Friday, July 30, 2010


The original, world-famous awareness test from Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris. Check out our new book, THE INVISIBLE GORILLA for more information (

More than 10 years the creative minds of Daniel Simon and Christopher Chabris devised a "test" of selective attention. Could you tell us how many times the basketball was passed? More importantly, did you see the monkey? The first time I took the "test" I wasn't being all that attentive to the basketball passes and actually saw the beast before those who were trying to count the passes. I suspect that was dumb luck rather than my general inattention.

Selective attention is a phenomenon to be found in all walks of life and in all generations. An older adult can see all the tatoos and piercings and tears in the clothing of a teen and not hear the eloquence with which they may speak. Teenagers can drown out wave upon wave of sound coming through their ipods as they memorize their Spanish vocabulary for class.  Mothers can see every potential danger or risk in a room rather than a baby taking its first steps.  In the political arena we can hear all the buzzwords that evoke a justification to accept or reject an idea and totally miss the new element being proposed in a piece of legislation.  Employers can focus on profit and loss statements and never "see" the personal struggles of an employee. Pastors can see every transgression of their parish and yet overlook the moments of ordinary grace that occur in the midst of it all.

Paul speaks in Romans 8 of the importance of living "with eyes wide open to the mercies of God." To what frequency of life do we tune our spiritual antennae?  Do we set the dial on the world's failings and sin's burdens or do we place it on glimpses of His grace and evidences of His unconditional love.  If the former is true, we will place our energies on judgment and confrontation. If the latter is true, more and more we will become persons of forgiveness and humility.

1 comment:

  1. This is cool. Here's another version of the same test, but this one uses words: