Tag Archives: Ears

My eardrums move?

If the human brain works to focus hearing and vision on the same stimuli, I’ve got to wonder why the idea of synaesthesia as a cross-modal way of experiencing the world seems so novel or abnormal to so many people, including researchers.

Woodward, Aylin (2017) Your eardrums move in sync with your eyes but we don’t know why. New Scientist. 21 July 2017.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2141467-your-eardrums-move-in-sync-with-your-eyes-but-we-dont-know-why/

 

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This bloke is the real thing

I’m amazed by two aspects of this interesting news story about an international competition run by the highly original author Douglas Coupland to find the world’s closest lookalike to the late great epileptic painter Vincent van Gogh. I’m amazed at how closely the British actor Daniel Baker in the photo shown visually resembles van Gogh in his face but also in so many other distinctive visible features. I can’t help wondering how closely the British man is like the legendary artist in his personality, talents and behaviour, if at all, and I’m also left wondering how far back the two might be related (all humans are related if you go back far enough), but all that is of course none of my business. This super-recognizer gives her seal of approval to the idea that Baker looks a heck of a lot like van Gogh. I am truly impressed, because I usually find celebrity lookalikes and lookalike competitions to be laughable due to the glaring differences between the faces of the “lookalike” and the real celebrity.

The other thing that I’m amazed about is the fact that all those other pictured men thought themselves as possible winners of the competition, when so many don’t really have faces or heads that look much like self-portraits of the artist (which we can assume were good likenesses). Being a van Gogh double requires more than having short ginger hair and beard and being a white man of similar age, with an intense look on your face. The face is the thing, and the shape of the head, the shape of the hairline and also the shape of the natural beardline, even the shape of the outline and the inner lines and the size of your ears (which may number one or two). I think it is interesting that it appears that the winner of the competition was not self-selected. It shows how little judgement some people apparently have into how visually close in resemblance one person is to another, which I guess is the result in a spectrum of person visual recognition ability.

I’m going to be really annoyed if in his acting career Baker never gets the chance to play van Gogh. It would be such a waste!

Van Gogh lookalike competition won by Dorset man. BBC News. November 25th 2016.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-dorset-38101522

 

Recognizing feet and toes

Faces are special in many ways but they certainly aren’t the only body parts that are distinctive and can be individually visually remembered and recognized. Ear recognition has helped to solve at least a couple of famous crime mysteries. Hands can also be memorable and fingers exist in a variety of shapes. Hands and feet can be distinctive and subtle deformities are common. Even the humble toe can be a big deal to some people, and foot recognition is not limited to real feet because statues also need to stand on something.

Feet can also be misrecognized as something else. Is it a super-recognizer thing or does everyone get this sometime? You wake up, you stick your foot in the air out of the sheets and the blankets and there it is and you can’t help thinking “That is one horribly deformed hand” all the while consciously knowing it is just your more-or-less normal foot, but at the same time, you can see plain as day it’s anatomical heritage as a thing that once gripped more than plodded. Weird.

Balsamo, Annelise Toes. 360documentaries. Radio National. July 27th 2014. http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/360/toes/5617412

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/360/projects/pocketdocs/5092234

 

More thoughts on Somerton Man

I’ve written about this mysterious Australian crime case before at this blog, and I’ve just started watching an online video of Sunday’s 60 Minutes story about this case, and I’ve got some observations about the appearance of the body shown in photos in the 60 Minutes (Australia) story.

He did have odd-looking ears and I don’t doubt the idea that this trait would be genetic and could be traced in a descendant, as I’ve read somewhere. The ears could certainly be useful for identification of the body.

I don’t know if he was a spy for the Ruskies back in the Cold War era, but I doubt that he was of Russian stock. I feel that he had a very Australian-looking face. I feel that it is the face typical of a race of people founded mostly by British convicts. He’s got that street-smart look, that Aussie look, that normal look. I don’t feel that he looks like a foreigner.

Lastly, I wouldn’t speculate one way or another whether the potential grand-daughter of Somerton Man is actually his descendant, based on their ears and faces, except that I think it is possible.

http://sixtyminutes.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=8759245

In my opinion as a super-recognizer…

The photos featured in this article of William Wilcox and George Cassidy are not the same person. Wilcox looks considerably older, slimmer and sharper than Cassidy to my eye, and their ears do not match.
http://billingsgazette.com/news/local/the-bandit-invincible-local-author-explores-the-mystery-of-butch/article_18333d98-9f32-5423-ad05-f8ca84cac843.html

Ear recognition the key, not face recognition?

