It's an unsettling phenomenon, not seeing what should be obvious... It's in the news all the time.
A submarine commander looks through his periscope, thinks the coast is clear and orders the sub to surface – slamming into a fishing vessel directly above, killing nine people.
A crime victim points out her attacker in court with absolute certainty. He’s convicted and spends ten years in prison – until DNA evidence proves his innocence.
Airline pilots think they have an eye on the controls, yet they miss warning signals and fly more than an hour past their destination.
How does this happen? How do intelligent, conscientious people miss what's right in front of them? It has to do with how our brains process information. Tonight, we'll prove that you can't always believe what you see and what you hear, and you'll have a chance to put yourself to the test.
It all comes down to the fact that, at any given moment, our senses are bombarded with all kinds of sights, sounds, and smells – many happening at the same time – and it's impossible to consciously think about all of them at once. So, the brain is designed to filter out what it thinks is the unnecessary information for the task at hand, but sometimes there's an error in that filtering process. It happens to all of us at one time or another. Think it couldn't happen to you? Don't be so sure.
Consider this – while I was just speaking, you were probably focused on what I was saying, processing the information. Perhaps you were watching closely as I assembled the model of a brain. But there was a lot more going on that you might not have noticed.
Let's roll back the tape. Did you notice anything change while I was talking? First, watch the color of my coat: Here it's tan, now dark blue. Now watch my tie: First it's dotted, and then it's striped. Look closely at my shirt: It goes from pink to blue. And, finally, look at the background behind me: It starts off black, and then changes to dark red. And if you missed the changes, you might be surprised.
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: It has nothing to do with intelligence and smarts and education.
We hired psychologist Dr. Michael Shermer, editor of Skeptics magazine, to help explain why our brains sometimes deceive us.
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: It has to do with our emotional brains that really, it turns out, run a lot more of our behavior than we like to acknowledge. We're pretty irrational.
Shermer says there are many ways our brains can play tricks on us, and, like the illustration above, it has to do with the way our eyes take in information.
We invite a group of people to this theater and ask them to do several tasks. First, we have them look at some photos. It's a test to see if they'll see what's truly in front of them – or will their brains trick them?
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: What do you think about this one?
You at home can follow along...take a good look at this picture. What do you see?
FEMALE VOICE: I immediately thought it was a woman's butt but—and just as soon as I thought that, my mind tried to see it as something else. It looks like she's coming out of the shower and she has, like, velvet pants that she's pulling off.
Just about everyone in the audience saw a woman's backside. So what are we really looking at? It's a famous shoe ad. This is Via Uno sandals. That's just two feet side by side. Those, the heels.
So why do we see something titillating when it's just part of a foot? Dr. Shermer says it's because the brain is always on the lookout for something it can easily recognize. The way the brain works is that we have models in our brain of the way the world is, and then, as the data comes in, we force it to fit the model.
What do you see when you look at this?
MALE VOICE: I thought I was looking at—maybe an actress back in the '20s or the '30s. I don't know, maybe like a Mae West.
Most of the audience saw the face of a woman.
CHRIS HANSEN: Do you know what it really is? Grilled cheese sandwich.
A parent's face is usually the first thing we're able to make out when we're born, and Dr. Shermer tells us that impulse to recognize the pattern of a face continues as one of our most primal instincts.
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: You can't help but not see the face. Because to see a face you only need three data points: The eyes, the nose and the mouth. And even a grilled cheese sandwich, which, by the way, Chris, sold for $28,000 on eBay.
CHRIS HANSEN: This sandwich?
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: Yep. That sandwich. It is now in a Las Vegas casino. You can go see it. I've seen it. It's under glass.
It can be very amusing... But it turns serious when we add special importance to things that aren't there to begin with.
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: We see UFOs. We see conspiracies. We find patterns, meaning, belief. We can't not believe things
For instance, what if someone wanted to exploit our tendency to see patterns for religious purposes?
What do you see in this image?
FEMALE VOICE: I see a distorted Mother Theresa.
CHRIS HANSEN: Mother—
FEMALE VOICE: Yes.
CHRIS HANSEN: —Theresa?
MALE VOICE: Me too.
CHRIS HANSEN: Yep.
Once she points out that it looks like Mother Theresa, most of the audience sees it, too.
CHRIS HANSEN: It's a cinnamon bun.
