Friday, February 27, 2015

Say Yes to the Dress!

The dress initially shown to me, was gold and white.  Move it against a different background and
Sir, is this the dress that attacked you?
there was some blue in it.


There’s a show called Brain Games (which you can stream on Netflix), and you should see it.  At least the first episode.  If you think you have a firm handle on reality, watch it and get back to me.  Shows like this don’t usually trigger an emotional response with me.  Ok, well, that’s not true.  I’ve been known to rant about small things from time to time—mostly on days that end in “y”.  But this one did.  Enough that I was struck by it and have been considering it for sometime.

As a speech communication and English student, I learned pretty quickly that perception is tricky.  It’s also reality.  The Dress points this out in stark detail.  The science is interesting.  The colors we see have to do with how our eyes and brain have evolved to recognize movement and location based on shadows and light. Static pictures/colors moved into different lights, or accompanying backgrounds make our eyes and brain "see" something different.  This is because, over thousands of years, we’ve evolved to determine threat levels of moving objects, which rely on the changes of color in light and the movement of shadow.

Don’t believe me?  Check out this video which illustrates perfectly how shadow impacts our perception of movement (linked as needed).

So why does this freak people out?  Why arguments and name-calling and death threats over the color of a dress.

But I wanted it in WHITE and GOLD!
It’s a matter of stability.  If you can’t trust your eyes to tell you what color something is, or how a basketball is moving, then what can you trust?  We desperately, desperately want stability in an otherwise chaotic world. But really only the illusion of stability is possible. After all, that money in your 401K which you’ve worked hard over many years to save up?  It doesn’t actually exist.  A strategically placed EMP or computer virus would wipe it out, and you might be hard-pressed to get it back.  The numbers themselves are only representative, an agreed upon illusion of ability to provide sustenance, shelter, clothing, warmth in the winter and cool in the summer.  In truth, that electronic savings account can actually do none of those things unless we all agree that they can.

It will be useless the Zombie Apocalypse comes.

It looked better in the store window!
But we can’t exactly live in fear of the Zombie Apocalypse (although you should).  So we create a world view based on what we think is the most stable design. We, as a species, will cling to that illusion of reality and naturally reject any voices to the contrary, no matter how reasoned, analytical or evidence-based. Instead, we’ll look for confirmation bias to support that world view so that it remains whole, intact, and untouched.  Anything to the contrary is relabeled as necessarily "evil" and should be eliminated.

This is how climate change deniers operate.

This is how anti-vaxxers operate.

This is how pornographers operate.

This is how religious extremists operate.

This is how partisan politics operates.

And the truth?  Who cares.  The dress is GREEN with PURPLE POLKA DOTS.  You can’t tell me it’s not, because that’s what I see.  There must be something wrong with YOUR eyes.

Also, I know you clicked that "pornographers" link.  This is why I love you.

No comments:

Post a Comment