Inside CCW Safe Podcast-Episode 43: Vision and Perception feat. Dr. Alexis Artwohl - CCW Safe National | CCW Safe Weapon Liability | CCW Safe Defense Attorneys
Inside CCW Safe Podcast-Episode 43: Vision and Perception feat. Dr. Alexis Artwohl

Posted By: Mike Darter

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Episode 43: Vision And Perception feat. Dr. Alexis Artwohl

In this episode, Stan and Mike talk with Dr. Alexis Artwohl, an internationally recognized behavioral science consultant to law enforcement as a trainer, researcher, and co-author of Deadly Force Encounters.  During her 16 years as a private practice clinical and police psychologist, she provided consultation to multiple agencies throughout the Pacific Northwest as well as traumatic incident debriefings and psychotherapy to numerous public safety personnel and their family members.

The three talk about attention, the illusion of attention, and how vision is interpreted in the brain, rather than the eyes.  This is why multiple people can see the same event, but perceive it and report it totally differently.  

Time: 59:15



Stan Campbell, Co-Founder/COO

Stan Campbell has over 20 years of experience as a police officer in Oklahoma City. He retired as a Lieutenant over a street crime team, and spent over 10 years on the Tactical Unit (SWAT) and has spent 15 years developing and teaching self-defense curriculum. Stan is a certified National self-defense Instructor and has also instructed officers in British Territories. Stan has extensive experience and knowledge in the critical incident command system, officer involved shootings and use of force incidents. 

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Mike Darter, Co-Founder/CEO

Mike was a police officer in Oklahoma City from 1991-2001, and a federal contractor for the DOJ from 2001-2011.  During his career, Mike investigated and testified in hundreds of violent crimes, including shootings, homicides, and other violent felony crimes.  Mike was involved in a shooting as a police officer and went through a lawsuit from that shooting.  The lawsuit was later dismissed, but his experience is what led to the creation of CCW Safe.  

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Transcription below:


Mike Darter: Welcome to the Inside CCW Safe podcast, with founders Stan Campbell and Mike Darter. If you're forced to fight the battle for your life, CCW Safe will fight the battle for your future.

Mike Darter: All right, welcome back to the Inside CCW Safe podcast. I'm Mike Darter in Oklahoma City.

Stan Campbell: And I'm Stan Campbell.

Mike Darter: Stan Campbell.

Stan Campbell: Holding down, yeah, I'm holding down the west coast [00:00:30] this week Mike, in California.

Mike Darter: What's the weather like there, man?

Stan Campbell: The weather is nice. Hasn't been an earthquake in a couple of weeks, so we're doing okay.

Mike Darter: It's been a little warm here, man. We're in the summer months, and you know how that is, you're going to be experiencing that again before too long.

Stan Campbell: Yeah. I actually, with all this travel, I've been hitting places like Houston, 105 degrees.

Mike Darter: Oh yeah.

Stan Campbell: Different kind of heat. I think I saw the devil [00:01:00] at the swimming pool.

Mike Darter: Walking down the beach?

Stan Campbell: Yeah, he was hanging out. Then I did a layover in Phoenix, Arizona, and they were like, "Okay, the weather outside is 114." I was like, "I don't want no parts of that."

Mike Darter: No part of that. Ain't nobody got time for that.

Stan Campbell: No.

Alexis Artwohl: You guys are amateurs. I'm here in Arizona.

Mike Darter: And that's the lovely voice of Dr. Alexis Artwohl.

Stan Campbell: Hey Doc!

Mike Darter: Great to have you on again. [00:01:30] It's been a while.

Alexis Artwohl: Thank you. Glad to be here.

Mike Darter: We're sitting at, straight up, 100 right now. So it's not bad.

Alexis Artwohl: Okay, well, we're about the same. And we're hot and humid here, because now we're into the monsoon season.

Mike Darter: Oh yeah, you are humid. It's pretty humid here. So that's what I need to talk to you about, because I went out to the Grand Canyon last year to get lightning in the Canyon during monsoon [00:02:00] season and there was, like, no weather whatsoever. So I've been kind of watching it and Tucson may be a good place for me to come get some lightning in the Canyons.

Alexis Artwohl: Oh yeah, well, I'm just sitting here hoping we don't get some kind of horrendous thunderstorm during the podcast.

Mike Darter: Oh yeah, have you been getting hit?

Alexis Artwohl: It could get real noisy. Well, it hasn't been too bad so far, but you just never know. We could be sitting here and all of a sudden this huge cloud could come [00:02:30] roaring over the horizon and huge dust storms and thunder and lightning and flash floods. It can get pretty wild.

Mike Darter: Yeah, I would love to come out there and I just want to get some good lightning landscapes. And the Grand Canyon is just so awesome when it happens.

Alexis Artwohl: Yep.

Mike Darter: But just trying to get... if you don't live out there or can't go out there for a couple weeks at a time, I'm sure it's packed out there now.

Alexis Artwohl: I'm sure it is. Yep.

Mike Darter: [00:03:00] Well, it's good to have you back on. We saw your new book coming out.

Stan Campbell: All right.

Alexis Artwohl: Yes, it will be out probably some time this Fall.

Mike Darter: Nice.

Stan Campbell: Congratulations, again.

Alexis Artwohl: Thank you.

Mike Darter: And what was the title? Is it the same title, but you're adding... but it adds the concealed carriers at a different title altogether?

Alexis Artwohl: It was the same title, Deadly Force Encounters: Second Edition. And the subtitle is slightly different. We're adding citizens. It's Cops and Citizens: Defending Themselves [00:03:30] and Others.

Mike Darter: Nice.

Stan Campbell: Nice.

Mike Darter: So if you haven't got the first book, if you're listening to this podcast, haven't got the first book, definitely get the first book.

