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Thread: selective perceptions ....

  1. #1
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    Default selective perceptions ....

    I resurrected this excellent thread started by Bebo after reading SkivMarines thread on gun touching. It seemed appropriate. - Sgt T

    I worked with a young man who was a pretty sick puppy for years and very paranoid. He believed he was about to be attacked pretty much all the time. while driving in L.A. (I believe), he saw a man walk out of a store and so he stopped and went to his trunk and pulled out a rifle and shot the man across the street because he believed that the man had fired a handgun at him first.
    The police investigation determined that the victim had come out of the store and reached in his pocket to get his car keys out and the sun reflected off the keys which looked to the shooter like the flash of a fired bullet.
    this whole story got me thinking about the dangers of "Selective Perception" on the part of both people. The crazy was sick and his view of the world was distorted by his own fears. The man who walked out of the store also suffered from "selective perception" in that he could not imagine ever being shot while on a crowed street and so he simply did not look for any possible threat. it is so easy to simply see everything going on around us but we only select those things that pertain to us personally, we walk past street people and barely see them, we see other people but simply glance and ignore for all kinds of reasons (it is none of our business who is arguing with someone, so many people that we block out the whole group). Sometimes it is rude to stare so we are conditioned to only glance and look away by social protocol.
    I have to wonder if this man would still be alive if he had taken just a little more notice of the crazy who stopped in the street and went to his trunk, rather than to just ignore things that were not directly his "business" .. until it was too late.
    I think that the very best defensive technique available is to recognize that we are all conditioned to follow social norms that say we should not pay too much attention to those around us, unless there is some direct personal reason... ignore social protocol and pay attention to the odd actions or people around us.
    Last edited by Sgt T; 09-03-2010 at 01:59 AM.
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    Bebo,
    Good point.

    Most of us go about our daily lives on auto-pilot. We have a thousand things on our minds; I have to pick up the dry-cleaning, go to the store and get stuff for dinner, get the kids to practice, find money to pay bills, pay the bills, etc. We rarely recognize what is going on around us. How many times have you arrived home from work and not remembered the drive home? Your route, speed, destination and actions were repititious.

    As a motorcycle rider, Bebo, you have to have a higher level of awareness of other traffic. You have trained yourself to watch for the other guy, who isn't watching for you. The NRA has a simple acronym which can be a helpful reminder of what we need to do. It is A.I.M. which stands for Awareness, Intuition, and Mindset.

    We all need to be more aware of our surroundings and what others are doing. We need to pay attention to things that are out of place. I am reminded of a line from the movie, Peaceful Warrior, "There is never nothing going on." Perhaps because Bebo and I have a corrections background, we are highly attuned to what others are doing. In my job I have to watch a dozen juveniles simultaneously and know what each is doing. I watch every thing and everybody. A line from another of my favorite movies is, "Too many minds" from The Last Samurai. Which basically means focus on the task at hand.

    For the times when you can't stay focused the mind has a backup. It's called intuition. You need to learn to listen to, and trust, your intuition. While your mind is on all the things that have to be done your intuition is watching out for things which can harm you. Intution, a sixth sense, whatever you call it, can alert you to unseen dangers if you pay attention. Your subconscious is always filtering and sorting data to protect you. The next time the hair on the back of your neck stands up, you might want to pay attention.

    And last is mindset. You have to have the mindset to take some type of action should trouble arise. Last night one of my cadets made a comment about "not wanting to look for trouble" when he gets out. I pointed out to him that he didn't have to "look for trouble, trouble would be looking for him." There is a difference between looking for trouble and looking out for trouble. Our mindset has to be such that we are always on the lookout and that we have a plan of action.

    I am sure that in the above scenario, the victim probably saw the car stopped in an unusual place. He may have even thought, "That's odd." And then went on his merry, but short-lived, way. Had the victim paid a half second more attention to the "odd" vehicle he may have seen the rifle come out of the trunk and been able to take cover.

    We cannot prevent crime. We can only deter it. We cannot control the actions of others. We can only control our own actions.
    Last edited by Sgt T; 09-21-2009 at 11:04 PM.
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    Default awesome response ...

    Great post and awesome response .. thank you Sgt.T
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    Bebo,

    Upon reading the thread again I was reminded about the "social norm" of eye contact. I know that most of us have been in a situation where we may be watching someone and the moment they look back at us we turn our gaze. If this is a situation where the "looks" could be flirtatious, then no harm is done.

    On the other hand, if you were to watch someone who made you feel uncomfortable, and suddenly looked away when they looked at you, it could be seen as a sign of weakness. This is where the problem can occur. As the observer, you have to find a balance between enough eye contact to let the person know that you are aware of them without being seen as either a target or as an aggressor.

    On the street "eyeballing" someone can be seen as a challenge. (Of course if you are on a street where this is the case, you are probably lost and need to get the heck out of there!) A look and a head nod (as in "hey, what's up) can let the other person know that you 1) have seen them, 2) acknowledged them, 3) are not threatened by them, 4) not threatening to them.

    I recently had occassion to seriously "eyeball" a couple of thug looking young men at a grocery store where I sometimes provide security. Because of their attire I gave them extra attention as they entered the store. I was looking for any printing of weapons under their baggy clothes. I had been eyeballing them from the time I first saw them until they entered the store. Once they were about 10yds inside the door, they suddenly became brave and turned to me saying, "Man, why you looking at us!", as they continued on their way.

