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Scientists Find Believing Can Be Seeing

samzenpus posted more than 6 years ago | from the the-mind-is-quicker-than-the-eye dept.

Biotech 169

Ponca City, We Love You writes "Scientists at University College London have found the link between what we expect to see, and what our brain tells us we actually saw revealing that the context surrounding what we see is all important — sometimes overriding the evidence gathered by our eyes and even causing us to imagine things which aren't really there. A vague background context is more influential and helps us to fill in more blanks than a bright, well-defined context. This may explain why we are prone to 'see' imaginary shapes in the shadows when the light is poor. "Illusionists have been alive to this phenomenon for years," said Professor Zhaoping. "When you see them throw a ball into the air, followed by a second ball, and then a third ball which 'magically' disappears, you wonder how they did it. In truth, there's often no third ball — it's just our brain being deceived by the context, telling us that we really did see three balls launched into the air, one after the other." The original research paper is available on PLOS, the open-access, peer-reviewed journal."

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169 comments

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Please link to the source! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501106)

I wish editors would check if the linked article is the actual source [nimp.org] rather than ad infested blog.

NOT the actual source. (5, Informative)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501118)

Link in parent is malicious. Do not click.

News? (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501112)

Is this actually news?

Re:News? (4, Interesting)

susub23 (1152089) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501144)

It may not be a breaking news story, but it's definitely interesting. I think we all have had things like this happen, and I guess I'm not surprised that it's triggered more by vague context. I've always just figured people were exaggerating when they describe stories about things that happened and someone else calls them out on it - but they probably thought they really saw what they claimed to see.

Re:News? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501244)

Makes things more interesting, doesn't it?
Having one event described differently by different people..

Re:News? (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501310)

Frankly, I've always thought that our brain completes visual information with what it expects to see, and that different people will have different (and often contradictory!) recollections of the same event are both well established in psychology/neuroscience/etc.

But then, I could be wrong. That's why I asked.

Re:News? (2, Insightful)

argiedot (1035754) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501480)

That's pretty cool, you know. Rashomon [wikipedia.org] was like this but different. Also, is this related to the way that when you read you sometimes skip over spelling mistakes and get the right word? One of my classmates had written conjugation everywhere in his Astronomy notes instead of conjunction, and I didn't even notice when reading over them until I reached one that was only part written, the rest going off the page.

Re:News? (1)

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501668)

Frankly, I've always thought that our brain completes visual information with what it expects to see, and that different people will have different (and often contradictory!) recollections of the same event are both well established in psychology/neuroscience/etc.
As evidenced on all those "judging" shows; People's Court, Judge Judy, Judge Alex, etc.

Re:News? (5, Funny)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501250)

Is this actually news?
Only if you choose to see it that way.

Re:News? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501338)

Is this actually news?
Not at all, but look at it from both sides. If you did believe what the article confirms then believing might really be seeing (can't be proven as what you just read might not be what you thought it was), and if you didn't believe it then the article confirmed that too ;-)

Re:News? (1)

cobaltnova (1188515) | more than 6 years ago | (#22502422)

Not in my opinion. This fact was the underlying theme in my textbook on cognitive psychology.

Re:News? (1)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 6 years ago | (#22503116)

In the other news [wikiquote.org] :

Today, a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration... that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. There's no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we're the imagination of ourselves. Here's Tom with the weather.

Just one more reason to be careful (4, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501114)

When you're out driving, you have to be more aware of the possible dangers that you will be facing, like cyclists and motorcyclists. A lot of people don't see them coming at junctions because they're just looking out for cars on the road..

Re:Just one more reason to be careful (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501166)

When I'm driving, I only really notice things that move. Everything else kind of escapes my attention, as if it's not there at all.
All about training i guess, but it's an annoying habbit..

Re:Just one more reason to be careful (4, Funny)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501204)

When I'm driving, I only really notice things that move.

What are you, a T-Rex? ^_^

Re:Just one more reason to be careful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501312)

Well, seeing how my cat instinctly moves very slowly when trying to get away unnoticed, I guess I could be any kind of predator.
So, I choose... velociraptor! =)

Re:Just one more reason to be careful (1)

jasampler (856840) | more than 6 years ago | (#22502748)

That's exactly the point. Every object that you can see is quickly recognized when it moves (i.e. when it changes against a static background) and it's easily missed when it doesn't move. Think about it as an archaic genetic inheritance that we the human share with the most ancient beasts that populated the earth... Just like the T-Rex, yes.

