If you watched 48 Hours over the weekend — it featured Frank O'Connell, a local man convicted of murder and imprisoned for years based on recanted eyewitness testimony and twisted evidence — you know that what people “see” isn't always reality.

A new UCLA study seems to confirm that.

Researchers asked 54 people who work in the same building to identify the location of a seemingly crucial and outstanding object all of them walk by on workdays:

Only about 1 in four (24 percent) could identify the location of the flaming red … fire extinguisher, says UCLA.

Wow. You suck at this, people.

The research is being published in the journal Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics.

Alan Castel, associate professor of psychology at UCLA and the study's lead author:

Credit: gogoloopie

Credit: gogoloopie

Just because we've seen something many times doesn't mean we remember it or even notice it. If I asked you to draw the front of a dime or the front of a dollar bill from memory, how well could you do that? You might get some elements right.

He indicates that it's reasonable you don't notice everyday objects — it frees your mind to catalog more important things.

But the prof says you might want to think twice about the location of safety and life-saving equipment at home, work and on airplanes.

And the good news is that a few months after most of the study participants flunked the test, all of them were able to ID the location of the extinguisher. UCLA:

… Making errors during training is useful. As with the fire extinguisher exercise, errors — or simple oversights — can teach us that we don't know something well and need to pay more attention in order to remember it.

Got that?

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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