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http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000087239639044413030457756...

Dr. Stafford, a psychology professor at the University of Sheffield in the U.K., was conducting experiments on a "cognitive science safari" around Berlin. The idea: to teach principles about how the mind works by making them come alive in the real world.

The experiments are "an experience," says Dr. Stafford, 34 years old. Science, he says, "is a very human activity."

In one test, a man asked a passerby for directions. Then Dr. Stafford arranged for a full-size wooden door to be lugged between them.

During that brief instant, the man seeking directions was replaced—by a very different looking, much shorter person.

Yet the passerby failed to notice any change—and went right on giving directions. He turned to walk away before being alerted that he had just been fooled.

Trailed by attendees to his lectures, Dr. Stafford used the door-swapping scheme to illustrate a concept known as "change blindness," in which people fail to notice differences in seemingly critical information when they are distracted.

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