Re:Just one more reason to be careful (5, Informative)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501228)

Indeed. I took an Advanced Drivers training course from a police officer about a month ago, it really 'opened my eyes' so to speak. I'd been pretty appalled at my driving before, I didn't see any reason to keep to speed limits, but once you start trying to take in all the information you can from roadsigns and such, and you go on a skid course that demonstrates the braking distance difference between 20 and 30mph, you start to see the justification in having 20 limits outside schools and stuff like that. Save driving isn't about driving slowly of course - you can be perfectly safe at 110 (our instructor demonstrated this on a long straight, was funny to be doing that kind of speed legally :D ), but as you say training is very useful to get your brain noticing the right kind of things and not just going along on autopilot. After a while your driving will of course automatically incorporate the things that you have trained yourself to look out for, but it's still best to keep an active interest in what's happening all around your vehicle. I feel a bit of a hypocrite talking about road safety after the reputation I got for speeding around all the time, but hey I've not got any points on my license and I've not had an accident for a few years, because I was still sticking within what I considered to be my personal safety limits..

Re:Just one more reason to be careful (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501964)

and thats why some ations demand those kinds of things before they allow you to drive just about anything...

Re:Just one more reason to be careful (1)

BendingSpoons (997813) | more than 6 years ago | (#22502186)

I feel a bit of a hypocrite talking about road safety after the reputation I got for speeding around all the time, but hey ... I've not had an accident for a few years
Sort of like a deli boasting about remaining accident-free for 4 days.

Re:Just one more reason to be careful (3, Interesting)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22502766)

Well, considering I've only been driving for a 'few years' and the accidents I had were within 6 months of my test :P Not exactly boasting, just saying that I don't consider my driving pre that course to have been reckless, especially compared to the average driver. The difference now is that I *know* that I'm a lot better than the average driver, and have been told so by someone that's been a police driving instructor for about 30 years. A lot of the things we were taught were things that I've been doing naturally (possibly partially because I was first taught to drive by my dad, who used to be in the police himself before becoming a coder), and I've unlearned some bad habits that I picked up over the years. I'm also obeying speed limits more now (not the ones on country roads, but in built up areas I am), but I don't going slower to be the primary reason for improved safety (or, rather, reduction of elements that could present a danger, since 'safety' can only really be seen in retrospect through a lack of accidents really), I see more my going slower as a result of firstly having more respect for the law through having been driving with a police officer and hearing that they understand that speed is not a primary factor in defining how safe a driver you are, and two it is a side effect of paying more attention - when I first was trying to take in everything like road signs that I'd never seen before, I automatically was driving at about 20mph just trying to get used to looking at them again, as well as reading them out. Now I can do my sign observations at any speeds, but since I got used to travelling at 30 without being too bored, I've been able to keep my speed down, and long may it continue (just because I feel guilty breaking the speed limits even when I know it's "safe" to do so!)

Re:Just one more reason to be careful (2, Insightful)

sholden (12227) | more than 6 years ago | (#22502082)

You mean things like stop signs, traffic lights, broken down cars blocking the lane, 5 year olds standing still at the side of the road?

Re:Just one more reason to be careful (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501262)

I don't understand people who "see things" where nothing exists. Like the Face on Mars. Okay yes it kinda, sorta looks like a face. HOWEVER it also looks like a bunch of rocks, which is what it is (later images confirm this). People need to learn to Question what they see, rather than just blindly believe.

Re:Just one more reason to be careful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501354)

People need to learn to Question what they see, rather than just blindly believe.

'Nuff said.

Re:Just one more reason to be careful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501554)

No a lot of people dont see them coming because they are not paying attention. Talking to the person next to them, on the phone, fiddling with their DVD,navigation,cappuchino system in the dashboard, etc...

Hell a recent study showed that a large majority of the drivers on the road cant operate their vehicle! 45% did not know how to turn on the brights, 60% did not know how to operate the cruise control, etc... these people out there can barely operate their cars let alone look for something other than a obvious large vehicle. Force them to pay attention by making it a reckless driving ticket where they lose their license and are not only at fault but legally liable in an accident against a motorcycle where the cycle was not doing something stupid or illegal. (on your cycle doing 120 and get nailed? you completely deserved it.)

