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Levitin, Professor Daniel - On our lack of observational ability

Identifier

006065

Type of spiritual experience

Background

The classification of the type of spiritual experience is not strictly speaking accurate as this observation is about the lack of perception recall in most people, but it provides an interesting contrast to what happens when people can access their perceptions and don't rely on memory 

 

A description of the experience

This is Your Brain on Music – Professor Daniel Levitin

An important series of studies was carried out by Elizabeth Loftus of the University of Washington, who was interested in the accuracy of witnesses’ courtroom testimonies. Subjects were shown videotapes and asked leading questions about the content.

If shown two cars that barely scraped each other, one group of subjects might be asked ‘How fast were the cars going when they scraped each other?’ and another group would be asked ‘How fast were the cars going when they smashed each other?’

Such one word substitutions caused dramatic differences in the eyewitness’ estimates of the speeds of the two vehicles. Then Loftus brought the subjects back, sometimes up to a week later, and asked ‘How much broken glass did you see?’. (there was no broken glass).

The subjects who were asked the question with the word smashed in it were more likely to report ‘remembering’ broken glass in the video. Their memory of what they actually saw had been reconstructed on the basis of a simple question that experimenters had asked a week earlier

The source of the experience

Levitin, Professor Daniel

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image

Activities