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Vision, Novelty and Fear

Say's Phoebe - San Antonio NM, April 15, 2010

Animals see more intense contrasts of light and dark because their night vision is so much better than ours. Good night vision involves excellent vision for contrasts and relatively poor color vision.


You need to know something about animal's color vision to predict what visual stimuli they'll experience as high-contrast. The breakdown is pretty simple: birds can see four basic colors (ultraviolet, blue, green, and red), people and some primates see three (blue, green, and red), and most of the rest of the mammals see just two (blue and green). With dichromatic, or two-color, vision the colors animals see best are a yellowish green (the color of a safety vest) and bluish purple (which is close to the purple of a purple iris).


Any sharp contrast between light and dark will draw the attention of a dichromatic animal, either distracting or scaring him. ... However, not all high contrast will scare an animal, only high-contrast visual stimuli that are novel and unexpected.


Novelty is a huge problem for all animals, all autistic people, all children - and just about all normal grown-ups, too ... Fear of the unknown is universal. If you've never seen something before, you can't make a judgment about it; you don't know if it's good or bad, dangerous or safe. And your brain always wants to make that judgment; that's how the brain works. ... So if you can't tell what something is, you get anxious trying to decide whether it's good or bad.

Any novel object or image in a cow's visual field will get her worried, and if you happen to be trying to move her in the direction of the novel object, forget it.

It's different if you don't try to force things. On its own, an animal will always investigate a novel stimulus, even though new things are scary.


Finally one day I decided to just lie down flat on my back and see what happened. They all came up to me and sniffed and licked and sniffed and licked. These were feedlot cattle who weren't tame.

Animals in Translation, Temple Grandin, pg 43-46

clipped March 2005

Collection: Philosophy

I Ain't What I Was
Alex Can Spell
Alex Can Think
Beware of Hypnotic Media
When Hope Dies
Commitment is the Glue that Binds
Concentrated Space Intensifies Everything
Frustration Between People in Creative and Non-creative Universes
The Credential of the Dominant
Lifestyle's Supports and the Difficulty of Understanding
Digging Your Toes
Digitally Thin
Do We Really Mean What We Say
That's the Point of Emotions: Survival
Ever Tried, Ever Failed
Finding a Balance in Execution, Reflection and Articulation
Finding the Words to Fit It
First Find What's Truly Significant
Fit In Better
Float Your Ideals
From Knowledge to Wisdom
Genetic Determinism and Human Nature
God made mud. God got lonesome.
Growing up... it never stops
Skepticism is Helpful
How Do You Know
Haunted Until his Humanity Awakens
Gets Me Into My Boots
It's Time to Go Home
It was the Crickets
Leaving Home
Life is Strange
Life is to be Lived, Not Controlled
Make No Little Plans
Mix With the World
More Toward Realism than Fantasy
I Mourn the World in Which I Live
Normal Damage
There is Nothing a Man Will Not Do for Another
Now, Dazzled
Transcript of Barack Obama's Speech on Race and Politics
Observational Learning
One Forgets
Others Choose the Path of Healing
Our Peripheral Existence
Over Fifty
Passing Time in Byzantium
Our Past is Written Deep
People are Themselves
Persistent and Ineradicable Instinct
Playing and Learning and Loving
Politics and the English Language
Primary and Secondary Emotions
Proficiency in Knowledge of the World
Relive Your Traumas
Running With the Pack
The SEEKING Circuit
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Sincerity Itself is Bullshit
Or So I Feel
The Speed of Wisdom
Stay What You Always Were
That Ideas Should Freely Spread
The Bottom Line
A Theory of the State
The Speed of Darkness
Our Three Brains
Tools for Communicating
To Remember Safely
I Tremble for my Species
Truth and Story
Something Useful Can Be Artful
The Value of Notebooks
The Value of Time
Vision, Novelty and Fear
Visual Thinkers
A Voyage and a Harbor
Walk Humbly
Walking the edge, I am. ...
Was Love Then
What a Deale
What I've Learned
Ask What Surprised Them
Words Get in the Way
Writing From the Inside Out