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Sep. 28th, 2007


Which is more dangerous, an elephant or a minivan? For most readers of this newspaper, the answer is going to be a minivan. From childhood, people in motorised civilisations are warned about the dangers of running into the road, taught the appropriate highway code and—when old enough—permitted to get behind the wheel only after having undergone a rigorous programme of training that ends with a formal examination.

You might think, therefore, that such people would be more aware of the movements of vehicles than of animals. But if you did think that, you would be wrong. An experiment just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Joshua New of Yale University shows that people pay more attention to the activities of animals than to those of vehicles. That applies even among urban Westerners who rarely see an animal from one year's end to the next.


From the Economist.

Solution: cars that look like animals.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
frey_at_last
Sep. 29th, 2007 05:22 am (UTC)
people pay more attention to the activities of animals than to those of vehicles. That applies even among urban Westerners who rarely see an animal from one year's end to the next.

This doesn't seem strange to me! Of course I pay more attention to animals - it's *because* I see them less. They're less mundane and predictable, even dogs. Maybe if we evolve for several million years with no animals and only cars...
sophysduckling
Sep. 29th, 2007 03:14 pm (UTC)
i don't know about you, but I would notice an elephant on the road much more than I would notice a car on the road.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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