PAY ATTENTION!

I have talked about being aware of our surroundings many times before but have come across some very interesting thoughts on the subject in The Survivors Club by Ben Sherwood. Inattentional blindness is a phenomena that has cost may people a lot of heartache, pain and even death. Go to this link and take the test before reading on:

viscog.beckman.illinois.edu/flashmovie/15.php

This is a video that has two groups of people passing basketballs. You are supposed to count the number of passes that the people in white make during the video. More than half of those watching the video and counting don’t notice that a person in a gorilla suit walks right through the video. Inattentional blindness. How can you miss a gorilla? Another test ran by Professor Richard Wiseman asks people to count the number of photos in a newspaper. More than half of those counting don’t see the message in giant letters on the second page that say STOP COUNTING, THERE ARE 43 PHOTOS IN THIS PAPER or the just as large type STOP COUNTING, TELL THE EXPERIMENTER YOU HAVE SEEN THIS AND WIN $250!

Our brains can get on task and not notice anything else…like a gorilla walking across the room. Unusual, out of place (and even dangerous) objects do not automatically capture our attention. One reason is that our eyes are made to only see high resolution within 2 degrees of their focal point. No matter how good our eyesight is most of our surroundings are out of focus. We have the illusion that we see everything in high def because our eyes move three or four times a second to give us the impression that we are seeing everything clearly. At any given time we are glimpsing a tiny slice of reality.

As if this doesn’t already put us at a major disadvantage when it comes to our personal safety we tend to put ourselves even further behind the eight ball with the goofy things we do. The cell phone may have well been created by criminals. It certainly gets our attention away from our surroundings. The following youtube hit is of a woman walking into a fountain while texting:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPW8xmI4w6U

When we are out in public why do we think we have to text? When was the last time you sent a really important text? You have no idea what is going on around you or even where you are while doing this!

Every now and then in a restaurant I notice that I took the time to sit facing the front door, back to a wall, looked for exits, looked for things I can use as a weapon, etc. and then, when the food gets there, I find myself looking down at my plate while I am eating. Dumb! Keep looking around…know who is coming in that door at all times!

The worst? New lovers! They are so enraptured looking into each others eyes that a gang fight could be going on around them and they wouldn’t notice! In classes I see one big thing that makes us quit looking around and observing…pain. I had a law enforcement officer in class once get hit in the nose. It wasn’t broken or bleeding but he fell on the ground and turtled up. I went off on him! I told him it’s just a smack in the nose and that he wasn‘t dying! I then said “While you are acting like you are dying the bad guy on the street is taking your gun and making sure it isn’t just acting!!” He got ticked and quit after that but it’s my job to make people safe and point out stupid things that can get them hurt! Unless we are unconscious there is never a reason to bury our heads and quit looking around.

Be aware. Keep your head on a swivel. Realize where you are and what can go wrong at all times. Above all…BE SAFE!

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7 Comments

  1. Don’t look at your plate while you are eating? Dude, if you are that paranoid, just stay home.

    Certain types of awareness are incredibly important… like “look both ways before you cross the street” type awareness… but to think that you are going to be magically protected from being ambushed simply because you don’t text or sit in a special place in a restaurant is what leads to guys with Martial Arts T-shirts or CCW permits thinking they are safe just because they are “aware”. Thinking that your mat or range skills will be perfectly executed on the street, after being startled, when scared, when off balance represents complacency at best.
    It could be not knowing what really happens in fights (ignorance), it could be knowing, but wanting things to be easier (self-deception) or, it could be knowing, but wanting your students to have false confidence (hypocrisy)…. in any case, I think it is dangerous to preach awareness as if it means you won’t be in danger if you are paying attention. In fact, it could be that you focus TOO MUCH on certain things (like someone approaching you in a parking lot) only to miss something more important (his buddy hiding in the shadows waiting to hit you in the head while you are distracted).
    Counter Ambush training allows you to approach the problems you might have to deal with from a “worst case” scenario, acknowledging that you could get surprised, no matter how cautious you are or sloppy your dining habits.
    For a counter point to this article, check this out: http://www.personaldefensenetwork.com/articles/tactics-defensive-issues/the-myth-of-situational-awareness/

    -RJP

    • Dude,

      read all the blogs & you’ll see you and i think very much alike. Your comment on “if startled, etc.” is addressed over and over by me. Most “systems” never talk about the adrenaline dump, mindsetting, how stress affects us, that real violence is scary as hell and can’t really be trained for, that we will be fighting injured, etc. I’m really not following why you were so down on telling people to keep their heads up and pay attention. I never said it was magic and would keep them totally safe but paying attention and using situational awareness will keep them safer….i don’t see how that can be argued. Thanks for the banter, it’s good for the system!!

  2. Dude,

    read all the blogs & you’ll see you and i think very much alike. Your comment on “When startled, When scared, etc.” is addressed over and over by me. Most “systems” never talk about the adrenaline dump, mindsetting, how stress affects us, that real violence is scary as hell and can’t really be trained for, that we will be fighting injured, etc. I’m really not following why you were so down on telling people to keep their heads up and pay attention. I never said it was magic and would keep them totally safe but paying attention and using situational awareness will keep them safer….i don’t see how that can be argued. Thanks for the banter, it’s good for the system!!

    “We are not paranoid for thinking that there may be people out there who will try to kill us if there are, indeed, people out there who may try to kill us” SGT Sanford Strong

  3. Been catching up on the blogs…. This one certainly got MY Attention! :).
    Then, I found out we are now neighbors… No doubt we’ll bump into one another. You, of course will see my first, as I’ll be staring into someone’s eyes or concentrating on trapping some fish between chopsticks while you are scanning & assessing.
    Seriously, I really think we (as an industry) over-play awareness as a security blanket. Your points are valid “if” we aren’t distracted… But it is so damn easy to be distracted (and necessary to pay attention to non-security things) that I tend to come down hard on the other side of the coin: accept that you can be caught off guard and learn to fight while off-balance.
    I’ll definitely keep following the blog. Look forward to meeting sometime. -RJP

    • Yep, i see your “security blanket” point if someone were preaching that sit awareness was the answer. We look at it as a piece of the puzzle. Teach people to be aware….not go to stupid places with stupid people to do stupid things….but also let them know that ambush is certainly possible and we have to train to have the “switch” to be able to go from startled, terrified and uncomprehending to “go all out” instantly. To make our flinch reacttion “go forward and go hard”. We have a lot in common the way we look at self defense. Nice to hear from you.
      Mark

  4. Cool, man.

    It’s always that last 2% that professionals disagree on that leads to the best conversations and evolution. I’m sure you’ll have the chance to make me think harder about one of my opinions at some point.
    Thanks!

    -Rob

  5. I love to hear everyone’s opinion, however, I definitely agree that we need to be “extremely” aware. Being totally alert isn’t a paranoid thing -cause in this world it better be a “real” thing.

    You know what they say, “However high you aim -that is where you’ll end up”. Why not keep a high alert -and then you’ll be pleasantly surprised of anything less…~smile.

    Cindy G.


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