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posted by LaminatorX on Saturday February 28 2015, @07:51PM   Printer-friendly
from the Do-mine-eyes-deceive-me? dept.

Color scientists already have a word for it: Dressgate. Now the Washington Post reports that a puzzling thing happened on Thursday night consuming millions — perhaps tens of millions — across the planet and trending on Twitter ahead of even Jihadi John’s identification. The problem was this: Roughly three-fourths of people swore that this dress was white and gold, according to BuzzFeed polling but everyone else said it's dress was blue. Others said the dress could actually change colors. So what's going on? According to the NYT our eyes are able to assign fixed colors to objects under widely different lighting conditions. This ability is called color constancy. But the photograph doesn’t give many clues about the ambient light in the room. Is the background bright and the dress in shadow? Or is the whole room bright and all the colors are washed out? If you think the dress is in shadow, your brain may remove the blue cast and perceive the dress as being white and gold. If you think the dress is being washed out by bright light, your brain may perceive the dress as a darker blue and black.

According to Beau Lotto, the brain is doing something remarkable and that's why people are so fascinated by this dress. “It’s entertaining two realities that are mutually exclusive. It’s seeing one reality, but knowing there’s another reality. So you’re becoming an observer of yourself. You’re having tremendous insight into what it is to be human. And that’s the basis of imagination.” As usual xkcd has the final word.

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by dry on Sunday March 01 2015, @05:27AM

    by dry (223) on Sunday March 01 2015, @05:27AM (#151423) Journal

    Actually the fact that different people perceive reality differently is important. Look at politics, there are authoritarian types who perceive reality quite differently from non-authoritarian types as well as the left vs right wingers perception of reality.
    The fact that different people can look at the identical thing and see totally different things is important.

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  • (Score: 2) by TheLink on Sunday March 01 2015, @04:16PM

    by TheLink (332) on Sunday March 01 2015, @04:16PM (#151549) Journal

    To me it's not interesting that people see it differently. What I found interesting is there are people who perceive it differently at different times - same screen same pic same lighting, but they switch from seeing white gold to blue black or vice versa!

    On a related note: []

    Until relatively recently in human history, “blue” didn’t exist.
    As the delightful Radiolab episode “Colors” describes, ancient languages didn’t have a word for blue — not Greek, not Chinese, not Japanese, not Hebrew. And without a word for the color, there’s evidence that they may not have seen it at all.

    FWIW I'm not so confident that "no one" could see blue till modern times: [] [] []

    But it's interesting if the claims are true that the Himba tribe can't tell the difference between blue and green but can tell the difference between different greens. I would have thought that they'd have seen blue as a different shade of green and not the same as the rest (so I'd like to see someone else try to reproduce this).

    Did they put all different shades of "green" to them (including the blue) and the Himba couldn't pick the odd one out? Or did they put the same greens and a blue that somehow the Himba perceived as the same green. The former makes more sense to me.