Thursday, December 13, 2012

Do You See Things that Other People Don't See?

"And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye."
       - Antoine de Saint ExupĂ©ry, The Little Prince

In a recent email, John A. Kennedy told me that his wife and daughter took part in a University of Haifa study on mother-daughter relationships.  As part of the study, John's wife and daughter answered a written questionnaire.  The questionnaire ended with some routine sanity-screening questions.  These included, "Do you see things that other people don't see?"

My answer is "absolutely."  We all experience the universe differently.  We consciously and unconsciously select what we take in.  What we perceive is affected by our gender, culture, age, health, social status and other factors.  Once we "see" something, we then interpret it.  Our interpretations also depend on personal, subjective factors including our assumptions and expectations.  Then, we remember our interpretation, forgetting the original stimulus - forgetting what we actually saw.  In a courtroom, the human witness is the least reliable.  Lawyers and judges prefer video and DNA evidence.

Paris SpringtimeFifty percent of people did not see the gorilla in the famous invisible gorilla experiment.

I tend to see typos that other people don't see.  I have my students read their work aloud and they still see what they think they wrote, not what is on the page.  They love Paris in the the springtime.

John wrote, "I appreciate the researchers' intentions, but it would be a crying shame if we only saw what everyone else saw."

Do you see things that other people don't see?


  1. In this fast-paced world of hyped-up media, instant messages, texts and materialism we all forget where we are most of the time. What I do, daily, is look to the sky because the clouds, the birds, the sun, the moon, all show us what life is really about. This was taught to me by a dear friend several years ago, my Sky Brother. Tnank Greg!

  2. Exactly - the most obvious things can be missed or seen but not acknowledged.

  3. from John Kennedy
    In our nuclear medicine department, we work hard to see photons that have such high energy that the eye cannot see them. So we use SPECT and PET scanners to see slightly radioactive tissues within the patient that are shining brightly with invisible light. Away from work, I see a world that is similar to what Stephen Dedalus sees, but unfortunately I'm not similar enough to James Joyce to describe this well.

  4. The more I learn, the more I see.

  5. I liked this blog, but I can’t see the problem with “I love Paris in the springtime.” Spring time Spring-time?

    Is time moving on a spring?

    1. Read it again, slowly, out loud. You are seeing what you want to see, not what's there.