Optical illusions: What do you see?

Church leaders need to analyze carefully both the good and bad trends in their congregations. They need to do more than superficially diagnose situations

Church health studies: These two optical illusions are visual reminders of the dangers of making snap decisions based on what we think we are seeing

Do you see a young woman or an old lady?

This drawing, "My wife and my mother-in-law," was published in 1915 by cartoonist W.E. Hill. It was likely adapted from a more detailed German postcard engraving printed in 1880.

drawing in which
people can see either a pretty young  girl or ugly old woman

Some have called this design or sketch "the old hag and the beautiful young lady." This optical illusion reminds us that many things we observe in a local church can be interpreted in more than one way. Don't think that because of your position, experience, and qualifications, your initial analysis of a congregation is the only way to evaluate it. An optical illusion like this is a way of reminding us to beware of "the fog" that Donald McGavran talked about, which often hinders church leaders from comprehending what is really going on in terms of the health of a congregation. So, train yourself to question how you interpret what you see in the life of a congregation and its ministry context. Be willing to modify your initial perception.

How many squares can you count?

many squares do you see?

Solving this brain teaser takes patience. It is a reminder that reflective analysis of a church takes time and it also points to our often less-than-perfect powers of observation. That's important to keep in mind when we are analyzing a congregation, as well as the fact that our knowledge is often incomplete ( For example, what constitutes a square?).

What can optical illusions teach us?

Optical illusions provide valuable insights into how we perceive and interpret information. Here are some lessons that optical illusions can teach us in this age of misinformation amd dosomformation:

  1. Perception is Subjective:< Optical illusions demonstrate that perception is not always an accurate representation of reality. Our brains often make assumptions and interpretations based on incomplete or ambiguous cues.
  2. Limitations of Perception: Optical illusions illustrate the limitations of human perception. They show how we can be deceived and thereby misinterpret things.
  3. Cultural and Individual Differences: Different cultures and individuals may perceive data and information illusions differently, highlighting the influence of cultural background, experiences, and cognitive biases on perception.
  4. Attention and Focus: Optical illusions demonstrate how attention and focus can influence perception. By focusing attention on specific aspects of data and information, other aspects can be improperly enhanced or diminished.
  5. Problem-Solving Skills: Analyzing optical illusions encourages critical thinking and problem-solving skills. By examining why illusions occur and how they deceive the brain, we can develop a deeper understanding of perception and cognition.
  6. Overall, optical illusions serve as fascinating devices for studying the complexities of human perception and cognition. They can offering valuable insights into how we see and interpret the world around us.

        -- Howard Culbertson,

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