Hidden in Plain SightApril 10, 2022
When I was in the 7th grade, my English teacher gave out extra credit points for finding grammatical errors and typos in the newspaper.
One day, our teacher posted a clipping on the board and said “see if you can find the error in this one!”.
We read it and re-read it. Over the next few days we took turns staring at it and scrutinizing it…two dozen students pouring over a 5x7-inch newspaper article. Periodically someone would ask a tedious question about a misplaced comma or pronoun. No, said the teacher. You’ll know it when you see it.
Finally, after several days, someone spotted the error.
The word “the” was repeated twice in a row. In the title of the article. In bold letters.
Our mind tends to see what it wants to see, not what is actually there. Each student wanted to be the first to spot an obscure error, so that’s what everyone looked for. And we subconsciously overlooked the blatant error because it didn't fit the story in our heads.
By acknowledging we have this blind spot, we limit its power to delude us. When we remember to see what’s really there before adding interpretation, we tend to see things more clearly and act more wisely.