Everybody Is Stupid Except You

The truth about learning and memory.

Hidden Messages in Music and the Trayvon Martin Case

Top-down processing makes us hear what we want to hear.

Did you know there are hidden messages embedded in rock and roll songs? Hear for yourself in this video I made with two students at Williams College. 

The video illustrates a basic and very important point about how expectations affect our perceptions via "top-down processing." Sometimes we hear what we expect to hear. 

The second part of the video examines a crucial piece of evidence in the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin in February, 2012. It's important to understand our own perceptual weaknesses when looking at the facts of the case. (The video's point is not to decide what happened.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_IGISI349c

On a personal note, my student-directors tried to get me to be animated and engaging. When it became obvious that wasn't in my repertoire they scaled back their ambitions. Then they tried to get me to act like a human. I thought to myself, "It's the role I was born to play, baby!" As it turned out, it took all of my cognitive resources to simultaneously  look at the camera, stand still, and talk. I didn't manage to look human. 

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Fanny Mlawer, a Williams College student, deserves credit for the idea behind this video. 

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Nate Kornell, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Williams College.

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