(Submitted by reader Joseph Gagné)

Here’s a quickie: I love my e-reader. Ever since I bought it last year, I have been reading voraciously (it’s amazing how much more reading one gets done with a lightweight device on the bus, waiting in line for services, etc). I’ve also taken a liking to downloading various fun and funny images as backgrounds when my device is turned off.

Today, I happened to be reading from the book “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”. In this particular chapter, Feynman recalls his jousting with censors while working on the atomic bomb.

Here I was devouring this chapter and the various ways the author foiled the censors, when it was time to get off the bus. As I turned off my e-reader, there appeared one of my hundreds of background images. A black screen with big, bold letters: “CENSORED”.

Below are the extended notes provided by Barbara Drescher for use in Skepticality Episode 198. Take a look and leave your comments below.

This one is not possible to quantify without knowing how many background images were available. The author said, “hundreds”, so I guess the odds are “one in hundreds”, but that assumes that none of the other background images could be interpreted as related in any way at all.

I found this one not surprising at all, but interesting. And I think I found it interesting because the author did.

This is a good example of how priming works. Essentially, we are most likely to notice things in our environment that are the same as, similar to, or related to something we have recently experienced. So, the incident itself isn’t all that surprising, but the fact that the author noticed it is an interesting part of our nature, I think. How many times has the author turned the e-reader off without even noticing the background image at all?