Do you hear “Laurel” or “Yanny”?
That’s not a question any of us would have imagined having to answer before. Thanks to a viral tweet, though, a computerized voice that’s uttering one name or another is dividing the internet in a way we haven’t seen since “The Dress.”
Have you tried it yet? Here you go!( This might just rip your entire life apart .)( Sorry .)
What did you hear? If you’re like me, you heard “Yanny” all the way.
If you’re like my husband and the other half of the internet( including Twitter icon Chrissy Teigen ), then you heard “Laurel, ” and you’re not going to let anyone say to you any different.
it’s so clearly laurel. I can’t even figure out how one would hear yanny.
— christine teigen (@ chrissyteigen) May 15, 2018
So what’s really going on here?
No one truly knows. It seems that no one truly was aware that this audio clip even came from. Could it be aliens communicating from the depth of space? Could it be Russian bots? I can’t answer that. But I can provide a few hypothesis that might help explain why people are hearing things differently.
According to The New York Times, which enlisted the help of several experts, it could have a lot to do with which part of the “frequency range” people give attention to. So if someone tends to hear in the higher range of things, then they’re going to hear “Yanny” rather than “Laurel.”
Okay, you’re not crazy. If you can hear high freqs, you probably hear “yanny”, but you* might* hear “laurel”. If you can’t hear high freqs, “youre supposed to” hear laurel. Here’s what it sounds like without high/ low freqs. RT so we can avoid the whole dress situation. #yanny #laurel pic.twitter.com/ RN71WGyHwe
— Dylan Bennett (@ MBoffin) May 16, 2018
Check out what happens when you manipulate the bass. Can you hear both terms?( Or is this just fueling outrage ?)
And that’s before you even get into the linguistic rationales or the fact that everyone’s brain processes things differently.
We think we all hear the same things, but as University of Chicago psychologist Howard Nusbaum told Gizmodo, “If I cut your ears off and set someone else’s on your head, voices would sound different.” ( Of course, this is not an invitation to do such an experiment. I will be very mad if my name comes up in legal proceedings .)
What people hear has the potential to had much to do with how they perceive the world.
Here’s the thing about brains: They’re really good at making snap judgments. That’s because brains like to organize and categorize. A study of how people perceived “The Dress”( a study on this! what a time to be alive !) found that even when outside factors were manipulated, once people assured the dress as either blue/ black or white/ gold, that’s the only way they would see it — even when the image was placed in different settings.
One thing’s for certain: Regardless of what people hear, both “Yanny” and “Laurel” appear to be on the recording. And if anyone distinctly hears merely one from the beginning, a voice and audio technologist told Gizmodo, it’s possible they’ll stick with that word to the exclusion of the other.
What does that mean?
When someone hears something differently from you, do you wonder why they’re hearing what you’re not or do you instantly presume they’re wrong? It’s likely the latter. That’s because people make such judgments every day. And why shouldn’t we? In the best suits — for instance, when someone decides whether it’s safe to jay-walk — those decisions keep people safe.
But we often don’t go back and correct snap judgments . And because we focus on information that confirms the beliefs we already hold( that’s backed up by research too ), we never actually “re going to have to”. That leads to problems like not expanding our worldviews or allowing ourselves to take in new information. In fact, research has found that once we form opinions, it’s incredibly difficult for us to change them — even( and especially) after real facts have been presented.
So before you send your friends a text asking which word they hear( and you perfectly must because why should my wedding be the only one to be torn apart ?), consider that they’re not wrong either way. And, as Gizmodo points out, “If you listen enough, you might begin to hear things the other route too.”
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