Five Fun Optical Illusions

Merriam-Webster defines an optical illusion as

something that looks different from what it is – something you see but that is not really there.

Recently the world was a’buzz with the different perceptions regarding the color of a dress.  Here are 5 more Optical Illusions you can disagree about when you share them with your friends!



[1] Is this a bear or a mer-man twink?bear or merman

It is necessary to organize incoming sensations into information which is meaningful.  e.g. what do you see in this picture and which one are you more attracted to?

This is done is by perceiving individual sensory stimuli as a meaningful whole. Gestalt organization can be used to explain many illusions, like the bear/mer-man twink illusion where the image as a whole switches back and forth from being a Norse-like bear then being a fancy hat wearing mer-man twink.


[2] Does this vehicle need gas?fuel-gauge 4

Illusions can be based on an individual’s ability to see in three dimensions even though the image hitting the retina is only two dimensional. The Ponzo illusion is an example of an illusion which uses monocular cues of depth perception to fool the eye.

The human mind judges the fuel tank’s size based on its background (i.e. the proximity of gas stations), so some may panic and say it needs gas.  Some may say there are 20, 30, or more miles left.

Electric vehicle owners simply laugh at this illusion.


[3] Is this a lesbian or a teenage boy?

(A Bieber photo would have been too easy.)lesbteen 1Visual illusions occur because the circuitry in our visual system evolves, by neural learning. The colors, usual shapes, labels, and juiciness in the pantsuits about the things we see, pop up instantaneously and influence the representation of the scene.  The illusions arise when the “judgments” implied in the unconscious analysis of the scene are in conflict with reasoned considerations about it.

You have the cognitive process hypothesis to thank for the re-questioning of your sexual preferences caused by this illusion.


[4] Is this insane or make complete sense?tp5

Just as the normal functioning brain perceives color and brightness constancies, it also has the ability to understand familiar objects as having a consistent shape, size, or orientation. For example a door is perceived as rectangle regardless of how the image may change on the retina as the door is opened and closed.  Likewise, the toilet paper roll would be perceived a making complete sense in the photo shown.

Insane people’s brains, however, do not always follow the rules of orientation constancy and may change the roll to a ‘hard-to-grab wall-hugging’ orientation.  This occurs when the perspective is changed or the roll is empty.


[5] Is this beer glass half empty or half fullHalf-full-pint-glass-beer

In this geometrical-optical illusion, the geometrical properties of what is seen differ from those of the corresponding objects in the visual field. It’s based on regarding the deviation from true size, shape or position as caused by the assignment of a percept to a meaningful but inappropriate object class.

The illusion is dependent on context-sensitivity, volume, mood, and how much you have consumed so far.  Other factors include surrounding beers for comparison, and loss or gain of opportunities.

Speaking of opportunities – this would be a good time to bring up the Plea the Fifth Party with GayCo at the Waterhouse (3407 N Paulina, Chicago) on March 28th.  Open bar from 8-11pm with $25 wristband!  A sure fire way to get your glass all the way full!




Were these optical illusions fun (as the title portrayed) or frustrating and annoying like most of them are?

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