Whac-a-mole is a popular attraction at American fairs, not often seen in Europe. When Michael Gazzaniga compared (in a Gifford lecture, in Edinburgh) the way we choose our behaviors with the whac-a-mole game, the image fell flat.

Fortunately he had a picture. There is a hammer and a playing field with approximately five mole-run holes from which moles pop up at random moments. The intention is that they are immediately hit back into their holes. Sometimes one stays there for a while because the player’s attention was (or should have) been elsewhere. The moles are in competition for a place in the spotlight. Whoever remains standing long enough to gain sufficient attention to activate consciousness wins. Gazzaniga uses this image to show how he thinks people come to bring their consciousness into action.

This image provides a tool for describing mechanisms that can contribute to investigate how it is possible that we know more than we can say (Michael Polanyi’s tacit knowledge) and can act before we are aware of it (Dennett and Kinsbourne’s Libet data) and yet are knowingly able to catch a cricket ball (Gigerenzer’s heuristics and Seth’s prediction machine)