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.
Learn how to redesign your job for maximum reward.
- Broaching the question "What is my purpose?" is daunting – it's a grandiose idea, but research can make it a little more approachable if work is where you find your meaning. It turns out you can redesign your job to have maximum purpose.
- There are 3 ways people find meaning at work, what Aaron Hurst calls the three elevations of impact. About a third of the population finds meaning at an individual level, from seeing the direct impact of their work on other people. Another third of people find their purpose at an organizational level. And the last third of people find meaning at a social level.
- "What's interesting about these three elevations of impact is they enable us to find meaning in any job if we approach it the right way. And it shows how accessible purpose can be when we take responsibility for it in our work," says Hurst.
Erik Verlinde has been compared to Einstein for completely rethinking the nature of gravity.
- The Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde's hypothesis describes gravity as an "emergent" force not fundamental.
- The scientist thinks his ideas describe the universe better than existing models, without resorting to "dark matter".
- While some question his previous papers, Verlinde is reworking his ideas as a full-fledged theory.
TuSimple, an autonomous trucking company, has also engaged in test programs with the United States Postal Service and Amazon.
PAUL RATJE / Contributor
- This week, UPS announced that it's working with autonomous trucking startup TuSimple on a pilot project to deliver cargo in Arizona using self-driving trucks.
- UPS has also acquired a minority stake in TuSimple.
- TuSimple hopes its trucks will be fully autonomous — without a human driver — by late 2020, though regulatory questions remain.