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: It's a cinnamon bun discovered by a Tennessee baker in 1996 who has since put it on a t-shirt. You can get the t-shirt of it. And—and so it— but a lot of people flocked to his bakery shop. This was in the news. It was a big story for a while.
In this one, many people saw the face of Jesus.
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: So here's, like, the beard and the long hair. And, you know, the nose and the eyes.
Now that we've mentioned it, do you see it too?
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: It's a tooth filling, actually. A large x-ray.
The ability to see patterns with our eyes is one thing, but combine what you see with what you're hearing and watch what happens.
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: I wanna know what you think of the song.
Follow along with our studio audience. We've asked them to listen to this New Age song with creepy lyrics.
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: Well, that's probably not the cheeriest song in the world, maybe but—yup, go ahead.
FEMALE VOICE: I really liked the sound of the music. That—it was interesting to me and I don't know, I could listen to that at home. But the words then creeped me out.
Several audience members said they were bothered by the lyrics...
CHRIS HANSEN: Some of you heard references to Satan?
But they're in for a surprise because what they were hearing weren't lyrics at all – it was just noise. In fact, it was actually one of the greatest rock songs of all time, “Stairway to Heaven,” played backwards. Yet when printed words are shown along with the backwards music, the brain tries to fit the words it's seeing with the sounds it's hearing.
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: What's going on here is it's a bunch of random noises. But by priming everybody with a visual, then the audio patternicity kicks right in, and you hear those particular words.
CHRIS HANSEN: With the words up there, were you actually able to hear those references in the song?
So, the power of suggestion can be so strong you can hear words that don't exist. And if we're able to fool ourselves, it should be no surprise that others can fool us, too.
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: This is how con artists operate. That's how we get suckered into things. We're just talked into seeing the world in a different way.
And we'll be showing you more illusions… They may look like they're playing basketball—but is that all that's going on?
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: So we're gonna have one more little task for you here to do.
Dr. Shermer, a psychologist, is working with our studio audience to try to illustrate how our brain can be so focused on one task, it will block out what's right in front of us.
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: And we—this is a live performance. We actually have a real basketball team here. It's called 46 NYC, it's a charity basketball group. There are four players dressed in white shirts and four in black shirts. This side of the room, you're gonna count out loud the number of passes of the other four black-shirted team members. And this side of the room is gonna count the number of passes of the four white-shirted team players, and you're going to count them out loud.
You can try this at home. Try to count the number of passes the white shirt team makes.
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: Are you guys ready?
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: All right here we go—and go.
So how many did you count?
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: How about this side?
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: Twenty five? Twenty six? Yeah, okay, great.
Everyone was so busy counting passes, most missed something right before their eyes.
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: Did anybody see anything unusual in the middle of this scene? So let me just see a show of hands. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12, out of our 40 or so.
Did you at home see anything unusual? So would it surprise any of you to learn that there was a man who walked right across the middle, spun around and waved to you all? That man was me.
CHRIS HANSEN: So raise your hands if you didn't notice me walking through the—the basketball court.
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: Wow.
CHRIS HANSEN: So you didn't see that great disco turn from the '70s? I thought it was pretty good.
There were a few who did see me—for everyone else we play it back. Amazingly, one woman doesn't see me the second time either!
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: That's classic.
CHRIS HANSEN: Do you consider yourself an observant person?
FEMALE VOICE: Apparently not.
It may seem surprising, but a researcher at the University of Illinois has been studying this phenomenon for years.
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: It's Dan Simon's inattentional blindness research. It's important research because what it shows is that our brains are finely tuned. When you're instructed to do so, to focus on one thing, you're likely then to miss something really obvious.
CHRIS HANSEN: So, so many folks were so intently counting that they didn't even see me waltz right through the room and do a turn around.
And it can have serious consequences. Remember those airline pilots who apparently thought they could check their new flying schedules on their laptops and still keep an eye on the plane's controls? Instead, they flew past their destination.
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: That's an example of this inattentional blindness, where you're attending to one thing so focused that you miss something big, like the alarms going off, or just look out the window.
CHRIS HANSEN: And what happens when you're so focused on texting or talking on the phone while you're driving?
FEMALE VOICE: You miss the big picture.
CHRIS HANSEN: You miss the big picture.
