Inattention

Brad M. Griffin | Jan 21, 2011

Youve likely seen this selective attention test beforeits been around over a decade. But just in case you havent, go ahead and give it a shot:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJG698U2Mvo&feature=player_embedded

Now, according to the folks at Harvard, typically about half of those who watched the video in their experiments completely missed the gorilla. As authors Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons note at theinvisiblegorilla.com, This experiment reveals two things: that we are missing a lot of what goes on around us, and that we have no idea that we are missing so much.

We all tend to suffer from selective attention, a type of blindness that is dangerously deceptive because of what we actually think is going on. In fact, Chabris and Simons call it the illusion of attention, meaning we take in far less of what we see than we give ourselves credit for (p 15). We think we see it all. We are more than wrong about ourselves.

As Fullers Director of Chapel Michelle Baker-Wright noted this week in worship, this research reminds us that its easy to get caught up in the day to day tedium of life and ministry and completely miss what God is doing in our midst (let alone around the world). God calls us to a life of attentiveness, similar to that of John the Baptist who was able to notice (and therefore declare), Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29).

We wont ever see it all. At least not in this life. But as we grow in prayerful attention to whats around us, we might be surprised at what we do see. Sowhat do you do to stay attentive?

Brad M. Griffin

Brad M. Griffin is the Senior Director of Content for the Fuller Youth Institute, where he develops research-based training for youth workers and parents. A speaker, writer, and volunteer youth pastor, Brad is the coauthor of over a dozen books, including 3 Big Questions That Change Every Teenager, Faith in an Anxious World, Growing Young, several Sticky Faith books, Every Parent’s Guide to Navigating Our Digital World, and Can I Ask That? Brad and his family live in Southern California, where he serves as Pastor of Youth and Family Ministries at Mountainside Communion.


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