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Complex Answers Are Usually Wrong

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Posted by Aurino Souza on December 2, 2003 21:48:55 UTC

Hi Kyle,

I've read those explanations you mentioned, plus a few more. In my opinion none of them ask the fundamental question: is the moon illusion really an illusion? They all assume it is an illusion and proceed to find an explanation for it. The fact that a good explanation has never been found may be a strong sign that this is not an illusion.

As an expert, what do you think of this:

When you look at the horizon, your eyes are exposed to more light than when looking at the sky. There are always nearby lights, and the ground is full of objects reflecting light (especially if the moon is full). The night sky, on the other hand, is significantly darker. Would it be fair to say that the pupils are wider when we look at the sky, as compared to their size when we look at the horizon? And isn't the angular size of the visual field proportional to the opening of the pupils?

If those are correct, then the simplest explanation for the "moon illusion" is that the moon's image gets larger in the horizon simply because our visual field gets smaller. Normally the opening of the pupils does not affect our perception of ordinary objects, and that is the real illusion! Since we don't know the real size of the moon, our brains can't make it up and just report what is directly perceived.

Do you think there's any possibility of that being the case?

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