Motion Induced Blindness

May 22, 2012 View Comments by

I get a lot of chain emails. Some funny, some not so funny, and then the rare email that offers great insight. Just like this one:

This is frightening! It works exactly like it says, and is one major reason people in cars can look right at you (when you ‘ re on a motorcycle or bicycle)—AND NOT SEE YOU. From a former Naval Aviator. “This is a great illustration of what we were taught about scanning outside the cockpit when I went through training back in the ‘ 50s. We were told to scan the horizon for a short distance, stop momentarily, and repeat the process. I can remember being told why this was the most effective technique to locate other aircraft. It was emphasized (repeatedly) to NOT fix your gaze for more than a couple of seconds on any single object. The instructors, some of whom were WWII veterans with years of experience, instructed us to continually ‘keep our eyes moving and our head on a swivel’ because this was the best way to survive, not only in combat, but from peacetime hazards (like a midair collision) as well. We basically had to take the advice on faith (until we could experience for ourselves) because the technology to demonstrate it didn’ t exist at that time.”

Click on the linkĀ  for a demonstration on MSF’s website, or continue below for an excerpt of the MSF test.

What to see
Below you see a rotating array of blue crosses and 3 yellow dots. Now fixate on the center (watch the flashing green spot). Note that the yellow spots disappear once in a while: singly, in pairs or all three simultaneously. In reality, the 3 yellow spots are continuously present, honest!

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About the author

As long as I can grab a handlebar, I'll ride it. Trail riding is becoming my favorite hobby as of late. Hope to meet you on the road.