This Optical Illusion is Making People Question Their Reality

Most people who view this optical illusion claim it causes them to question their entire reality.


A new optical illusion is causing those who view it to literally question their own reality.

The optical illusion that’s causing all the fuss is a blurry swirl of colors that vanish if you look at them for enough time.

The impression turned up on the r/woahdude Reddit.

However, versions of it have existed since at least 1804.


A theorist named Ignaz Paul Vital Troxler described how an image could vanish if you are looking at it hard enough.

For most people, the image disappears entirely, untill you realize what happened.

Then it snaps back into focus.

The reason the colors disappear is that the brain stops taking note of visual scenes that don’t alter.

It isn’t usually an issue, Derek Arnold, a psychology teacher at the University of Queensland, says.

Movement in the environment and of our eyes suffices to keep a scene brilliant.

However in this case, with a blurry image and a fixed look, the colors vanish.


When our senses get used to a consistent sensation, it’s called neural adaptation, describes Susana Martinez-Conde, a professor at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and author of the book Champions of Illusion.

She compares the vanishing colors to wearing socks: you can feel your socks on your skin when you first put them on, but as the day goes on, you stop observing them– just like the colors in this image.

This picture will fade away if you stare at it (may take a minute) from woahdude

Artificial Optical Illusion

One reason many people find this optical illusion so much more uneasy is that it’s a little bit more artificial.

Our eyes remain in constant movement.

“Even when our eyes are perfectly still, we’re still making eye movements,” Martinez-Conde says.

So, if I take a look at the optical illusion the way I ‘d typically study an image on my screen, the colors remain put.

But if I look at it and purposefully attempt not to move my eyes, the colors fade.

Apparently, the minute that takes place, the illusion breaks and I can see all the colors once again.

I asked Martinez-Conde whether my enjoyment that the illusion had worked somehow made the image reappear.

“It’s not of excitement, per se,” she says. Instead, I ‘d probably moved my eyes when I ‘d saw the image had started disappearing.

“Your natural reaction is to go check that it’s still there,” she says.


This optical illusion is particularly forgiving to the subconscious.

The image flicks and flutters our eyeballs because it’s currently so blurry, says Stuart Anstis, a psychology teacher at the University of California, San Diego.

Still, if the impression does not work for you, Martinez-Conde suggests closing one eye so that you need to focus on keeping one eye still.

The other potential repair, also suggested by among the Reddit posters, is to stick a dot or your cursor in the middle of the screen to provide your gaze an anchor.

“Our eyes tend to around more when there is to look at,” Martinez-Conde says.

“So if you have a dot it’s to hold on to that.”

If it still does not work, alter the contrast on your display and give yourself a great 45 seconds to let the impression disappear.

There’s no shame in letting the illusion trick your mind, Martinez-Conde says.

“Illusions are part and parcel of who we are. They’re part of our neural machinery.”

And in the end, she states, they’re a great suggestion to believe seriously about exactly what’s real.

“It’s not a bad thing to want to question your reality a little bit.”

Optical Illusion

The web is filled with visual fallacies, both intentional and accidental.

The most famous optical illusion is The Dress, an image that made a gown seem potentially black and blue or potentially white and gold, depending on who saw it and under exactly what conditions.

It sparked a firestorm of controversy around the web.

Here are 12 of the most puzzling optical illusion images that have gone viral in the previous few years, along with some explanations of how they work.

Kendall Jenner seems to be missing a leg.

Optical Illusion is Making People Question Their Reality
Where’s her leg? (InStyle magazine/Instagram)

Earlier this year, InStyle magazine posted an Instagram picture of Kendall Jenner, Kylie Jenner, and Hailey Baldwin hanging out together after the Golden Globes.

They are all really leggy.

So it’s odd that one went missing out on.

Kendall’s left leg is nowhere to be seen.

Where ‘d it go?

It’s under her dress.

Optical Illusion is Making People Question Their Reality
Found it! (InStyle magazine/Instagram)

Eventually, the web figured out this puzzling optical illusion.

It was under her dress the whole time!

If you look carefully, you can see the horizontal top of her leg.

She’s pointing her knee to her right and twisting her body forward to be more prominent in the image.

This illusion of six girls with five pairs of legs flummoxed the internet.

Optical Illusion is Making People Question Their Reality
What’s going on? (jr0d7771/Reddit)

Legless ladies are a staple of the viral optical illusion genre.

This image that walked around Reddit in late 2016 revealed six women sitting on a sofa.

But– yet once again– a leg was missing.

The person sitting in the middle of the couch seems to have no legs at all.

What’s really going on is a little more tricky.

Optical Illusion is Making People Question Their Reality
This makes more sense. (Jacob Shamsian/INSIDER, jr0d7771/Reddit)

If you look more detailed, you’ll see what’s truly going on.

The woman in the middle of the couch does, in truth, have legs.

She’s leaning her upper body to her left and her head to the right.

So it’s tough to tell that those legs on the viewer’s left are hers.

The legs of the woman all the method on the left are also pretty clear.

She’s wearing black jeans.

So that leaves the person second from the farthest left.

If you look carefully, you can see that she’s also wearing black jeans.

Among her legs is just completely behind the other woman’s legs.

You can see a sliver of the other one in the image.

It assists if you adjust the image’s lighting.

There’s something off about this viral photo. Can you spot it?

Optical Illusion is Making People Question Their Reality
Look closely… (what047/Imgur)

This particular image went viral on Imgur, uploaded by a user passing the name of what047.

It has the caption “It took me permanently to discover exactly what was incorrect here …”.

Do you see it?

All the faces in the background are the same.

Optical Illusion is Making People Question Their Reality
Look behind them. (what047/Imgur)

Not so much of an optical illusion, but more of a distraction.

You may have been looking too carefully at the women in the foreground.

Nothing is off about them.

But in the background, everyone has the exact same head.

Someone edited the image and swapped everyone’s head with one belonging to a curly-haired person looking down.

The image’s trick is a great reminder that the details you’re searching for aren’t always in the foreground.

Sometimes they’re in unanticipated places.

Do these legs look oily to you?

Optical Illusion is Making People Question Their Reality
They look shiny! (leonardhoespams/Instagram)

This image went viral in October of 2016 after Hunter Culverhouse, an art student, posted it on Instagram.

It appears like Culverhouse’s legs are covered in oil.

It’s actually just streaks of white paint.

Optical Illusion is Making People Question Their Reality

Never mind.

With the image cropped, it’s a little easier to tell what’s really happening: streaks of white paint make it look like a glare of light is coming off Culverhouse’s legs.

They’re really dry.

Culverhouse told INSIDER that the impact was completely unintentional.

They took the picture after finishing up some research for an art class.

“[I] had some white paint left on my brush and put random lines on my legs,” Culverhouse wrote in an email.

“Turned out to be a totally confusing photo for everybody on the web.”.

Is this dress blue and black or white and gold?

Optical Illusion is Making People Question Their Reality
You should know this one by now.

The gown!

How can anybody forget the dress?

Black and blue?

White and gold?

Why does it look different to everyone?

The original image was published on Tumblr by a woman called Caitlin McNeill, a singer-songwriter from Scotland after she sent out the picture to her buddies, who disagreed on the color…

It’s black and blue. Here’s the science behind why it looks different for different people.

Optical Illusion is Making People Question Their Reality
Yup. (Screenshot / Roman Originals)

It’s black and blue.

The science of why people saw the dress differently is a little complicated, and scientists offer various descriptions for a few of the details.

The peer-reviewed Journal of Vision even released several articles about it.

Stated plainly, the method your brain figures out color relies on two things: the color of the object you’re seeing and the color of the light source.

The image was overexposed, implying the light in the image overwhelmed the color of the topic.

Parts of the dress were also in the shadows.

This suggests that the dress had a partial light makeup of bluish shadow, reflecting off the dress itself, and yellow light, from the shop’s lousy lighting.

Parts of the image likewise appear to suggest that the dress is backlit.

Depending on whether your brain saw the gown more in shadow or more in direct light, you ‘d see the colors differently.

These strawberries aren’t red.

Optical Illusion is Making People Question Their Reality
There’s no red in this image. (Akiyoshi Kitaoka/Twitter)

The optical illusion was made and published on Twitter by Akiyoshi Kitaoka, a professor of psychology at Ritsumeikan University who studies visual understanding.

These pixels have been entirely drained of any red.

So why do so lots of people still see red strawberries?

It’s because of a phenomenon called color constancy.

Optical Illusion is Making People Question Their Reality

The strawberries seem red anyway. (Carson Mell/Twitter).

The image above, posted by “Silicon Valley” author Carson Mell, separates particular pixels to reveal that they are, in reality, grey and green.

They’re not red.

Your brain might think they’re red since of a phenomenon that’s called color constancy.

It’s similar to the science behind The Dress: Your brain takes a look at the color of the things and the color of the light to figure out the color provided to you.

However, the brain also knows that the color of the item is more beneficial than the color of the light for actually figuring out the color of the things.

So it’s trained to disregard information from the color of the light.

In this controlled images, the color of the light has actually been controlled so there’s no red whatsoever in the image.

However your mind acknowledges the objects as strawberries, and it knows that strawberries (a minimum of as many people know them) are red, so it understands the strawberries to be red, even if the image has no red in it.

“You brain says, ‘the source of light that I’m viewing these strawberries under has some blue part to it, so I’m going to subtract that automatically from every pixel,'” Bevil Conway, a neuroscientist at the National Eye Institute, informed Motherboard.

“When you take grey pixels and subtract out this blue bias, you wind up with red.”.

These shapes are mirror images of each other.

Optical Illusion is Making People Question Their Reality
Witchcraft. (The Illusion contest/YouTube).

This impression is called the “Ambiguous Cylinder Illusion.”.

Established by Meiji University professor Kokichi Sugihara, it won the “Best Illusion of the Year” contest in 2016 from the Neural Correlate Society.

If you see the complete video, you can see Sugihara placing the shapes and rotating them– just for completely various shapes to appear in the mirror.

It’s really cool.

“Ambiguous cylinders” are somewhere between a circle and a square.

Optical Illusion is Making People Question Their Reality

There’s a simple and sophisticated explanation. (The Illusion contest/YouTube).

If you stop briefly the video at around the 15-second mark, mid-rotation, you’ll see the item’s “real” shape.

Uncertain cylinders, Sugihara composes in a paper pointed out by Motherboard, are somewhere between a square and a circle.

In this case, the shape likewise has wavy leading edges.

Depending on your point of view, your brain fixes the shape of the image to look like a circle or a square.

You can create the same illusion with more fancy shapes that are comprised of circles and squares, which is what Sugihara finished with the other objects.

There are 12 dots in this image. Can you see them all at once?

Optical Illusion is Making People Question Their Reality
My head hurts. (Perception)

This particular optical illusion comes from an academic study paper published in 2000 in the journal Perception by Jacques Ninio and Kent A. Stevens.

If you have access, you can read the paper through here.

It went viral online when Akiyoshi Kitaoka published it on Facebook and video game designer Will Kerslake reposted it on Twitter.

There are 12 black circles in the image.

However, the majority of people cannot see them at one time.

Your peripheral vision sucks.

Optical Illusion is Making People Question Their Reality
There they are! (Perception)

You need to have the ability to see any dot you take a look at directly.

The ones in your peripheral vision pop in and out.

That’s since humans don’t have very good peripheral vision, as vision scientist Derek Arnold described to The Verge.

For something like this– black dots versus grey lines– your brain simply makes the best guess it can to fill out the info.

In this case, it simply guesses the dots aren’t there.

The white in between the grey lines makes your brain think the dots are lighter than they really are.

Hence, it simply sees more grey.

“That can neutralize the blurry black dot that is actually, physically there,” Arnold informed The Verge.

What does this look like to you?

Optical Illusion is Making People Question Their Reality
A brick wall? (Arron Bevin/Facebook)

Just a brick wall, right?


There’s a cigar in there.

Optical Illusion is Making People Question Their Reality
Close, but also a cigar. (Arron Bevin/Facebook)

The image went viral when U.K. resident Arron Bevin published it to Facebook.

He stated it took him “a good 5 minutes” to figure it out.

There’s a stogie wedged in between the bricks, blending into the shadows.

The ashy end of the cigar appears like a grey stone.

Is she underwater or not?

Optical Illusion is Making People Question Their Reality
Hard to tell… (Maskari/Imgur)

In 2015, a dispute raged on Reddit over whether the lady in this image was undersea or not.

It was initially posted on Imgur by the user Maskari.

She looks like she’s undersea already since it seems that she’s under filtered light and because air bubbles appear to be floating up.

However, she likewise appears like she’s merely leaping into the water.

She’s definitely not underwater.

Optical Illusion is Making People Question Their Reality
There are a few clues. (maskari/Imgur)

For one, you can’t be both undersea and sprinkling into the water at the same time.

It makes no sense.

Furthermore, her hair is dry, and her ponytail isn’t really floating around, which it would if she were undersea.

The “air bubbles” are simply water drops.

Either too much exposure or a digitally added filter makes the lighting appearance like she’s underwater.

But she’s not, honestly.

These two train track segments are the same size.

Optical Illusion is Making People Question Their Reality
But they don’t look like it. (INSIDER)

One example of the illusion went viral when BBC speaker Marc Blank-Settle published a video of it on Twitter, utilizing his son’s toy train set.

Both curves in the track are the same size.

However the one on the left appears bigger than the one on the right when they’re beside each other.

Yes, really. The illusion is called the Jastrow illusion.

Optical Illusion is Making People Question Their Reality
Here’s how they look stacked on top of one another. (INSIDER)

There are a number of different theories for how the Jastrow effect works.

However basically, your brain compares the two sides of the respective track pieces that are beside each other.

So instead of comparing the ideal side of one piece to the best side of the other, it compares the ideal side of the left track to the left side of the ideal track, because those two sides are beside each other.

These are supposed to be sand dunes.

Optical Illusion is Making People Question Their Reality
They don’t look like hills. (Luca Parmitano/Twitter)

While flying a few hundred miles over a desert in 2013, European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano took a photo of some dunes.

“Like an Escher painting, dunes seem to replicate the same shape indefinitely,” he explained.

A lot of people didn’t see it.

The photo appears like a bunch of pits, not hills.

Exactly what’s going on?

Flip it over, and you’ll see what they really are.

Optical Illusion is Making People Question Their Reality
There they are. (Luca Parmitano/Twitter)

As Phil Plait mentioned on the blog site Bad Astronomy, the image makes more sense when you take a look at it upside-down.

The optical illusion is quite easy.

Your brain thought the sun remained in the 1:00 position, implying they were casting shadows from the upper-right.

In fact, it was the sun that was casting shadows from the upper-left.

Turning the image upside-down puts the image into a format we’re more accustomed to.



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