Monday, March 9, 2015

Cracked talks about that damned dress

The dress looks blue and black to me, and I can make myself see it as white and gold, but none of that really matters because our senses are filthy liars that barely manage to keep our fragile but waaaaaaaay-too powerful brains alive from day to day. At least that's what I got out of this podcast.

And I'm inclined to believe it. The dress is an optical illusion of sorts, and humans are TERRIBLE at coping with things that fuck with their senses. We're sight-dominant animals and we really don't like it when we see things that aren't there, or when we're told that we're seeing something different than those around us (because we're also social conformists, which has probably served us better as a species than our vision has).

In the podcast Jack O'Brien, David Wong, and Michael Swaim discuss the kinds of cognitive kill-switches that throw people for loops the way the damn dress does, most of which comes down to the fact that our brains are too busy thinking about stuff to give two shits if we actually saw the dress as one color or another, or if there was actually a car driving down the street or if it was the same old boring street, or if there's classical music that you might actually enjoy or if it all sounds the same and isn't worth your time.

The speakers discuss interesting factoids that are pertinent to the discussion, among them are the facts that: cultures with more words for a color perceive more versions of that color; phantom limb pain has been treated by using mirrors and just believing enough that you are not missing a limb that the pain goes away; and that magicians are way cleverer than they're given credit for because they figured out that whole slight-of-hand thing about a thousand years ago and have been using it to separate people from their money ever since, which is awesome (said the granddaughter of a stage magician).

But I do feel like I need to answer the stupid dress question. I'm a person who works with images and has been known to photoshop now and then so here's what I did:

I opened a photo of the dress in photo shop and selected the left hand side and using the curves tool I set the brightest bit of the dress that wasn't glare as the white point. Then I selected the right hand side of the dress and using the curves tool I set the darkest part of the dress that wasn't shadow as the black point.

The center column of this photo is as I originally found it, with what seems to be the original colors that caused so much controversy.Using the eyedroppers in curves is a pretty basic, not at all fancy, no trickery involved with color sliders way, to correct oddly exposed photos. I already thought the dress was black and blue but the amount of color noise in the white and gold side leads me to believe that my initial assessment was correct and also doesn't matter a single tiny bit. See whatever color you want to see. It's just a dress.

Cracked Podcasts - Why the Black-Blue/White-Gold dress is reality's Sorting Hat

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