"i saw it with my own eyes!"

Take a close look at the color pattern below:

What you most probably see are spirals of three colors: green, blue and an orangish magenta. Looking closer, you'll notice that there are narrow bands of orange running though the pattern (that's why the magenta spirals look orangish). So, four colors total?


There are only three colors in the pattern.

"How can that be?" you might reasonably ask.

And the answer is that what appear to be green and blue spirals are actually the same color.

"No fucking way!" you might reasonably reply.

Well, my friend, fucking way.

If you want to confirm this for yourself, open the image in Photoshop or other image editor. You'll see that both the apparent green and blue colors are exactly the same (RGB values of 0, 255, 150). A detailed explanation of how this illusion works can be found on Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy Blog. The source of the image itself is Akiyoshi Kitaoka's endlessly amazing optical illusion web site. Another astonishing Kitaoka illusion, too big to fit here, can be seen at this link.

Pretty cool, huh? But, in addition to just sharing something seriously cool, I want to make the same point Phil does. You can't necessarily believe your eyes. And by extension, you can't necessarily trust your other senses either. Our brains can be fooled. Easily. So when someone tells you about how they heard their guardian angel talking to them, saw Bigfoot, Jesus, or a big-eyed grey alien, spoke to a dead relative though a medium, or just know vaccines cause autism because their "mommy sense" tells them so, don't be reluctant to call bullshit. Personal anecdotes are not proof. That's what the scientific method is for. It's why Richard Feynman so famously stated that "Science is what we have learned about how to keep from fooling ourselves."

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