And there are many ways you can miss the big picture. It's all about how our brains focus. Consider this: A driver crashes into a motorcycle and swears she never saw it, even though the motorcycle was clearly visible. The driver's focus was on avoiding other cars; since she wasn't expecting to see a motorcycle, her brain blocked it out.
And what about that fatal collision we mentioned earlier between an American submarine and a Japanese fishing vessel? Even though the commander checked his periscope, he never saw the ship directly above him.
WADDLE: How could I not have seen it? How did I not know this vessel was here?
Turns out, the commander had checked his instruments, which indicated there were no ships in the area. He was so focused on that information that he missed what should have been clearly visible.
How strange can it get? Would you notice if a woman standing right in front of you suddenly turned into a man? Don't be so sure.
We've been showing you how our eyes don't always take in what's right in front of us—how we can be tricked into missing key parts of the big picture.
Here's another example...
AMY: Excuse me. I’m sorry, can you help me?
This woman, Amy, is asking a random person on the street for directions...
Without warning, they are rudely interrupted by a gigantic poster of me.
MAN: Sorry, where is it?
The man doesn't notice he's now speaking to a different person. Watch—we'll do it again... This time we ask a woman for directions and, after a few seconds, make the switch. She doesn't notice either.
Okay, so maybe we are stacking the deck a bit: The women do have similar hair and are wearing the same dress. What will happen if we switch a blonde with a brunette who’s wearing totally different clothes?
Here comes the poster, and the woman switch places. The stranger keeps on giving directions.
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: Her mind has already formed an image of what the person looks like. And she's not expecting some other image to suddenly appear there, cause that never happens in the real world. So the brain just processes that and moves onto the next thing.
This next woman gets so annoyed about being interrupted by the poster…she doesn't notice she's now talking to a woman who looks completely different.
Now let's really mix it up. A woman starts asking for directions, here comes the poster... And now a man takes her place. Our subject looks puzzled for a second, but continues to give directions.
Of course, not everyone was fooled.
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: Could be size difference. It could be they were just looking at a certain way, or they weren't paying attention to what was being said. They were noticing how the person was dressed, and all of a sudden, they're dressed differently. Most people, most of the time, don't notice it. But every once in a while, somebody does.
Now it's my turn to give it a try. A Dateline intern starts asking for directions, then I step in... Will she notice I took his place?
She keeps right on giving directions. How is this possible?
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: Well, how many times does Chris Hansen suddenly appear…standing there right before you? I mean, almost never. And so, why would anybody expect that? So this is the power of expectation.
We try it two more times.
The man notices the map is now upside down—but keeps giving directions, even though I wasn't the person he started the conversation with.
CHRIS HANSEN: Chris Hansen with Dateline NBC. Can I just tell you something? We're doing a little social experiment today. Did you realize there was a switcharoo?
MAN: With my memory these days, I figured…
CHRIS HANSEN: You're being a Good Samaritan, giving somebody some directions.
One last time.
CHRIS HANSEN: Do you consider yourself a pretty observant person? Did you realize that I’m not the first guy you were giving directions to? When the poster came by, we switched.
WOMAN: Aw, you fooled me.
This is an example of change blindness.
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: Where you do not expect something that big to happen in the environment, that kinda changes, 'cause that never happens.
It's funny to watch, but our brain’s inability to sometimes accurately interpret what it's seeing can have very serious consequences. Imagine you were an eye-witness to a crime. Would you be able to pick out the criminal? We'll be pulling people off the street to see how accurate they are.
We've been showing you how our eyes may not be as reliable as we think. Take the story of Ronald Cotton, convicted of two rapes and burglaries in the mid 1980's...
JENNIFER: I picked out my rapist.
After this woman picked him out of a line-up, he was convicted and locked away for 10 years. It took DNA evidence to prove his innocence.
JENNIFER: I'm here to tell you that eyewitnesses can make mistakes.
This is a photo of the real rapist, and this is a photo of the man wrongly accused. Would you have made the same mistake? Experts in this field say you probably would.
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: We are not reliable memory machines. All this information is flowing through our senses. 99% of it flows in, flows out. It's gone.
To test the accuracy of eyewitness testimony, we're here at a Mailboxes Etc. in New York City, about to do another demonstration. Just like the two men who resembled each other in the that criminal case, we're using two Dateline interns who also resemble each other, but are clearly not twins: One woman is taller and has shorter hair, the other woman has freckles and her shirt is a different color. You probably think you could tell them apart. But under the right circumstances, we're betting you couldn't – just watch.
