Last year, with Christopher Chabris, also at Harvard, Simons showed people a videotape of a basketball game and asked them to count the passes made by one or other team. After about 45 seconds, a man dressed in a gorilla suit walked slowly across the scene, passing between the players. Although he was visible for five seconds, 40 per cent of the viewers failed to notice him. When the tape was played again, and they were asked simply to watch it, they saw him easily. Not surprisingly, some found it hard to believe it was the same tape.
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