Re:Just one more reason to be careful (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22502356)

That's part of it, but not all of it. Knowing how to use your cruise control doesn't have that much to do with safe driving (and is also pretty rare here in the UK - I did specify it as an option on my car, but I've only used it a coupla times in the year that I've had it), and I guess people in a city may not have much reason to ever use full beam so that's not so hard to believe either. But it is definitely true that it is more than just a lack of attention - it's knowing where to focus the attention as you say. Even if you are concentrating on your driving and observation though, the effect of not actually expecting something to be there can still stop you from 'seeing' (taking in) certain things. I hardly ever noticed road signs any more before going on my advanced driving course, just because I know this city well and never have to check for directions for example.. but by doing that I was missing out on a wealth of information which is actually pretty useful even in and around my own city, and definitely would be handy to notice when I'm out on a road trip.

seeing is believing... (3, Informative)

Ixlr8 (63315) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501134)

... is the direct translation of a dutch expression. Also encountered as "First see it, only then believe it."

But apparently we (the dutch) are completely wrong.

Re:seeing is believing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501156)

I'd say the two go hand-in-hand. This article talks about people who believe things despite what their eyes actually saw; not because of what they saw, as your quote refers to.

Re:seeing is believing... (3, Insightful)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501408)

``But apparently we (the dutch) are completely wrong.''

On the contrary. I think the saying is there exactly _because_ we naturally tend to do things the other way around. We believe something, and then we try to fit the evidence to our beliefs. The saying tells us to regard the evidence, and base our beliefs on that.

Re:seeing is believing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501784)

But apparently we (the dutch) are completely wrong.

Well, you're wrong there, so maybe

Pretty old news... (4, Informative)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501140)

As the summary noted, this is something that people have known about for a very long time. More specifically, this same subject was being discussed on the same website almost eight years ago [sciencedaily.com] .

Re:Pretty old news... (3, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501210)

Exactly. Vision is all in the brain -- you don't "see" with your eyes, you "see" with your brain. And your brain naturally filters what it sees. Sometimes these filters are wrong -- they make up stuff that isn't there. Conversely, many times you don't see something because you don't expect to see it. How many times have you went looking for some place that you wanted to go by looking it up online and then when you get there you go "Why, I must've driven by this place a thousand times and never even knew it existed!" That's because you weren't looking for it. You weren't expecting it all those 1,000 times you drove by it, so although the light reflections may have bounced through your eyes, your brain filtered it out -- hence you never "saw" it.

Re:Pretty old news... (1)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 6 years ago | (#22502744)

More specifically, this same subject was being discussed on the same website almost eight years ago
Odd, I didn't know Zonk was the editor of Science Daily.

Re:Pretty old news... (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 6 years ago | (#22502962)

Yeah, this is old news.

Something like 10 or 20 years ago they found that more neurons went into the visual pathway than out of it. And various optical illusions have demonstrated this for decades.

You literally do see what you expect to see.

First thing that comes to mind... (3, Interesting)

nexuspal (720736) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501142)

All of the police officer shootings where the victim had a remote or other non-nefarious object in their hands. It is quite possible that the officer had a mindset to the effect that, hey this guy probably has a gun, and his or her mind see's what they wanted to see.

Re:First thing that comes to mind... (1)

zulater (635326) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501348)

possibly, but under such stress it's easier to shoot first then ask questions which is why it's smart to not have anything in your hands and to not make sudden, quick, jerky movements. Cops have to deal with nefarious people daily and must be on their toes at all times. If you have something in your hand and you turn and point it at a cop you should expect to die of acute lead poisoning fairly soon and be thankful if you just get yelled at.

Which is why... (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 6 years ago | (#22502036)

having all police routinely armed is a bad idea.

Re:Which is why... (1)

zulater (635326) | more than 6 years ago | (#22502576)

So they can encounter an armed criminal unarmed? That makes as much sense as taking a spacewalk without a spacesuit.

Re:Which is why... (3, Insightful)

zoney_ie (740061) | more than 6 years ago | (#22503022)

Police officers are trained and take on the risks of the job whereas innocent bystanders have no recourse against misjudged police shootings. Calling in police firepower only where likely to be needed is a sound strategy, even if it does in some cases put the police officers at greater risk. Better that than the population at large being at greater risk. Even with the police forces who are not routinely armed there have been misjudged shootings (e.g. Republic of Ireland, UK). There's no way I would want the police routinely armed. They should of course all be trained in firearms and have access to the best kit available, with armed officers ready to react when needed. The situation we have in Ireland is pathetic with the police having to use old army facilities for training.