    Psychologically, facing an attacker can often prevent an attack from happening. (Note: I am not a psychologist or any type of medical professional, nor am I a counselor.) A group of researchers who were studying great white sharks discovered an interesting phenomenom. They were using a underwater remote control camera to film the the sharks. Whenever the camara was turned to face the great whites, the shark would turn away. Because the great white is an ambush predator, if he thought he had been spotted he would divert from his target. The same holds true, to a certain extent, to human predators.

    VCAs are generally ambush predators, who prey upon weak or distracted victims. They are also "pack oriented", just like feral dogs. One dog rarely attacks a healthy animal, but a pack will. One dog will attack a weak or injured animal.

    Therefore it is in your best interest to avoid "the pack" and to not appear weak. If you are elderly or injured you can still act strong and maybe have a concealed set of "teeth", just in case.
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    Great posts, guys.

    The motorcycle analogy particularly got my attention. Unfortunately, I can be mentally "idling at the stoplight" when I'm running down a busy street at 40 MPH in the Jeep or doing 70 on the freeway. When I climb on the bike, it is a whole different world of preception. My awareness skyrockets. We all need to be reminded occasionally about the need to stay vigilant in our often humdrum daily duties and activities.

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    Another acronym came to mind this afternoon which is appropriate for this topic, S.L.L.S, pronounced seals. I was taught this years ago in a patrolling class. S.L.L.S. stands for Stop, Look, Listen, Smell.

    Whenever you enter an unfamiliair environment (or a familiar environment in which something has changed) you should take a few moments to:

    Stop and check things out.

    Look around you. Be aware of what is happening, what people are around you. Know your physical location. If you call 911 on a celphone the operator needs to know where you are.

    Listen for conversations or strange noises, glass or bottles breaking, foot steps.

    Smell the air. If a hidden person had been smoking a cigarette you might smell the smoke. You might smell alcoholic beverages, body odor. Any number of things.

    S.L.L.S falls under Awareness in the A.I.M. acronym.

    And while I am going back in my mind... here is another. L.A.N.D.

    Location: Note the location of people around you.
    Activity: What are they doing?
    Number: How many are there?
    Danger: Do they represent any danger to you.

    Hopefully the above information will be useful in developing your personal awareness level.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sgt T View Post

    Psychologically, facing an attacker can often prevent an attack from happening. (Note: I am not a psychologist or any type of medical professional, nor am I a counselor.) A group of researchers who were studying great white sharks discovered an interesting phenomenom. They were using a underwater remote control camera to film the the sharks. Whenever the camara was turned to face the great whites, the shark would turn away. Because the great white is an ambush predator, if he thought he had been spotted he would divert from his target. The same holds true, to a certain extent, to human predators.
    I agree 110%. I also recall a show on Tigers somewhere, anyway the villagers had to go into the jungle to hunt and to the river to fish. Tigers are very dangerous there, killing people all the time. They discovered that as ambush predators, the tigers would attack them from behind. So they started wearing masks on the back of their heads to look like a face, thereby throwing the tiger off balance in their attack. It has been very effective, although not 100%. You wear the mask on the back of your head but you still have to watch your six!!!

    I have always been fond of direct eye contact. People that do not know me, think I'm an *$^hole but I'm not. Really! I do have a serious look on my face but it is a lack of emotion, not aggression.

    Back on point, this is an old video discussed on many forums before but it is relevant to this discussion and newer members can find it useful.

    For those that haven't seen it, I will not set it up. After viewing, let's discuss what actually happened and what could have changed the out outcome or even have prevented it.


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    That was the first time I've seen that video. If you watch it without sound you will notice more of what is happening.

    As I was watching, it looks as if the VCA (violent criminal actor) is wearing darkglasses. Is this at night? The victim said it was after a ball game. Someone wearing dark glasses at night is a cue to pay attention. When the victim glanced at the VCA and the VCA looked back, the victim immediately looked away. The victim also appeared to be uncomfortable, looking down and away from the VCA. The VCA watches the victim constantly, sizing him up. The VCA also checks for other cusomers in the store. The VCA telescopes his attack with the "wind up" leading to the punch. I suspect that the retired teacher looked away from his attacker because he didn't want to appear to be a "racist" who is looking at a "black man" with a suspicious eye. PC gone goofy. The victim should have been aware of the VCA sizing him up, it appeared to be fairly obvious. If the victim had challenged the VCA, or even just engaged the VCA in conversation, it may have prevented the attack.

    I look at and talk to everybody. I can be in line at the grocery store and will have talked to the clerk and the people behind me.
    Last edited by Sgt T; 09-22-2009 at 10:21 PM.
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    Default Interesting video....

    I choose to hold my comments for a little while.....still working on cleaning the lanolin out of my fingernails from trying to shake the stupid out of the sheep.....

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    Default asleep at the wheel ...

    classic example of sleeping at the wheel ... nearly empty business and the only other custom is within arms length away looking directly at potiential victim and the victim did not want to even look at the perp or even seem to notice anyone else there (out of politeness) perhaps.
    I would have stepped back and invite the guy to order first in a polite and insistant manner.... engage, engage, engage, be polite but dont be afraid to engage and look at those that make us nervous..... I am watching you Rosemary!!!
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