There is NO WAY that dancer is turning counter-clockwise

right brain

For a comment on a previous post, I was checking to see if I remembered correctly the traits associated with being left-brain- or right-brain-dominant. (I didn’t; I had it backwards.)

Anyway, Google offered me this simple test, which the Melbourne Herald Sun explained thusly:

THE Right Brain vs Left Brain test … do you see the dancer turning clockwise or anti-clockwise?

If clockwise, then you use more of the right side of the brain and vice versa.

Most of us would see the dancer turning anti-clockwise though you can try to focus and change the direction; see if you can do it.

That dancer is definitely, unequivocally, turning clockwise. I’ve looked at her cross-eyed and peripherally and every which way, and it’s impossible for me to see her as moving the other way. I tried focusing on individual parts of her anatomy, because I know I do tend to perceive things holistically, but that didn’t help.

Which I suppose means I’m way right-brained. But, allow me to raise a left-brain-type question: We are talking about clockwise as viewed from above, right? Because it it’s as viewed from below, then yeah, she’s moving counter-clockwise.

51 thoughts on “There is NO WAY that dancer is turning counter-clockwise

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    By the way, I then took a simple written test online that indicated I was LEFT-brained. For what that’s worth, which isn’t much.

    I think that dancer test is just there to make people feel stupid, since the traits described in that article make right-brained people sound like total ninnies…

  2. Mark Stewart

    May I hazard the guess that the difference in perception of movement is based upon whether one sees the dancer from the front or from the rear? I see her from behind the left shoulder, spinning clockwise. But I can also see how someone could see her from the left front spinning the other way.

    I would further guess that 90% of the population would perceive the silhouette as in the “expected” frontal view. At least this is the sort of thing I fall back on when I realize that I am perceiving something different than seem to most others. Left handers are different. This is probably one reason why.

  3. Doug Ross

    It was counter clockwise for me initially. I was able to get it to “switch” direction by focusing on the foot
    and then looking down and back up.

    Which means I am both right and left brained. Kneel before Doug!

      1. Doug Ross

        Or try doing some mental calculations while you are watching… like counting by 5’s or trying to thinking about the alphabet in reverse order. It may trigger the other (unused πŸ™‚ ) logical part of your brain.

        1. Mark Stewart

          It isn’t that one way is logical (and therefore that the other is illogical), it is that one way of perceiving is deductive and the other something different.

    1. Bart

      Unlike Doug, I saw it clockwise first then counter clockwise switching every few seconds. Either I’m totally unbalanced or need to go to bed. I think the answer is going to bed.

  4. Bryan Caskey

    Does no one watch ballet?

    Fouette turns are done clockwise if you’re on your left leg. The dancer in the picture is CLEARLY using her left leg as the support leg. I’ve been to more ballet recitals than almost anyone I know (My sister did so much ballet that she was offered a college scholarship to USC).

    Most dancers can kick best with their right leg, so they turn to the right. In any event, the chick in the picture is kicking with her right leg and standing on her left- she’s turning to the right. There’s nothing to interpret.

    Guns, law, and ballet. I’ve got y’all covered.

    1. Scout

      Interesting thing – I saw it both ways – which leg she is standing on switches too, Bryan. When she is going counter clockwise, she stands on her right leg; when she is going clockwise, she stands on her right leg.

      I find myself skeptical that this is really measuring left/right brainedness, but I’ll read to the bottom before I comment more.

  5. Doug Ross

    I’ve spent way too much time looking at it… but I can pretty much swap back and forth between clockwise and counter clockwise. I can’t be the only one who sees both.

  6. Doug Ross

    The three people who can see the dancer spin counter clockwise work in the IT field. Seems to validate the theory.

    1. Mark Stewart

      Does it blow your theory if I saw her as spinning in either direction, too?

      What surprises me is that most people are not seeing the counter-clockwise spinner first. I had expected that would be the predominant viewpoint and, for this group, that appears not to be the case.

