The Great And Powerful

Do you ever miss things that are right in front of your nose?  I do.  All the time.  I am possibly the least observant person on the planet.

People are always pointing out little things I missed in books and especially in movies.  Did you know that Spiderman was in the 2003 move The Italian Job?  It’s true!  I wouldn’t make that up.  I can prove it, because it was proven to me.  But I had to watch the movie an additional 4 times before I found it.  You don’t have to do that, although it is a terrific movie.

One picture is worth a thousand words, whatever language this is in.

Apparently mistakes and weird things happen in films a whole lot, and most of us miss them.  Unless someone points it out you can be sure I won’t see it.  I’ve always thought it was because I am an unobservant dope.  But today I found out that I’m not the only one.

Still I’m always been glad that I was never hired to look for stuff.  I’d make a terrible detective because even after I am told who done it, I can’t figure out how or why or really anything else about what happened.  And if there are clues to be seen, well, I’d be more likely to spill coffee on them than solve the case from them.

So I’ve always been incredibly impressed by certain medical health professionals.  The ones who find stuff just by knowing what to look for, what it’s supposed to look like and what just isn’t supposed to be there.  They look and find tiny clues to medical mysteries on your body and mine.  They are the specialist to whom we are all referred at one time or another.  Because they are all seeing.

They are Oz.  OZ:  The “Great and Wonderful” not Dr. Oz the TV star, although I understand your confusion.

You Know Who(Google Image)

You Know Who
(Google Image)

Of course you’ve guessed that I’m talking about radiologists.  Yup, radiologists are rarely seen, and I don’t mean never seen socially.  Nope, they huddle behind protective glass, behind the walls that separate them from the huge machines their med techs stick you into.  Hidden.  I think they play a lot of video games of our guts.

It seems odd that you never get to see him/her, never get to chat.  You can never check their credentials.  Their bedside manner.  Their eyesight.  Still, I never really worried.  In fact, I’ve been mostly impressed by them.  I was especially awed by the radiologist who played video games of me just recently; he knew more about what other doctors had been doing to my body than I did.  At least based on the questions relayed to me by the tech.  Radiologists just notice everything.

Or so I thought.  But sadly, radiologists are just like you and me.  Just like the rest of us, they too suffer from “inattentional blindness” — not seeing stuff that’s right in front of them because they are concentrating on something else.  Yup, even people who get paid the big bucks to pick things out of pictures miss stuff, even when it’s waving right at them.

Click to Enlarge(Photo from the Washington Post)

Click to Enlarge
(Photo from the Washington Post)

According to this article in the Washington Post, a group of researchers tested a group of radiologists to see if they, like the rest of us, miss things while looking for something else.  And they did.

In fact, 20 out of 24 radiologists didn’t notice

that there is a gorilla waving to them

from the top of the right lung of this CT scan image.

Now I will admit that I had a hard time seeing that nice ape.  My excuse is that I can’t tell my right from my left and I was looking at the wrong lung.  I’m really hoping that not too many radiologists are Left-Right challenged as well as inattentionally blind.

But I’m sure my radiologist would notice.  Positive.  I’d bet my life on the fact that my radiologist would realize that there is a gorilla waving to him/her from this CT scan of a pair of lungs.

I also hope that monkeypox doesn’t become too prevalent around here.


Filed under Health and Medicine, Humor, Science

74 responses to “The Great And Powerful

  1. I heard about this article on NPR. It brings to mind the fallibility of human witnesses in court cases and is a damned good reason to ask for second medical opinions!
    After watching too many detective shows, I went through a phase when I tried to remember license plates or makes of vehicles and I was horrible at it. I can tell you what was playing on the radio at the time, though. Don’t ever call me as a witness, except in a music trivia game!


  2. I think gorillas are just hard to see in general. I failed this test the first time:


    • I think you’re right. I rarely see gorillas. Although once when I was at the zoo a big hairy alpha gorilla ran over to where I was standing and started pounding on the glass. Scared the hell out of me. My then 5 year old son thought it was hilarious though. I had the nightmares, not him. Life isn’t fair.

      That video is hilarious, isn’t it? It was in the Post story about the neurologists, too. I saw the gorilla the first time, but only because I knew he was coming. And I really think they should have use a real gorilla for the test. This silly guy was cheating.


  3. But really, who ever expects to see a gorilla in a lung?
    The times I’ve been sent for x-rays, I’ve generally found them to be quite chatty…


  4. Bet those radiology wizards of Oz would have seen that if it was a FLYING monkey (ba-dum,dum).

    I couldn’t see Spiderman or the gorilla, even KNOWing they were there, until they slowed down the movie and I enlarged the photo. I’m clueless.


