Two months ago, on a wooded path in upstate New York, a psychologist named Chris Chabris strapped a video camera to a 20-year-old man and told him to chase after a jogger making his way down the path.
For close to two years Chabris, who teaches at Union College, had been conducting this same experiment. He did the experiment at night, in the afternoon, with women, with men. All were told to run after the jogger and watch him.
The goal of all this was to answer a question: Is it possible to see something really, really obvious and not perceive it?
But for Chabris and his co-researcher, psychologist Daniel Simons at the University of Illinois, this wasn't just some abstract scientific inquiry. They wanted to know for a reason. Chabris and Simons were trying to understand whether a Boston police officer named Kenneth Conley had been wrongly convicted of lying.
What happened to Conley was the inspiration for their experiment.
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