Can You See This Gorilla?

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Recently
by Simon Black: Imminent
Threat

I had lunch
yesterday with one of the sharpest financial minds I’ve met
in a long time at a rather picturesque setting overlooking Evergreen
Lake, west of Denver.

The restaurant
patrons were all well-to-do residents of this wealthy community…
in fact, the whole area is like a bubble, largely shielded from
any negative effect of the economic fallout thus far. Most of these
folks have gone about their lives over the last few years completely
oblivious to the global financial crisis.

My friend agreed;
he told me, “Most of the people sitting in this restaurant
haven’t felt a thing. Their guard is down, and they have no
idea what’s coming. It makes me nervous.”

Indeed, there’s
a large segment of people in this country who have not been directly
affected by the meltdown. They still have their jobs, they haven’t
been foreclosed, they haven’t been directly threatened by the
government, they haven’t been robbed (by the private sector).

Their experience
with the poor economy is second-degree… what they read in the
papers or see on TV. But overall they live in a bubble. I can only
describe this as the calm before the storm… and people are
completely blind to the clouds forming around them.

Being blind
to the obvious is part of the human condition. And this morning,
a friend from London sent me an email describing a rather interesting
experiment on the subject. It’s called the Invisible Gorilla.

Subjects in
the experiment are asked to watch a video in which groups of players
are passing basketballs back and forth. Half of the players in the
video are wearing black uniforms, half white.

The subjects
are asked to ignore the players wearing black jerseys and
count the number of times the players wearing white pass the ball
to each other. Halfway through the short video, someone wearing
a gorilla suit walks on to the screen, thumps his chest, and walks
off.

Here’s
where it gets interesting – about half of the subjects participating
in the experiment don’t notice the gorilla. They’re so
focused on counting the white team’s passes and ignoring everything
else that their minds naturally filter out something completely
obvious.

What’s
more, when they’re told about the gorilla after the experiment,
most people refuse to believe it. It shows without doubt that (a)
people can be blind to the obvious… and (b) people can also
be blind to their blindness.

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