This woman has agreed to fill out a survey concerning the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Our first intern, Blake, takes her form.
BLAKE: Thank you, just let me get your survey.
Then she drops down behind the counter to get a survey...but she's not the person who pops back up. It's actually the other intern, Sophia.
SOPHIA: Can you just fill this out in the back for me, please?
Did the woman notice she's now interacting with a totally different person? Apparently not. How about this man?
BLAKE: Would you mind signing this first, please?
MAN: All right, I'll sign my life away.
Blake has him sign the consent form...
BLAKE: Thank you, I'm just gonna get your survey.
And, again, she drops down, and Sophia appears.
SOPHIA: Here's your five dollars and survey. Can you just fill the survey out in the next room?
He doesn't notice—and that's not because he didn't look each woman straight in the eye.Here he is looking right at Blake, and then, when Sophia takes her place, he looks right at her. But his brain is simply not realizing that they are two different women.
This next woman, we find out later, is a Harvard grad who scored a 1600 on her SATs. Will that make a difference?
WOMAN: How long does it take?
BLAKE: Two seconds.
She looks right at Blake...
WOMAN: Is it all right if I mail this stuff first?
SOPHIA: It really won't take long.
And then at Sophia... No reaction.
I ask the Harvard grad about her experience.
CHRIS HANSEN: What did you notice about the young woman at the counter when you walked in? Anything at all?
ADINA POMERANTZ: Not really.
And, as is often done in criminal cases, I show her a photo line-up and ask if she can pick out the woman she just saw in the other room.
ADINA: I’m gonna go with her first choice and her second choice.
She picks Blake first, then Sophia.
CHRIS HANSEN: You're absolutely right, except about one thing. There were actually two different women, so, one actually took the document bent down and it was different woman who stood up.
ADINA POMERANTZ: Really?
CHRIS HANSEN: You picked the right two.
ADINA POMERANTZ: Wow.
CHRIS HANSEN: You just didn't realize it was two different women.
ADINA POMERANTZ: Two different people?
So we introduce her to the two women.
CHRIS HANSEN: So, does it surprise you, seeing them together, that you didn't tell the difference?
ADINA POMERANTZ: It surprises me now, yes.
We try it again...
BLAKE: Hi, can you sign this for me, please?
This man signs the form...
BLAKE: Let me just get your survey, thank you.
SOPHIA: Got your survey here, five dollars. Can you fill this out in the back for me, please?
MAN: Yeah, no problem.
…And has no clue that the women switched.
CHRIS HANSEN: Do you think you would recognize the young woman to whom you talked at the counter?
JACK REILLY: Yes. I would, I think.
CHRIS HANSEN: How convinced are you that you could identify her?
JACK REILLY: Eighty percent chance.
CHRIS HANSEN: Jack, will you look at a lineup for me?
JACK REILLY: Sure. I would say top left corner.
He picks Sophia, the second woman he spoke to.
CHRIS HANSEN: Did you see anything strange while you were talking to the young woman? Did you notice anything?
JACK REILLY: No.
CHRIS HANSEN: Well, let me tell you something, Jack. This was the first woman you talked to.
JACK REILLY: God.
CHRIS HANSEN: And this was the second woman you talked to. They were actually two.
JACK REILLY: That is ridiculous. Wow.
CHRIS HANSEN: What did—what does that say?
JACK REILLY: That says I wasn't paying very close attention. You take what's in front of your eyes and they're not supposed to lie to you, but obviously they can.
We tried the switch seven times—and, even though the participants had encountered two women, they still believed they'd only met one.
When we asked each person to pick out the woman they thought they'd met from our group of photographs, three picked out Blake, three picked out Sophia… Then there's this woman.
CHRIS HANSEN: Did you notice anything odd between the time she bent down to give you the survey and the time she stood back up?
EKATERINA DIMITROVA: No.
CHRIS HANSEN: Same girl?
EKATERINA DIMITROVA: Same girl.
CHRIS HANSEN: Positive?
EKATERINA DIMITROVA: Yeah.
CHRIS HANSEN: How positive are you?
EKATERINA DIMITROVA: Hundred percent.
But watch what happens when I ask her to pick out the woman she just spoke with.
EKATERINA DIMITROVA: I don't think any of them.
CHRIS HANSEN: You don't think any of them?
