Coincidentally last night I fell asleep watching Episode 1 of "Brain Games" on Netflix. If you want to understand this dress phenomenon, watch it, seriously. When I woke up this morning to the viral photo of #thedress that asked the question, "What color is this dress?" on the morning news, (really?!?) I recognized the conundrum immediately. As I learned last night right before I fell asleep, our brains take in information from our senses and judge it based upon what it knows about the world. In the case of knowing what color something is, it factors in things like what it perceives to be lighting situations and can adjust accordingly. The photograph of "the dress" in question has a lot of back-lighting, which our brains know can sometimes make the item appear darker than it is, whites can appear to be blue in shadow and golds take on a much darker color. Your eye couldn't tell your brain if it was lit more brightly from the front or from the back, hence the confusion. Some people saw the dress actually change color before their eyes, did it really change? No, but that person's mind was questioning what it was seeing and waffling on the conclusion because there wasn't enough information. What does all this mean about us? Read on...
Why You Should Care
So who cares? What does it really matter in the great scheme of things? It's just a stupid dress. Oh....it matters. It matters a lot. Why it matters might come as a surprise.
We seem to have a problem, we humans of the world. We see something and make a knee jerk decision on it, a decision that may or may not be correct, but it's based solely on our own perception which we always trust in. The truth is, this was not a great photo, our minds didn't have enough information to judge what color the dress was based upon this photo. But even though that is true, most people decided empirically based upon this one photo when they were in fact making a decision on what color the dress looked to them in the photograph, not the color of the actual dress in person. I saw most people's responses were, "The dress is black and blue!" or "The dress is white and gold!" The photograph IS NOT the dress...it's a photo OF the dress, which is actually tricking the eye.
Where were the people saying, "I might need to see a different photo to be sure." or, "It looks gold and white to me in this photograph," Which would have been a true statement of fact because it only refers to your own perception which may or may not be correct. Since so many people had different view points, that would be the logical response. We based our "blue and black" or "white and gold" statements that we believed to be totally true on one bad photo. How many judgments do we make in life with similar bad source information?
If the human race can't even agree on a simple question of what color something is, it's easy to see why so many factions of the human race can't see eye to eye because we only know the world from our own view point which as we learned from this crazy dress might need more information.
How many times a day do you suppose that happens? Do we see a quote or statement written on a photo and decide its true? Do we really understand what we think we do about the challenges ahead of us in world? Do we ever yearn to dig deeper and get more information? Do we know the difference between perception and fact? Our brains can be fooled by input, the dress proved it. This accidental experiment proved no matter what color you saw the dress to be, that we need to look at our own perceptions about the world around us, and as we do, we need to ask ourselves these questions if we are ever to evolve as individuals and as humanity. Perception can be a tricky thing, without all the information our own perception can deceive us.
We must try to widen our perception so that we can gain more information before making snap judgments, we just must! If we don't, then we will continue to allow ourselves to be uninformed, or worse yet, misinformed. There's a very old fable about a group of men who are visually impaired and try to learn about an elephant only through the sense of touch. They could do this successfully if the ran their hands over the entire elephant, but instead they each touch just one part of the elephant and then argue over their different perceptions, which to them are all correct.
So What Color is the Dress?
Since the photo was in question by so many people with totally polarized views we need to find more evidence, don't we? The designer must be over the moon with all the great publicity...
|While it is blue and black, there was no right or wrong answer to how it looked in that other photo, it looked different to different people, the only way ton know for sure, was to get more information.|
Clearly after seeing a good clear photograph with no weird lighting of the actual dress we can discern that the dress is in face, blue and black, although it's a totally different shade of blue that it looked like in the photo, so in a very real sense, we were all wrong if we only based our opinion on one photo. But we were also all right, but only right when we told people how the dress appeared to us, not what the dress actually looked like.
Let's add this crazy heated discussion over the color of a dress to our life experience and learn something from it. Start to pay more attention to perception vs reality. Ask yourself if you can make a good judgement based on the evidence you actually have or weather on not you should do a little more research. Yes, this was silly on the surface, but if we look deeper we can use the debate as a catalyst to deepen our human experience by learning new ways to look at things.