The Muehlhauser Illusion

Cognitive illusions can be as strong as visual illusions — even if you know you have them, you can’t stop your mind from producing them.  Here is a 38 seconds visual illusion (my first YouTube video attempt).

To make this illusion, I playfully used a fantastic picture of Luke Muehlhauser over at Common Sense Atheism.  Thus I have named the illusion “The Muehlhauser Illusion”.


Filed under Cognitive Science, Philosophy & Religion

12 responses to “The Muehlhauser Illusion

  1. It’s not a cognitive illusion, it’s a perceptual illusion. It’s baked into the low-level mechanics of how our vision works.

  2. @ Barefoot Bum
    Absolutely. If you read carefully, I called it a visual illusion. But I can see how my first sentence may have tripped you up. I was saying that “Just like this visual illusion, our cognitive illusions, can be as obstinate.” Sort of how our readings can let us see what we want to read. 😉

  3. Ed

    OK… allowing the direction you are heading here, it begs the simple and obvious… how do we know that we know anything? Is anything we think or see to be trusted?

  4. @ Ed
    “direction”? “obviously heading”?
    My blog has repeatedly hit on the theme of the limits of human perception and cognition. But this is tempered by the title of my blog which speaks of my optimistic empirical pragmatism mixed with valuing the subjective.

    “Is anything we think or see to be trusted?”
    It depends on what you are trusting to accomplish and the other supportive data you are using (your triangulations)?

    In Buddhism, your question would require a declaration of a level of truth before offering a useful reply. My blog is about usefulness.

  5. We all operate under assumptions. Those assumptions have at times, ended in misunderstandings, feuds and even war. We need the assumptions to progress. True, those assumptions have been known to be incorrect but without them we are without direction.

    Physics assumes it’s laws always work and science assumes that what can not be demonstrated empirically the energy of the brain waves involved.

    In the material world, we seem locked into data input via only five sences. Logic trys to string the data and our culture/sociology create mores and values out of them. But as you have aptly demonstrated, our senses can be eaily tricked.

    When we choose to journey, we choose where our next step will land.

  6. Your blog is truly wonderful 🙂 and you may not be as weird an atheist as you think you are! 🙂

  7. urbster1

    Ok, I know the afterimage effect, but even so, I was still surprised at this! The image reverted to normal, and I thought “Ok, so what?” Then I realized it was only grayscale! That was a great trick, I’ll have to show that to several friends 🙂

  8. @ baba
    Thank you ! I see you added me to your blog list, I shall add you to my friend’s list too.

    @ urbster1
    Glad you enjoyed. If you create something, come back and link it.

  9. Was I supposed to see the flying saucer? Cause I did…that was actually in the pic wasnt it?

    It does show how our image of the world can be tricked into seeing one thing while it may not be exactly that way. It was merely a visual illusion however and I am not sure we see halluncinations all that often (perceptionally). This videa was meant to make out eyes ‘adjust’ from color to grayscale.

    I see it as a metaphor for what is real and what isn’t (but is portrayed as real).

  10. We “hallucinate” constantly. Our minds are constantly gestalting our sensual inputs.

  11. Pingback: The Meming of Life » “I can see how you misunderstood” Parenting Beyond Belief on secular parenting and other natural wonders

  12. When I stared at the black dot I saw a green picture. I do not believe that it was a black and white picture that my mind interpreted as green. If other people saw the green picture independent of me that would be quite strong evidence that it is in fact green. If there is some explination that it is not green I would say that the theory of why the picture is black and white is flawed not the perception of those that saw it as green.
    If I remember correctly colors have something to do with objects refecting some light wave lengths and absorbing other wave lengths. So I can imagine that before our brain interprets what it sees certain events must happen in the mechanics of the eye. Obviously the mechanics of some eyes might operate differently than the mechanics of other eyes. But if an eye has “normal” mechanics can it mechanically malfunction? I would think not.

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