Alexis Artwohl: Okay, just one slight correction. The first book is now out of print.

Mike Darter: Oh.

Stan Campbell: Oh.

Mike Darter: Now is it available digitally?

Alexis Artwohl: Well, no, well you can get it, but it's very, very expensive.

Mike Darter: Is it? Well that's even more reason [00:04:00] to go buy the book?

Alexis Artwohl: Well, the money doesn't come to the authors, so I don't really care. So if people are desperate to get it, you can probably find used copies and stuff. However, the second edition is going to be a lot better. And it's going to have all the same stuff, most of the same stories. It'll have new stories, of course, as well. So if you don't have the first book, in a few months, you won't need it. Just wait for the second book to come out. It will be available on [00:04:30] Amazon in print and also on Kindle.

Mike Darter: Nice. Now have you ever thought about audiobooks?

Alexis Artwohl: Sure. I'm open to that.

Mike Darter: I think that would be cool. I very rarely buy books anymore due by audiobooks.

Alexis Artwohl: I've heard they've become very, very popular, and, so, we'll see how things go. I know that my co-author Loren, who's a professional author, has got [00:05:00] like 60 books now, and some of his books have been put on audio. So, we're definitely potentially going to consider that.

Mike Darter: Oh, nice. Well, just pulling, I actually just got through finishing up a book, I was going to see if you've heard of, Never Split the Difference. Have you heard of that?

Alexis Artwohl: I have not.

Mike Darter: It's by Chris Voss. Negotiating as if Your Life Depends On It. Chris Voss was a former [00:05:30] FBI hostage negotiator and it is an awesome book for business. For corporate world.

Alexis Artwohl: Cool.

Mike Darter: And it's a former top hostage negotiator field tested tools for talking anyone into or out of just about anything. It's got some really cool things. I'm finishing up now. My whole group, I'm in a Vistage group, which is a CEO peer group, [00:06:00] and we have about 16 stands-in [inaudible 00:06:02] out in L.A. And they've all read it and it's really good. I'm probably going to read it a second time. But audiobooks is about the only thing I read anymore. Or listen to.

Stan Campbell: Well, you know what, Doc, all that means is that he's saying CCW Safe is going to sponsor your audiobook.

Mike Darter: That's right. That's right.

Alexis Artwohl: Well, let us know [00:06:30] if you're interested in that.

Stan Campbell: That's right. Yeah, I mean, we would love to be a part of it.

Mike Darter: So what else has been new with you? Before we get into talking -

Alexis Artwohl: Well, just mostly been very focused on trying to get the book done. The book has a lot of research, so I've been having to do a lot of research to update it. Make sure I have the latest studies in there. And then as I'm writing it, [00:07:00] the citing of all the many references, the way they're cited in the text, the way they're listed in the bibliography section has to be very, it's kind of complicated to get it all formatted. Make sure it all matches up. So, it's been a quite a bit of work. We have the draft. It's all written. So now, Loren and I are just plowing our way through the editing. That's going to take a while. Polish it up. Make sure the references match up, all that kind of stuff. That's [00:07:30] what I've been doing. And, of course, out trying to crash into cacti on my mountain bike.

Stan Campbell: That's great. So, Doc, being that we're speaking about your book, and it's a lot of great information, Mike and I had the opportunity, we did two podcasts in a row in which we talked about his shooting incident. And we often think about you, when [00:08:00] we first met you. And we had the chance to kind of really pick your brain as to what happens in the mind and in the body during deadly force encounters. Could you kind of give us a brush over of the high points of deadly force encounters to start?

Alexis Artwohl: In terms of my end of it, I am, of course I'm not a firearms or tactical expert, so we don't really get into that in the book. But we talk in detail about a bunch [00:08:30] of shootings. But this is not just another gun book or just another tactical book. This is really about what happens to human beings when they get caught up in these events.

Stan Campbell: That's right.

Alexis Artwohl: And I talk a lot about cognitively what happens, intention, perception, and memory, because these things are extremely important, not just for you to be able to perform during the event itself. But they also become critically important [00:09:00] in your legal survival during the aftermath. As well as your emotional survival. But intention, perception, and memory are things that people often don't understand when you are trying to remember something or deal with something out in the world.

Alexis Artwohl: Step number one is you have to be able to pay attention to it. You have to see it. You have to hear it. You have to feel it. And people are under the mistaken impression that they're paying attention [00:09:30] to everything all the time and the reality is they are not. First of all your visual field, where you can see clearly, is only about two or three degrees. That's it. Everything else outside of that... Now if there's anything you're not looking directly at is going to be blurred and you're not going to be able to see it very clearly. You might see movement. You can kind of see the object that's over there. Right now I'm staring at my computer screen. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see my [00:10:00] PC console that's right next to the monitor. Matter of fact, you guys can do the same thing, or anyone listening to this podcast can do the same thing.

Alexis Artwohl: Just look at the screen and then try to tell me exactly which of the plug-ins on your computer are being used, what lights are on. You can kind of vaguely see them out of the corner of your eye. You can't see them clearly. I couldn't tell you. I've looked at that thing a thousand times. I couldn't tell you exactly what's blinking over there [00:10:30] and to which port. So, especially when you are being questioned in the aftermath of an event and the detectives want a lot of detail, that's going to be a problem. First you have to be paying attention to something. So people and researchers should [inaudible 00:10:50] call this the illusion of attention. People say they're paying attention to you far more than they really are. In reality, they're actually paying attention to a very [00:11:00] tiny part of their environment at any one point in time.

