An Austrian spin on baseball?

May 26, 2009

by Sandy Ikeda

Phil Hughes, the Yankees’ up-and-coming ace, may be throwing batters curves but not the kind they think.

Here we present an illusion that suggests that the perception of a “break” in the curveball’s path may be related to physiological differences between foveal and peripheral vision. We contend that the visual periphery frequently reports a perceptual combination of features (a process we refer to as “feature blur”) because it lacks the neural machinery necessary to maintain separate representations of multiple features.

Note:  The spin the pitcher puts on the baseball still deflects it — it’s the sharp change of direction that’s the illusion.  See the award-winning demonstration at Illusion Sciences.

Strategy and statistics play more important roles in the game of baseball than in most other sports, and perhaps that’s why it’s popular among economists.  However, with such a central element of the game now revealed to be purely subjective, depending entirely on the batter’s perception of his particular circumstances of time and place, one could argue that it’s really the quintessential “Austrian” sport.

5 Responses to “An Austrian spin on baseball?”

  1. koppl Says:

    Does Larry White still publish the Journal of Praxeology and Baseball?

  2. Current Says:

    What about Cricket?

    What Austrian could not love a game that takes a month to play a Test Series? You can reread all of Human Action in the intervals.

  3. Lawrence H. White Says:

    The Journal of Praxeology and Baseball only published two “issues” way back when. I’m more into cricket now. Besides, how can an Austrian ordinalist love baseball where the local team is the St. Louis Cardinals?

  4. Mario Rizzo Says:

    I don’t know anything about baseball. But I too am opposed to cardinality, whether Catholic or mathematical.

  5. Sandy Ikeda Says:

    Well, then, I don’t think either Larry or Mario would much care for our local minor-league team, the Flatbush Tight Priors.


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