Helen Thomas and a famous illusion

July 5, 2010

Sometimes people grow into a role they had not intended.

During the recent, sad flap about Helen Thomas’s offensive remarks and forced retirement, some media outlets carried a photo of Thomas that looked almost posed to me.  In our creativity consulting years ago, we used the old, famous optical illusion of the “old woman/young woman.”

Make up your own commentary.  What do you see?  How do you know you’re not looking at an illusion?

Optical illusion, Old woman/Young woman

Famous optical illusion, Old woman/Young woman, color version – borrowed from Mighty Optical Illusions after Gryphons Aerie crapped out.

Helen Thomas in a photo prior to 2009

Veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas, sometime prior to 2009


Best optical illusion of the year

July 12, 2009

I like to use optical illusions for warm-ups and bell ringers, to get students thinking and looking at things a bit differently.

Richard Wiseman said this is the best new optical illusion he’s seen so far this year:

Image by Prof. Kitaoka, 2009

Image by Prof. Kitaoka, 2009

What’s the illusion?  Well, you see those green stripes?  See the blue stripes?  Actually they are the same color.

You don’t think so?  Zoom in.  Or click over to Wiseman’s blog site and see what happens when all the other colors are turned to black.

I know you think you know what you see; what you think you see may not be what you actually see.  Your brain modifies what you think you see, in order to make it appear sensible, and in doing so, it sometimes makes you see things quite differently from what they are.  Don’t forget that.

So, how do we know what we know?  How do we know that what we know is correct?


Moth image not Jesus, but juggling elf!

September 1, 2008

Thermopsis pointed the way from Bug Girl’s Blog — it’s not Jesus we see on the moth, but a juggling elf!

What do you think?


Don’t look at the moonwalking bear

March 27, 2008

If I had a perception problem or a new optical illusion for every class day in psychology, we’d start every day happy.

This is a great ad. It gently pokes your pride in your ability to see what’s going on — from a bicycle safety campaign in Britain urging motorists to look out for bicyclists:


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