Seeing Things

Santa Rosa, California, United States
October 26, 2015



Often in my line of work as a trial lawyer, two people, each with equally good eyesight, and equally good vantage points, each honest as the day is long, with no motive to fabricate or distort the truth, and each not only confident, but certain of what they think they saw, can’t agree on what it is they did, in fact, see.

Happens all the time.

Wanna know why? Well, I’ll tell you why. The answer lies in the question: it’s not what they saw; it’s what they think they saw.

You see . . . or maybe, like me, you don’t see . . . it takes a brain to see. Ask any “human factors expert.”

Don’t know what a “human factors expert” is? Well, I’ll tell you.

A human factors expert is a “forensic” scientist, often a professor with a doctorate in psychology, who supplements his meager university paycheck with a not so meager paycheck from desperate lawyers like me, to testify why someone did not “see” what was right in front of their face.   These expert witnesses . . . whose expertise has more to do with how they testify rather than what they testify to. . . bandy about high falutin terms like “perception” and “perspicuity” basically to explain the “refrigerator phenomenon.” You know the one: when your wife sends you to the refrigerator from a backyard BBQ to get the pickles for the cheeseburgers, you look and look for the jar she tells you is “right there on the top shelf”, you confidently report back that “we must be out”, and she then reaches over your shoulder to grab the jar on the top shelf.

Thankfully men, there is a scientific explanation for this. It’s called “inattentional blindness.”   Sight, it turns out, is more than the refrigerator light entering your eyeballs; it is the brain interpreting that light to register baby dills.



Apparently, perception requires eyeballs and a brain.

The absence of the latter brings me to . . . well . . . me.

I don’t see too well. I mean my vision is fine. I just don’t see well. I don’t seecolors. I don’t see textures. I don’t see light and shadows. I’ve got inattentional blindness bad. I mean bad.



And here, I’m going to Paris.


The City of Lights!

I’m a friggin lawyer. I’m not an artist.

I need help. I’ll stumble through the damn language. I’ll find the words . . . maybe . . . but I need someone who sees light and shadows and textures and colors.

I need someone who sees the things I don’t; sees beauty when I can’t find the pickle jar. Someone who, while I point a camera to capture a tired, dreary image of the Eiffel Tower in the distant night, looks down from the Pont Alexander where we’re walking, sees the colors of street lamps reflected in the slow water of the Seine below, turns to me, and says,

“Look. . .”

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