I experienced an illusion today that turned out to be very real. I’ve had an unopened packet of Peanut Butter M&Ms on my desk for ages now. This morning I decided to crack it open only to realise that it had already been opened and 3/4 of the contents had been eaten! The perpetrator sneakily placed the opened corner of the packet under my flip file to hide any visible evidence of tampering. When I catch them, I’ll have an illusion ready – my foot firmly lodged up their ass. But I digress…
The Best Visual Illusion of the Year contest is now in its 5th year and strives to use big words to explain itself:
Visual illusions are those perceptual experiences that do not match the physical reality. Our perception of the outside world is generated indirectly by brain mechanisms, and so all visual perception is illusory to some extent. The study of visual illusions is therefore of critical importance to the understanding of the basic mechanisms of sensory perception, as well as to cure many diseases of the visual system.
And in this year’s contest, The Illusion of Sex by Richard Russell at Harvard University, USA scooped third prize.
In the image above, the two faces are perceived as male and female even though both are different versions of the same androgynous face. Apparently it demonstrates that contrast is a cue for perceiving the sex of a face – the face with the greater contrast appears feminine, and one with the lesser contrast appears masculine.
Did you notice a difference? Let us know in the comments.
BONUS: This is one of the oddest illusions you’re likely to see – HardTimes.