Looking But Not Seeing

This post has a video of a marching band, but it is not about the marching band.  It’s about how we only see what attracts our interest or what we intend or expect to see.

Last month I went to a college football game at Florida Atlantic University’s new stadium.  Some of the videos and photos that I took at the game were included in a post to this Blog a few days later.

One of the videos that I didn’t include in the post was the FAU Marching Band’s Pregame show – because (1)  the band is not all that impressive and (2) the wind was so strong that it at times completely blew away the sound.

While taking the video my attention was solely on my camera’s tiny 2-inch monitor, trying to keep as much of the band in the monitor as it moved about the field.  When I transferred the videos from the SD card to my PC hard drive and watched the band’s pregame show I was disappointed by the major loss of sound during  the middle portion of the show when the wind had really picked up.  Also, the National Anthem was sung by a young lady while the band stood at attention making for a significant period with nothing happening.  Again, while watching the video my attention was solely on the band.

Initially, I was going to just delete the video.  But then I decided to load it into my Roxio movie editing program and cut out the blah middle portion – which I did.  It was when I viewed the final product that I realized that all along I had been looking but not seeing what I think was the neatest thing going on during the show.

Here is the video.  When you watch, notice about 20 seconds into the video a group of cheerleaders clad in white jumpers with red side stripes run onto the field in the foreground just outside the sideline.  The performance put on by these girls was quite impressive – and I had been totally unaware of them until the final edit of the video.

This experience reminded me of a Psychology lecture in college long ago in which the professor gave us this visual test of how our minds process visual information.

Look at the following photo for 3 or 4 seconds, then turn away and repeat aloud (or sub-vocalize if not alone) what you saw on your monitor – then read below the photo.

According to the professor, over 90% of the people tested read “Paris in the Spring”, which of course is not correct.  Even after being advised that they were not correct, many looking at the phrase again still could not find their error.  They had to be told that “the” was in the phrase twice before they could see it.  This test was designed to demonstrate that we “see” what we expect to see, given the context or environment – not necessarily what is there.

Full disclosure:  I failed the first time – but when told that I was wrong I was able to see the second “the” when I looked at the phrase again.



Filed under Marching Bands, Videos

2 responses to “Looking But Not Seeing

  1. naturgesetz

    I think you can be excused for not noticing the cheerleaders while you were “filming,” because they were so small on the screen you were watching.

    My failure to see the second “the” until you told me it was there is another matter entirely.

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