Visual Objectivity (06-15-20)

Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates that we do not see the world completely objectively.  A group lead by Firestone and Morales reports “that it's almost impossible for people to separate an object's true identity from their own perspective on it. In this case, people looked at round objects that were tilted away from them; even when people were certain that the objects were round, they couldn't help but ‘see’ them in a distorted way, as ovals or ellipses. . . . subjects were shown pairs of three-dimensional coins. One was always a true oval, the other was a circle. Subjects had to pick the true oval. Seems easy, yet when presented with tilted circular coins, subjects were flummoxed and their response time slowed significantly. This persisted whether the coins were still or moving; with different shapes; and whether the coins were shown on a computer screen or displayed right in front of subjects. . . . ‘Even when we try to perceive the world the way it really is, we can't completely discard our perspective’" (quote attributed to Morales).

“Testing the Objectivity of Vision.”  2020.  Press release (Jill Rosen), Johns Hopkins University,