One of the stories on 60 Minutes (Australian) a couple of weeks ago was interesting in terms of the visual and forensic recognition and identification of a person. The title of the true story was The Imposter,  reported by Karl Stefanovic and produced by Gareth Harvey. The story was about the missing American boy Nicholas Barclay and the French serial impostor Frédéric Bourdin who pretended to be the missing boy grown older. A documentary film about this story was released this year. Amazingly, he was believed by close relatives of the missing boy even though his eyes and hair were of a different colour to the missing boy, his age was a mismatch, he had a French accent, and of course a different face. The most disturbing aspect of the story was how an obvious faker found in Spain could have been misidentified as a missing American boy by police, the FBI and the US immigration department, and then legally documented as the missing boy and flown to the USA. These organizations are full of blind people? I guess these organizations must have a great record for employing the disabled, but also a lousy record for doing their jobs accurately. I’m not sure if these organizations need to recruit some super-recognizers, or just need to employ more people with basic thinking and decision-making skills and a firm grasp on rationality.

An interesting feature that this case shares with the baffling Australian mystery the Taman Shud Case or the Mystery of the Somerton Man is the forensic examination of ears to identify a person. The French impostor was busted by private investigator Charlie Parker who noticed that the ears of Barclay and  Bourdin did not match. ”I asked the cameraman to zoom in on his ears, because I knew that was the way to identify people for sure; I had read a book about Scotland Yard doing that.” This is another thing that amazes me about this case; I don’t understand why the ears were seen as a more certain way to prove that the man with the French accent wasn’t the American missing boy than the different colours of the irises of their eyes or their clearly different faces. Why are ears seen as a more objective measure? Because they are an overlooked part of the body that people don’t cosmetically alter much? It makes me wonder whether our culture has been misled into thinking that face recognition by humans is a subjective art because of instances of facial misidentifications by some prosopagnosics whose disability isn’t understood. Most people are very good at identifying faces of other people from their own race, and are also naturally very good at identifying voices. Some people are exceptionally good at remembering faces. There are times when we need to trust our own natural abilities and use our common sense.

Missing boy and the will to believe. by Stephanie Bunbury Sydney Morning Herald. February 23, 2013

http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/missing-boy-and-the-will-to-believe-20130222-2evb8.html#ixzz2PhgTuPLA

60 Minutes. http://sixtyminutes.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=8633767

Somerton Beach Mystery Man. Reporter: Simon Royal. Stateline (South Australia) Broadcast: 15/05/2009  http://www.abc.net.au/stateline/sa/content/2006/s2573273.htm

Faces of the same woman?

There’s a compelling bit of forensic face recognition on the front page of today’s West. Unfortunately the photos of the faces of whistleblower Ashton Foley and the American woman she is alleged to be is not shown in the online version of the news story. Do you think they are photos of the same person? I can only pick a few differences, none of which definitely rules out a match. I think the photo on the left is of a younger, slimmer, more miserable or tired woman, perhaps with darker skin. I get a feeling of African-American racial identity from the face on the left but not the one on the right. Why is unclear, and it could be based on stereotyping. The photo on the left is, I presume, a mugshot, the one on the right apparently not. Perhaps the cues that a photo is a mugshot make me unconsciously associate it with African-Americans. Psychology research finds that most people operate on racist stereotypes even if we aren’t consciously racist.

Perhaps the most significant difference between the two is that the one on the left has eyes that seem darker. This difference in the eyes could possibly be a result of lighting, because the eye is a three-dimensional thing, and when we look at an eye we literally look into an eye, at the pupil and the iris, which are inside the structure of the eye. I’ve been perplexed when viewing video of people who have light-coloured eyes and there are moments when one or both eyes seem to darken or pupils seem to enlarge greatly, giving a scary effect, but what’s really happening is that the angle of the light changes and the eye is becoming insufficiently lit to display their light-coloured irises.

The hair, hairline, ear profile, shoulder slope and most aspects of the faces seem to match. I would very much like to see profile shots of Ms Foley and the American woman she is alleged to be, to see if the ear shape matches. Ear shape is apparently as unique and identifiable as the face. Ear shape was an important factor in trying to solve the fascinating Taman Shud case in Adelaide.

As Ms Foley suggests, fingerprints need to be checked, even though the forensic science of fingerprints has been seriously bought into question. As a super-recognizer I don’t have a strong intuition or feeling of recognition about the question of identity. I can’t rule out a match, but that doesn’t prove a match.

http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/newshome/16048470/inquiry-ordered-into-peel-mystery/