'attempting to set them into a position they were already in would feel immediately wrong even without looking'
There's a mental process called cognitive dissonance where you carry out an automatic action without realising it's the wrong one. It's possible all they were thinking was toggle that switch, and did, without registering which way up it was. I've read an account by a helicopter pilot who dropped an under-slung load rather than turn on the landing light, which must have been a bit of a surprise to all involved! In that case there were two switches on opposite sides of the control.