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Dispelling myths about night vision

Whether inspired by heroic stories or real life events, night vision capabilities have worked their way into the human mind and have given way to some unbelievable and funny myths. They fall into two categories: either confusions about night vision devices and how they can be used, or imaginative projections of this superpower capability.  Perhaps the most famous myth of all has to do with none other than the “wascally wabbit” himself. Bugs Bunny taught us that carrots not only make us look awesome under the threat of impending doom but greatly contribute to having superhero-like night vision.


During World War II, British gunners spread the rumor that eating tons of carrots was what allowed them to shoot down the German planes in the darkness of night. They were trying to cover up any discovery of the radar they had in their hands. The rumor proved somewhat successful as it reinforced the German folklore. It also encouraged Britons to improve their night vision by growing and eating more carrots.  It may seem childish to us, but it so happens that most of the time, desire is stronger than reason, and we fall in the trap of believing the most absurd things.


A second myth, although not completely off the rails, is that pirates wore eye patches for more than the “arrr!” effect. Aside from allowing them to look semi-sober while engorging copious amounts of rum, provided of course that you’re facing the eyepatch, pirates seems to have worn them to preserve night vision in one eye.

This myth works under the assumption that the eye covered with the eyepatch is already accustomed to low light conditions, while the other eye must take time to adjust. Now this is something that can’t be proven wrong, and we have to admit that it makes sense. Still, covering an eye doesn’t turn it into a night vision powerhouse, it just gives it some time to get used to the dark.


Third on our list is the belief that the ramblings of a color-blind might have been counterbalanced by an out of the ordinary night vision ability.


Medical studies stand as proof that this is actually true. At one time the U.S. Army found that color-blind persons can spot ‘camouflage‘ colors where those with normal color vision are fooled by them. It is said that colour deficient genes come from exceptional night hunters in the past.   They reduced their color signals to better differentiate in texture and brightness, and catch the prey.


Now, passing on to more urban myths, where humans build skyrockets but fail to properly tie their shoelaces.  Thermal devices have been engineered alright, but you can’t buy them if you’re civilian. How about that?


Word goes that unless you’re in the armed forces you couldn’t possibly have a legitimate use for a thermal device. Far from the truth. Indeed, there are restrictions on high frequency models and weapon mounted units, and there is a Law Enforcement only line of models. That doesn’t strike thermal imaging from the list, there is still a wide range of devices available for the general public.

Bottom line is that civilians in the United States and Canada can certainly buy thermal night vision.


For our final top entry, we don’t want to deviate from the the principle that has guided us so far: let’s all ignore the forest because of the trees.  So, why not believe that thermal Night Vision devices can only be used during nighttime operations?

Check-out Flir thermal systems, everybody. In daytime they read heat exactly the way they would in the dark. The thermal information gathered cannot be “over-exposed” and its highlighting ability is still very valuable in daylight.


We’ve been fabricating stories about how to become wizards, how to fly, how to be invincible since our early days on this planet. It’s one of our ways of coping with the environment. What really enhances our human powers is buying real night vision devices. Gear up and put those powers to good use!


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