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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved reading this book
This book is a lot of fun to read, not only because it's really interesting but because you learn through experience while you read. The book is about how our minds interpret the visual information that our eyes see, and it includes many visual examples -- optical illusions, basically, that make you pay attention to how your mind is working while you take in the...
Published on April 7, 2002 by Joshua M. Tanzer

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Book. Could Have Been More Engaging
I like this book, and in one sense there is no need to give it a three star rating. The book has been very well laid out, and systematically guides through the reader through the various aspects of seeing, and how we form images in our brain and the "confusion" between the three and two dimensional world, in how we draw out three dimensional images on the two...
Published 8 months ago by Rajiv Chopra


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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved reading this book, April 7, 2002
By 
Joshua M. Tanzer (Hoboken, NJ United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This book is a lot of fun to read, not only because it's really interesting but because you learn through experience while you read. The book is about how our minds interpret the visual information that our eyes see, and it includes many visual examples -- optical illusions, basically, that make you pay attention to how your mind is working while you take in the experience.
I read the book because of an interest in graphic design, and it brings design concepts together with psychology and biology in a really involving way. It was just a pleasure to read from the beginning to almost the end.
Another reviewer points out that the last chapter is a bit of a letdown, and that's true. It's kind of an "everything's relative and you construct your own reality" message that's obviously very important to the author for academic reasons but much less so to the audience. Still, it takes nothing away from the rest of this fascinating book.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How our senses create reality, November 5, 2006
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I got turned onto this book in graduate school, but never got around to reading it until now. But having read it, I'd have to say it's a fascinating book about vision and the cognitive functions of the brain that help people construct what they see. The author also briefly discusses the sense of touch and how it constructs reality, but the main focus is on vision.

What I really liked was the explanation behind optical illusions. I didn't agree with everything the author wrote, because I found with some of the exercises that my experiences differed from his. Yet what this book does show is that what we see isn't always he objective reality we'd like it to be...in fact rarely, at least through our senses, is reality objective.

If there's one complaint I had, it was that he purposely chose to leave out the citations. Granted he drew on a lot of work, but it'd be nice to trace his sources and the context of those sources. That said I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in how our senses help us construct reality.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Visual process as active construction, April 26, 2000
This review is from: Visual Intelligence: How We Create What We See (Hardcover)
We construct our visual and perceptual experience of objects by touch, taste, smell, sound and sight -- or as cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman writes in VISUAL INTELLIGENCE, "... to experience is to construct, in each modality and without exception". Hoffman sets forth an extremely detailed and convincing explanation to support this assertion, and in the process takes us on a journey through the rules of visual intelligence. Many of us know that we construct each curve or surface we see, since the rods and cones inside our eyes use discrete pixel-like "dots" that can only approximate the images we perceive... but I didn't realize until I read this book how powerfully our visual interpretations affect our emotional responses.
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28 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Overall, a great introduction to human vision, May 25, 1999
This review is from: Visual Intelligence: How We Create What We See (Hardcover)
To a degree, this book does for vision what Stephen Pinker's marvelous "The Language Instinct" did for language--explain the complexity of each of these problems, and the ways in which our minds address them. Hoffman is not as good a writer as Pinker, but most scientists are not, and this can be forgiven.
The last chapter is rather annoyingly post-Modernist though, in its insistence the arbitrariness of the relationship between the "real world" and "what we see". This also reflects an underlying weakness of the book: its failure to adopt an evolutionary perspective that would help to explain not only HOW vision works, but also WHY it works that way. Nonetheless, within the scope of what it sets out to do (explain the basic rules by which our minds process the flat images on our retinas to produce vision, and also to illustrate how much in this field remains unknown or poorly understood), and given its brief length (barely 200 pages), the book succeeds admirably. Well worth reading.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, Useful Read for Graphics/VR Students, February 22, 2001
I have no formal background in Biology, Cognitive Sciences, Anatomy or Psychology. I am interested in human vision, as it relates to Computer Graphics and Vitural Reality - some of my primary areas of interest. I picked up this book because it seemed to be about the "How's of visual processing" than the "Why's" of it. And the book seemed like a less time intensive read - important for someone who is not a full time researcher in the area of the book. It did not disappoint me.
Modeling, and representation of most phenomena in a digital computer lag in precision compared to their originals in the physical world. They are pronouncedly more so with Computer Graphics, on which is founded the field of Virtual Reality. I believe that a researcher in VR should modify the kernel of his projects to rely on the ways of making virtual entities LOOK closest to their physical counterparts, rather than blindly simulate those entities with the closest precision possible. Thus, for a good VR universe, frequently, it is "fake the best" you can to recreate the virtual EXPERIENCE closest to the EXPRIRENCE of reality.
"Experience" is the goal; not (always) the precision per se of the underlying simulation. That is where this books comes handy. Understanding how the "Visual Intelligence" works goes a long way in learning how to fake it. Chapters 3 ("The Invisible Surface That Glows"), 4 ("Spontaneous Morphing"), 5 ("The Day Color Drained Away") are particularly of interest to Graphics/VR students.
I would have given a 5-star, if the author had made the "case histories" more readable and less verbose. In fact I skipped reading some of those!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Look at the World Differently After Reading This Book, October 4, 2011
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I've read and re-read this book at least 4 times over the past five or six years. Each time I seem to gain new understanding into the processes that we use to sense the world around us. While this book clearly focuses on visual perception, the over-riding concept, that we construct the world we experience, applies to all our senses. While I doubt that I will make practical use of the specific rules he carefully lays out on how we actually make those visual constructions, I found the concepts fascinating. He writes clearly and presents excellent examples. I highly recommend the book and wish there were a follow-on with new and additional research in the area.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Book. Could Have Been More Engaging, December 27, 2013
I like this book, and in one sense there is no need to give it a three star rating. The book has been very well laid out, and systematically guides through the reader through the various aspects of seeing, and how we form images in our brain and the "confusion" between the three and two dimensional world, in how we draw out three dimensional images on the two dimensional space. There is enough here to entertain and educate the reader.

The only reason I give this a three star reading, and not a four star rating, is that I, personally, would have been happier with a more engaging style in writing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars informative and refreshing, January 30, 2010
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I used this book as part of an undergraduate course on visual intelligence for natural scientists, where it proved to be very useful as it helps to show how much of a construction is the mere fact of observing an object, diluting thus the opposition between "observing" and "imagining". Notwithstanding this last statement, this book should be an excellent read even for a less academic readership.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars informative and entertaining, December 12, 2009
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This is a really interesting book. I have read it several times, and still occasionally pick it up to re-read a section. I teach drawing to architects and interior designers, and usually require them to read at least the beginning, so that they really begin to understand the task at hand when they draw. The mix of science, philosophy, and optical humor makes it an easy read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Introduction to advanced science of seeing, May 24, 2013
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I enjoyed this book and return to read more. The book does a good job of touching on the latest research into vision and how the brain organizes visual information. I would hope this author would follow up with a deeper discussion of the role of neural networks and the methodology of how the scientist decodes the algorithms of visual information. This books information falls somewhat in the level of introductory information physiology for the advance undergraduate in the sciences but it certainly is interesting and informative for any reader with some technical background as he introduces some amazing ideas on how vision works. Diagrams are helpful and well thought out.
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Visual Intelligence: How We Create What We See
Visual Intelligence: How We Create What We See by Donald D. Hoffman (Hardcover - Oct. 1998)
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