The US is however probably a lost cause for gun control anyway with the genie being out of the bottle so to speak. Nevertheless, even acknowledging that reality, the situation there is obviously insane to anyone outside the US. There should at the very least be ongoing research and strategising as to how to normalise the situation there. Having more guns than people is *not* a normal situation, it's just a recipe for disaster.

It's not always what they want to see. (5, Insightful)

Lilith's Heart-shape (1224784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501536)

It is quite possible that the officer had a mindset to the effect that, hey this guy probably has a gun, and his or her mind see's what they wanted to see.
I doubt that all of the cops who shot innocent people because they thought they saw a gun in his hands wanted to see a gun. Some of them were probably afraid that a gun was what they saw, and reacted to that fear. Remember the Wizard's First Rule: "People will believe a lie either because they want to believe it's true or because they are afraid it might be true."

Re:It's not always what they want to see. (1)

nexuspal (720736) | more than 6 years ago | (#22502000)

"Remember the Wizard's First Rule: "People will believe a lie either because they want to believe it's true or because they are afraid it might be true.""

Never heard that one before, but man is it accurate, esp regarding various cults and religions.

Re:It's not always what they want to see. (1)

Lilith's Heart-shape (1224784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22502320)

The novel isn't bad either, though the writing's a bit rough.

Re:First thing that comes to mind... (1)

JM78 (1042206) | more than 6 years ago | (#22504290)

...see's what they wanted to see.

I certainly hope you're not implying that police officer's ever want to see a gun so they can shoot people. Let's consider our words carefully here...

Dats Right, Don't Stop Believing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501152)



Just a small town girl, livin in a lonely world
She took the midnight train goin anywhere
Just a city boy, born and raised in south detroit
He took the midnight train goin anywhere

A singer in a smokey room
A smell of wine and cheap perfume
For a smile they can share the night
It goes on and on and on and on

Strangers waiting, up and down the boulevard
Their shadows searching in the night
Streetlight people, living just to find emotion
Hiding, somewhere in the night

Working hard to get my fill,
Everybody wants a thrill
Payin anything to roll the dice,
Just one more time
Some will win, some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues
Oh, the movie never ends
It goes on and on and on and on

Dont stop believin
Hold on to the feelin
Streetlight people
Who can go on seein
'Cuz they be believin

Makes no sense - It's either there, or it isn't. (1)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501154)

I don't understand people who "see things" where nothing exists. Like the Face on Mars. Okay yes it kinda, sorta looks like a face. HOWEVER it also looks like a bunch of rocks, which is what it is (later images confirm this).

People need to learn to Question what they see,
rather than just blindly believe.

Re:Makes no sense - It's either there, or it isn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501278)

It's how the cortex works. If an input is difficult to resolve, higher cortical regions may simply assign it to a category. Lower portions of the cortex are then informed of what they're supposedly seeing, and adjust their operation to more closely fit in an effort to help clear up the image, reinforcing the previous mislabeling. Like other machine learning techniques, this "machine" can give false positives when given poor data. People can't help seeing things where things are not, but like you say, they should learn to question their senses when they produce unusual data.

Here's an example (5, Insightful)

kahei (466208) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501306)


Well, here's an example. Suppose some guy picks up various scattered bits of facts -- a story on slashdot here, something about Mars kooks there. Now, he has an instinct -- or maybe it's hardwired at an even lower level than that -- to make up patterns around those scattered facts, to fill in the blanks. So he imagines a category of people who 'see things where nothing exists'. Before long, he's convinced enough of this specific phenomenon -- of this entity which is purely a product of his own tendency to create patterns to explain the phenomena he senses -- that he actually starts posting about this group of people on slashdot, as if there actually were one specific kind of person who has this trait!

And then other factors, psychological, move him to assume that he's 'better' than this entity that has popped up in his mind and that he now believes is an actual thing. He even begins to give patronising advice. To him, it's just as if he's *interacting* with this thing, this 'people who see things where nothing exists'. His self-deception is complete!

Far fetched? Maybe. But maybe not...

