Friday, July 1, 2011

Reverse Optical Illusion

An optical illusion is interesting.  Your brain for some reason wants to generalize data to save energy and processing time.  So, you can be tricked into seeing something that is not really there because of shortcuts.

An optical illusion sometimes is ruined because you know what is going on with the illusion.  If you have looked at the picture of the old lady and the young lady before, you can easily see both the second time.

There is something that exists that one could call a "reverse optical illusion," perhaps.  I recognized this recently during a jury trial.  The litigants in a jury trial know the facts; the jury does not.  As a result, an "optical illusion" of sorts can develop for the jury.  That part is perhaps normal.  The example was complicated, but the essence was that the jury could conclude that three people were shysters, even though they were not, because the evidence available to the jury was insufficient to see reality and because the ambiguous state of the partial information could result in an incorrect view.

The "reverse optical illusion" was the difficulty in recognizing the existence of this illusion if looking at the evidence from a standpoint of more complete information.

Consider, for example, a color blindness test.  Circles form a "7" in a field of circles, with perhaps red circles making the seven and random green circles surrounding the red "7" of circles.  Without color blindness, you see a seven easily.  With color blindness, you cannot distinguish the circles' colors and hence miss ther "7."

Well, if you never heard of color blindness, could you see that this test was ambiguous?  Of course not.  It would not even occur to you that someone could be confused by this.  Hence, in a sense, your possession of extra information obscures your ability to spot that others, without this extra information, might run into a problem spotting what you spot.

In the jury trial, the "shysters" were known to be people having no axe to grand but simply used by the person thought to be the true shyster.  However, we all knew this, except for the jury.  Without being told this, the jury could have thought that the three innocent bystanders were actually running the game and tricking the one alleged shyster.  Spotting that possible misconstruction, enabled by a lack of information, was not obvious because it is difficult to empathize with someone lacking facts if you do not think about all possible fact patterns lacking sopme information that you have and the implications of this missing information on possible conclusions.

Often times, life and bridge have parallels.  This of course made me think, next, about bridge "reverse optical illusions."  I mean, if you have Qxx in hand opposite Axx on Dummy, do you easily spot the fact that LHO might think that you have QJ9 in hand instead and might duck the Queen?  You might after reading about it or seeing it come up of having a fortunate eureka moment.  But, this is not easy, because you see what you know and not what the opponents might not know.

I thought about how to develop this ability, or how to add this into Declaring as a "step."  One classic approach is "ARCH," for Analyze the lead, Review the bidding, Count your losers and tricks, and How are you going to play this.  Maybe a missing step is to sort of hide your hand from yourself and study Dummy from the opponents' perspective.  Give them cards you know them to have or to possibly have, and place your cards plus their missing cards into their unknown stack.  Then, imagine possible defenses that you would consider from their illusion.

The same, of course, if possible on defense, but even trickier.  It even arises in bidding (classic being the short-cards raise of partner to make each opponent think that their 3-card holding must be opposite a stiff).

But, the key might be simply in understanding the concept of the reverse optical illusion.

1 comment:

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