83% of radiologists missed the gorilla in this lung scan.

Most people would like to think that when Blue Shield rips them off and makes them pay for most of a cat scan, that They’ll get their money’s worth when the radiologist checks it out carefully. But no. Most won’t even find that gorilla in their lungs that’s causing the cough.

According to NPR:

This is because when you ask someone to perform a challenging task, without realizing it, their attention narrows and blocks out other things. So, often, they literally can’t see even a huge, hairy gorilla that appears directly in front of them.

That effect is called “inattentional blindness” — which brings us back to the expert lookers, the radiologists.

This wasn’t because the eyes of the radiologists didn’t happen to fall on the large, angry gorilla. Instead, the problem was in the way their brains had framed what they were doing. They were looking for cancer nodules, not gorillas. “They look right at it, but because they’re not looking for a gorilla, they don’t see that it’s a gorilla,” Drew says.

In other words, what we’re thinking about — what we’re focused on — filters the world around us so aggressively that it literally shapes what we see. So, Drew says, we need to think carefully about the instructions we give to professional searchers like radiologists or people looking for terrorist activity, because what we tell them to look for will in part determine what they see and don’t see.



  1. That’s not a gorilla, that’s WALDO! I finally found Waldo.

  2. pedro says:

    Maybe because they were looking at the cancer nodule at eh back of the right lung?

    This is the most ignorant post made by this editor to date.

    If an ignorant contest was to be held he would lose it… for being so ignorant.

    To boot, from NPR.

    I guess these doctors would also miss the elephant in the room if you walk past them.

    • MikeN says:

      I think these posts are an attempt to make the Eiditor look bright and reasonable.

      • pedro says:

        Sad thing is it wasn’t him.

        Regardless, is quite poor criteria put a story like this one. Unfortunate, to say the least.

  3. pedro says:

    BTW, get used to people missing things in the future with Obombacare, with overworked radiologists trying to get thru the backlog of studies while being paid peanuts.

    • MikeN says:

      In the future, better to have the XRays taken and have them emailed to you. We will see foreign radiologists giving results cheap.

      • pedro says:

        Oh, that’s happening already. Teleradiology is here not only to stay, but to be made bigger if things like Obombacare get a foot.

        Most mobile x-ray, ct & mri suites do not have physicians on board so they send the images to a hospital.

        Obombacare will make this happen in regular places since having a doctor on site will be more “expensive” and “techs or nurses” or even “health managers” alone will do.

        Get ready for a lot of exams being read with gorillas in lungs diagnosis, just like mbdpodcast wants

      • S Fromm says:

        “We will see foreign radiologists giving results cheap” is now . Radiology is one of the first and largest medical things that is outsourced. With digital imaging and cheap Internet is is really easy to pay someone offshore a few bucks per image to do it.

  4. deowll says:

    It does underline a problem.

  5. bobbo, the ONLY true Libertarian on this blog, all others being dogmatic posers says:

    Yeah, but… what were the radiologists told to find? “Find any cancer…. or …. find any gorilla?”

    IOW–more interesting would be how many cancers did they miss?

    Its how specialty medicine works.

  6. MikeN says:

    Except it was a Catscan not an X-ray, so the picture is flawed.

    Now Blue Cross is a ripoff for making you pay for a catscan in your particular package?

    • Bob says:

      I know horrible concept. Making someone actually pay for the service they consume. Insanity!!!

  7. US says:

    When I get a cat scan for gorillas in my lungs I’ll worry. As long as they are actually looking for cancer that is what matters. They are focused on finding the signs of cancer, being hyperfocused on that and missing a fake gorilla added doesn’t concern me.

    This is no different than a really good basketball talent scout noticing all the details of a players playing ability and missing what color shorts they had on. Its about what the goal is, sometimes narrow focus is more important than general high level stuff.

  8. Dallas says:

    ” That effect is called “inattentional blindness”

    They must be Republican radiologists ! Ouch, I know that wasn’t necessary

    • With the rising price of gasoline, I’m surprised you have so much extra to just throw on a fire like that, Dallas ;-)

    • pedro says:

      Now I understand DUhllass. There was a republican radiologist that missed the lightbulb in his radiography

      http://goo.gl/cVxp7

    • gorgo says:

      If they were republican radiologists the would see gorillas everywhere.

      • pedro says:

        And it would have not only not missed the lightbulb but they would share toy stories.

