeles Times:
A pedestrian holding a map approaches you and asks for directions. You engage in a short conversation, which is briefly interrupted when two workers walk between you carrying a door. A second later, you continue your conversation.
What you don’t notice is that the pedestrian is now someone else. Yep, that’s right: A different person took his place when the door passed between you. And you didn’t even notice. In fact, fully 50% of people who participated in this 1998 experiment by psychologist Daniel Simons were blind to the switch.
Why did so many people fail to notice such an obvious change? Because we see what we expect to see, and we don’t expect to see people we’re chatting with morph suddenly into other people. The “default assumption” is that they stay the same.
It’s like that old riddle about the man who drives his son to a baseball game, and the car gets stuck on the railroad tracks. A train comes, the father is killed but the child survives, though in critical condition. When paramedics get him to the hospital, the doctor says: “I can’t operate on this boy; he’s my son.”
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