The China Desk
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Now You See It, Now You Don't
Originally posted at Chinese Community Forum (CCF)
March 14, 2001
The PRC government's claim that "Nobody died in Tiananmen Square" is probably true. The PRC government was being exact when they issued that statement. They were not denying that deaths occurred. They were merely being precise about where they died.
Re: the famous "lone pedestrian blocking the tank" incident. Psychologists often use something known as a "Rorschach Inkblot Test." As a long time student of psychology, let me assure you the test works.
The way it works is by presenting the test subject with an ambiguous looking inkblot, and asking the subject to discern what he sees. The subject invariably winds up projecting his own subconscious biases and prejudices onto the image, utterly unaware he's doing it. The images are merely catalysts to get to the subject's unconscious.
Famous yet anonymous Tiananmen protestor who blocked the path of a PLA tank column
What did almost everyone, including myself see, when the footage of a lone pedestrian holding two shopping bags blocking a PLA tank was initially broadcast over the world by CNN?
We saw "a heroic democracy protestor daring to defy an impersonal ruthless authoritarian juggernaut which had no regard for human life."
Who can dispute what millions of us all saw with our own eyes? We saw "the protestor's courage stopping the juggernaut in its tracks by the sheer force of his will."
Wrong. That is not what we saw.
That is half of what we saw. The other half, which we blanked out of our conscious awareness, was a PLA tank driver deliberately avoiding running over the lone pedestrian. A PLA tank driver refusing to run over him. A PLA tank driver who did have regard for human life.
In fact that particular PLA tank driver probably had more regard for human life than ATF and FBI agents at Waco. The FBI actually broadcast Nancy Sinatra's pop tune "These Boots are made for Walking" over loudspeakers before they went in and "walked all over" the Branch Davidians.
So why didn't we see that at the time?
Simple. The problem was we were so focused on what we wanted to see, what we expected to see, we failed to see what was. Because of the way our minds processed the visual data before our eyes, we saw only part of the picture.