EKATERINA DIMITROVA: No.
It's time to explain the trick to her.
CHRIS HANSEN: This young woman is the one you first talked to—
EKATERINA DIMITROVA: Okay.
CHRIS HANSEN: When she bent down, it was this young woman who stood back up—two young women.
EKATERINA DIMITROVA: Oh, okay.
THEN I INTRODUCE HER TO THE WOMEN IN THE PHOTOS.
CHRIS HANSEN: Can you tell the difference now?
EKATERINA DIMITROVA: Yeah. Yes.
And, when this man looks at the photo line-up, he picks out a completely different woman.
KNOX: I'd say one at the bottom.
CHRIS HANSEN: This one right here?
CHRIS HANSEN: How certain are you?
KNOX: I'm pretty certain. Am I wrong?
CHRIS HANSEN: You're wrong.
And what does he think when he meets the women?
KNOX: Thank you for tricking me.
CHRIS HANSEN: Can you tell the differences now?
Everyone was surprised they didn't notice the switch.
TINA SCHILLER: Oh interesting.
CHRIS HANSEN: There were actually two young women, you see.
TINA SCHILLER: Oh. Good job, sweet. Good job.
JOSHUA ORTEGA: Wow.
CHRIS HANSEN: Did you have any inkling at all?
JOSHUA ORTEGA: Not at all, actually, kind of caught me, I'm glad.
Obviously Blake and Sophia have some similarities, but we wanted to take it a step further. We tried it one more time using a dateline staffer, DJ, who bore absolutely no resemblance to Blake.
BLAKE: Hi, can you sign this for me, please? Thank you, I'm just gonna get your survey.
Blake takes the survey and ducks down...here comes DJ.
DJ: Okay, here's your five dollars and here’s the survey. Could you go around the corner and fill it out for me, please? Thank you.
Is it possible he was fooled? I asked him to describe the woman he met at the counter.
JOSEPH CHECKMAN: She seems like an attractive woman. Brown hair.
CHRIS HANSEN: Brown hair.
CHRIS HANSEN: Age?
JOSEPH CHECKMAN: She seems, like, mid-twenties, maybe.
When I show him the photos, he picks Blake—the first woman he saw.
CHRIS HANSEN: Well, you're half right.
JOSEPH CHECKMAN: Am I?
CHRIS HANSEN: That was the young woman you talked to first.
JOSEPH CHECKMAN: Yes.
CHRIS HANSEN: But I want to introduce you to somebody else.
When we show him Blake and DJ side-by-side, he doesn't believe us.
JOSEPH CHECKMAN: Is that really true?
CHRIS HANSEN: It's true. We have it on video. I watched it.
JOSEPH CHECKMAN: Can I watch it?
CHRIS HANSEN: Sure.
SO WE SHOW HIM THE VIDEOTAPE.
JOSEPH CHECKMAN: Oh my God, I didn’t believe it at first, but I guess I have to now.
Of course, these were brief encounters. But what if you were really trying to get to know someone – like on a date? Could someone possibly miss the old switcharoo?
AMBER: Welcome to on-speed dating, and we have the best of both worlds tonight.
Onspeeddating.com has invited us to set up our cameras and shoot tonight's speed-dating event at The Watering Hole in New York City.
AMBER: How many of you have speed-dated before? Raise your hands.
All the daters know they will be on TV—but, of course, they don't know the whole story.
AMBER: The way it will work is everyone here is going to meet everyone here.
This man Jeff will meet each woman here tonight. A woman will sit down at his table and he'll have about three minutes to speak with her before the bell rings and another woman sits down. But his speed dates will be a little unusual because, a few minutes after each date begins, he's going to switch places with another man, Spencer. Take a close look at the men. A lot about them is different: Their height, their build, their hair.Will any woman be fooled?
MARIA: Hi, Jeff.
JEFF: Nice to meet you, Maria. How is it going?
JEFF: Hold on, one second, I'm getting a phone call.
Jeff gets up and goes behind the curtain. Now, here comes Spencer.
SPENCER: I'm so sorry.
MARIA: Why do you look different all of a sudden? This is very strange.
SPENCER: I don't know what are you talking about.
MARIA: This is really frightening, the other man was a different man sitting here. I know he was a different man sitting here.
Maria's not buying it.
MARIA: You're playing games on me.
Let's try it again.
JEFF: How is it going?