Alexis Artwohl: And then to complicate matters, you can actually be looking right at something and not see it. And people say, well, that's impossible. How can that happen? And the way that happens is perception, let's talk about vision. Vision does not happen in your eyes. Vision happens in your brain. All your eyes are doing is collecting [00:11:30] information, they're registering information that is being transmitted into electrical signals. The electrical signals go to your brain and then your brain interprets those electrical signals. So, it's a complicated process. It's similar to if you're looking at your television screen. The television is kind of like [00:12:00] your brain. In other words, there are TV signals coming through the air and the TV receiver grabs those signals out of the air and then the TV signal decides what those mean. And it might be to an antenna. Maybe it's through cable. Maybe it's through satellite.

Alexis Artwohl: However you're getting it, whether it's cable or wireless or however it is, the signals are coming to the receiver of the electronic device. In this case it's the TV, and [00:12:30] then that receiver takes those electrical or wireless signals, whatever they are, and they unscramble them and turn them into a picture. And that's what your brain is doing. And that's why people can have these devastating head injuries. If you have a head injury that destroys your visual cortex. The visual cortex is the part of your brain that unscrambles these visual signals.

Stan Campbell: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alexis Artwohl: If you have a head injury and that part of your brain [00:13:00] is destroyed, you are blind. Your eyes may be perfectly intact. Your optic nerves may be perfectly intact and healthy, but when the signals get to your brain, nada. Because the visual cortex is no longer there to unscramble the signals. So, the brain, as powerful as it is, has very limited desktop space. In other words, the brain can only pay attention to a few things [00:13:30] in the environment at once. So, what most people don't realize is your brain is, every millisecond of your existence, your brain is having to make a decision about, okay I can only pay attention, I only have enough desktop space to pay attention to a very limited amount of information in my environment. And since I can't pay attention to all of it, I have to pick and choose.

Stan Campbell: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alexis Artwohl: Is vision more important? Is hearing more important? [00:14:00] What's going on here? I have this very complex environment. I have all these signals coming in. I have to decide which of those is relevant and what is most important right now. And the rest of it is going to ignore.

Stan Campbell: That's right.

Alexis Artwohl: So it's very limited desktop space.

Stan Campbell: Hey Doc, just jumping in real quick because you're on visual, is that one of the reasons why if you have multiple witnesses that you have so many different [00:14:30] interpretations of an event even if they all thought they were looking at the same thing at the same time.

Alexis Artwohl: Exactly right, Stan. That's exactly what happens. If you have five people looking at an event, you have five different brains looking at an event, typically from a different angle, so right off the bat, you have people looking at the event from different angles, so that's going to create a problem right there. Because you can be standing [00:15:00] three feet away from somebody and you will be seeing the event at a different angle.

Stan Campbell: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alexis Artwohl: And even if you were standing right next to the person, you have two brains looking at the event and these two brains are processing the scene differently.

Stan Campbell: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alexis Artwohl: And so Person A, that brain is saying this is what's very important and Person B is saying, their brain is saying [00:15:30] this is more important.

Stan Campbell: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alexis Artwohl: So, first of all, right out of the starting gate, the brains are paying attention to different things. One of the analogies I use is, let's say you have two people watching a soccer play on television and one of them is a professional soccer player. He's very interested to look at the dynamics of the game. The other person has never seen a soccer game. Never watches it. Yeah, there's people running up and down the field kicking a [00:16:00] ball, but other than that they have no idea what the rules are, what's difficult, what's easy, so on and so forth. And the professional soccer player is going to be looking at that play very differently than someone who has no idea what soccer's all about. And so that professional soccer play is going to be noticing all kinds of things that are going on and he'll say, "Wow, look at that, that was amazing." And the person sitting next to him will say, "How is that different from what happened two seconds [00:16:30] ago? It looked the same to me." Because they don't understand the game. They don't understand the rules. They don't understand how difficult it is to the players to execute certain moves. And, so, that's what's going to happen.

Alexis Artwohl: First of all, people are actually going to be paying attention to different things. We can only pay attention to five things

Stan Campbell: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alexis Artwohl: Everything else gets ignored. And, so, people's brains, even without their conscious awareness will automatically be focused on different things right out of the starting gate. As [00:17:00] if that weren't complicated enough, then when the brain now has this information coming into the brain, the brain has to decide, well what does that mean. And, so, now we have this extra topic of perception. You're now paying attention to it. Signals have gotten into the brain. The brain is paying attention to it. But now it has to decide "well, what does that mean?" And you can go online and find all kinds [00:17:30] of absolutely mind blowing optical illusions, including a very, very simple one called Shepard's Table. I encourage people to look it up on the internet. Shepard's Table. And it's a very simple, two-dimensional optical illusion and when you look at this illusion, it will blow your mind. It's very simple. And once you see the illusion, and you realize that your brain is being [00:18:00] tricked, even knowing that, it's virtually impossible for you to look at that image and not be fooled by it, even though you know you're being fooled.

Alexis Artwohl: So, that's a great example, that we have a lifetime learning experience that has programmed us to see the world in a certain way and these illusions are taking advantage of our predilection to view things in certain ways. [00:18:30] So we think that we are seeing something that is in the real world, but we're not. We're actually seeing how our brain is interpreting it.

Stan Campbell: Awesome.

Alexis Artwohl: And I agree with the cognitive researchers that say, "How can the brain be so stupid? How could you look at something and not even see it? How could your brain be so easily fooled by even these very simple visual [00:19:00] illusions?" And then we get into the problem of now if you are going to be questioned later on, now we have to remember it. Okay, now have another big problem, because when you're looking at the world, your desktop space, what we call your working or short-term memory, in other words, you have to be able to hold something in your mind long enough to get a job done.