HTH

Re:Here's an example (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501350)

grandparent had a very good point, and you have to go insult him. You know, even if he did act like he was better than them... guess what: he is. People who are capable of overcoming their imagination and sticking to reality ARE BETTER PEOPLE.

Re:Here's an example (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501442)

grandparent had a very good point
So did parent (to your post).

People who are capable of overcoming their imagination and sticking to reality ARE BETTER PEOPLE.
In what sense of "better"?

Re:Here's an example (1)

Lilith's Heart-shape (1224784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501590)

In what sense of "better"?
It's harder to bullshit them. In a time when politicians, clergymen, and businessmen obtain the trust and obedience of others through lies and deceit, that's a valuable trait.

Re:Here's an example (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501464)

The original post made a good point accidentally, and the reply pointed it out. And you ARE THE ORIGINAL POSTER.

Re:Here's an example (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22502184)

Hmm, reminds me of Borges's story "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius". On this imaginary planet where people think that there are no objects in space but only associations of ideas in time things can emerge out of nothing, multiply or become effaced when one forgets about them. This is my favorite quote from this short story:

Things became duplicated in Tlön; they also tend to become effaced and lose their details when they are forgotten. A classic example is the doorway which survived so long it was visited by a beggar and disappeared at his death. At times some birds, a horse, have saved the ruins of an amphitheater.

Re:Makes no sense - It's either there, or it isn't (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501318)

That's more about optical illusions and imagination - the summary talks about thinking you saw a ball when in fact there was none, which is a bit different. IMO it helps to explain why people's memories can be modified so easily by suggestion, and as I said above, why so many people don't actually see motorcyclists coming as they check a junction before they move onto a new road. This is more about situations where you're not actually questioning what you see, because you're not really expecting any funny business, so you can easily be misled, especially in situations where there is a lot going on around you, so your brain filters out certain information because it is limiting its scope to what it has been trained to consider the 'important' information.

Re:Makes no sense - It's either there, or it isn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22502434)

Seeing something that isn't there remind me of fans of Obama!

It's just your imagination... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501192)

This post is not here...

Re:It's just your imagination... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22502054)

fnord

Believing is Being (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501208)

"Illusionists have been alive to this phenomenon for years," said Professor Zhaoping


"Alive to this phenomenon" is precisely how an illusionist would want you to perceive the effects of their knowing how something really was. What a perfect idiom.

And (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501212)

I'm not going to make a joke about porn.

It helps to be a little dumb too... (3, Funny)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501260)

because this is about the only thing which explains my friend and his girlfriends belief in Ghosthunters and such...

I always looked at things this article covers along the lines of we make a decision and justify it later, not the reverse.

I can't believe (1)

evilklown (1008863) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501272)

I can't believe that someone actually wrote a story that claims that dinosaurs floated around like Vincent Price! Oh wait...

I am shocked.... ...... (4, Informative)

Ozric (30691) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501288)

The Buddhist Monks have known this for a very very long time.

Re:I am shocked.... ...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501476)

Science often confirms things that's conventional wisdom to many people.
Isn't it nice to know what you think is true get's rated "scientifically proven", isn't it? :)

Re:I am shocked.... ...... (1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501508)

lots of people knew lots of things. The question is, did they prove it using the scientific principle?

Re:I am shocked.... ...... (1)

bug1 (96678) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501602)

Read about epistemology, the work of Berkley, Descartes... nothing about the mind is really proven.

Scientific principle doesnt mean much if we cant believe what we see.

Re:I am shocked.... ...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22502196)

I'd say nothing is proven at all. Ever. Since we can not trust our senses we have no way of crossing the cognitive divide between the experiencer and what is experienced.

Science can attain truth only in the most tentative sense. That which works the best at the moment.

If anyone claims to posses a deeper truth than that, they would basically have to prove that we are not living in a perfect simulation. Which is impossible. The requirements for absolute truth are harsh.

Re:I am shocked.... ...... (1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 6 years ago | (#22502616)

This is a huge logic flaw. There's degrees of certainty.

Any decent scientific experiment will attempt to remove human bias etc. Just because you can't prove anything 100%, doesn't mean everything is equally valid.

If one group said "we don't believe in ghosts" and another group said "we could not find any evidence for ghosts, despite extensive testing" then which opinion would you trust more?

