Optical illusions can teach us about our visual perception, and its limitations. But like an old time circus carnival barker, they can also tempt us toward a website through “click-baiting.” Illusions have been used in click-baiting on the Internet since 1999, so by now most of us are familiar with them. Come on. Admit it. You’ve been lured to click from messages like “You’ll never believe what happened when … This is the cutest thing ever … This the biggest mistake you can make … Take this quiz to see which character you are on.”
Illusions are alluring. They fascinate us, challenging our default notion that what we see is real. They demonstrate that all our perception is illusion, in a sense – incoming sensory information is interpreted, yielding the internal representation of the world. Try this:
While sitting, lift your right foot off the ground and make clockwise circles with it. While doing this draw the number “6” in the air with your right hand. What just happened? There is nothing you can do about it.
According to the Merriam-Webster Online Collegiate Dictionary, an illusion is:
- something that deceives or misleads intellectually;
- perception of something objectively existing in such a way as to cause misinterpretation of its actual nature.
But illusions can also decide major sport events: referee judgements probably are affected by the ‘flash lag effect’, like when judging the spot where a tennis ball touched the ground.
Attorneys, judges, police officers and investigators have seen the effects of optical illusions. Just ask any officer who has asked numerous people to describe what happened at a traffic accident or crime scene. They may get many different versions based on the illusion intake of each individual. While optical illusions are particularly good adaptations of our visual system to standard viewing situations, some of the adaptations are ‘hardwired’ into our brains. These can cause inappropriate interpretations of the visual scene.
Some people enjoy optical illusions, and others simply do not. For NEWSLEGIT readers who like puzzling over mysteries that we cannot easily explain, please delight in these puzzles and illusions.