The Moon Illusion

The Moon Illusion

The Moon Illusion

The Moon Illusion


This unique volume attempts to answer one of mankind's oldest puzzles -- why the moon appears to be larger and closer on the horizon than when it is high in the sky. Over the centuries, many viable solutions have been proposed for this psychological phenomenon. The Moon Illusion presents papers by major theorists striving to explain the illusion and providing commentaries on the works of others.

Research on the moon illusion has been scattered throughout journals in many disciplines including philosophy, physiology, physics, and psychology. As the first publication to present a comprehensive treatment of the problem, this book is of vital interest to professionals whose major concern is visual perception, experimental psychology, or the neurosciences. Of additional interest to those whose focus is physics or astronomy.


I have been interested in the problem of size constancy since my first course in Perception with William H. Ittelson at Brooklyn College. He presented the Transactionalist view convincingly but I was frequently reminded of the alternative positions I had learned in a History and Systems course taught by Carl Zuckerman. The interplay of ideas presented by these two teachers and their critical evaluation of the alternative positions guaranteed that I would approach the study of perception in general, and constancy in particular, with a great deal of skepticism. I was fortunate because, in retrospect, this interplay of views provided a shield from dogmatism.

I was also fortunate to be available one summer when Ittelson brought the Ames demonstrations from Princeton to Brooklyn College. I was hired to reconstruct and/or construct from scratch most of these remarkable contraptions in a large room above the library. I learned the lessons of the demonstrations from the inside out, so to speak, and they have had a strong impact on my thinking. I often wonder how one could hope to study visual space perception without having had a tour through these demonstrations.

During this period I also worked closely with Elizabeth Fehrer and David H. Raab on a number of related problems in vision: the Broca-Sulzer effect, metacontrast masking, and intersensory facilitation. This work gave me a deep respect for data and an understanding of experimental method in vision and perception research. I remember these teachers with fondness and gratitude.

After this exposure to research and theory in perception, it seemed clear to me that the fundamental theoretical issue was one of origins. Did visual space perception develop in the same way that other learned responses develop (the popular view), or was there a predetermined pattern of brain structure that . . .

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