Eighteen observers... (3, Insightful)

blunte (183182) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501308)

18 observers is enough? Not that I necessarily disagree with the results they've gathered in this study, but the sample group seems awfully small....

Re:Eighteen observers... (2, Funny)

Laughing Pigeon (1166013) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501942)

18 observers is enough? Not that I necessarily disagree with the results they've gathered in this study, but the sample group seems awfully small....

I think 640 observers would have been more like it...

Officer... (0, Offtopic)

mvanvoorden (861050) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501336)

I'm nott drunk you sssheee, you arrre sssjust believing thisssh massshine is telling you vhat, i can ssshee it'ssh sshays I passsshhhhhed!

Magicians and artists (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501438)

The summary says scientists have found the link, but the reality is more like they have proven the link. As TFS itself says, Illusionists have been alive to this phenomenon for years.

The most important thing one learns in art school is how to see. By this I mean that non-artists see like non-mathemeticians calculate.

Now I have to go and read the research paper.

An exclusive club (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#22503014)

The summary says scientists have found the link, but the reality is more like they have proven the link. As TFS itself says, Illusionists have been alive to this phenomenon for years.
The history books will have you believe that Columbus discovered America, but the Aztecs had been alive to this continent for years.
People believe Volta invented the electric battery, but someone in Baghdad had one thousands of years ago.

In science it's not important if some native already knew about a datum, what counts is who shared this information with the scientific community. Magicians are hermetic about the secrets they know, scientists have to figure them out on their own, since those quick-fingered showmen just won't share.

Alcohol amplifies this effect. (1)

Lilith's Heart-shape (1224784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501460)

The human mind sees what it wants to see while sober, and this tendency becomes even worse after a few drinks. That's why one should never look for a relationship while wearing beer goggles. It's hard enough to see through a woman's bullshit without booze clouding your judgment.

Re:Alcohol amplifies this effect. (2, Funny)

framauro13 (1148721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501658)

While your statement is 100% correct, normally when I'm wearing beer goggles I'm looking for something other than a relationship :)

Re:Alcohol amplifies this effect. (1)

Lilith's Heart-shape (1224784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501720)

While your statement is 100% correct, normally when I'm wearing beer goggles I'm looking for something other than a relationship :)
I was tempted to advise against looking for poontang while drunk, but I figured that that wouldn't go over too well around here.

Obligatory Groucho Marx Quote: (3, Funny)

ardle (523599) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501528)

"Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?" - Chico Marx dressed up as Groucho in "Duck Soup" (context information serves as anti-pedantry device).

Re:Obligatory Groucho Marx Quote: (1)

fredrated (639554) | more than 6 years ago | (#22503082)

I thought the quote was "Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?"

Re:Obligatory Groucho Marx Quote: (1)

ardle (523599) | more than 6 years ago | (#22503664)

That version also exists [nyud.net] : I prefer the first version myself and don't have the movie around to check :-(
(Note to self: improve anti-pedantry device ;-)

Re:Obligatory Groucho Marx Quote: (1)

Disfnord (1077111) | more than 6 years ago | (#22504024)

Funny, I just watched Duck Soup this weekend. The line is "me or your eyes". The lying eyes quote is from somewhere else.

Re:Obligatory Groucho Marx Quote: (1)

ardle (523599) | more than 6 years ago | (#22504514)

Thanks :-)
It's my favourite Groucho quote - and not even his, unless he scripted it!

"He thought he saw..." "He looked again..." (2, Insightful)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501664)

What the article doesn't say is that this phenomenon increases in middle age, both with respect to seeing and hearing. I'm not sure how much is due to actual declines in visual and auditory acuity; I'm inclined to think it's a cognitive effect, like common memory loss.

I've always supposed Lewis Carroll's poem, from _Sylvie and Bruno,_ was referring to this effect. Certainly "He thought he saw... he looked again and found it was..." is happening to me more frequently.

He thought he saw an Elephant,
That practised on a fife:
He looked again, and found it was
A letter from his wife.
"At length I realise," he said,
"The bitterness of Life!"

He thought he saw a Buffalo
Upon the chimney-piece:
He looked again, and found it was
His Sister's Husband's Niece.
"Unless you leave this house," he said,
"I'll send for the Police!"

He thought he saw a Rattlesnake
That questioned him in Greek:
He looked again, and found it was
The Middle of Next Week.
"The one thing I regret," he said,
"Is that it cannot speak!"

