Sunday, April 11, 2010
Yes, Men Can't See It!
After back-to-back posts on bad sons and bad fathers, I think a switch in topic is definitely called for, so I turn to scientific research. I recently read Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin, an insightful book into the behavior of farm animals such as cows, horses, and chickens and of household pets, especially dogs. Grandin maintains that the visual perception of animals is different from that of adult human beings and closer to the visual perception of autistic people, such as herself.
The difference, she says, is that animals such as dogs and autistic individuals see all the details, whereas normal adults filter out a lot of visual stimuli and only perceive what they expect or are interested in. She cited an experiment in which both airplane pilots and ordinary people had to view a simulated air landing strip from the viewpoint of the pilot's cockpit as the plane was making a landing. When another plane suddenly emerged on the airstrip right in the path of the landing plane, non-pilots saw it, but the pilots did not, since they were not expecting it and were flying on automatic pilot, so to speak.
As I was reading this, my mind couldn't help but wander off to Dave Barry's classic column of November 23, 2003, in which he argues that men don't help clean house because they actually can't see the dirt. Now, it turns out, there is scientific research to hold up Barry's theory! As a public service for all harried house cleaners, here's the link to Barry's column. Have fun!