You look, but do you see?
Daniel Simons' experiments on visual awareness have become famous. The primary conclusion drawn from his research is that we can miss incredibly obvious things, right in front of us, if our attention is focused elsewhere.
Test Your Awareness.
Watch this video and count how many passes the team in white makes.
This is worth doing so you experience it yourself.
Try to ignore the black team. Just focus on the white team, and see if you can accurately count how many times they pass the ball.
OK, click the video to do it now.
Did you get the right answer? Even though I knew what to expect, the result or effect was surprising.
By the way, there is a newer version of this video, here.
Think how often your focus blinds you to the obvious.
Missing an invisible gorilla or a moon-walking bear may seem strange. However, the next experiment may be more surprising.
If you liked that, here is a version done by Derrin Brown. It is quite clever and worth watching. It was even more surprising to me because it was done in public with "real people". How did people not notice a white male switching with a black guy (or an asian female) in the middle of a conversation?
Warning: Objects In Your Attention Span Are Fewer Than You Perceive.
Moment by moment, the brain selectively processes information it deems most relevant. Experiments, like these, show the limits of our capacity to encode, retain, and compare visual information from one glance to the next.
More importantly, this suggests that our awareness of our visual surroundings is far more sparse than most people intuitively believe. Consequently, our intuition can deceive us far more often than we perceive.
Clearly, in an information-rich environment, attention is a scarce and essential resource. So, pay attention (or automate the things you know need to be done right, every time).