  7. Brad Warthen Post author

    What I really hated about the dancer test, is that below, it said the following:

    uses logic
    detail oriented
    facts rule
    words and language
    present and past
    math and science
    can comprehend
    order/pattern perception
    knows object name
    reality based
    forms strategies

    uses feeling
    “big picture” oriented
    imagination rules
    symbols and images
    present and future
    philosophy & religion
    can “get it” (i.e. meaning)
    spatial perception
    knows object function
    fantasy based
    presents possibilities
    risk taking

    Basically, those lists are saying that left-brained people are intelligent and mature, and right-brained people are unthinking, silly fools. Fantasy-based? Really?

    I have tried and tried to explain what it means to perceive things intuitively. It does NOT mean your perceptions are based in fantasy. It does NOT mean you imagine it. It does NOT mean you FEEL rather than THINK.

    Intuitive perception, for me at least, is fact based, even though I may not describe or pause to think about each fact. Rather, I perceive a set of facts as a whole, and see where they lead immediately. It means I see the forest, and have little patience with the trees. It IS a forest; that is entirely fact-based. I just get impatient with anyone who wants to count and classify the trees.

    I have a number of the supposed “left-brain” traits. I am logical. I am impatient with people who allow feelings to override thought. I am all ABOUT words and language; you may never meet anyone more at home with them than I, and I’m highly skilled at using them. At the same time, I can see a bigger picture in which there are things that words cannot describe, and logic cannot explain. God, for instance. Any attempt to explain God falls short. Love, for another. Sex, even, to bring things down to a baser level. We can explain sex quite thoroughly in terms of the necessity for an organism to reproduce. (Of course, then one may ask, “Why must an organism reproduce?” and I suppose the answer is that it must do so because it is descended from organisms that had that same impulse, else it wouldn’t be here, and it has inherited that compulsion.)

    But does that really EXPLAIN sex? No. Many years ago, I was pondering on the fact that I found it hard to believe that homosexuality existed, even though I had friends who were gay, and insisted that they were, and I had no reason to doubt them. I found it hard to believe because I did not see how such an attraction was possible. I could not imagine it.

    And then it occurred to me: I can’t see how heterosexual attraction happens, either. I mean, really, why have I felt that way, ever since I was a kid, when I look upon a woman with certain physical traits, or more accurately, with a certain complex set of physical traits that add up to what is called je ne sais quoi? Why was I attracted to girls before I was aware that such a thing as the sexual act was possible?

    To tell me that’s imbedded in the cells I’ve inherited doesn’t explain it. That might explain a chemical/mechanical response to touch, or to smell, or taste, or something like that in which the cells are coming into contact with something. But it doesn’t explain why I would SEE a member of the opposite sex, or HEAR about her, or THINK about her, and have a sexual response. Expecially if I could not imagine a sex act (and thereby trick my brain into believing it was experiencing such an act), because I’d never heard of such a thing.

    So, bottom line, heterosexuality was no more explicable, in terms of the HOW IT HAPPENS part, than homosexuality. And certainly no more inevitable — although you would expect that more people would have the first trait than the latter, since they are mostly descended from hetero people. Which is the way it works out, statistically (I throw that in for left-brain people).

    Now you see, I’ve just tried very hard to describe something that lies beyond the scope of language (and done so dispassionately, without emotion, which is my preferred way — I’ve dissected it), and what I’ve said is inadequate to what I’ve got in my mind. My left brain has done its best, but my right brain isn’t satisfied, because it sees more. And it knows that as hard as it tries, the left brain doesn’t fully understand what it’s describing. Nor does the right brain, for that matter.

    Maybe I’m a good deal of both — and I suppose everyone is, unless they have severe brain trauma. But I absolutely cannot see that dancer turn counter-clockwise…

    1. bud

      It means I see the forest, and have little patience with the trees. It IS a forest; that is entirely fact-based. I just get impatient with anyone who wants to count and classify the trees.

      But the problem is the individual trees ARE important. What if some of them have pine beetles or some other problem? What if there is too much underbrush that may cause a fire? That’s why intuitive thinking is so dangerous. It may lead to ridiculous situations like the continued outlawing of marijuana. There is simply no logical, fact-based reason to continue to keep it illegal. Yet we continue seeing the forest and conclude if folks just didn’t use the stuff all would be well. But we miss the pine beetles (massive overcrowding of prisons, wasteful use of police and judicial resources, destruction of lives to the extent that the solution is worse than the problem itself). Intuition may be a good way to start addressing an issue but it needs to be buttressed with facts, and yes, logic.