Alexis Artwohl: And, so, during the event, your brain is [00:19:30] remembering things and working memory very rapidly to get the job done and then when the event is over with, much of that poof goes bye-bye. It does not get transferred into your long-term memory storage. Anything that does not get transferred into long-term memory storage is simply not available to be remembered later on. And that's why a lot of people go through events and there's whole bits and pieces of it, sometimes large bits and pieces, that they simply don't remember. [00:20:00] And they say, "What can I do to get in there? Can I be hypnotized?" And I say, "Well, sometimes people do remember things later on or sometimes there are techniques that can help people remember things, but much of it is simply I isn't there." There's nothing to remember, because the brain just did not hold on to it. It was looking somewhere else. It misinterpreted it. Or you had it in your working memory long enough to get the job done, but then soon as [00:20:30] the task was completed, it just went bye-bye. It never actually got transferred into long-term memory storage.

Alexis Artwohl: So, the brain seed doesn't care about the criminal justice system. That's not what evolution was for. Evolution was for us to survive in the savage and dangerous environment. So, all the brain is interested in is the gist of a potentially dangerous event [00:21:00] and what is my takeaway lesson for my future survival. It doesn't really care about all these details. Those are basically irrelevant. So, we have this disconnect between the demands of the criminal justice system, what they're demanding, a detailed and accurate accounting of exactly what happened through each eyewitness versus what the brain is doing. Which the brain really could care less about that.

Stan Campbell: Yeah.

Alexis Artwohl: It's really [00:21:30] not, the vast majority of the brain is simply not capable of that. So, you're going to misinterpret things. Personally, you're not going to be paying attention to them. If you are paying attention to them, you might misperceive or misinterpret them. People often have memory gaps. They have false memories. They see things that never happened simply because they saw a movie last month and the movie programmed them to expect to see things a certain way and based on that, that's what they saw, not [00:22:00] realizing that their brain actually saw what it expected to see, not what actually happened. Or they saw it, but they simply did not understand it. Like the person who never saw a soccer play in their life watching a soccer play, they don't really understand what they're watching. It's just kind of a chaotic scene of a bunch of people running around kicking a ball. They simply don't understand that there's actually a very complex and sophisticated process going on [00:22:30] that basically, they don't understand.

Stan Campbell: Absolutely.

Alexis Artwohl: So, they're going to interpret it very differently.

Stan Campbell: Okay. Hey, Doc, I want to... and that was all great stuff and it really gives you a true breakdown. I wanted to have a follow-up question, because you're on the memory and I've been studying this lately, because I'm really interested in memory recall. And that has everything to do with what we're involved in, especially use-of-force shootings and the reason why [inaudible 00:23:01] [00:23:00] a couple of sleep cycles before you attempt to recall anything. But when I was having the conversation with Mike about his shooting, and because it's been several years now, and we asked him, I said do you remember how many shots you fired. And initially, I believe he said seven. Right, Mike?

Mike Darter: Yeah.

Stan Campbell: Seven?

Mike Darter: Well, initially, I said yeah, seven. But then we got talking about it [00:23:30] and he was like, "Yeah, I didn't remember that."

Stan Campbell: At the time.

Mike Darter: Now in the backlog I knew it, but at the time, I almost couldn't remember. I was like, "Well, I don't know if I remembered how many I shot or not." And then as we worked through it, I remember when giving the initial interview, that I didn't know.

Stan Campbell: Yes, so can you explain that and why that happens too, Doc?

Alexis Artwohl: Why people don't remember how many shots they fired?

Stan Campbell: Yeah, [00:24:00] like initially -

Mike Darter: I think what you're asking, Stan, is, if I'm right, and this is what I was going to ask, too, in a different way. But there's often times, too, over time that we build things in that didn't happen, but then over time we believe did happen.

Stan Campbell: Correct. Or you hear someone else's story of the [00:24:30] events. Like, in Michael's case, if he didn't know exactly how many shots were fired at that moment, after the evidence is presented to him, the story's filled in for him. In his memory recall, he's going to state now, "Yeah, I know how many it was. It was seven." But at the time he didn't know that. Does that kind of make sense?

Alexis Artwohl: Well, it's complicated, because there could be a variety of things going on.

Stan Campbell: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alexis Artwohl: If you really [00:25:00] don't remember something, in other words, the memory simply isn't there, and you start to fill in the gaps with information that you really don't know and now you think you know, it's called confabulation. Meaning that your mind has taken outside information or expectations or something that somebody else said and filled in the gaps and is now assuming, well this must be what happened. And [00:25:30] maybe that is what happened, but in fact, you don't really remember from the original incident. You're now just filling in later on with information. So that's where memory has the potential to get contaminated after the event with subsequent information.

Alexis Artwohl: It's also possible that when people, there may be memories in there and for whatever reason, people are not able to retrieve it. [00:26:00] First, you have to be paying attention to something. Then you have to perceive it and give it some kind of meaning. Then you have to get it to your working memory to get the job done. Then it needs to be transferred into long-term memory storage to be recalled at a later date. At that later date, you have to be able to access it. In other words, you have to be able to go in and retrieve that memory from the memory file.

Alexis Artwohl: And things can go haywire during the retrieval process, as well. [00:26:30] Maybe the memory's there, but for whatever reason at that moment in time, the retrieval conditions weren't good for you to be able to do that. And let me give you a simple example. You wake up in the morning, and you've got to go to work. And you go to the place where you always put your car keys. They're gone.

Stan Campbell: Yeah.

Alexis Artwohl: It happens to everybody.

Stan Campbell: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alexis Artwohl: And so you're running [00:27:00] around frantically looking for your car keys over and over. You can't find them anywhere and, this is the good example, you aren't paying attention when you put the keys there. You're the one who put them there, but you have no memory of what you did with your keys. That happens to people all the time. You know what I mean.

Stan Campbell: Yeah.

