Friday, November 02, 2007

More on the Spinning Dancer

Remember the Spinning Dancer graphic that I posted about a couple of weeks ago?

Well, it turns out that while it's an interesting illusion (see the comments on that post), it's scientific validity is in some question.

Some minds a great deal more learned than mine spent time on the illusion and came up with interesting results. It seems the linkages between which way the dancer appears to be spinning and which side of your brain is dominant are not so clear cut. In fact, they may be wrong.

Over at the Freakonomics blog, Steven Levitt used his readers to conduct some statistical analysis. His results would seem to indicate that the confusion might stem from the initial article mixing up the hemispheres -- by stating right, when they meant left, or something like that.

As a follow-up, Levitt points to a post at by Jeremy Hu, which goes into a lot more depth on the whole Spinning Dancer issue, and casts further doubt on the validity of the whole thing.

I'm not sure whether any of this is of value to us, but I am intrigued by what some very smart people can come up with when they look at an animated graphic on a website. Most of us look at it and say "cool" while they come up with a whole theory about what it might mean - or not mean. I guess that's why I'm not an academic.

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