      1. Scout

        For me, it’s not that I don’t have patience for the individual trees, but that I have trouble retaining and recalling much specific detail about them unless I know how I they fit into the forest – If I get the pattern first, I can hold on to the pieces that fit into it. I need the structure of the forest to learn the details. But I can get really into the pine beetles once I know where they fit.

    2. Kathryn Fenner

      I guess all those right-brained mathematicians and theoretical physicists who deal in symbols are stupid flakes, eh?

      You are just betraying your personal bias, perhaps as your father’s son, for left brained intelligence, but right brained can be at least as intelligent!

  8. Brad Warthen Post author

    Let me add a word about God.

    I fear that many do not believe in God because they are left-brained. They believe that a thing cannot be if it cannot be adequately explained with words and with logic.

    But people who rely entirely on logic, or on science, miss a great deal of reality.

    To me, they are like a carpenter with a belt full of tools. He can be a really handy guy. He can frame a house so that it is solid and durable. He can roof it. He can do all sorts of things to wood and a number of other materials such as aluminum and vinyl, with his hammer, his nails, his measuring tape, his square, and the power tools he keeps in his truck — I’ll allow those, too.

    But he can’t write, or play, a symphony with those tools. He can’t cure a disease, or even treat acid indigestion. He can’t devise public policy. He can’t sooth a crying child. He can’t change the chemistry of a glass of water, except perhaps by letting a nail corrode in it over time.

    Anyway, that’s the way I see science trying to deal with the concept of God.

    1. Doug Ross

      I’m not sure many left brained people don’t believe in God – I think they are less likely to believe in religion which comes in so many forms that it is illogical to believe any one of them can be correct. I am certainly more left brained than right brained and I believe in God and believe that Jesus existed.. I don’t believe there was an ark carrying two of every animal though. I don’t cater much to the man-made rules implemented in most organized religions.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I don’t mean to say that “many left brained people don’t believe in God.” What I mean to say is that, among the set of people who don’t believe in God, there are probably more left-brained than right-brained people. I think Hamlet was being right-brained when he said, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” And he was saying Horatio was left-brained.

        Now… there’s probably another sort of person out there who doesn’t believe in God who is less rational about it, and therefore more right-brained — the sort who would be an embarrassment to intellectual atheists. I’m thinking of the sort of person who doesn’t think about it at all, but is simply about his appetites and what HE wants, and refuses to believe in anything outside himself that might be a higher authority. That would be a sort of gut-level atheist.

        But usually, when I think “atheist,” I’m think of the sort that we actually hear from, the thoughtful ones who talk and write publicly about it. Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett…

    2. bud

      people who rely entirely on logic, or on science, miss a great deal of reality.

      Or nonsense. Depends on your view of the world.

    1. Bart

      Thanks Jeff.

      However, the version you provided had indicators on two of the figures that give a guide for the direction it is spinning while the one Brad provided and the one in the middle of yours did not. Again, that leads me to the question Doug and I asked, are we crazy because we can see the one Brad provided spinning each way alternately? Much like Brad’s comments, each of us can find traits from left and right brain activities in our own perceptions, beliefs, and opinions based on our personal life’s experiences.

      1. Doug Ross


        I posted the link on my Facebook page and got several responses from people who saw it spinning both ways.

      2. Mark Stewart

        Nearly all of us on earth have the benefit of having two connected lobes as our brain. We all have the ability to regularly use each thought pattern in all that we do. Some just don’t make full use of the possibilities inherent in themselves. Or maybe better stated as none of us take full advantage of our possibilities, but some try less than others…

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Wow. Yeah, now I can see it. Thanks, Jeff.

      The interesting thing is, you look at the one on the left, and then the one in the middle, and they’re both going clockwise. You look at the one on the right first, and then the one in the middle, and they’re both going counter-clockwise.

      Our brains can be tricked into anything, can’t they?

  9. Brad Warthen Post author

    I liked the comment on the original link: “But more than anything I found myself wondering why it was necessary for her to have very prominent nipples???? This is a serious question btw. I’m sure we all could have done the test just fine if she didn’t.”