JEFF: This my first time speed dating
EDNA: Me too.
Now it's time for the switch...
JEFF: My boss keeps bothering me, be back in a second.
SPENCER: I'm really sorry.
EDNA: You're not the same guy.
SPENCER: Are you kidding me, Edna?
EDNA: You sound different too.
While she clearly noticed the switch, she politely goes on with the date.
SPENCER: So, what part of Mexico?
EDNA: I was born in Mexico City.
So far, the women don't seem to be fooled...
JEFF: Give me one second.
CHRIS: But we only have three minutes.
JEFF: I know, one second.
Watch how this woman reacts.
CHRIS: You're not the same person.
JEFF: Look at me, look at me!
Let's see what happens with this next woman.
ERIN: Hi, how are you?
JEFF: How you doing?
ERIN: Fine, thanks.
JEFF: I'm Jeff.
Jeff excuses himself—and she doesn't seem too pleased.
JEFF: I'll be right back. I'm so sorry.
When the other man comes back and sits down...
JEFF: Sorry, Erin.
ERIN: No, it's okay.
...Apparently she doesn't have any idea that she's now sitting across from a completely different man.
JEFF: I’m from NY born and raised.
This next woman can't believe he's leaving in the middle of a three minute date.
EMILY: You're going to bathroom?
JEFF: I'm going.
EMILY: You are.
JEFF: I'm really sorry. I feel like a jerk. Give me a second.
When he returns, she doesn't notice she's now talking to a different man.
JEFF: Sorry. Lindsey.
LINDSEY: Oh, that was fast.
JEFF: Yeah. My bad. You live in the city now?
JEFF: All right, Lindsey.
LINDSEY: It was nice meeting you.
We try the switch 10 times. Five women immediately say something...
CAROLINE: Not the same Jeff.
Some seem puzzled, and three appear to have no idea... Like this woman.
SPENCER: Give me one second, I’m really sorry.
JEFF: Sorry Paulina, my boss is a little demanding at times. You went to college in Moscow?
PAULINA: No, I actually lived in Sweden for the last 10 years.
Now it's time to let them in on our switcharoo.
CHRIS HANSEN: So you met Jeff--
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
CHRIS HANSEN: Spencer, come on out… This is Jeff number two right here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm very freaked out. I'm very freaked out.
CHRIS HANSEN: Why do you think you didn't pick up on it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know, maybe it's like nerves, being in a situation where you're not making complete eye contact and you're not really observing it—
CHRIS HANSEN: Maybe you're not expecting anything like this could happen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, I mean… I am completely embarrassed that I didn't notice it.
20:50:46:00 No, I mean—come on, living in New York City, like, you have to be very aware of your surroundings.
CHRIS HANSEN: What's the lesson here for you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stay single.
This woman also admits she didn't notice the switch.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was like my—my first date, so I was a little bit nervous, I guess, and didn't pay attention at all.
You might not be all that surprised that several of the women did notice...
CAROLINE: Your hair is different and your voice is different.
Now it's the men's turn. When it comes to noticing an attractive woman, would it be possible to fool any of them?
AMBER: Does everyone have a pamphlet and a pen?
We're back at The Watering Hole in New York City for another round of speed-dating. This time instead of a manswitching in the middle of a date, it will be a woman.
AMBER: How many of you guys have done speed-dating before? Raise your hand.
Nicole will start the date and, after a minute, she'll excuse herself and Amy will take her place. Look at the women side-by-side: Clearly, they look more alike than the men we used in the previous demonstration. But notice they are different heights, they have different shaped faces, and their eyes are a different color.
AMBER: The way it's gonna work tonight is you want ask your dater about… you write their name down, take notes, cause you're gonna be meeting at super fast speeds.
Will any of these men notice they're speaking to two different women?
AMBER: So we're about to start. I hope everyone's ready.
Nicole is about to begin her date. The other woman, amy, is hiding around the corner.
MATHEW: What's going on?
The date will last four minutes...
MATHEW: You want a drink?
NICOLE: No, not tonight.
After two minutes, Nicole excuses herself...
NICOLE: Excuse me, I need to use the ladies room.
MATHEW: Oh, sure, yeah.
A minute later, here comes Amy... Will he notice he's now talking to a totally different woman?
MATHEW: You all right?