He thought he saw a Banker's Clerk
Descending from the bus:
He looked again, and found it was
A Hippopotamus.
"If this should stay to dine," he said,
"There won't be much for us!"

He thought he saw a Kangaroo
That worked a coffee-mill:
He looked again, and found it was
A Vegetable-Pill.
"Were I to swallow this," he said,
"I should be very ill!"

He thought he saw a Coach-and-Four
That stood beside his bed:
He looked again, and found it was
A Bear without a Head.
"Poor thing," he said, "poor silly thing!
It's waiting to be fed!"

He thought he saw an Albatross
That fluttered round the lamp:
He looked again, and found it was
A Penny-Postage Stamp.
"You'd best be getting home," he said:
"The nights are very damp!"

He thought he saw a Garden-Door
That opened with a key:
He looked again, and found it was
A Double Rule of Three:
"And all its mystery," he said,
"Is clear as day to me!"

He thought he saw a Argument
That proved he was the Pope:
He looked again, and found it was
A Bar of Mottled Soap.
"A fact so dread," he faintly said,
"Extinguishes all hope!"

I can attest to it (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501728)

In 1993 I was stranded on the interstate after a blizzard in Atlanta (a rare case indeed) with thousands of Catholic pilgrims. These people had come from Canada and northern states mostly and were headed back home when the Blizzard hit. It seems that the Virgin Mary had appeared in a bush in Conyers, GA with very unfortunate timing for her devotees. And every one of these people felt the need to tell me about their divine experience and how radiant the holy mother looked in said bush appearance. Many of them even had pictures of the blessed virgin and insisted on showing me them as proof of this milestone event in human history. All I saw in these pictures was some sunlight coming through a bush, but they obviously saw a divine presence that my heathen eyes just couldn't make out.

Incidentally, I seem to recall that Mary predicted the end of the world by the end of the century during her brief stay in Conyers (using the redneck who owned the house with the bush as an intermediary). Luckily for us, as with many flightly women, she must have changed her mind.

It's true (1)

Melbourne Pete (1204418) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501762)

I tried to RTFA but the link wasn't really there.

here goes again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501804)

that's pseudo scientists being paid for telling everybody what everybody already knows. Shame

e45! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22501822)

tteth into 3hen [goat.cx]

I think scientists call this NeoCon vision (1)

DrFruit (1178261) | more than 6 years ago | (#22501982)

However, they are still looking for an explanation of the fact that people closest to GWB are the most affected. Normal vision often appears to be restored soon after they are removed from his office.

Re:I think scientists call this NeoCon vision (1)

lm317t (971782) | more than 6 years ago | (#22502296)

Some people with Bush Derangement Syndrome [wikipedia.org] see every story as yet another way to hate on GWB.

Re:I think scientists call this NeoCon vision (1)

DrFruit (1178261) | more than 6 years ago | (#22504788)

No doubt we will be found out to have had a distorted view of this great president, in the future 'when history was written'. (Quote: GWB)

How old is it? (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 6 years ago | (#22502106)

I think it was William James, appx. 100 years ago, who said "If you believe something to be true, it will be true in its consequences." If you believe you see something, you will see it. It won't be there in reality, but you'll see it.

Idealism (2, Interesting)

bug1 (96678) | more than 6 years ago | (#22502116)

There is a branch of philosophy called idealism which is pretty out there, it seems a bit crazy at first, but it deserves more respect than one gets from an initial glance.

All our experiences come from our senses, our eyes/ears/nose/skin/tongue send electrical impulses to our brain, the mind interpreters these groups of sensory experiences and we call it reality.

Idealism says (as best i can describe) that "reality" is the mind's interpretation of these sensory experiences, what causes our senses to send a particular sensory experience to the brain isnt directly knowable, therefore not as relevant as the experience itself.

It is the sensory experience itself that defines reality, i.e. reality is the effect not the cause.

The Wikipedia page doesnt do the topic justice.

AKA... (2, Insightful)

McDutchie (151611) | more than 6 years ago | (#22502432)

Scientists at University College London have found the link between what we expect to see, and what our brain tells us we actually saw revealing that the context surrounding what we see is all important -- sometimes overriding the evidence gathered by our eyes and even causing us to imagine things which aren't really there. A vague background context is more influential and helps us to fill in more blanks than a bright, well-defined context.

