Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sherlock and the science of "sixth sense"

Part of the reason I haven't written for a week is because I've been sucked into watching Sherlock - a clever, near-perfectly executed series in which the title character (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) constantly cracks cases and outwits foes through what he calls the The Science of Deduction:
This is what I do:

1. I observe everything. 
2. From what I observe, I deduce everything. 
3. When I've eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how mad it might seem, must be the truth.
Now it seems that real-life researchers have taken this advice to heart.

A recent study claims that what we call ESP or "sixth sense" may simply be subconscious observation:
This was the conclusion researchers from Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences came to after they performed a study in which nearly 50 participants were shown a pair of pictures of the same woman.

The images were displayed for 1.5 seconds each with a one second break between them. Once the last photo was shown, the participant was asked whether a changed had occurred and, if so, what.

In some instances, there was no change, while in other cases the woman had a different hairstyle or switched around her accessories, including earrings, necklace or glasses.

"Changes could only be detected by comparing the two photographs," the researchers wrote in the study.

According to the researchers, the findings showed that participants could usually detect a change even if they were unsuccessful in identifying what precisely had shifted around. The result was observers reportedly "feeling" or "sensing" a change without being able to point directly at one.
Then again, who's to say the researchers deduced everything?

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