Saturday, 1 June 2013

Blank stare in the minds eye

Move along, nothing to see here. An all too common phrase in these times, before we know it merely looking will be a criminal activity despite human nature's draw which forces most people to look at whatever all the fuss is about. It's often called 'rubber-necking' and the majority of people slow down to stare at a car accident on the highway even if a tow truck, and ambulance and police cars are already attending to the situation. Sure, slowing down likely enhances the safety of 'rescue personnel' but staring does not help anyone. In fact the only activities I can think of which are enhanced by staring is a retina scan or hypnosis.

I am not going to claim to be an expert in this field but I have seen a documentary which explains this phenomenon as being similar to how a magician can steal a coin from your hand and drop it back into your hand off the brim of his hat without you realizing that he is somehow wearing your watch... It isn't that the hand is quicker than the eye, but rather the inverse: we track the quicker hand while the slow hand steals our watch. It was claimed that this works because of ancient survival mechanisms still hard-wired into our brains, and the explanation seemed convincing enough: we track motion as though it were a predator and the faster one is the more imminent threat. Thus certain amounts of perceived motion will automatically draw our attention whether we wanted to look in that direction or not.

There are many slight of hand tricks at play out there, and sometimes the people doing them even get caught in the act. The trouble is that they, unlike the magician, don't intend to point out that they've stolen your watch, and will only give it back if they are caught, and ordered to give it back by decree of judgement. That judgement process a much longer and costlier process than simply saying 'give me back my watch you thief', but it does keep the lawyers employed in these times when there has been an outbreak of people not making it to court on account of being dead. Overkill? I suppose it all depends on who you ask, I think it is, but these guys probably don't. Not that everybody is bad, but some people really don't know when to not act out, thus spoiling it for everyone else in the process.

Maybe all these mistaken identities and bad ideas acted out before consequences were considered are simply a factor of our collectively growing stupider. Maybe the thin veneer of civility has finally worn off and allowed the crazy to flow freely. It's possible that things have been this way longer than anybody can remember, but that now we have a vast resource sharing information system that's easier to search than newspaper and easier to remember than a soundbite (or, that we can forget tomorrow, and seek it out easily next week). But I still remember some shady things happening and being exposed long before the internet, and thinking to myself, if this is as much as has been exposed, what hasn't been? I'm inclined to believe that some, but not all, coincidences are self-fulfilling prophesies, regardless of how outlandish it might sound to keep a secret hidden for most of recorded history... Of course it's not exactly hidden by those claims, is it? Go ahead, call me crazy, others have likely already beaten you to that punch anyway, or you could suggest that one can see whatever one chooses to see after staring at something long enough.


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