Friday, 12 August 2011

Invisible Gorillas

Many years ago, when the world was a very young place, Fantasy Bob studied more psychology than was good for anyone.  Even though this misguided youth may may or may not explain a lot about FB's dispositions, he has totally forgotten every last detail of it.  Knowledge of the ability of rats to run through various mazes have not really helped him fashion the perfect cover drive.

But every now and then the world of psychology creeps into FB's field of view as it did today.  Fantasy Bob was perusing the pages of the Guardian and found in a small space of its electronic edition far away from its high minded sentiments about riots and looting, the iniquities of the consumer society and the complete collapse of Indian resolve at Edgbaston, a newly minted blog on things psychological by a neuroscientist called Mo Costandi.  He read it with interest.

Mr Costandi reviews the phenomenon grandly named as inattentional blindness - demonstrated in a series of experiments in which people were asked to watch a video screen on which teams of people were passing a basketball to each other.  They were asked to count the number of passes the white team makes.  So focused were the majority on this task that they failed to notice that half way through a person dressed in a party gorilla outfit ambled across the screen and the basketballs were for a time passed round him. These are called the Invisible Gorilla experiments - and apparently there is a whole book and website about them and similar stuff.  Elegant though this demonstration is, FB finds this yet another statement of the obvious - you tend to screen out things in order to focus attention or concentration. 

Inattentional blindness is more than evident on the cricket field.  In particular FB finds himself so focused on the ball being bowled he does not notice the gorilla walking across the field to take up position at extra cover where he promptly pouches FB's well struck drive.  Why is it, he wonders, that opposing skippers seem to have an infinite supply of invisible gorillas at their disposal?

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