    • Bob says:

      What Dallas, no teabagger comment yet? Your slipping.

      • Dallas says:

        I slowly backing away from Teabagger for a good reason and using Teapublican and Republican interchangeably.

        Remember what happened : the Teabagger parasite attached itself to the GOP host organism whereby the resulting new organism (Teapublican) is now governed by the invading parasite.

        • pedro says:

          So you’re just jealous of like microorganisms on the other side of the aisle?

          DUhllass the amoeba’s reflections on himself.

  9. pedro says:

    “I’ve never seen anyone happier than a leftist trying to make money” Pable Escovar Gaviria

  10. msbpodcast says:

    That’s why I’d trust a medical diagnosis done by a Watson based system before a doctor’s.

    Machines don’t get tired, drunk the night before, distracted by some nurse’s bulges (arms, boobs or butt,) or have a unworkable cockamamie theory about what might be wrong with me.

    • pedro says:

      Pretty sure Watson will be programmed to look for bears in lungs /sarcasm

      Are you really that stupid?

      • msbpodcast says:

        Pedro, I have multiple sclerosis and it took the medical establishment sixteen years (not weeks, years) to come up with the same conclusion that I eventually had, but I couldn’t do my own spinal tap to look for myelin in my own cerebrospinal fluid.

        That’s sixteen years of my handwriting and fine motor control going to shit, strange symptoms rolling across the surface of my body, and weaknesses.

        Getting strange looks from doctors who each have their own theory about what was causing my symptoms (including it’s all in my head,) is pretty damn discouraging.

        In Israel when they had a two year long doctor’s strike the mortality rate went down. Apart from various emergencies, doctors stopped operating. The week after it got settled and they started cutting people open again, it went right back up again. (My son the doctor is not a badge of brilliance with dollar signs when you usually end up killing your patients faster than they would die anyway.)

        Stay healthy, or at least stay away from doctors.

        And Pedro, I have an IQ of 145, have earned lots of money being a object-oriented software developer since the eighties and a successful IT project manager and I am now retired at age 59, so maybe you should not be calling people stupid.

        • pedro says:

          When you make stupid remarks like “A Watson like CAD system will detect the gorilla” (because that’s basically what you said) you are bound to be called stupid.

          Who the hell you thought taught Watson how to play chess, blacksmiths?

          On top of that, gorillas cannot be added to raw data images coming from an imaging modality machine. You don’t get that either from a computer reading station nor from a film.

          And yes, they are called CAD, I’ll let your 145 units to figure out what that stands for.

          If anything, all I can say in your favor, is that you have lost your objectivity via misplaced mistrust.

          If MS is what you got (some physician had to have in the end come to that conclusion) you should know that it is only manageable. It is incurable, so let it go, it would have made absolutely no difference to your current state if they caught it when you start feeling the symptoms.

          Early onset of MS is not easy to diagnose, even with all the research being done on the subject. It can only be diagnosed, as you said, via protein levels in a spinal tap or via MR and MR cannot see it unless the MS plaques have already started to appear, Then, you might be able to see which one is old, which one is new and which one is active, but not for very early diagnosis. And forget about CT, is a lot less specific for MS.

          As a final point for you to take home, I shudder when the day comes that you will have very unprepared personnel, both technologists & physicians, next to imaging modalities or medical specialties because we have “smart” machines, then things will get very, very ugly.

          But that’s what things are going. Machines that can make studies from you with only a monkey there to get you inside the machine.

          That’s here now, thanks to the push of governments & beancounters. Health decisions nowadays are not made by physicians but by beancounters from corps & governments.

          The future looks Blade Runner by the day

        • pedro says:

          I forgot to add PET & SPECT as diagnostic tools, but still not sensitive enough for early MS.

          • Dallas says:

            Ouch , you got bitch slapped. That’s gotta sting

          • pedro says:

            Only someone with that sheeple brain of yours could think that way.

          • pedro says:

            Then again, now we know what lightbulb turns on when you have an idea. and why only you knows when you have one.

        • pedro says:

          But for you, I would love the day comes when we have only the CAD and the monkey that’s next to the machine tells you when you ask if you have MS “I don’t know, the machine says you have no MS so you have no MS” and you’re left without the possibility of a second opinion because Obombacare relies on that machine for your healthcare.

          • jpfitz says:

            I’m impressed Pedro, You showed some real care in your understanding of a horrific disease. But be more…tolerant.

