We see what we want to see

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

There’s a tale of a US law professor who begins his university course with a lecture on witness statements. Midway through the lecture a man bursts in, jostles the lecturer and grabs the professor’s briefcase, wallet and jacket and escapes. Shocked, the professor says “right, can you guys tell me what happened, take notes and give me a description”.

So the students confer and take notes. Some have the thief as tall, others as short. Some say the man’s white, others that he’s Hispanic, black or Asian. And so on: it turns out that a lecture hall of law students struggles to recall what happened right in front of them. The moral is that we see what we want to see and this can be compounded by discussing the event with others.

So when I see the photo evidence of Armstrong “bullying” Contador, I just wonder what is really going on. We remember the tales of Armstrong bullying Contador last year and his “godfather” move Filippo Simeoni.

With this in mind, many have leapt to conclusions with the photos below but the truth is that the conclusions say more about us than whatever was happening in the race. After all, Armstrong’s surrounded by the media, ears are ready and microphones are open.

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