Critical Thinking is an important part of education that is sometimes neglected. Fortunately there are people trying to improve this downfall.
The Critical Thinking Education Group (CTEG) provided talks/workshops at TAM8, the link is the resources from those talks and workshops.
From what I gather, one of the issues discussed was selective attention, or inattentional blindness, where you are so busy looking for one thing, you can completely miss other, sometimes important, things. The classic example of this is the gorilla on the basketball court video (including explanation), where you are shown a video and asked to count the number of times one team passes the ball, but then at the end asked if you saw anything unusual. Most people don’t see the gorilla walk across the court. BTW, there is an updated version of this video where, because most people now also look for the gorilla, they have done a few other tricks. (All these videos can be found on the CTEG site)
Another example of selective attention is misheard lyrics, often called mondegreens, where you don’t interpret the correct lyrics of a song when you hear it. There are ways to force you to misinterpret lyrics and the following is an (very humorous) example of that (taken from the CTEG site). The video shows pictures and words to match the lyrics being sung, or do they?
The original lyrics are below, dont look at them until you’ve watched this video at least once (from http://members.optusnet.com.au/~charles57/Carmina/carmlyr.htm#track1 )
The song is the classic O Fortuna (Carmina Burana)
et tunc curat
ludo mentis aciem,
dissolvit ut glaciem.
rota tu volubilis,
michi quoque niteris;
nunc per ludum
fero tui sceleris.
michi nunc contraria,
semper in angaria.
Hac in hora
corde pulsum tangite;
quod per sortem
mecum omnes plangite!
Now listen to the video again, but this time read these lyrics whilst listening to the video. Amazing how the brain can be tricked into interpreting the singing to match either lyrics (though obviously the real ones match better).
The brain can be tricked into all sorts of things, make sure yours doesn’t. 🙂