“Mild Hallucination” Test

In Scott Alexan­der’s Lot’s of Peo­ple Go­ing Around with Mild Hal­lu­ci­na­tions All the Time, he shows that sev­eral peo­ple not cur­rently on LSD still ex­pe­rience mild hal­lu­ci­na­tions com­monly as­so­ci­ated with cur­rently tak­ing LSD.

I would like to test to see if I could teach you how to see these mild hal­lu­ci­na­tions, re­gard­less of ex­pe­rience with psychedelics. Below are 3 tests that should take 1-2 min­utes to com­plete. If you choose to com­plete 1 or more of these, please com­ment both failed and suc­cess­ful at­tempts. Please also com­ment if you can already see some of these, even if you think it seems ob­vi­ous.

Test 1: Vi­sual Snow

De­scrip­tion: See the Vi­sual Snow Wiki for a nice vi­su­al­iza­tion on the top-right. I would de­scribe it as “jumpy spi­der­webs made out of light”, similar in feel to the “black stars” peo­ple see when feel­ing faint (when they get up too quick).

I would say it’s NOT the same ex­pe­rience as men­tal imag­i­na­tion or eye floaters.

[Edit: Hon­estly I mixed up differ­ent phe­nom­ena for “vi­sual snow” in my de­scrip­tion. Here’s the up­date:

1. Vi­sual Snow—Like a mil­lion very tiny dots. Very much like static/​white noise in the wiki. More visi­ble in low light con­di­tions or when you’re tired. I saw it for the first time this (8/​12) morn­ing in low-light con­di­tions.
2. Pat­terned lines (?) - Like the ge­o­met­ric/​kalei­do­scopic shape in this pic­ture. Doesn’t have to be that con­sis­tent or pat­terned but is bet­ter de­scribed by “lines” than ei­ther of the other two. This is what I meant by “jumpy spi­der­webs made out of light” and what I thought vi­sual snow was.
3. Blue-sky Sprites—The pic­ture is a nice an­i­ma­tion (can be seen with­out look­ing at the blue sky but ap­par­ently it’s more promi­nent in that case). Dots and wisps the size of a mm or a lit­tle big­ger. Maybe 5-100 at a time vs the mil­lion in “vi­sual snow”. Re­sem­bles af­ter­i­mages and the “black stars” when feel­ing faint.
4. (Also very pos­si­ble there’s more that I’ve missed)


Test: For 1 minute (click here for a 1 minute timer), close your eyes and try to see the back of your eye­lids us­ing your periph­eral vi­sion. If a minute elapses with noth­ing re­sem­bling “vi­sual snow”, then it’s a failure.

If it’s a suc­cess, then try to see vi­sual snow with your eyes open, again for 1 minute at most.

Test 2: Af­ter­i­mage Around Objects

De­scrip­tion: It’s similar in feel to the image on the right in the af­ter­i­mage wiki. Similar to see­ing a bright light and still see­ing it in your vi­sion af­ter you look away.

Test: For 2 min­utes max (click here for a 2 minute timer), find a brightly col­ored ob­ject that’s against a differ­ent flat col­ored back­ground (a red towel hang­ing in front of a light tan wall, your face in the mir­ror in front of a white door, etc), and just stare at the ob­ject us­ing your periph­eral vi­sion. Don’t shift your eyes, just pick a spot and fo­cus on your periph­eral vi­sion. If you don’t see a col­ored af­ter­i­mage of the ob­ject around parts of that ob­ject, then it’s a failure.

Test 3: Breath­ing Walls

De­scrip­tion: It looks like the static sur­face you’re look­ing at (floors, walls, ceilings) is shift­ing, ro­tat­ing, swirling, “breath­ing” (sort of di­lat­ing back and forth?) even though you know that it’s ac­tu­ally still static. Usu­ally more ap­par­ent in pat­terned sur­faces than plain col­ored ones.

Test: For 1 minute, find a larger, tex­tured sur­face (car­pet, pop-corn ceilings, [other ex­am­ples?]), and stare at it us­ing your periph­eral vi­sion. If af­ter a minute of star­ing you don’t see any mov­ing, shift­ing, etc, then it’s a failure.