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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Chairman of Illusions

By Phil Plait

Richard Wiseman is a psychologist and master of illusion. He delights in fooling your sense of perspective, memory, and overall perception. And he’s at it again, creating a lovely variation on a classic Beuchet chair illusion.

Some people say that Richard Wiseman and I look a lot alike. I’ll admit I occasionally refer to him as my evil twin, but then again sometimes I really don’t see it. After all, I’m apparently much, much taller than he is.

This sort of forced perspective is fun to read about. It’s a variation of the Ames room, a specially designed distorted room that is set up in a way to look normal but distorting objects in it. A lot of “Mystery Spot” type tourist traps use it.

I wrote about another variation of this sort of thing a while back, for a video that tricks you in more ways than one:

It’s so easy to fool our brains! Remember, what you see is not always what you get. And when you hear someone making an extraordinary claim, saying, “I know what I saw!” you can bet they really don’t.

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