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Inner circle
6439 Posts

Profile of NJJ
I'm currently putting together an educational show about how we can be tricked into seeing and believing things which are not real.

The show is based on my award winning Bad Science show ( and is called "Optical Delusions."

The show will feature optical illusion, linguistic tricks and advertising deceptions into a fun show for high school shows. The show relies heaving on a projector and laptop!

1) THE GROWING HEAD: An example of how our brains create images rather then viewing them.

2) BRAIN TONIC: A traditional snake oil pitch based on advertising swindles.

3) HYRDOGEN OXIDE: The strange ability of 'hyrdogen dioxide' to flip red words but not blue.

4) THE STROOP EFFECT: Having a whole room trying this old chestnut at once is great fun. (btw - you can make this into a great effect using a colouring book. PM for more details).

I'd love to hear about your favourite optical illusions and tricks of the brain. Particularly ones that would play well for high school students!
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Inner circle
1143 Posts

Profile of TomasB
Kudos for putting together such an educational show. Should be obligatory in every school.

I see a slight typo in "hydrogen". Before demonstrating this you can show how a prism bends different colors differently. You won't believe how many extremely well educated people fall for that as an explanation for what they see.

Change blindness is something that's perfect to demonstrate with a projector and laptop.

Another thing easily demonstrated is the following twist on how we perceieve things:

1. Before the projector is turned on ask what color the screen is. Hopefully they'll answer "white".

2. Turn it on and have a colored square against a white background and ask what color the square is.

3. Then show a black square against the white background. They'll say that it's black.

4. "Let's turn off the background." Display a totally black image, i.e. they are just looking at the plain screen now. They'll realize that the square they just called "black" is still the same color but now it's the same color as the screen, which they earlier said was white.

When I saw this demonstrated the demonstrator didn't use any colored square but went directly for the black square. We all fell for it regardless. I just thought that by showing a colored square (or two) before showing the black square they'd be led down the garden path even easier.

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Inner circle
6439 Posts

Profile of NJJ
That's the Australian spelling of hyrdogen. Smile

Thanks Tomas!
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Regular user
Sydney, Australia
166 Posts

Profile of MagicMatthews
This educational show is a good idea. People are too easily fooled - Great for magicians, not so great for victims of scams.

We had a guy in our neighbourhood pretending he was from the water authority. He tested the water and said that there was too much chlorine, but luckily, he was offering the only filter that could remove it effectively. People will believe anything... BTW: No. I've never seen hydrogen spelled like that here in Australia, but you nearly had us going on that one!
Don't get even... Get odd!
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