Category: Eyesight

Where Waldo is (or, The science behind why journalists now think there is a science to be had behind everything)


The challenge: You know the drill. Waldo appears in different places in different scenes. There are 68 locations, therefore 68 places.

The simulation: Let’s pretend Waldo is not a guy in a crowd but a dot on a page.

The problem: There are 68 dots representing possible Waldo locations. You must find the right dot as quickly as possible.

Pic: (c) Randal S. Olson (; @randal_olson)

Pic: (c) Randal S. Olson (; @randal_olson)

The solution: Look at all the dots. As quickly as possible.

The science: TL;DR The shortest distance between two dots is a straight line. Get a computer to figure out the shortest distance between all 68 dots for you.

The application: You, the user, must memorize all the dots and lines in order to remember the sequence in which to move your eyes in order to find Waldo in a given scene. Here it is:


The snag: Er, that’s impossible.

The news coverage: To hell with ‘impossible’. It’s Waldo, for goodness sake!


Try to find the real news as quickly as possible


My battle against dry eye: I never thought things would get *this* bad…

Readers might remember that I got nice new frames for my spectacles lately. Of course, the same visit to the optometrist revealed me to have ‘dry eye’, a condition associated with being pregnant, suffering a stroke, and other things (such as having eyes).

Well, in the course of doing some research for this book I’m writing, I have now discovered something bad about dry eye. Something really bad.

Take a look at this extract from Louise L. Hay‘s 1994 classic best-selling book, You Can Heal Your Life


Not a dry eye left in the house. Apart from mine

It’s from a table of physical health problems that runs on and on over several pages. It’s not just any old list. According to Louise, it’s “the” list.

You can see ‘Dry Eye’ right there, in between Depression and Dysentery. Now, what’s really worrying are the other two entries in the table. Basically, according to Louise L. Hay, the ‘probable cause’ of my having dry eye is as follows:

Angry eyes. Refusing to see with love. Would rather die than forgive. Being spiteful.

You see? I knew I wasn’t pregnant! Continue reading “My battle against dry eye: I never thought things would get *this* bad…”

An age-old problem: Public relations as science

There is no doubt that in our increasingly image-conscious and superficially focused times, age discrimination presents a creeping civil rights problem. The tendency to judge the professional and social worth of a person on the basis of his or her apparent age can present artificial barriers to employment and respect. Moreover, age discrimination can dramatically compound sex discrimination, as such problems are often felt more acutely by older women. Therefore, it is no surprise to see recurring campaigns to promote positive attitudes towards people right across the age-spectrum, run by charitable organizations such as Age UK as well as by publications such as Mature Times.

As with any advocacy campaign, new research that provides insights into age discrimination must be seen as important. Scientifically gathered empirical evidence can be crucial in debunking negative stereotypes and in bolstering positive claims. But, alas, not all research is the same — some is little more than advertising propaganda promulgated by capitalists who see vulnerable social groups as lucrative target markets, whose concerns about social exclusion simply make them more likely to spend their money on a solution.

Unfortunately, it appears that advocacy groups are often ill-equipped to identify the difference. Continue reading “An age-old problem: Public relations as science”

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