I’ve written that ‘Though no medical genius, I am methodical and obsessional. I adhere to the aphorism that in medicine more is missed by not looking than not knowing’ . In my consulting room, I try to pay attention. To listen to what’s said and how it’s said. And to observe non-verbal cues. I used to think it’s possible to pay attention to – to perceive – everything that’s there to be perceived. In this my role model’s Dr Joseph Bell – who inspired the creation of Sherlock Holmes. But now I’m older and wiser, I think even Sherlock didn’t perceive everything. But rather he knew what was worth perceiving and what wasn’t. An item in the 17 September episode of Science Friday confirmed my conviction that it’s impossible to pay attention to everything – even in the small space of a consulting room. This is due to various confounding factors including preconception and multitasking; and also the science of attention itself. For example, the more we focus on one aspect of what we’re observing, the more prone we are to overlook notable observations. This link’s to a webpage with two YouTube clips on it . Watch these now: ‘The Selective Attention Test’ then ‘The Monkey Business Illusion’. Well, what do your reckon? The human brain’s a curious organ, eh . Makes you wonder how many people’ve been convicted of crimes, and even executed, due to invalid or unreliable accounts of eyewitnesses, More than a few, I’d suggest. Ho hum.
4 days ago