The Reason It's So Hard to Spot Your Own Typos

We have a difficult time catching our own typing mistakes.
We have a difficult time catching our own typing mistakes.
Photo by Burst from Pexels

Have you ever typed an email, only to return to it and discover, to your mounting horror, that you’ve referred to your boss as “Don” instead of “Dan?” Or that you told him you would order a necessary “fart” instead of a “part?”

There’s a good reason why we’re so terrible at catching these typing errors, and it has to do with our brains being a little too efficient.

In a piece for Wired, author Nick Stockton explains that typos are the result of conveying meaning our brains already understand. Speaking with Tom Stafford, a psychologist with the University of Sheffield, Stockton illustrates the point by stating that a simple task like writing takes up less real estate in the brain than the more complex mission of organizing our ideas. In other words, our brains focus more on communication—saying what we want to say, how we want to say it—than the act of typing. This process is referred to as generalization.

When we read our own work back, we already know what we wanted to say, and that existing knowledge fills in “gaps” in the writing that go unnoticed. You might not catch “hte” because your brain fills in “the” for you. You expect to see it. It’s similar to how we go through automatic processes like driving to a familiar place.

That’s why proofreaders—people other than yourself—can more easily spot mistakes. Their brains don’t have a map to follow, and so typos become glaring.

Does this mean catching errors in your own work is a lost cause? Not really. The trick is to take the familiarity out of the equation. If you’ve written something on a device, print it out or change the font. Do something to make it look a little strange to your eyes so it won’t look so strange to someone else.

[h/t Wired]

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

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The Reason Supreme Court Justices Wear Black Robes

Judge Thomas Patrick Thornton (left) is sworn in as a federal judge by Judge Arthur F. Lederle (right) on February 15, 1949.
Judge Thomas Patrick Thornton (left) is sworn in as a federal judge by Judge Arthur F. Lederle (right) on February 15, 1949.

Professional attire can go a long way in communicating the level of respect you have for your occupation and the people around you. Lawyers don’t show up for court in shorts and politicians don’t often address crowds in sleeveless T-shirts.

So it stands to reason that the highest court in the country should have a dress code that reflects the gravity of their business, which is why most judges, including judges on the Supreme Court, are almost always bedecked in black robes. Why black?

As Reader's Digest reports, judges donning black robes is a tradition that goes back to judicial proceedings in European countries for centuries prior to the initial sitting of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1790. Despite that, there’s no record of whether the Justices went for a black ensemble. That wasn’t officially recorded until 1792—but the robes weren’t a totally solid color. From 1792 to 1800, the robes were black with red and white accents on the sleeves and in the front.

It is likely that Chief Justice John Marshall, who joined as the fourth chief justice of the Supreme Court in 1801, led the shift to a black robe—most likely because a robe without distinctive markings reinforces the idea that justice is blind. The all-black tradition soon spread to other federal judges.

But according to former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, there is no written or official policy about the robes, and the Justices are free to source them however they like—typically from the same companies who outfit college graduates and choir singers. It’s certainly possible to break with tradition and arrive on the bench without one, as Justice Hugo Black did in 1969; Chief Justice William Rehnquist once added gold stripes to one of his sleeves. But for the most part, judges opt for basic black—a message that they’re ready to serve the law.

[h/t Reader’s Digest]