The Message In Fun Optical Illusions

Posted on February 3, 2017 by Dr. Lynda

Optical illusions are great fun, and they point to the way our brains are built to make sense of things. Do they also point to the fickle nature of perspectives?

Today on EWC, we play with some remarkably fun optical illusions, and reflect on how “reality” may be just as illusory.

Image: Illusion of a giant faucet gushing water, with no apparent connection
Source: Wikimedia

Our brains are the most amazing machines. It is thought that the human brain has over 100 billion neurons (1011). The number of connections seems less precise, but it is at least several 100 trillion connections (1014)

One of the ways we can see how desperately our brains’ want to make connections that are logical is the way they handle optical illusions.

Let’s have some fun testing the circuits!

Here’s a compilation of some mind-bending illusions that you could actually do at home, put together by a very interesting YouTube channel called Home Science:

Crazy fun there, huh?

Now that we’ve got our neuro circuits firing, let’s take a few minutes to understand how our brains try to make “prior knowledge” mesh with what we see in front of us.

Via: SciFri 2

Interesting! I loved his comment about how much fun kids have in that exhibit. It’s easy to see why: kids perspectives are still so flexible. They don’t have nearly the load of biases that adults have.

And even when we know the trick, before we go in the room, we are still prisoners of our past perceptions.Perspective IS very fickle!

Now let’s see if we can make a leap here and sort out some of the methods used to trick the brain.

This is amazing. Enjoy!

I couldn’t help but draw a parallel to an article we wrote a few days ago about the way the algorithms of the web influence our perspectives.

This article dovetails so perfectly with that fascinating insight. If you haven’t seen that article, it contains a real “ah-ha” moment. Check it out: Is our worldview inexorably filtered?

What if our perspective is simply the work of our brain trying to make sense of what we see? And after last Sunday’s EWC article, we now know that what we see on the web these days is only a narrow slice of reality due to the algorithms created by big players like google and Facebook. Yikes!

Something to consider. The whole idea makes me want to lighten up a bit and ride the waves of my perspectives more gracefully.

Stay open, curious and optimistic!

~ Dr. Lynda

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