Alexis Artwohl: Most of the time, we think our memories are much, [00:27:30] much better than they really are, because on the vast majority of our memories, no one ever challenges us on it. You get up in the morning and you can't find your car keys, your car keys have now challenged you. Where did you put me? And you don't know what you did. And so, that happens to people all the time. Far more frequent when they realize. People have no idea how messed up their memories really are. Because the vast majority of time, it really doesn't matter. [00:28:00] And where you put your keys was completely irrelevant and it didn't matter at all up until the point where you had to go to work. And now you're confronted with you did something dumb and you don't remember it.

Alexis Artwohl: You run around looking for your keys and let's say that at some point, with your sheer, dumb, luck, because now you're frantic and you're tearing the whole house apart, you discover that your car keys are under the sofa cushion.

Stan Campbell: Yes.

Alexis Artwohl: [00:28:30] And you're thinking, "What the heck? How did those things get there?" Now, when you find your keys in some kind of a bizarre location, you may be forever mystified how those keys got there.

Stan Campbell: Yeah.

Alexis Artwohl: However, sometimes when you do find them, and you see where they are, that can trigger the memory. So, your brain's going to think, "Well, okay, how the heck did those keys [00:29:00] get in there?" And so maybe you stopped think and then we will tend to close our eyes and start doing a walkthrough. Okay let me think about what did I do when I got home yesterday? Okay, I got out of the car. I put it in the garage. I took the keys. I walked into the door and you're going back in your mind trying to retrace your steps. How did the keys... Okay, bingo, I got it. Now I remember. As I walked in the door, the phone was ringing [00:29:30] and I ran over to answer the phone and I must have taken my keys and thrown them down the couch and they slid down into the cushions and that's where they ended up. Now the whole thing has come back to me.

Alexis Artwohl: So, see, now if your spouse or someone who lives with you, whoever, sat down on the couch and heard some kind of a jingling sound and thought, "What the heck's going on there?" Well, there's [00:30:00] Mike's keys. How'd Mike's keys get down in there? Okay, well, I know where Mike keeps his keys so I'm going to go hang them up so when he goes to work in the morning, he'll know where they are. Assumes that your spouse didn't tell you or It wasn't important. So the next morning Mike goes to get his keys, they're right where he put them, he will never know that his keys were in the couch and someone else found them for him because -

Stan Campbell: That's right.

Alexis Artwohl: He would go through that whole process. [00:30:30] So, you can see how complicated this stuff can get. So sometimes we do confabulate. We have things in our mind that we think happened, but they didn't really happen, because we're filling in the blanks to our expectations or outside information. Sometimes the information is in fact in there and for whatever reason, you just were not able to recall it at that moment in time. But there's lots of things that can impact people' ability to recall information during an interview. [00:31:00] For instance, Ed Geiselman, in his research, found that eyewitnesses who were being interviewed, the eyewitnesses who said, "I felt rested at the time of the interview," had significantly better recall than eyewitnesses who said "I did not feel rested at the time of the interview."

Stan Campbell: Yes.

Alexis Artwohl: But the behavior of the interview can have a lot to do with how people remember. So, if you have an unskilled interviewer, that can inhibit the flow of memory. There's many other [00:31:30] things, if you're doing a lineup, how the identities of suspects are presented can really influence how people are able to recognize. So, there is many conditions under which the retrieval information is happening that can impact whether or not the person can recall information that's already in there and/or can start causing confabulation. Because when you're interviewing people, you have to be very careful to not [00:32:00] ask leading questions and do all kinds of other hints and things that can actually start the interviewer themselves can start planting false information in people's minds.

Alexis Artwohl: And one of the classic examples of that, back in the 80s and 90s, there was this scandal where interviewers and poorly trained interviewers and poorly trained psychotherapists came up with [00:32:30] this idea that there were these satanic cults all over the world who were engaging in ritual satanic torture and abuse of children. There's listeners who are not familiar with it. Just do a knowledge search for satanic ritual abuse in the 1990s. And you can see the whole history of how this got started, and it tore families apart. People [00:33:00] wound up in jail. And it was all because, it was basically like the Salem Witch Trials where somebody started having who know what kind of imagination and reported a real incident that got blown out of proportion, and somehow this thing got rolling.

Alexis Artwohl: The next thing you knew, you have interviewers who are convinced, and psychotherapists who are convinced. I'm like, gosh, this is terrible this is happening. We've got to do something about it. We've got to [00:33:30] uncover and expose this horrible thing and their own bias, in terms of how they were interacting with alleged eyewitnesses and alleged patients wound up creating this fantasy that there was a worldwide network of ritual satanic cults [inaudible 00:33:53] all this abuse. So, they, themselves, the system itself created the false [00:34:00] memories. So, there's all kinds of ways that could happen.

Mike Darter: Yeah, we talked about that with things in my shooting that over the years, I told Stan I'd talk to my partner who was actually in that shooting at that time with me, and we talked years later and we were kind of talking about it and he was like, "Yeah, I don't remember that." And I was like, "Yeah, I don't remember that" about certain [00:34:30] things. And we were actually wondering, well, did that really happen or did we kind of build that into it over the years. It's kind of hard to... we just kind of both ask ourselves. We didn't know really how we got to that.

Alexis Artwohl: Well you don't know for sure. And the fact I had patients who would come in, they thought maybe they had been involved in who-knows-what, [00:35:00] child abuse or whatever. I would actually remember during the 80s and 90s, some patients, I've heard about this and during the satanic ritual abuse, all kinds of pretty typical personal problems that people have, anxiety or depression or sexual problems or whatever were starting to be blamed on... We have patients that would go to workshops and sometimes they were already seen for some unrelated thing [00:35:30] or sometimes I had patients who had gone to a workshop or read a book about this alleged satanic abuse and so they would come in, "Well, Doctor, I've had these dreams and I've always been kind of anxious my whole life, could this be a result of this abuse?" And my answer to them was, "Well, how do I know? I wasn't there. But, there's no [00:36:00] way of knowing.

