I watched this video on YouTube about the McGurk effect. Then I saw the following comment on Google+ :

Singularity Utopia Feb 25, 2012 (edited)

I am often sceptical regarding so-called illusions. I listened without looking and there seems to be cycle of 3 utterances; the first utterance is "baar", the middle one is ambiguous (but leaning towards baar), and the third is "faar" (they are actually all rather ambiguous).

It is incorrect to say what we hear may not always be the truth, it is incorrect to say we may not able to trust what we hear. Even regarding the more clearly enunciated 1st and 3rd utterances there is a degree of ambiguity, which I suspect is an intentional bias of the experimenter to prove the McGurk Effect. I would like to see the experiment where the words are uttered with greater clarity, greater uniformity, and then see how the visual component alters the perceptions of sound. The brain or eyes do not mislead the ears, the truth is that when sounds are ambiguous other senses will help us discover the truth.

What you watch on TV (videos) may not always be the truth. You cannot always trust what you see on TV because the presentation of info is skewed.

TV is an illusion, thus it is ironic or fitting for illusions to be highlighted via an illusion. When you watch TV do you really think those people you are watching are 2D tiny humans constructed from pixels?

The illusion of "illusions" is that they take something out of context to make something look strange or mis-representative.

It is a bizarre effect if people whom you are looking at in real life suddenly transform into 2D pixelated images.

I'm unable to decide whether the skeptic is right or wrong.

  • 3
    The experiment, the first time I watched it, some time ago, worked 100%. Did it not work for you? If it did, what part of the claim are you doubting? Yes, they are all deliberately ambiguous sounds - that's the whole point. Before you were told they were ambiguous (and even afterwards, to a lesser extent) you don't perceive them as ambiguous. That IS the effect - the ambiguity being (remarkably) resolved by the eyes. (The author's objection to TV is a non-sequitur, so I don't know what their objection really is.)
    – Oddthinking
    May 4, 2012 at 15:01
  • 2
    Might be worth summarising the effect in the question. As it stands it isn't clear to someone who doesn't know the effect what it actually is (unless they view the link). It would be a better question if it summarised the effect to make it easier for the reader.
    – matt_black
    May 7, 2012 at 1:00

1 Answer 1


The McGurk effect is a very robust1 effect. After its first publication in "McGurk, Harry, and John MacDonald (1976). Hearing lips and seeing voices. Nature 264: 746–748" it has been reproduced in hundreds of other articles. It is demonstrated in psychology courses all over the world (like here) just because it's so easily reproducible.

1 A constraint-based explanation of the McGurk effect by Paul Boersma, 2011

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .