Mark this one down as questionable. With a lead off paragraph like this one, it’s got to be hard science, right?
People who have been drinking may miss objects that appear unexpectedly in their field of sight, even when their blood alcohol levels are just half the legal driving limit.
Pretty bold statement. There must have been some serious research behind this.
To investigate, the researchers had 47 volunteers watch a video of two teams passing basketballs back and forth and asked them to count how many times the team wearing white T-shirts passed the ball. During the video, a woman dressed in a gorilla suit appeared among the players, stood in the middle of the screen and beat her chest, and then walked away.
The subjects were given a beverage and instructed to drink it over a 10-minute period five minutes before watching the video. After viewing it, the researchers interviewed them to determine if they’d seen the gorilla.
Ok. Interesting technique. What were the conclusions?
Overall, one third of the study participants didn’t notice the gorilla. Among those who were sober, 46 percent spotted the gorilla, compared to 18 percent of the intoxicated group.
Notice there are no hard counts here, only statistical numbers (percents, not numbers of people). Any other observations from the study?
This phenomenon, known as inattentional blindness, occurs commonly among people who are sober, Clifasefi and her team note
Wait, wait just one cotten-pickin’ minute. Sober people exhibit this behavior, as well?
Let’s review the methodology here. People are shown a video of basketball players passing the ball and asked to count the passes. No indication is given of how intensely one would have to watch that video in order to fulfill that directive. People in studies are paid to do what researchers tell them to do; if I’m a paid subject told to count passes in a basketball video, you can be damn sure I’m going to be concentrating pretty hard on the ball moving around.
Here’s some interesting questions not addressed; how accurate were the counts of the “drunk” people? Did they perform as well on the task given to them as the sober people? Was the level of cognitive involvement (watching the basketball passes) equal to or less than the cognitive involvement of a seasoned automobile driver? Because, let’s face it, what else would a study on perception and drinking be aimed at besides drivers?
Repeat after me everyone; language matters. And when researchers–sorry, I can’t call them that–when grant seekers spew out crap like this “research”, it makes you wonder just what their agenda is. Leading off with laughable conclusions that don’t even pass the Smell Test doesn’t exactly give your work much credance either.