18/03/15

Hailed as the greatest pickpocket in the world, Apollo Robbins studies the quirks of human behavior as he steals your watch. In a hilarious demonstration, Robbins samples the buffet of the TEDGlobal 2013 audience, showing how the flaws in our perception make it possible to swipe a wallet and leave it on its owner’s shoulder while they remain clueless.

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Glossary

  • pickpocket – a person who steals from people’s pockets
  • surveillance – close observation, especially of a suspected spy or criminal
  • exploit – make full use of and derive benefit from (a resource)
  • distract – prevent (someone) from concentrating on something

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Think about it

Answer the questions below. Pause at the times indicated in brackets.

  • What kind of thing we are mostly blind to? (0:47)
  • Who is Frank? (2:41)
  • What limitations does Frank have? (3:39)
  • What has just happened? (8:01)
  • What was Apollo Robbins wearing at the beginning of his talk?

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Practice makes perfect

Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words (use ONE word per blank space). Whenever you come across a word in CAPITAL LETTERS in front of a blank space, fill in the blank space with the correct form of the word.

Do you think it’s possible to control someone’s ATTEND ________? Even more than that, what ________ predicting human BEHAVE _______ ? I think those are interesting ideas, if you could. I mean, for me, that would be the perfect superpower, actually kind of an evil way of approaching it. But for myself, in the past, I’ve spent the last 20 years studying human behavior from a rather unorthodox way: picking pockets. When we think of DIRECT ________ , we think of something as looking off to the side, when actually it’s often the things that are right in ________ of us that are the hardest things to see, the things that you look at every day that you’re blinded to.

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For example, how many of you still have your cell phones ________ you right now? Great. Double-check. Make sure you still have them on you. I was doing some shopping BEFORE ________ . Now you’ve looked at them probably a few times today, but I’m going to ask you a question about them. Without looking at your cell phone directly yet, can you remember the icon ________ the bottom right corner? Bring them out, check, and see how accurate you were. How’d you do? Show of hands. Did we get it?

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