Believing is Seeing: Optical Illusions and Social Stereotypes
Interesting research shows just how our news is tainted by the biases of the journalist reporting it. Funny, how many times we see the same information used to prove or disprove the same arguments. It's not always the proof, but who's presenting it, that tells the truth behind the story!
The screen showed two tables, one placed horizontally and one vertically. Anyone in the room could see -- the vertical piece was longer and thinner. Or was it? Social psychologist Brian Nosek moved one image on top of the other for the journalists. The tables were identical.
Nosek ran through a series of optical illusions at a spring conference
at Poynter organized by the University of Southern California Annenberg
Institute for Justice and Journalism (IJJ). At the sight of each one,
the group of journalists wondered and laughed. Then he showed us a
video of men throwing around a basketball and asked us to count the
number of passes. Some viewers shouted out six; some were sure they saw
nine. But everybody missed the woman who walked right through the
middle of the game carrying an open white umbrella.
For a reporter who relies on what she sees, that little illustration of
a big mistake was scary. What might I be missing when I go out on a
story? Was there a woman with an umbrella whom I might completely
overlook? And when Nosek started showing us the tricks our minds play
when confronted with race, gender and other social categories,
everybody in the room stopped laughing. Instead we started to sweat.