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.