Random AsidesSkepticism

What you lookin’ at, Willis?

Right now you’re either exhausted from TAM8 or, if you’re like me, you’re exhausted from days of endless sobbing over not being at TAM8. Either way, whether it’s hangover or from crying, you have a headache. So, instead of giving you a brilliantly written post to blow your mind, I’ll give you this video.

The thing I love about illusions is that they beat me, every time. And they’re totally fair. They show their hand, explain everything in excruciating detail, including why my mind thinks it sees what it sees, and yet I cannot think my way out of being tricked. I can spend hours looking at an illusion trying to figure out how to see it for what it is, and every time, I walk away foiled.

Because of this, I think they’re a valuable tool for teaching skepticism: I am going to fool you. This is how I will do it. This is what you will see. This is exactly what I will be showing you. You won’t be able to not see it. Try. You can’t do it. And if you can’t avoid being fooled when you know exactly what’s happening, how can you keep yourself from being fooled when you’re completely unaware of what’s happening to you?

Skepticism — it works, bitches!*

Of course, I may be totally amused by this clip because I’m sleep deprived and maybe a little drunk… but too sleep deprived to know whether or not I’ve even had a drink. Someone please explain to me why I thought I could handle Moose and a newborn.

*Most of the time anyway.


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. hormones….

    perception is something else isn’t it? i can often see what’s really there once i know what’s going on. and i agree with you that skepticism is freedom – the most important kind, the freedom to think for yourself, make your own choices.

    I recently finished a cognitive psychology class and it was full of surprises.

  2. They used this one in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I thought it was really cool that they didn’t resort to special effects or computer tricks.

  3. i can often see what’s really there once i know what’s going on.

    Even understanding that this particular illusion I can’t make myself see the reality.

    Is it always possible to correct your perception to fit reality or not?

  4. @Non Believer:

    in simple visual illusions you can tell yourself what to watch out for and train yourself to ignore certain things. for example: if you put arrow heads at both ends of a line segment, it makes the line seem longer/shorter, depening on whether they point in or out. put two equal line segments next to each other, one pointing in and one out, and one will appear longer than the other. but once you know that, you can use selective attention to ignore the ends and see only the line segments. then you can tell that the lines are the same.

    but the answer to your question is no. it’s not even possible most of the time, let alone always. the problem is this – the only way you know reality is through perception. therefore your perception IS your reality. whether that matches anyone else’s reality or a sterilized clinical reality that is outside of anyone’s perception is another question.

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