Niagara Gazette

Web Extra

March 31, 2014

Why our brains just cannot let this mystery go

(Continued)

Chabris and Simons also write that we love to order things not because we crave chronology but because we crave causation. This imperative can serve us well. As they point out, if you see your brother eat a fruit with dark spots and he later vomits, you will likely avoid a similar-looking fruit. If the cause was the spots, you've made a good conclusion, but if the illness was due to a virus, you've made an erroneous one. In the Flight 370 mystery, we've seen over and over this desire to alight on a single piece of data and make a sweeping conclusion. This is why Slate's Will Dobson debunked the brief frenzy over the idea that there was a connection between the disappearance of Flight 370 and the fact that the day before the flight, the captain of the plane, who supported an opponent of the Malaysian ruling party, attended that man's trial.

Our brains are also future-prediction machines. David Eagleman writes in "Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain," that in order for us to catch a ball, for example, we need a brain trained to anticipate how a round, thrown object behaves. After sufficient practice catching balls, our brain understands the laws of physics enough for us to put out a hand where the ball will be — even though our eye and hand lag behind where the ball actually is. To be efficient, our models of how the world works must function below our consciousness. Eagleman writes that it's when sensory input violates our expectations that our conscious brain tries to solve the discrepancy or attend to the novel data. The novelty of a Boeing 777 simply disappearing is hard to overstate; no wonder our collective brain circuits devoted to noticing the unusual are fully focused.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Web Extra
  • 110720 Walmart.jpg Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 22, 2014

  • Sparring justices find little disagreement at the opera

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg revealed a different view of U.S. Supreme Court on Saturday when she described about her passion for opera, one she shares with Justice Antonin Scalia.

    July 22, 2014

  • Starved Pennsylvania 7-year-old weighed only 25 pounds

    A 7-year-old Pennsylvania boy authorities described as being so underweight he looked like a human skeleton has been released from the hospital.

    July 22, 2014

  • NIA Biz Column art 1 072114 Electric cars will get charge out of new IBEW 237 battery station

    Those who drive electric cars now have a free location to stop and charge their batteries, thanks to a new charging station recently built at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 237 at 8803 Niagara Falls Blvd. Beside offering free charging, the stations gave a class of apprentice electricians a chance to learn how to assemble the stations. "We think it's a great training tool," said Russ Quarantello, a business manager for the union.

    July 21, 2014 4 Photos

  • NIA Ukraine plane art 072114 Rebels take full control of plane crash bodies

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • ent_taylorswift.jpg There's less good music now — here's why

    Taylor Swift, the seven-time Grammy winner, is known for her articulate lyrics, so there was nothing surprising about her writing a long column for The Wall Street Journal about the future of the music industry. Yet there's reason to doubt the optimism of what she had to say.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140516-recalls_1357_88cb85dbc81b724b4ae9c83db4426fd8.jpg Auto recalls break single-year US record with six months to go

    With six months left in 2014, automakers have already recalled more vehicles in the United States than in any other year on record.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Why does the Vatican need a bank?

    The Vatican Bank's history reads more like Dan Brown than the financial pages, but its worst -- and weirdest -- days may be behind it.

    July 20, 2014

  • Survey shows colleges flouting sexual assault rules

    More than 40 percent of 440 colleges and universities surveyed by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., haven't investigated a sexual assault in the past five years, according to a report released Wednesday.

    July 20, 2014

Featured Ads
House Ads
AP Video
Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress Bush: Don't Worry, Sugarland Isn't Breaking Up US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment
Opinion
House Ads
Night & Day
Twitter News
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page