Gorilla in the Picture
By Doug Bing, Washington Conference president
There was an experiment conducted in 1999 where subjects were asked to watch a video and count the people dressed in white as they moved around a room while passing a ball back and forth.
At a certain point in the video, a man dressed as a gorilla walked into the frame, turned to face the camera and walked off screen. What is interesting is that almost half of the subjects that watched the video didn’t see the gorilla.
In a 2013 study, radiologists were shown CT scans and asked to find lung nodules. This is a normal thing practice in their field. It is something they need to do all the time. In the experiment the researchers added a dancing gorilla to the CT scan. They wanted to see how many of the doctors saw it. 83% of them did not. Yet in watching the eye scans of the doctors the researchers could tell that they had in fact looked right at it. So, what happened? Why didn’t they remember the gorilla?
Well, it seems that when we focus on a particular or expected task we don’t really notice other things happening around us.
I wonder if we look at our relationship with God in similar ways. We expect God to show up in the ways we have seen in the past. But what if God shows up differently? He certainly did to the religious establishment when he was born as a baby. He didn’t come riding on a chariot, overthrowing the government. Instead, he came in a humble, dirty cave surrounded by animals that he had created but certainly not surrounded by the religious folk of the day.
Maybe we should start looking for God everywhere instead of just a few locations.
My wife drives a white Mazda. Since she started driving that car, I am amazed at how many white Mazda’s I see on the road. It’s like they have come out of the woodwork. I am constantly looking at white Mazda’s just like hers to see if it is her driving the car. Did you know there is a name for that phenomenon? It is called the frequency illusion. To be technical it is called the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. It occurs when the thing you just saw or experienced seems to be everywhere.
Maybe we all need the frequency illusion in our lives.
Maybe we all need to start seeing God and His blessings in our lives instead of missing them because we are so focused on doing the everyday things of life. As we focus on the blessings of God, we start to see so many more of them. Psalms 121:1 states
I will lift up my eyes to the hills--from whence comes my help.
Let’s start looking for God in everything we do, and we will see Him in unexpected ways.
Let’s put God in the picture instead of a dancing gorilla.