I AM A VISUALLY IMPAIRED OBSERVER And So Are You

We experience far less of our reality than we think we do.

                                              Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons

You and I are visually impaired observers of reality. We don’t see what we don’t pay attention to; we don’t see what we can’t see; and we don’t see what we don’t want to see.  Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, are the authors of the 2010 book, The Invisible Gorilla, and a now famous experiment where subjects were asked to observe two teams passing basketballs and to count the number of passes made by the players wearing white and ignore passes by players wearing black. Over 50 % of the observers failed to notice a person dressed as a gorilla walk on the court for 9 seconds in a one-minute video. The invisible gorilla can be a metaphor to help us realize that we don’t see part of reality because we are paying attention to something else.

When I am observing something, I am observing some thing; I am not observing every thing. I am observing the players and not paying attention to the gorilla. When looking at a scene in my reality, I can ask myself,: “What am I not paying attention to?” That’s why it is said you can’t see the forest for the trees. When I am observing the trees I am not paying attention to the forest. And I can’t see the whole forest anyway because much of it is hidden. The underground and interconnected roots for example, are like the 90% hidden part of the iceberg. These are more useful illumination metaphors.

Another visual impairment is when I don’t see what I don’t want to see, usually because of a personal belief bias. “ The elephant in the room” (something everyone knows is there but nobody admits it) is another useful metaphor that helps me look for the part of my environment I am not seeing because I don’t want to see it.

These metaphors are part of my illumination strategies for making me aware of my visual impairments in my incomplete way of seeing things when I observe part of my reality. Watch for these metaphoric strategies in future blogs.

You can help me by sharing how you avoid seeing only part of reality or by disagreeing with my interpretations of our visual impairments. How do you monitor the way you see things?

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