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That Question Might Sound Naive

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Posted by Aurino Souza on December 2, 2003 15:07:31 UTC

I'm afraid my last post will be misunderstood, so let me elaborate:

It is, of course, true that the size of the moon is constant, but I think people may have been approaching this "moon illusion" thing from the wrong perspective. The point is that people perceive the moon's image to be bigger, and anyone with a basic knowledge of optics knows that the size of an image has nothing to do with the size of the object.

Now it seems to be generally accepted that the perceived bigger image of the moon near the horizon is an illusion, that the size of the moon's image is the same regardless of where it's located in the sky. But such a claim would only be valid if it were possible to prove that the observer's field of vision remains the same. Or, in other words, that humans don't have a "zooming" feature built in their brains, like digital camcorders have.

Given my limited knowledge of the subject, I find the "zooming" hypothesis perfectly plausible, and it has the advantage of explaining why some 10-15% of the population do not experience the moon illusion, which none of the currently accepted explanations can account for.

So, back to my original question, has any experiment been done to determine that people are not really zooming in an object when they claim to see it bigger than usual? That's quite a tricky experiment to perform, but I believe it's possible.

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