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Old March 4, 2010, 10:06 AM   #1
Join Date: May 16, 2000
Location: Washington state
Posts: 7,438
Awareness Levels AKA "You're not as alert as you think you are."

Please do the following before posting in this thread:

1) View the "basketball" video. This link takes you to the basketball video from an experiment by Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris. When viewing the video, try to count the total number of times that the people wearing white pass the basketball. Do not count the passes made by the people wearing black.

2) Read this article: (at least skim it)

3) Watch the Colour Changing Card Trick video. Note: watch the video before!!! reading the text below the embed.

4) Skim through this blog entry:

I ask you to read/do these things first so that we have a common ground for discussion. If you don't have time to read the articles, please don't post in this thread -- go start a thread of your own discussing something else.

Okay, up to speed now? Good!

I think a lot of these perceptual studies have huge implications for people who believe they are always in "Condition Yellow" and therefore are always aware of every detail of the world around 'em.

Awhile back, I did a bit of research about the cognition effects experienced under extreme stress: you know, "tunnel vision," "auditory exclusion," "tachypsyche," "visual distortions," and so on. Most of us in the shooting world are passingly familiar with these phrases and have a vague-ish idea what they mean. We know that under stress, humans "tunnel in" on the threat, and may not notice other things happening around us. The things we do notice may loom larger or shrink smaller in our perceptions than they are in physical reality, and we may have a distorted perception of the passage of time -- it speeds up, it slows down, everything happens all at once, everything happens in slow motion. Again, we think of these as stress-related phenomena, and of course they are.

But the research clearly shows that many of these perceptual phenomena are not strictly limited to times of extreme stress. In fact, humans are slipping in and out of these states all the time, but we're rarely aware of them; possibly in part because few people ever examine a few brief moments of their lives with the intense scrutiny that a deadly force event is later subject to, such states often pass unnoticed, unremarked and unremembered. After all, the key detail here is that people don't notice what they did not notice!

Here's a great article from Force Science News about this:

What all of this means is that even the most alert person in the entire world IS unaware of his/her surroundings some unknown but non-zero portion of the time.

Someone who is serious about self-defense should give some serious thought to this factor, and consider training to cope with the unseen, unnoticed threat that "comes out of nowhere." Of course the threat that "comes out of nowhere" is actually a failure of awareness, but that's the point. Nobody is as continuously aware as we all wish we could be!

Kathy Jackson
My personal website: Cornered Cat
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