non-backwards reflection in mirrors

While sitting in the pasenger seat of a vehicle and looking at the side view mirror outside my window I noticed the reflection of some words on the side a passing truck were not backwards. I then looked directly at those words on the truck itself. They were not backwards there either. It said something like “Air Conditioned Ride”. Something you’d know if it was backwards. I started wondering why it was forwards. If it were in the rear view and painted backwards like ambulances have it, it would appear reversed and read forwards. Just because the passing truck was beside me and the mirror was outside the vehicle and a little further to the right, why did it read the same as it was painted? If there is a point between “beside me” and “behind me” that the words do flip? I think you and I know that there isn’t and that they don’t but what explains the non-backwards reflection in the mirror?

This may sound silly, but have you considered that what you saw was the reflection of not the truck, but that of the truck’s reflection in your own car’s windows? This would be flipped twice, thus bringing it back to normal…

That’s a good thought, I hadn’t even thought of that. However, it wouldn’t have been likey due to the angle of the side view mirror. It was nearly straight out perpindicular. The truck was, or the words, actually, were about ten feet back, behind my seat. Also I was looking around a lot trying to figure it out and I would have seen the rest of the door below that second reflection of my own window if that were the case. Thanks though.

Nice to meet ya,what was your name again?

Okay, here’s a wild possibility that I’m going to just get out of my system. Go ahead and laugh it off (or flame me, if you are so bent), and then we can get to more serious answers.

We look in mirrors so much, is it possible that we could see reversed words and have our brain automatically read them correctly?

Okay, stupid idea. Forget I said anything.

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The Enchanted World of Rankin-Bass

I still think Drew17 was right. The only way you can get non-reversed reflections is to have an even number of reflections. You said yourself that you were sitting on the passenger seat and looking at the side view mirror. The side view mirror is positioned so that the driver gets a view of the rear. The passenger would have to lean forward to see the rear of the car through the side view mirror. Sitting normally, the passenger would see the side window through the side view mirror.

There is actually another way to get non-reversed reflections - to use a concave mirror, but the side view mirror is convex.

IIRC, it is possible. No cite but my recollection is that they did experiments with volunteers who wore goggles that changed their visual field in dramatic ways: upside down, backwards, swap right and left, etc. After some periodo of adjustment the subjects were able to function normally in the new environment. I don’t recall any specific reference to reading but it seems consistent. After a while the subjects could switch back and forth between the normal and reversed environments very quickly.

On a more practical level, it has been my experience (and I sincerely hope it stays that way) that dentists are a whole lot better at working with a mirror image than I am. I wonder if they have classes just for mirror work?

“If ignorance were corn flakes, you’d be General Mills.”
Cecil Adams
The Straight Dope