[visionlist] Sunday fun: Preattentively finding 4-leaf clover?

Kate Storrs katherine.storrs at gmail.com
Mon Aug 31 10:55:36 -04 2020

Dear Michael,

It is indeed a fun question! I have no science to add, but do have an

My grandfather (in the UK) was also exceptionally good at finding four
leaved clovers, and had pages and pages of dried and pressed examples that
he'd found over the years (a couple of hundred, including some five-leaf
clovers). He taught me his strategy when I was small, which consisted of:

1. "Remember that there is no luck involved, most people just don't have
the patience to look."
2. Start by passing your eyes lightly over a patch of clover, and noticing
any place where your eyes pause or something seems "different", then
carefully examine those places (which is perhaps using preattentive vision
to detect regions with slight differences in texture statistics).
3. Once you find one, trace it back to the roots and see if the plant has
other mutant leaves (cheating, or just pragmatic?)

I've practiced his advice over the years, and found that many large patches
of clover do indeed contain four leaved instances. So, my first questions
would be whether the German family has some similar strategic lore that
they have passed down, and whether they simply engage in the (pleasant)
pastime of searching clover patches more often than your average person....

Kate Storrs


Dr Katherine Storrs
Postdoctoral researcher,
Abteilung Allgemeine Psychologie
Justus-Liebig-Universität, Otto-Behaghel-Str. 10, 35394 Giessen

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