Take This Perception Test to See How Visually Intelligent You Are | Best of ’16


Visual intelligence is the concept that we
see more than we can process and it’s the idea of thinking about what we see, taking
in the information and what do we really need to live our lives more purposefully and do
our jobs more effectively. What I ask the people at The Art of Perception
to do one of them is looking down at a piece of paper and the other is looking at the painting
and they have one minute to describe what it is that they see to their partner and the
partner has to sketch what are they hear. And it’s not about the artwork, it’s not about
how well you draw it’s how well can you describe a new set of unfamiliar data, how well do
you listen and how well do you take that articulation and transfer it to your own language. How many of you said there was a train coming
out of a fireplace? And everyone raises his or her hands. And how many of you referenced smoke or steam
in your discussion? Lots of hands go up. And then I ask the question who articulated
that there are no tracks under the train? And a few astute people actually raised their
hand and said I said there were no tracks under the train. And then I ask who noticed and then articulated
that there was no fire in the fireplace? And hands go up. Not too many. Then we talk about other aspects in the painting. How many people mentioned the wood grain on
the floor? Most people noticed the wood grain on the
floor. How many people mentioned wainscoting, that
kind of paneling on the walls? And I always have some decorative arts aficionados
oh yes I know about wainscoting. And then I say how many of you mentioned a
mantle on the fireplace? Lots of hands go up. Who mentioned candlesticks? Lots of hands go up. And then I ask how many of you said there
were no candles in the candlesticks? And people say oh no never got there. And then I ask what really observant nerd
said it’s 12:42 or 8:05 on the clock? Who got to mention the time? And the reason I have that line of questioning
is because this painting illustrates a very important concept that I transfer from emergency
medicine to a much broader application. And the idea is called the pertinent negative. It’s saying what isn’t there in addition to
what is there to actually give a more accurate picture of what you’re looking at. So when you say I see a train coming out of
the fireplace, and by the way there are no tracks under the train and there is no fire
in the fireplace, why would you attempt to say what’s not there? Because in my third-grade mind if you told
me to draw a fireplace I would draw two sticks and a fire and smoke in the fireplace unless
you told me not to. And if you told me to draw a pair of candlesticks
I’ll draw candles with flames unless you tell me not to. So the pertinent negative is this wonderful
concept that gives us a broader way of looking at something. Instead of looking at something like this
you look at it like this. And here’s a example of how you apply that
in the real world. The pertinent negative in a medical situation
is when someone comes into the emergency room and they have all the symptoms, it appears
to the physician they have all the symptoms of pneumonia. Pneumonia has three symptoms. Symptom one is present, symptom two is present,
but if symptom three is absent it’s the pertinent negative. You have to say septum three is not there
therefore it’s not pneumonia. So in the real world, outside of medicine,
how can we use this? If we have an expectation of someone’s behavior,
you expect them to behave a certain way and then they don’t you need to say it didn’t
happen. You’re evaluating someone on the job. Well, you did A, B, and C very well but you
didn’t do D, E and F. So it’s looking at the affirmative and looking at the negative. And the pertinent negative is a wonderful
tool. Missing person’s cases you go to their homes,
what’s not there? The cell phone is not there. The keys are not there. The wallet is not there. You’re going to have a very different search
for that person if those things were present instead of absent. So this Magritte painting gives us this great
opportunity to talk about not just what we see but what we don’t see to give the person
who can’t see what we see a much more accurate description of what they’re looking at.

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