Thanks to my evil twin Richard Wiseman (a UK psychologist who specializes in studying the ways we perceive things around us, and how easily we can be fooled), I saw this masterful illusion video that will keep you guessing on what’s real and what isn’t. It’s only two minutes long, so give it a gander:
Cool, eh? The reason you got fooled, at least twice, is that we get confused when our three-dimensional world is translated into two dimensions. We perceive distance for nearby objects using binocular vision, which depends on the angles between our eyes and the objects. If you create a picture of an object that is carefully distorted to match those changing angles, you can fool the brain into thinking it’s seeing a real object when in fact it’s a flat representation.
We’re actually very good at taking subtle cues and turning them into three-dimensional interpretations. However, because of that very sensitivity, it’s easy to throw a monkey in the wrench, messing up our perception.
Still don’t believe me? Then watch this, and if it doesn’t melt your brain, I can no longer help you.
Our brains are very, very easy to fool. I’ll note that the way we see color is very easy to trick, too. I wrote an article about a fantastic, astonishing color illusion back in 2009, and it spurred a lot of arguments in the comments, even when I showed clearly how it works. Amazing.
And because why not, here’s the picture (the colors get a bit squished in the middle, so you can see the original here at the bottom of the page if you'd like). Tell me, do you see a blue-armed spiral, and a green one?