AMY: Yeah, fine…so you must have a lot of fun with your brother living so close
MATHEW: No, no, no. You guys aren't the same people
MATHEW: I see what's going on, I see what's going on. You guys aren't the same people.
AMY: I don't know what you're talking about.
Mathew: You're not the same people.
This man noticed the switch and couldn't be convinced otherwise.
MATHEW: That's—that's funny, but no.
So we try it again.
NICOLE: Where are you from?
TODD: I'm from Australia.
NICOLE: Australia? Wow, interesting.
Nicole makes her move.
NICOLE: Can you use excuse me for one second? I need to use the ladies room.
TODD: Yeah, sure.
AMY: Sorry about that. So do you surf?
TODD: Do I surf? Not anymore.
He keeps right on talking... Apparently not realizing he's talking to a different woman.
AMY: I think our time's up.
TODD: Peace out.
AMY: Nice meeting you.
TODD: See ya.
This next man is taken with Amy from the start.
RAY: I must say, you have some awesome nice eyes.
AMY: Thank you.
AMY: Thank you.
Will he notice that the awesome hazel eyes he's looking at will soon be blue?
AMY: Would you excuse me for one minute?
RAY: You could do whatever you wanna do.
AMY: I'll be right back, I promise.
NICOLE: I'm sorry.
RAY: No, it happens... I'm putting when they leave after the first minute it's not the best sign (laughing)
NICOLE: Oh, I lost points?
RAY: No, no, l—listen, I don't even know how to judge. You're a gorgeous girl. You're awesome...
He has no idea he's now speaking to a different woman with different color eyes.
RAY: It was lovely to meet you gorgeous. Thank you.
This time, when we make the switch –
DOUG: Yeah, go right ahead.
The other woman arrives wearing a jacket.
DOUG: Were you cold?
NICOLE: Yeah, I had to go and get my jacket. I had a jacket in the coat room.
He notices the new jacket...
Doug: Have you ever been married?
Nicole: No, you?
But apparently not the new woman.
DOUG: I think I'm some what romantic to think someone's out there.
Next, when they trade places...
AMY: Would you excuse me for just one sec?
DAVID: Yeah, sure.
The new woman shows up wearing the jacket and a hat.
NICOLE: Don't write any notes now –
DAVID: I won't. Date is great.
NICOLE: Okay…I'm sorry, so, what are you looking for in a woman?
DAVID: Happy, healthy, pretty. Basics.
NICOLE: All that good stuff?
No reaction to the new woman or the new accessories.
Date after date, and switch after switch, no reaction. Eight out of nine men went right on with the date. Why were so many fooled? It's another example of change blindness. Our brains are not designed to notice things like that because, if you noticed every single little thing that changed in the environment, you'd never get outta the restaurant. You'd be there for the rest of the night.
CHRIS HANSEN: Did any of you guys notice something odd about this table over here? Come here. Tell me about it. What did you notice?
MALE VOICE #1: It was two different girls.
CHRIS HANSEN: How did you know that?
MALE VOICE #1: Because I knew it was two different girls.
But most of the men admit they had no idea...
CHRIS HANSEN: Now, Ray, it looked like you didn't pick it up, did you?
RAY: Not at all. Not at all. I noticed when she went to the bathroom, and I'm like, ‘Wow, I totally failed on this date right there.’
CHRIS HANSEN: Ari, did you pick this up?
ARI: Not at all.
The men seemed amazed that they missed what should have been obvious.
CHRIS HANSEN: You knew you had only four minutes. So you—you kinda lost sight of the fact that it was a different woman.
JAY: Yeah, just tryin' to figure out what to ask 'em, and find out about them
RAY: I shouldn't have looked at her chest, and maybe more at her eyes. Y'all got me. That's all. Man, you got me.
CHRIS HANSEN: What's the takeaway here?
DR. MICHAEL SHERMER: The take-home message from this kinda research is that we really need to be pretty skeptical and cautious about what we think is true because, often, we are deceived and even self-deceived by the way our belief systems work.
So as we make our way through the world, observing what's around us…Remember our brains can be sending us wrong information.
So the next time you're positive about what you think you saw, take a moment to reconsider because, as we've shown you, what you think you see is not always what you get.
As Michael Shermer said in our report, much of the research into the phenomenon of change blindness and inattentional blindness was developed by pyschologist, Daniel Simons. To learn more, here is a link to Simons' and Christopher Chabris' book: www.theinvisiblegorilla.com