Information Processing, Brain Function and Why I Wear a Hat

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February 26, 2013 by jervin2012

Me wearing a hat at Gunsite 2003.  3-color Day Desert.

Me wearing a hat at Gunsite 2003. 3-color Day Desert.

Hats are more than just a fashion accessory, though I suspect that most people who wear them for a ‘tactical’ purpose don’t know some of the more important reasons behind this good decision. Most important to your physical safety is to recognize a threatening person or situation and avoiding that person or situation before they become an active threat to you. Our visual acuity as human beings allows us a relatively good early-warning system for this purpose. But there are important limits to this, primary among them is the ‘bandwidth’ between our optical system and our brain.

Basically, we can only process so much visual information at one time and the more we have to look at, the less we can focus on any one object. Peripheral vision is similar to this .. this type of vision is constantly ‘on’ and constantly sending images to your brain. Even though most of the time a person does not think about objects in their peripheral vision, this information still requires processing by the brain and takes away from the amount of attention that can be paid to an object that we are actively trying to look at.

Our field of view extends from approximately 60 degrees above the horizon and 75 degrees below it. When you wear a hat low on your face, you effectively hide the area above the horizon .. cutting your vertical field of view almost in half. Now, the unrealistic among us will mention “yeah but that’s dumb. how can I spot the Mi-24 if I wear my hat low?”

Evidence that you are in a Bad Neighborhood

Evidence that you are in a Bad Neighborhood

Wearing a hat allows us to concentrate on the areas that matter and since the vast majority of threats to people come from the people, animals and situations on the ground we are playing the odds that a threat will not as readily come at us from above. By taking this slight risk, you are reducing your visibility of unimportant areas by 30%, allowing you to focus that extra 30% of attention on potential threat areas.

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