  5. Crap! I can’t see the gorilla and I’ve tried 5 times. I can never see these things. In fact, they frustrate the hell out of me. I think I must try too hard. Anyway, I’ll have to take your word for it now that you have successfully tortured me. 🙂


  6. That is scary! I even put on my tri-focals and still can’t see it.


    • It seems to be different on different screens, actually. In my office it’s hard to see — at home it is clear as a bell! That’s my excuse anyway.

      But I will cut these radiologists a break — because I’m sure mine was one of the 4 who noticed it. I’m positive. Couldn’t be more sure. Really.


  7. Lily

    Holy cow! I’m a radiologist and didn’t know it!


  8. cooper

    Everybody is a genius but judge a fish by how well it climbs a tree and it will always believe it’s stupid…


  9. GOF

    You’d hope that the more people are paid, the more attentive they would be, but I think I live in a fantasy world.
    I’ll challenge you for the ‘least attentive’ award. I wander along a rainforest track every day. Most people observe everything around them, but I’m just head down in another world of my own, when suddenly I’ll look up and there’s a cassowary or pig twenty feet ahead of me. I really should be more ‘in the moment’ and attentive.


    • Watch out for those critters. I have read about the cassowarys — they don’t mess around. I had a close encounter with a wild boar in Switzerland and I don’t recommend that either.


  10. I didn’t notice the gorilla either. Guess it’s a good thing I’m not a radiologist. But it’s a little disheartening to know that 83% of actual radiologists didn’t see the gorilla either. I’m lucky in that the place I go for my mammograms, etc, you get to talk to the actual radiologist. But I know that in most cases that isn’t so. This article does not make me happy. Radiologists, anesthesiologists, pathologists, we’re kind of at their mercy, aren’t we.


  11. It’s amazing the stuff that shows up in films that we don’t notice. Glaring errors. I was watching a “director’s commentary” once and there’s a pan across the room and the commentators started laughing saying, “here is comes” and there’s a camera tripod sitting in the room that got missed somehow. But you don’t even notice it until it’s pointed out.

    Apparently you can also see Gandalf’s wristwatch in a battle scene on LOTR, too.


  12. Oh no. I still can’t see the gorilla. But I can spot a cell phone or student texting in class.
    I’ll have to show this to hubby, as he can spot anything, especially editing mistakes in movies.


  13. Of all the stories in the world, on all the days of the year…on the day I am having a brain MRI this is what is brought to my attention. Story of my freaking life! Elyse, throw me some positive vibes. The voices in my head are really doing a number on me.


  14. bigsheepcommunications

    I trust that now that the world understands this phenomenon, the drug companies will come up with a drug to help radiologists notice gorillas on lung x-rays, as well a a drug for patients with lung gorillas. Oy vey.


  15. As soon as you told me it was there I saw the gorilla. To be fair, I’m sure they were looking at the white portions more, but I’m always playing devil’s advocate.
    I am the person who notices when the hair is wrong on an actress from shot to shot. Like when you see her from behind, she has a tendril in front of her ear & then when you see her from the front there is no tendril. I notice a typo like a huge red mark on a page which is a great quality to have when you work for a newspaper.


  16. OMG! Now that’s an eye opener!


  17. I’m sure I have some of those hairy gorillas dancing around my scans. It is the only explanation that makes sense. 😉


  18. As soon as you told me it was there, I saw it. I would expect someone who send me a bill for looking at this to see it immediately though, jeesh.

    The spiderman thing, that is funny.


  19. I didn’t even know that was a set of lungs…


  20. It took me three views to see the gorilla.


  21. I had to go back and find the gorilla.


    • I did too. But then I was looking on the wrong side. Even when I knew it was there it was hard to see. So I understand why they didn’t notice it. Sort of.


  22. You may not see the radiologist, but you will be sure to get a bill from him or her… 😉


  23. LOL – I am oblivious at times too. I work as a designer and I always insist that someone a bit more left brained proof my work. I’m typesetting not spelling – so a lot gets by me when I am looking at shapes. My Grandma taught me to find arrowheads when I was a kid – she gave me some tips about chip shapes and reflections – but then she told me the key – look for something that doesn’t look like it grew there, something that doesn’t belong there. It works.


  24. Running from Hell with El

    LOL. I wouldn’t have noticed it either!


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