Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Systemic Errors

While reading about the way the anatomy of the eye relates to the perception of the outside world, I was intrigued by the idea of optical illusions. My favorite optical illusion is the rotating hollow mask. My first experience with such an illusion was at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. In one of the areas, there was a hollow dragon sculpture. What was amazing was that when you looked at the dragon from a certain angle, it appeared to be three-dimensional. I took the opportunity to research this illusion for this blog.

The disconnect between perception and reality has haunted the psychological and philosophical realms since the dawn of human thought. Often, the reality of an object or thing does not correspond to our perception of it and inaccuracies in understand occurs. The rotating hollowing mask (see below) illustrates this phenomena, known as a systemic error. In such an error, the physiological processes of the senses are functioning properly but the perception rendered is fallacious. When examining the hollow mask, for example, the mind understands that the mask is rotating so that at a certain point only the concave side is visible. When this occurs however, the mask appears to be convex. The mind cannot visualize a concave nose and as a result generates the convex image. I think it's fascinating that our minds are sometimes unable to perceive the physical world as it truly is. We automatically adjust the images so that they make sense to us.

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