Stan Campbell: Yeah.

Mike Darter: Yeah.

Stan Campbell: That's awesome.

Alexis Artwohl: So, unless you guys were able to get a hold of videotape that completely proved one thing one way or another, you'll never know.

Mike Darter: Yeah.

Alexis Artwohl: And that can be very frustrating to people. Especially trauma survivors. They want to know what happened, typically.

Mike Darter: Right.

Alexis Artwohl: That can be very frustrating when you have these memory gaps or you don't know if it really happened or you just think it happened. [00:36:30] And even professional investigators. You talk to homicide detectives investigating shootings, or whatever, even the best of them, it's going to be very hard for them to know exactly what happened during every millisecond of that event. Usually there are little bits and pieces here and there where they will never know for sure exactly what went down during that one moment in time. Because conflicting eyewitness testimonies. [00:37:00] Maybe the physical evidence doesn't illuminate what actually happened. So, yeah, there's always going to be a certain amount of misinformation and gaps

Stan Campbell: Yeah.

Alexis Artwohl: And heads and [inaudible 00:37:15] at large.

Stan Campbell: Yeah, so Doc, so back on vision real quick, vision happens in the brain. You've informed us of that. How about tunnel vision? Is that [00:37:30] the brain response to the tragic event and telling the eyes to draw in what you actually see?

Alexis Artwohl: There could be some visual stuff going on in the eyes, but it's primarily going on in the brain.

Stan Campbell: Okay.

Alexis Artwohl: But what happens, it's a phenomenon called selective attention. [00:38:00] What's happening is you have selective attention all the time. How tightly focused it is merely depends on how engaged your brain is with the task at hand. My friend says maybe you are putting together something that's very complicated and it's a very complex task that you're trying to [00:38:30] do. You've got these complex instructions and you've got this device that you're trying to assemble and you don't realize it, but you're going to start to develop extreme tunnel vision as your brain is so intently focused on that task. Even though it's not life and death. It's not an emergency. It's not traumatic. Your brain is going to be so wrapped and so focused on that, that you can be sitting there and someone comes up behind you and goes, "Hey Stan." You go, "Whoa, whoa, [00:39:00] you scared me. I didn't hear you come in." And the person says, "Well, I just walked in like I always do."

Stan Campbell: Yeah.

Alexis Artwohl: "What's the problem?" And that's an example of selective attention and tunnel vision. You just get so intently focused on what you're doing that you just shut out the entire world around you. And that happens to us in our daily life. Not just during a shooting or other traumatic event. [00:39:30] The brain can only pay attention to a few things at once. So, when your brain has said okay, now this, that once thing, is that a gun coming out of that guy's pocket or how the heck am I going to get this complex thing assembled or you're driving down the freeway and all of a sudden you see a big puff of smoke down the road indicating maybe there was a crash or something, all of a sudden your brain shuts out everything else and says, "Uh oh, something is going [00:40:00] on." Or "I've got this very complex task I'm trying to solve." And that's when your brain focuses in on just that and it just shuts everything else out, because your brain is saying I need to get all my computing power to solving this problem.

Alexis Artwohl: So, tunnel vision is really about the brain focusing in on that one thing. And that's why you don't only get just tunnel vision, but people during these events they're fearing often will shut down. [00:40:30] Or people often say, "I didn't hear the shots," or "I was in a car wreck," and "I remember seeing everything happen in slow motion and it's the weirdest thing. I know there was all kinds of noise, crunching metal and shattering glass. I didn't hear any of that. What the heck was that all about?" Well, it's because your brain was so visually focused on what the heck is going on and your brain is desperately assessing the situation trying to figure out "What [00:41:00] is happening? Is there anything I can do to help myself? And say okay, hearing is not important. Hearing doesn't matter. So I'm going to take all of the computing power I'm going to be wasting on hearing, which I don't need right now and give it all to the visual cortex."

Alexis Artwohl: And that's why people involved in deadly force encounters, one of the most common perception distortions, in addition to tunnel vision, is that hearing shuts down or the hearing is abnormal. [00:41:30] In other words, there may be gunfire going off, but it doesn't sound at all like gunfire to you. It just sounds like a pop-pop kind of sound as opposed to those very loud sounds that you ordinarily hear, say, if you were at the range without hearing protection.

Mike Darter: Yeah, there were a couple things we talked about in mine and one of them, I have a question for you. One of them was auditory exclusion. I had, I think maybe [00:42:00] the first round I kind of remember hearing, but everything else I didn't. I did see, kind of, slow motion, the entries, entry wounds, and that's kind of what I was keying my shots off of, but I also remember the last shot, after there was shooting and then the kind of lull. Then there was the second attack and after that second there was one round fired, and I thought I heard like five rounds fired. So, it kind of went the opposite way. I didn't hear [00:42:30] any of the first ones and that last one I heard, like, five.

Mike Darter: And then, one of the other things that we talked about was you see a lot of this training where they'll do a series of shots and then pull in, and they'll look in over their shoulder left and right. We never trained that way. It was back before you started seeing that. But I was telling Stan that that was one of the things that a lot of people will say, [00:43:00] well, they do that to kind of break tunnel vision. And just for my personal experience, I don't really see that breaking, or being something to do to break tunnel vision. I don't think you would have that much control over. But I do remember in my shooting, after the first wind rounds were fired, I returned fire. I remember seeing one huge muzzle flash, which I thought was the bad guy's, [00:43:30] but it was my partner, so I thought my partner got hit. I tunnel visioned in on the bad guy and then I thought my partner had been hit.

