CSI: How Refined Is Your Visual Intelligence?
Are you detective material? This visual intelligence test will make you think twice about accuracy and just how much details matter.
Amy E. Herman, JD, MA, designed, developed and conducts all sessions of The Art of Perception. While working as Head of Education at The Frick Collection, she instituted the program for medical students to improve their observation skills. After expanding the medical program to seven medical schools in New York, Ms. Herman adapted the program for law enforcement professionals across a wide range of agencies including the New York City Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice and the Secret Service. Ms. Herman holds a BA in International Affairs from Lafayette College, a JD from the National Law Center, George Washington University, and an MA in Art History from Hunter College.
Amy Herman: This is an interesting painting and I want you to just take a look at it for a few seconds before we talk about it. I've looked at this painting a thousand times. I use it in my classes, I've seen it in art museums when it's been on view and there is so many subtleties. But one of the assumptions that I made, not as an art historian but just a viewer of art is that what I was looking at on the plate was a piece of meat like a piece of ham with and eye in the center. And when I first showed it at one of my classes I said okay who's going to tell me what they see and someone raised his hand and said that's a big old pancake on the plate. And I would have never considered that it was a pancake. Is it a material distinction? Maybe, maybe not. But he was so sure that it was a pancake and I was so sure that it was a piece of meat, while it might seem like a really subtle distinction it's not if you think about something like eyewitness testimony. Well, he was wearing a red sweater. No, he was wearing a blue sweater. That's a big difference.
And one of the things that reminded me of the Magritte painting there was a crime scene in Texas and they were speaking to a witness and they said what did he look like? What did the suspect look like? And the witness said he had a cowboy hat on. So everyone was looking, and in Texas lots of people wear ten-gallon hats. So they were looking for a suspect with a cowboy hat on. Well, it turns out the suspect was wearing a Dallas Cowboys cap. So the choice of words it wasn't a cowboy hat it was a Dallas Cowboys hat. The idea of a saying what you see and being sure about what you say that's how communication lines can get crossed. And another interesting thing about that Magritte painting that I found fascinating, one of the wonderful things about writing the book is people write to you. They read your book and they send you their own observations and I received an email from a woman who said has anyone ever told you when they look at that painting and describe it to you that the fork to the right of the plate is turned upside down and the tines are facing into the table. I had never noticed that. I had a look at the painting a thousand times. And again, material difference? No. Critical? No. Important? Yes. It's one of those details because if someone said to me describe the silverware in the painting I would've said you have a knife and a fork. And sometimes it's those very small details of the tines facing the table that can bring a whole case together or crack a case or be that one detail that brings all the other pieces together.
Amy Herman’s visual intelligence tests and exercises are best done with a friend, because every time they unveil something about perspective that you didn’t expect. Herman created and teaches a course called The Art of Perception to doctors, intelligence analysts and the NYPD, and while her lessons are entertaining for individuals looking to have their minds blown, they are immensely relevant for businesses and even more so for criminal investigations.
Here she uses one of Rene Magritte’s artworks to demonstrate the dangers of assumptions – both in observations, but also in communicating those observations. Her example from a real criminal investigation in Texas will spark an awareness of the different ways people see identical objects and our varying understandings of exactly the same words. Fine-tuning our visual intelligence makes us more careful, considered, and accurate – something so important when lives and money are at stake.
Amy Herman is the author of Visual Intelligence:Sharpen Your Perception, Change Your Life.
- Push Past Negative Self-Talk: Give Yourself the Proper Fuel to Attack the World, with David Goggins, Former NAVY SealIf you've ever spent 5 minutes trying to meditate, you know something most people don't realize: that our minds are filled, much of the time, with negative nonsense. Messaging from TV, from the news, from advertising, and from difficult daily interactions pulls us mentally in every direction, insisting that we focus on or worry about this or that. To start from a place of strength and stability, you need to quiet your mind and gain control. For former NAVY Seal David Goggins, this begins with recognizing all the negative self-messaging and committing to quieting the mind. It continues with replacing the negative thoughts with positive ones.
If you don't want to know anything about your death, consider this your spoiler warning.
- For centuries cultures have personified death to give this terrifying mystery a familiar face.
- Modern science has demystified death by divulging its biological processes, yet many questions remain.
- Studying death is not meant to be a morbid reminder of a cruel fate, but a way to improve the lives of the living.
- Master Execution: How to Get from Point A to Point B in 7 Steps, with Rob Roy, Retired Navy SEALUsing the principles of SEAL training to forge better bosses, former Navy SEAL and founder of the Leadership Under Fire series Rob Roy, a self-described "Hammer", makes people's lives miserable in the hopes of teaching them how to be a tougher—and better—manager. "We offer something that you are not going to get from reading a book," says Roy. "Real leaders inspire, guide and give hope."Anybody can make a decision when everything is in their favor, but what happens in turbulent times? Roy teaches leaders, through intense experiences, that they can walk into any situation and come out ahead. In this lesson, he outlines seven SEAL-tested steps for executing any plan—even under extreme conditions or crisis situations.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.