The 5 red balls optical illusion

The 5 red balls optical illusion
Notice how many red balls are in this photo.
(You can click on this photo to enlarge it.)

Did you say five red balls? Are you sure?

Look again. Can you see another? Look closer. Are you positive there are only six balls?

When you scroll down, you’ll discover where you went wrong. However, the longer you look at the photo and try to figure it out, the more surprised you’ll be when the secret to this illusion is revealed.

The secret

Did you notice that each hand has an extra finger?

This is a real photo of the hands of Cuban man Yoandri Hernandez Garrido, who has polydactyly, which means he has extra digits on his hands (he also has an extra toe on each foot.) His fingers are so well-formed it’s hard to notice that he has extras.

This optical illusion messes with our perceptions of normal. We doesn’t spend much time focusing on his hands, because our brain takes the shortcut of seeing his hands as merely hands, not as six-fingered hands.

Telling you to look at the balls further takes attention away from the hands. (There are only five balls, by the way.)

This is called "inattentional blindness", where we can’t see what’s right in front of us because we’re not paying attention to it.

It’s also about not always knowing what’s true about the world:

"One day when I was in primary school, a teacher asked me how much was five plus five?" Hernandez recalled. "I was very young, kind of shy, and I didn’t say anything. She told me to count how many fingers I had, so I answered, "12!"

"The teacher was a little upset, but it was the truth," he said.

– Cuban man ’24’ proud of his 4 extra fingers, toes, Associated Press, Yahoo News>>
– This man’s hands are no optical illusion, io9>>
– Inattentional blindness, Wikipedia>>

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9 thoughts on “The 5 red balls optical illusion

  1. Completely stupid. Its like asking someone to count the number of basketball players on the court and then telling them the optical illusion is that there are two basketballs on the court and not one. You asked us to count the number of red balls. Why would we even care about looking at the guys fingers? It wasn’t the question asked.

    An optical illusion would be to ask how many red balls their are and there would be 6 when at first glance there are 5.

  2. if you include the semi transparant ball between the two six fingered hands there are 6 balls 😉 it’s fague but it’s there

  3. Yes, I agree. This is not a fair illusion or test since most of us, if not all, could count the right number of red balls as asked by the question. If the illusion had said "What’s unique about this pic?" and if I had missed to notice the 12 fingers then the illusion explanation would have made sense.

  4. What are you guys, the optical illusion police? It’s an illusion because the description makes no sense. It says:

    "Did you say FIVE red balls? Are you sure?

    Look again. Can you see another? Look closer. Are you positive there are only SIX balls?

    When you scroll down, you’ll discover where you went wrong."

    The description misleads, hell, it LIES to you, doesn’t it? They aren’t balls, they’re circles. And first it says there are five balls, then it says there are six balls. Finally, it says: "When you scroll down, you’ll discover where you went wrong." Well, you obviously "went wrong" because you never noticed there were six fingers! That’s the point. The illusion is that if you’re distracted by something like looking for red balls, you won’t even notice something obvious, like the fact that the person in the photo has six fingers!

    It’s an optical illusion because you use your eyes to see it. And if you look it up on Wikipedia, you’ll see it’s also called a cognitive illusion, the result of "unconscious inferences," which in this case means you inferred five fingers when there were actually six.


  5. I was a little upset by this because I only count 5 balls, and initially I noticed that the man had six fingers on each of his hands before they even tried to give me an answer…I’m still looking for the sixth ball…

  6. turns out by focusing on the red balls you don’t even notice the poor bloke has only got one eye!!
    if he is self conscious about this maybe he has no clue that he has 6 digits on each hand.
    now that IS inattentional blindness and you don’t want to be the one getting him gloves for xmas..spoiler alert.
    ex viz reader….san ramon.

  7. Lame and NOT a optical illusion. Did you came up with this while squeezing one out on the toilet or something ?

  8. To above Anonymous comment on December 3, 2012 at 4:47 AM.

    Go to bed earlier. You cranky.

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