Change Blindness

Change blindness occurs when a subject is unable to tell two images (or sounds, etc…) apart despite seemingly obvious differences. Below are a whole bunch of examples, taken from a group at Indiana University. I think these images are useful for discussing the scientific method and the limitations of intuition and “common sense” thinking. Science, and increasingly Psychology, demonstrate how little we can trust ourselves when we investigate reality. Deciphering the changes in these images serves to illustrate at least three concepts central to performing good science:

  1. Diligence. Scientific truths are difficult to discover, and often rely on subtle effects that you don’t immediately notice.
  2. Repetition. Phenomena often require many experiments to discover or confirm.
  3. Collaboration. Having somebody else collaborate on a tough problem often makes finding the solution easier.

In addition, these photos demonstrate that once you know something, it’s impossible not to see it every time you encounter it. It seems so obvious that it becomes hard to believe that others don’t see it on their first try. You forget how hard it was for you to discover at first.

Here are the pictures!