        • So what says:

          “I have an IQ of 145, have earned lots of money” and right there you jumped the shark.

          Well actually you jumped the shark when you proposed picking people off the street for elected positions. But the concept is still valid.

      • Biff Tanner says:

        Are YOU really that stupid? This is a well recognized and studied problem within the realm of computer science. It’s why we have strategies such as blacklisting & whitelisting.

        Blacklisting – The programmer manually determines conditions that must be protected against; i.e. ip addresses from china, users named Steve, images of gorillas in the lungs.

        Whitelisting – The programmer manually determines conditions that are allowed; i.e ip addresses from within our building, users named Fred, images of healthy lung tissue. So an abnormality such as a gorilla would be recognized & flagged.

        • pedro says:

          Another stupid jumps into the fray.

          Since you are a little deeper into stupidity, let me explain it to you like the idiot you are.

          There are no bears in lungs, and specially such hypodense image in the lungs. It will not be detected because it will be physicians being interviewed to fine tune the detection algorithms.

          On the other hand, making out a stupid person of your caliber off a crowd is easy as pie.

  11. WmDE says:

    Pneumosimianitis?

    • If that’s a chronic shortness of breath caused by a gorilla in his lungs, I’d say your diagnosis is spot-on, doctor. Kudos!

      • WmDE says:

        Further study of the image leads me to believe that figure of the gorilla has more human proportions than that of the gorilla. I suspect it is a man wearing a gorilla costume. If so it is a case of Pneumopsuedosimianitis.

  12. John Aswipe says:

    Doc, I don’t feel so good. I think I have a monkey in my lung.

  13. bobbo, the ONLY true Libertarian on this blog, all others being dogmatic posers says:

    So, PedoBear….. I see the source of your umbrage at my comment that I was a healthcare expert. You claim that status as well, and to a certain degree so does Mpod. By “expert” I only mean having spent 20 or so years working for a living in some aspect of the huge appellation. All three of us have expertise all in different aspects of the subject, perhaps even with very little overlap.

    I think I have to add WmDE for the healthcare humor aspect if nothing else. Excellent word play although I think pseudo when used should always come first?… or not…. I suppose its an issue of emPHAsis? But I digress.

    Did Watson ever play chess? Grow out of Big Blue? The algorithms/programming is totally different. I read months ago Watson was going to be used as a medical consultant. Lots of potential for malpractice reform following protocols, checking with Watson and so forth. Better medicine, save money. All kinds of good stuff.

    Let me re-read Mpod……two year doctor strike? Hard to believe. It does seem perplexing though..the statistics when doctors, nurses, hospitals aren’t available and death rates go down…usually only for short periods and that even makes sense. Longer periods like 2 years doesn’t make so much sense.

    My mother’s lung cancers was quite advanced before it was picked up by a substitute physician filling in for her regular doc who was on vacation. Pure negligence in my book for the regular doc not to have ordered a xray every few years in a patient who smoked for years. Googling the issue, found out the standard of care does not require screening xrays for lung cancer. Evidently you just wait until you can’t breathe, then you get the xray. Doesn’t sound like too much “defensive medicine” going on for lung cancer. Prejudice against smokers is what I think. ///// But I post to concur with Pedro, assuming what he says is correct. Things can be hard to diagnose. I suppose in a few years, your grand kiddies will be advised of potential risk for MS neonatally via genetic mapping? Too many stories about people having to self diagnose to ignore the benefits of having a concerned diligent doctor on the case, rather than having them spending their free time thinking about their joint venture investments. Lots could be improved about medical care system. Did I mention I was an expert in that? Ha. ha.

    BUT–if I were you, I would have spent a lot of time tracing the details of what was known when and how a diagnosis could have/should have come any quicker. “But” without a cure, what difference does it really make??? Tv show Elementary last night had show about a geneticist “giving” RICH people a genetic disease so that on their early death they would be motivated to fund his research to cure the disease which he had as well. Nice twist all to be taken with a grain of salt.

    Every life has its challenges. The pros and the cons. Recognize both sides, add them up. “Try” to focus on the good. Its what life is all about.

  14. LaMoora says:

    I’m sure the 17% of radiologists that did see the gorilla were going WTF?

  15. Bowsy says:

    I don’t see a gorilla either. Although admittedly I have no medical knowledge or training.