Western Washington Researchers Use Terrifying, Unicycled Clown to Prove Obvious Point

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It doesn't matter how many cell phones you're using. If this guy comes flying by you won't forget.
If the sight of a grown man riding a unicycle dressed as a clown is the kind of nightmare scenario that makes you dive for the Paxil, then it's best to avoid Bellingham for a while. As The New York Times health blog Well explains, Dr. Ira E. Hyman Jr., a professor in Western Washington's psychology department, has a theory. Dr. Hyman thinks talking on cell phones promotes "inattentional blindness," defined as looking at surroundings but not having them register.

To test his theory, Dr. Hyman did what anyone with a Ph. D. would do: He found a student who had access to both a clown suit and a unicycle (and a dank basement with the decomposing corpses of a dozen co-eds, we're guessing) and set him loose upon the quad. The results:

"Among pedestrians who were listening to music or walking alone, one in three mentioned that they had just seen a clown on a unicycle. Nearly 60 percent of people who were walking with a friend mentioned the clown. But among people who had been talking on the cellphone, only 8 percent spontaneously remembered the clown."
So talking on a cellphone is a distraction. Who woulda thunk? Dr. Hyman's next theory: Reading promotes literacy. For this he'll need two lengths of rope, a Jason mask and a butane torch. Any volunteers?

 
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