Do You Hear What I Hear?

You thought it was over when the gold dress question disappeared. Back in 2015, a photograph of a dress went viral. The dress appeared to be white and gold, but some people saw a blue dress. You can revisit the madness here: CBS News The internet was consumed with the disbelief that perceptions could be so different.

Fast forward to 2018 and we are at it again. Cloe Feldman @CloeCouture tweeted an audio clip. She asked, “What do you hear?! Yanny or Laurel”. With 623K views, it’s safe to say the controversy has again gripped us. 13 videos are uploaded today on

The difference is in the pitch as Hartvik Line and Nerd It Up demonstrate. At normal pitch, it is clearly Laurel, but at a lower pitch, perhaps not. Does this mean that we hear differently? The poll at eonline seems to think so. 42 percent hear Laurel, 54.1 percent hear Yanny and 3.8 percent hear neither.

What does this mean? There are two perceptions that people were unable to agree on. One was visual, the other auditory. How do we perceive the world around us? Are we genetically wired differently?

According to Jay Neitz, a color vision scientist at the University of Washington, all of us do not see the same colors, based on recent experiments. Likewise, Professor Nina Kraus of Northwestern School of Communication explains that over time our brains are trained to recognize speech. She offers examples at WNYC

What does this tell us? In a society that tries so hard to fit in with one group, or another, we are all truly individual. Diversity is more than skin deep, it’s genetic. We view the world around us through our five senses, which are each a type of lens. A person from Alaska, or Chicago, perceives cold weather differently than someone from the Grand Cayman Islands. Someone that wears glasses sees differently than someone who has never worn glasses. The difficulty in proving the difference is the human ability to adapt and the fact that we cannot hear through each other’s ears. The next time your friend does not hear the sound you keep pointing out, he might not be kidding.

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