I think this phenomenon is often referred to as religion.

Sixth Sense (1)

quilombodigital (1076565) | more than 6 years ago | (#22502678)

I see dead people.

Perhaps.. (2, Funny)

SpacePunk (17960) | more than 6 years ago | (#22502828)

the scientists are seeing the results they want to see, and not what the results actually are. That would both invalidate, and validate their claims.

Part of the brain may know what is right (1)

fredrated (639554) | more than 6 years ago | (#22502862)

Something like this happened to me. Reading an article about how Trader Vic was about to donate a sculpture of Smiledon to UC Berkeley, before I got to the part where it was to be displayed, my brain decided it was going to be placed outside of the Life Sciences building, so my conscious mind read 'life sciences building'. However, when I turned to my roommate to tell him about this, my mouth said it was going to the 'Earth Sciences' building! This caught me by surprise, so I went back to the article and, sure enough, it said 'Earth Sciences building'!

Application in the martial arts (1)

CardiganKiller (854899) | more than 6 years ago | (#22502964)

This concept is often useful to play off of with an opponent. A strike is much more potent if the opponent doesn't see me wind up, clench my shoulder, or hear my sharp intake of breath... all of the clues that typically accompany a strike. When I strike someone in this "casual" manner, it's incredible how often they don't see my fist coming right at their face... even when we're training at slow speeds for safety. This also gives strikes the illusion of being much more powerful than they really are, due to the surprise. The human body instinctively prepares for the shock when it becomes aware of all these context clues preceding the strike.

This is also interesting to experience as a martial artist. In one instance, I clearly saw a staff being swung at my face (), but the way the person was swinging it (one aspect of this was they they didn't appear to be paying attention to me), for some reason my brain didn't register any danger... so I didn't move away, and... CLUNK.

old news (1)

ScorpFromHell (837952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22503054)

Discworld [wikipedia.org] 's Death [wikipedia.org] (also called Bob) always new it ... that's why only cats, children & wizards could see him but not the common folks.

This is what obama's doing : "change" (0, Offtopic)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 6 years ago | (#22503136)

But no real message. So every different group thinks he will work to their advantage, because he hasn't comitted to doing anything. He's pro-gun and anti-gun. He's pro-abortion and contra-abortion. He's ...

Vague context "change" (ie forcing all those other bastards to agree with me) without filling in the blanks that would burst the bubble surrounding him.

Old (but still REALLY COOL) News... (1)

oroborous (800136) | more than 6 years ago | (#22503396)

For the sake of my own personal/professional bias, I'm glad to see /. focusing attention on more cognitive/human performance stories. However, these expectancy effects on sensory perception have been known for almost half a century by the terms "efference copy" or "corollary discharge." My personal favorite is the scientist who COMPLETELY paralyzed himself with tetrototoxin and found that when he tried to move his eyes, it he "saw" the room move accordingly (even though his eyes never moved a tick; see Matin et al. 1982).

The only thing really new in this paper is that they show that these expectations are integrated in a statistically-optimal (read "Bayes-optimal") way.

Damn, I could be wrong ... after many years ...? (1)

OldHawk777 (19923) | more than 6 years ago | (#22503598)

"Reality is self-induced hallucination." oh10101
Reality is hallucination, and all dogmatic interpretations are self-induced ID/Id facts.
Well, it still summarizes the same, I guess.

Also, if everyone is crazy, then sanity is a collective/communal self-induced ID/Id fact.
Mass/Community hysteria could be the flawed-reasoning for considering GWBush, Hitler, Caesar, Napoleon ... sane/leaders.

IOW: Everyone was fucking nuts at the time. If I were a good Christian, then I would
forgive the murdering bastards for not knowing what they do (due to insanity).

Well not being a a crazy dogmatist ... I will never forgive and will always view the megalomaniacs as evil.

Professor Bob (her last name is Li...) (4, Informative)

neurocutie (677249) | more than 6 years ago | (#22504340)

"Professor Zhaoping" is Li Zhaoping, and being Chinese, her family name (last name) is Li, NOT Zhaoping (her given, first name). Silly editors, etc. its like going around and calling her Professor Bob or Professor Susie...

The missing ball (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22504406)

I read this item right after reading "Microsoft Pulls Vista SP1 Update" and it made me wonder... did they every really launch it?
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