Sex (and Gore) Makes You Go Blind

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At least temporarily, say researchers at Vanderbilt University. It won't be long before we hear Dr. James Dobson at Focus on the Family and Tony Perkins at the Family Research Center not only denounce sexy billboards for "coarsening our culture," but also for causing traffic accidents.

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  1. 1/5th of a second afterwards? Excuse me for pointing out the inconsequentiality of this, relatively speaking.

    I tried the test myself. It’s true, I couldn’t pick out the second or third target image without reloading a bunch of times. Cool!

  2. 1/5th of a second afterwards? Excuse me for pointing out the inconsequentiality of this, relatively speaking.

    I tried the test myself. It’s true, I couldn’t pick out the second or third target image without reloading a bunch of times. Cool!

  3. The same effect can be caused by any strong emotion: an argument, seeing a loved one after a prolonged absence, etc.

    And I think more accidents are caused by seeing escalating Powerball jackpots and “quotes” from God on billboards than a shapely ass.

  4. Comments broken?

  5. I could see the rotated picture after 2 tries following the emotionally charged photos. I did not see it even after 4 tries following the neutral photo.

    I always suspected my brain was wired differently.
    (I have an audial form of dyslexia making spelling bees a bitch, but I spell OK if I can write it down and look at it. Remembering phone numbers given to me verbally is also difficult if not repeated slowly as I write it down and then verify.

  6. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if some censorial crusader tries to use this study the way Bailey worries about, this sort of sensory effect is nothing new, especially when it comes to sight.

    Your visual system is spotty, discontinuous, slow, and noisy. The view you think you see is heavily cleaned-up by the parts of your brain that get to it before “you” do.

    This sort of attentional “defect” also occurs when you are looking for something. For example, if the subjects had been given two targets to look for, they’d miss the second one if it followed too closely after the first one. If memory serves, this attentional blindness lasts more like half a second.

    A theory I’ve heard is that the part of your brain that is looking for something has to spend a little time reporting to the rest of your brain that it has found something. During this reporting period it’s not paying attention to outside stimuli, so it misses the second target.

    Apparently some images—such as those related to sex and death—are important enough that it interrupts what it’s doing to report them, even if you aren’t looking for them.

    If I had to guess, I wouldn’t be surprised if food has a similar effect. And I’ll bet familiar images—such as local landmarks or family members—are even worse.

    Besides, this clearly means that becoming “desensitized” to sex and violence through prolonged exposure is a good thing because it reduces inattention that causes accidents.

  7. “A new psychological study finds that when people are shown violent or erotic images they frequently fail to process what they see immediately afterwards.”

    Not people.. sheeple! SHEEPLE! Baaaaaaaaaa!!

  8. This is a surprise?

    Two people in a cave decide to go outside. One looks around and notices a tiger. The other looks around and notices the bush the tiger is hiding in. Which will pass on his or her genes?

    Noticing danger/opportunity is a survival trait. Doh.

  9. While certain images may be more distracting than others, and I would even concede that they are a possible danger while driving, the standard billboard contains more than just images. It contains language, which is much more distracting for drivers to process than images alone.

    Let’s outlaw billboards!

  10. “At least temporarily, say researchers at Vanderbilt University. It won’t be long before we hear Dr. James Dobson at Focus on the Family and Tony Perkins at the Family Research Center not only denounce sexy billboards for “coarsening our culture,” but also for causing traffic accidents.”

    I am suddenly reminded of the Seinfeld episode where Kramer sued the woman who was wearing a bra as a top in public on grounds that he was distracted by looking at her while driving and he got into an accident. Maybe Perkins and Dobson will soon have an excuse for advocating mandatory taliban-style dress codes.

  11. Sue-Ellen Mischky was flouting society’s conventions. And she was the heiress to the O’Henry candy bar fortune.

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