Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Same Rainbow as Always

Almost sixty years ago the NBC television network adopted the original version of its now well-known logo consisting of a stylized peacock with rainbow tail feathers. The colors were chosen to highlight a new-fangled piece of technology called the color television, and some variant of the logo has been used by NBC affiliates ever since.

The logo has change over the years, but one constant has been the rainbow tail feathers. The above image shows the logo as it first appeared in 1957. Apparently, though, one viewer had never noticed, and took the network to task for "changing" it's logo to rainbow colors in the wake of last week's Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

One Facebook user admonished his local NBC affiliate for changing its station’s peacock logo to rainbow colors.

“Your changing your station logo with the colors of gays is a disgrace,” complained Facebook user Don Stair. “Just stay out of it… Your integrity is ruined… ABC KATV is my choice in the future for all Little Rock station viewing… Shame on you!”

The station told Stair that the logo had never changed. “We didn’t change our logo Don,” the station replied. “Same logo as always.”

Now you can laugh about how dumb this one viewer happened to be, but this story actually highlights an important psychological bias that can easily distort our perceptions. The viewer didn't notice the rainbow feathers until he started paying attention to all things rainbow after the ruling, when many businesses started changing the colors of their logos to support an issue that he strongly opposed.

Our senses are constantly pulling in far more information than our brains can fully process, so what we tend to notice most is whatever we direct our attention towards. Robert Anton Wilson once proposed an experiment in which you make a deliberate resolution to focus on finding quarters on the sidewalk as you go about your day. Often, when you do the experiment, you surprisingly will.

Ignoring the possible macrocosmic operancy of magick, psychologists explain that in fact you probably do walk past quarters on the sidewalk more often than you think, but usually you're paying attention to something else and miss them. However, when you focus your attention on the task, you start noticing them. Learning to direct your attention in this way is one of the first lessons of the magical path.

Energy really does follow attention, at the very least in a metaphoric sense. Being able to work around your regular sensory filters helps you perceive phenomena outside the normal range. It also prevents you from looking like an idiot when you complain to your television network about an aspect of their logo that hasn't changed in sixty years.

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1 comment:

Davezilla said...

Brilliant post. I still do the RAW experiment and had the happy luck of usually finding $20 bills instead of quarters.