Why No One Agrees on the Color of This Dress, According to Science

Last night the internet exploded into a flurry of arguments over the most hotly contested political issue of this new year — what the hell color is this dress?

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There are two vehemently arguing schools of thought on the issue, which originated on Tumblr: the dress is blue and black (#teamblueandblack), or the dress is white and gold (#teamwhiteandgold). I, personally, can’t not see white and gold.

Unfortunately, dumb old science doesn’t agree with me — the dress is apparently blue and black. According to Wired, the outrage and disagreement is due to fundamental difference in biology and the way our eyes and brains have evolved to perceive color.

Essentially, our eyes and brains subconsciously pick a side for us, based on how our visual system reacts to the effects of daylight.

Wired reports:

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 point is, your brain tries to interpolate a kind of color context for the image, and then spits out an answer for the color of the dress. Even Neitz, with his weird white-and-gold thing, admits that the dress is probably blue. “I actually printed the picture out,” he says. “Then I cut a little piece out and looked at it, and completely out of context it’s about halfway in between, not this dark blue color. My brain attributes the blue to the illuminant. Other people attribute it to the dress.”

Wired delves deeper into the scientific explanation, but it seems as though the issue is resolved. Likely it won’t keep people from arguing about this though, so have at it commenters!

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