Mike Darter: So after I ceased firing, I glanced over at him real quick just to see if he was okay. Came back to cover this guy. And at that point, I remember, we were kind of talking through, at that point I remember, I don't remember having tunnel vision at that point. Is there any evidence or any studies [00:44:00] that have looked at how long that lasts? About breaking tunnel vision by some of these techniques that some people claim to do or anything like that?

Alexis Artwohl: Well, basically, at a subconscious and conscious level, your brain can be making decisions about what is relevant right at this second.

Mike Darter: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alexis Artwohl: So, during the actual attack, [00:44:30] if you have someone that's attacking you, you're going to be tunnel visioned in on that attacker. Because if you don't survive attack, nothing else mattered. So, your training, both consciously and subconsciously, should have you trained that you're going to focus, not just on the attacker, but specifically on the hands of the attacker. In other words, you're not going to be thinking, "My god, that guy has a terrible haircut." [00:45:00] You're going to be looking at their hands. It's going to determine if they're having a weapon or are they giving off any behavioral indications that they're getting ready to do something aggressive that's dangerous. Once you have diffused the attacker and you're pretty sure they're no longer a threat, then you have to be concerned about is there anybody else who's going to attack me.

Alexis Artwohl: And that's where the training is there to say okay, [00:45:30] you have now gone from a very external, narrow focus of attention, i.e. tunnel vision. What I'm going to do is now that I've taken care of that problem, I'm now going to expand my field of vision and my attention span, and I'm going to start looking around, scanning my environment, which is what we call an external broad focus of attention. I'm going to scan my environment just to make sure that there is nothing else going on [00:46:00] that I need to be concerned about. And that's very legitimate. That's something you definitely can train to do. But during a moment of the attack, you simply can't be doing that.

Mike Darter: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alexis Artwohl: Your brain can't be focused on defeating this attacker and scanning the environment at the same time. It's just not biologically possible. So, that's why teams train very much, they each have their own area of responsibility, their own field of vision. [00:46:30] You don't want everybody to be looking at just one thing all the time. You want to work as a team to make sure we've got all of our bases covered. The more brains that you have paying attention to the environment, the more information can be processed. And, so, while one person is taking care of Attacker A, this person can be scanning the environment, and you've got another person over here taking care of Attacker B. And, so, it's all about [00:47:00] at a conscious and subconscious level training your brain to be constantly correct in answering the question "What is important right this millisecond?" And this can actually be done with eye tracking technology during training, which I think has great bonus for training shooters.

Alexis Artwohl: Force Science Institute did a study with eye tracking technology. I found this to be quite fascinating. And they, in the study, it was [00:47:30] a live action scenario. It was a replica weapon and in the scenario, there was a woman sitting behind a desk and a guy walks in. He's got his back to the officer, and he faces the woman who's sitting at a desk. And he's got his hands in front of him, the bad guy, so you actually can't see what he's doing, and he picks a fight with her. And he's becoming increasingly belligerent and angry and hostile and the [00:48:00] task of the officer is to get control of the situation. And at some point, without warning, the bad guy takes a gun out of his waistband and turns around and starts shooting at the officer. And what they did is they used eye tracking technology to compare two different groups of officers.

Alexis Artwohl: One group of officers were highly trained elite SWAT type personnel and the other group of officers were [00:48:30] not complete rookies, but they were less veteran officers that had far less training and experience in dealing with these potentially violent situations. And what they found was that the rookies, I'll call them rookies, the less experienced officers versus the elite officers, they did something very different with their eyes. And it's what Joan Vickers wrote a great book called Perception, Cognition, and Decision Training. [00:49:00] And Joan Vickers is one of the researchers that pioneered the use of eye tracking technology in sports. And she did this study in conjunction with Bill Lewinski at Force Science and she calls it the Quiet Eye meaning, and it's basically about selective attention.

Alexis Artwohl: So, the elite officers had their visual focus, their eyes, and the brain was directing their eyes [00:49:30] to look very intently at the elbows of the guy facing away from them. Because they knew if there was going to be a threat, the elbows were going to be the cue. As the guy was going to be turning, the elbow was going to start to be coming back and right there at that elbow level, the guy had the gun in his hand, that's where the gun was going to be. And, whereas the less elite officers, [00:50:00] they were looking at the elbows sometimes, but their eyes were bouncing all over the place. Including down at their gun, up at the bad guy, down at their gun, up at the bad guy. Kind of bouncing around or maybe they were trying to look at their front sight instead of really focusing on the bad guy. And their eyes are far less quiet. Their eyes are bouncing around all over the place compared to the elite guys.

Alexis Artwohl: And things happened so fast, literally a split second, during that [00:50:30] few milliseconds where your eyes have bounced off of the elbow of the bad guy, and maybe bounced onto your own gun or maybe bounced up to his head, or looking at one of his shoulders instead of his elbow that is going to give the bad guy just enough of an edge that you're going to be slightly more behind the curve. And as a result, the less elite officers got shot a lot more than the elite officers. It's all about anticipation. It's all about [00:51:00] staying one step ahead of the curve. And to anticipate what's going to happen next and respond to it, you have to, A, have the training to know what you're looking at, to know what it means. I see this. I know what that means. I know what's going to happen next. But you also have to have your eyes absolutely focused on that one critical piece of the environment that's going to give you that cue, okay, here it comes.

Alexis Artwohl: And if you happen to be looking away at that critical [00:51:30] millisecond in time, that's now going to put you slightly behind the reaction curve.

Stan Campbell: That's awesome.

Mike Darter: That's interesting.

Alexis Artwohl: So, if you're shooting and you are totally focused on the bad guy, that's what you need to be doing, because I mean, you need to be focused -

Mike Darter: Right.