    I’m glad that guy said that, because I thought maybe I was the only one noticing it. It’s not that they’re “very prominent,” but you can make them out, for the tiniest split second, as she turns. Which means she’s not in a leotard and tights; she’s naked. Which distracts the brain, and probably interferes with my ability to see her going counter-clockwise…

  10. Scout

    When I first looked she went counter clockwise. I glanced at the text and then back and she was going clockwise. I could not make her go counter again. But then I came back and read more comments here and then looked back at her, and she was going counter again, and I could not make her go the other way again. Looking with only one eye doesn’t seem to have much effect one way or the other.

    I am dying to know the mechanics of what makes that image work – to know what affects the way it is perceived – so I can evaluate if it could really be measuring right/left brainedness – I’m skeptical. I wonder if it’s something more to do with eye dominance or the like, which may or may not be correlated to brainedness, I think, but probably is in the majority of people – i.e. I think the larger percentage of people are right handed/left brained and right eye dominant – but it’s not always true.

    I don’t think being right-brained is a bad thing at all. If you ever meet somebody with right brain damage, you begin to see the vital importance of right brain skills to meaningful daily functioning. The right brain is what gets the point of the conversation and keeps conversations on topic. Left brain without the right is like an essay without a thesis – just a random listing of facts that may or may not have a point. The left without the right can talk alot and not say much – just ramble about details with no narrative to draw them together and draw a conclusion.

    The most basic difference between right and left brained processing as I understand it on the simplest level is left brain processing is time dependent – temporal – processing input in a set order, one thing at a time; whereas the right brain processes input spontaneously, or simultaneously all at the same time. Language is inherently left brained because it matters if the words are not in the right order, and you have no choice but to perceive them one at a time in the order they are given verbally. Visual processing is right brained because you take in all the information at the same time – which makes reading a very interesting phenomenon – since it is language but you can perceive the words all at the same time. I’m kind of starting to ramble here. But I am very interested in this subject.

    But the spinning lady seems like any optical illusion – like the old lady/young lady thing, or cubes that change orientation – I’m not sure what causes perceptions to switch but I’ve never thought it was brain dominance thing – but maybe it is. I’d like to know more about it.

    I’ve always thought I was pretty close to the middle with a slight bias to the right. The other two links you gave had me right on one and in the middle on the other.

    1. Juan Caruso

      Must agree with Scout. The “test” is too simplistic.

      I very much liked the fact that Brad introduced belief in God into the brain-dominance discussion.

      Try this test:

      From which perspective did you FIRST see the disc (youtube) spin? From above (clockwise), or below (CCW)?

      If the latter, do you consider your self more of an underdog in life? If the former, do you consider yourself self-actualized? Again, way too over-simplified. Most useful to fast-paced employers with HR organizations who want to mystify their selection process in order to minimize strife.

  11. Bart

    There is a very interesting series about the brain and how it perceives things. It is very surprising how the brain can be fooled but if we stop to understand the multiple levels of subconsciousness in the brain and that there is only one level of consciousness where the brain processes what is stored or seen, we can understand how we perceive the world a little better.

  12. Karen McLeod

    I saw it going clockwise at first, but after that, counterclockwise. At any rate, I think by fantasy based, they mean that right-brained individuals are more likely to perceive a myth, say, as a way of conveying a truth that is not amenable to logic at this point in time. For example, a left brained person might find Cupid/Psyche myth to be a fairy tale about a monster and a maiden, while a right brained person might see the myth as a way of explaining the union of our physical/animal selves with our intellectual/imaginative selves (soul and body). I at least see many of the Biblical stories that way. Furthermore, I think the people who first told those tales saw them that way as well.

  13. Mrs. Barnett

    I initially saw her spinning counter-clockwise. But then I read it and it said you could also see her spin clockwise. But I couldn’t for a long time. It didn’t matter if I looked up top or bottom or imagined being in front or back. But then I focused on her, and after 20 seconds I saw her change. Then I saw her change back again. I found out, that I too, upon focusing, could actually make her change directions, at first after about 8 seconds, then I was able to sort of command her to change directions, and she would then change within about 2 seconds or less. I am left-handed on most activities, right handed on a select few activities. Don’t know if that makes any difference or not.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *