David Erik

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Real world application of improved senses by disabling one

Disclaimer: This might come off as a bit stupid, but think about it for a few seconds. It worked (kind of), it didn't end in any disasters and most importantly, applying theories in practice is always good, right? That’s how we learn.

I was heading to the gym last night, as usual by biking. This is no long trip, only a few minutes, and most of it is downhill. Naturally, I want to get to the gym as fast as possible. To get there, I need to cross a car-populated road twice. The first time is easy, because I approach the road with a 90 degree angle. The second time, I bike in parallel with the road, and will cross right at a roundabout: cars driving behind me will often turn right and I will have to check for cars before passing. But this is the part were I got the most velocity. Stopping to check for approaching cars is ineffective. Trying to look (almost) right behind me when biking downhill is not a good approach either. It is too hard to hear if there are a car up close since there are many roads and cars nearby. The solution?

While biking I remembered the cool thing about our senses: if you ”disable” one sense, the others get more brain processing power* and improve in effect. That is, if you are blind, your sense of smell and your hearing improves. Ah, notice that. Better hearing. In this moment, when biking downhill towards a road crossing, I decide to close my eyes to fake blindness, to improve my hearing so I can figure out if it's safe to cross the road in front of me.

It didn’t take long to realize some drawbacks of this approach. For instance the fact that I was biking downhill with my eyes closed. Or that it may take a little bit longer than four seconds for the senses to adjust according to emergency blindness. Nevertheless, my possibly-not-improved-at-all hearing informed me that no cars were close. And since I did not fall of my bike, I managed to pass the road without slowing down. Brilliant plan.

In hindsight, it might be more suitable to choose taste, smell or touch instead of sight in that (or any) situation. On the other hand, they are far harder to quickly turn off. Please try this and inform me of your results.


* Strong simplification/pure guess. Don’t have a clue what happens, exactly. Google it.