Alexis Artwohl: Not just on the bad guy, but on the critical part of the bad guy.

Mike Darter: That's right.

Alexis Artwohl: Where's his hands? [00:52:00] And we have to be intently focused on that. You cannot be looking away, because the minute you look away, you're one step behind the curve on that particular threat. You can't look at two threats simultaneously. You only have two or three degrees of visual field. Anything outside of that is just a blur. So, if you're intently focused on this bad guy, you need to be focused on him and your brain is saying, look, forget everything else, because if that guy [00:52:30] kills you, it doesn't matter how many other attackers there are. It doesn't matter [crosstalk 00:52:36] you need to deal with the immediate threat right in front of you.

Alexis Artwohl: And as soon as that threat has been neutralized, that's now when you have the luxury of, okay, that person is down, now I need to very quickly scan the environment to see if there's anybody else approaching. And that's very appropriate. And I think it's good training.

Stan Campbell: Yeah, I like [inaudible 00:53:02] [00:53:00] and you know even the possibility of, because you can scan and move and try to find cover, because it really just depends on the scenario. But, I love all the new training that's coming about. But, yeah, that was great stuff, Doc. I really appreciate that.

Alexis Artwohl: Thank you.

Mike Darter: Yeah, it's great to have you back on and talk to you again. It's been a while.

Alexis Artwohl: Yeah.

Mike Darter: We need to [00:53:30] have you, we had an earlier podcast with Andrew Brankin. We were telling him about we're moving into a new building. We're having a grand opening. It'll probably be some time in the Fall. We need to try to arrange for you to come in as well.

Alexis Artwohl: Well, that would be awesome.

Mike Darter: Yeah. You got anything -

Stan Campbell: Yeah, I think that would be great.

Mike Darter: What's your Fall looking like?

Alexis Artwohl: Well, of course, I'm mostly retired from law enforcement training, so I try not to travel too much. I have [00:54:00] two things going on in the Fall. I'm flying up in early October to the three day training for old school gun school. It's a three day citizen class on gun law and it's really a fun class. You guys know Jim Fleming.

Mike Darter: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Stan Campbell: Yeah.

Alexis Artwohl: And, so, what happens is Jim gets together, I've done it two years now, and when we go up there, [00:54:30] how it has evolved is Jim and I and this other instructor's coming in periodically. We're going to do three days of training and a lot of it is role playing as opposed to me just getting up there and giving a lecture. Jim and I team teach. So, we'll discuss cases. We'll have people come up and do simulated detective interviews. And then we'll do brief [00:55:00] simulated interviews. So, it's a lot of fun. It's a lot more dynamic. A lot more responsive to the audience. And it's a fairly, unlike training 200 people which is really, you're limited what you can do without being in a group. They keep it to a limited amount of people. So we can do all of these group interactions and stuff. It's really a lot of fun.

Alexis Artwohl: So, I'm going to do that early October. And then mid-October, I'm going to Chicago for a couple [00:55:30] of days. The Force Science Institute, I'm no longer on their faculty. I'm doing training for them, but they've invited me to be their guest. Not to train, but to just come up and hang out at their two-day conference. They have an annual conference. So, that was nice of them to do that.

Stan Campbell: That's awesome.

Alexis Artwohl: So, I'm going to go up and do that. And then in mid-August, I'm going to drive up to Phoenix and do a training for the Well Armed Woman.

Mike Darter: [00:56:00] Oh, cool.

Alexis Artwohl: Yeah.

Mike Darter: Well, once we figure out and get some dates, we'll get with you, as well as Andrew Brankin, try to get you guys in for our grand opening.

Alexis Artwohl: That would be awesome.

Mike Darter: We were talking about maybe doing a live with him and Don, and then maybe we could do a live with you and Stan and I.

Alexis Artwohl: Okay. That'd be cool.

Mike Darter: Alrighty.

Alexis Artwohl: Yeah.

Mike Darter: How's Dave doing?

Alexis Artwohl: He's hanging in there.

Mike Darter: Tell him I said hello.

Alexis Artwohl: I will do that.

Stan Campbell: Same here.

Mike Darter: [00:56:30] All right, well we're going on about an hour. So, thank you for your time. We appreciate it and we're looking forward to this new book coming out.

Alexis Artwohl: Yeah, me too.

Mike Darter: And as soon as it does, let us know. We'll put it out. We'll send it out in some newsletters. Because everybody in our membership, that's one book they should have. For sure.

Stan Campbell: Absolutely. And then Doc, watch out for those rattlesnakes. I know you do a good job.

Alexis Artwohl: Yeah, well, they're out there. [00:57:00] This time of year, Spring and Fall is when you really have to worry. This Spring they were everywhere. Every ride I've been on, there was like two or three rattlers.

Stan Campbell: Yeah.

Mike Darter: Hey.

Alexis Artwohl: Once Summer hits and it gets super, super hot out, like it is now, they pretty much only come out at night.

Stan Campbell: Oh, that's awesome.

Mike Darter: Oh, yeah.

Alexis Artwohl: So, if y'all are out there after dark, you just have to always have a flashlight with you. I don't have any house guests anymore, but when I would have them, I'd give them a key [00:57:30] chain that had a flashlight on it, and I say, "Under no circumstances do you want to walk out the door, get out of your car, never do anything without checking first." And they're like, "Oh my god, what kind of world do you live in here?"

Stan Campbell: That's great. Well, thanks again, Doc. And you know we appreciate you, and we're going to have you on. Maybe we can do it again next month, because you're such a wealth of knowledge, and we enjoy learning from you, and sharing information as well.

Alexis Artwohl: Sure. [00:58:00] We support you guys.

Mike Darter: Thank you.

Alexis Artwohl: Alrighty.

Mike Darter: Be safe. All right. Bye-bye.



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