Imagine learning something whilst a very experienced person speaks about a subject that he’s been working on for 35 years. Let’s say, we’re talking about a professor here. It’s pretty annoying to listen to them using mysterious abbreviations, jargon and what not. This is a very normal thing for humans to do. Because we are basically not smart. Our brains have their own ways to fail us.
I’m doing my graduate studies and it’s not very rare that I come across very learned professors who aren’t very good teachers. Being a good teacher, speaker or a textbook author isn’t the same as knowing stuff, and is possible to be one when you know one thing, and just one thing.
Booby traps play with your mind. They cause fear and uncertainty and can be hidden in anything. For these psychological traps to be the most effective, they are often hidden in the most familiar or the most ordinary things. Especially something that a soldier would decide to move for some random reason.
During the world war one and two the Germans probably demonstrated the most creative booby traps. The most interesting one was booby trapping a framed picture on the wall. The Germans would make the picture skewed and booby trapped it. Knowing that the gentlemen soldiers would come in and straighten the picture without even thinking that it could be a trap, they’d trigger the bomb.
When babies first start crawling, irrespective of how big a drop is, they’ll just crawl over the edge, not knowing they’d fall. That’s pretty natural. And after a few weeks of crawling they learn that crawling over the edge is not a good thing to do and automatically stop when they see a visual cliff. This works even if there is a visual cliff, but a pane of transparent glass over it. The baby, if it has learned not to crawl over the edge, wont crawl on to the pane of glass because it sees a dangerous cliff.
The interesting part is that the babies do not learn about the cliff at all. They learn about crawling. Doesn’t seem very different, does it? The difference is clear when a baby first starts walking. A newly walking baby would step over the cliff happily, and get hurt. Even when it had learned not to do so while crawling. But after a few weeks of walking they learn not to do it. Just like they learned while crawling.