Wednesday, May 27, 2015

That black and blue dress debate was the most disturbing thing I ever heard

I saw the dress as white and gold. I squinted. I adjusted my monitor. Didn't matter. The damn thing was white and gold.

Except it's not. In the debate that broke the Internet, I was on the wrong side. The dress was blue and black.

I go back. I squint some more. I am sure the Internet is pulling an elaborate joke on me. Because to me, the dress is white and gold.

There is evolutionary science behind my mistake, as Wired explains:
Human beings evolved to see in daylight, but daylight changes color. That chromatic axis varies from the pinkish red of dawn, up through the blue-white of noontime, and then back down to reddish twilight. “What’s happening here is your visual system is looking at this thing, and you’re trying to discount the chromatic bias of the daylight axis,” says Bevil Conway, a neuroscientist who studies color and vision at Wellesley College. “So people either discount the blue side, in which case they end up seeing white and gold, or discount the gold side, in which case they end up with blue and black.”
The debate is long gone. But it lingers in my mind, disturbing me on a whole different level.

They say you're entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts. But the dress debate proves that's wrong. Our contexts and biologies don't just influence our opinions. They alter the facts our brains have to work with. We live on the same planet, but in different worlds.

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