The World Ain’t WYSIWYG

 maritime safety news  Comments Off on The World Ain’t WYSIWYG
Mar 122012

Whirling ladies hide the change

MAC is of the opinion that an hour spent learning about cognitive psychology might helpfully disabuse ships’ officers of a fond belief in the reliability of the unassisted Mark One Eyeball with the optional version one Brain accessory. What You See IS What You Get, WYSIWYG, doesn’t necessarily apply in the real world, as experiments in ‘change blindness’ clearly show.

Our favourite boffin book, New Scientist, has published an example of change blindness, in which significant changes are not observed in a dynamic environment, in this case rotating images.

Illusions and false perceptions certainly have played a role in maritime accidents. The Hockey Stick phenomenon evident in a number of collisions during crossing situations

We need to question not only our assumptions but the physical perceptions that influence our decision making. Continue reading »

Is that a Gorilla On The Bridge Or Are You Just Glad To Not See Me? Intuition And The Human Element

 Accident, Bridge procedures, bridge team management, maritime safety  Comments Off on Is that a Gorilla On The Bridge Or Are You Just Glad To Not See Me? Intuition And The Human Element
Jul 282010

Human Element is a term often bandied about in safety circles, sometimes wrongly as a synonym for human error. Less bandied is cognitive psychology, the study of how we perceive, or do not perceive, the world around us. What it often shows is that our intuitions are dangerously flawed and the need to mitigate those hazards.

An absorbing new book, The Invisible Gorilla, by psychologists Christopher Chabris and Daniel J. Simons, is a valuable basic primer that waves big red flags for those like to believe we live in a What You See Is What You Get world. If it’ not on your bookshelf, it should be.

Chabris and Simons carried out a series of classic experiments that asked fundamental questions and got some unexpected answers.

For instance, we intuitively feel that if something outrageously obvious suddenly popped up where it shouldn’t be we would instantly see it. Let’s say it’s a video o a basketball game and your job is to count the number of times players in white pass the ball while ignoring passes made by players in black you’d obviously spot a gorilla walking among the players.

Your intuition is wrong. Continue reading »