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Photo by Spiros Kakos from Pexels

In science, the “Mona Lisa Effect” refers to the impression that the eyes of the person portrayed in an image seem to follow the viewer as they move in front of the picture. Two researchers from the Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC) at Bielefeld University demonstrate that this effect does not occur with Leonardo da Vinci’s world-famous painting “Mona Lisa” – debunking a scientific legend.

People can feel like they’re being looked at from both photographs and paintings — if the person portrayed looks straight ahead out of the image, that is, at a gaze angle of 0 degrees,” explains Horstmann. “With a slightly sideward glance, you may still feel as if you were being looked at.” Researchers explain. “Curiously enough, we don’t have to stand right in front of the image in order to have the impression of being looked at.”

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In order to test this observation, Horstmann and Loth had 24 study participants look at the Mona Lisa on a computer screen and assess the direction of her gaze. The participants sat in front of the monitor. A simple folding ruler was positioned between them and the screen at several distances. The participants indicated where Mona Lisa’s gaze met the ruler. In order to test whether individual features of Mona Lisa’s face influenced the viewers’ perception of her gaze, the researchers used 15 different sections from the portrait. Each image was shown three times in random order while also changing the distance of the ruler from the monitor. Almost every single measurement indicated that the Mona gaze is not straight on but to the viewer’s right-hand side. “Thus, it is clear that the term “Mona Lisa Effect” is nothing but a misnomer. It illustrates the strong desire to be looked at and to be someone else’s centre of attention – to be relevant to someone, even if you don’t know the person at all.” (1)

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What a totally misguided result.

Concluding that something is not there even though… it is!

Concluding that they are not seen even though they feel it!

Trying to determine whether you are being looked at.

Not based on what you sense.

But on what others say about what you should sense.

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That is the problem of science: Trying to make sense of the cosmos without being able to sense the cosmos. Trying to find out about which result best fits the conclusions you want to make, while being based on axioms which dictate those results. Trying to determine what the cosmos looks like without being ready to just accept it as it is…

Look at the most detailed research.

And ask the researchers…

Do you ever stand in the cold?

Do you ever sing in the rain?

And in their silence or their laughter, you will listen…

Of a kid crying…