It’s Not What The Image Represents. It’s The Image Itself. (But Maybe Not)

Wrong question: “What colors are this dress?” Right question: “What colors do I perceive in this image of a dress?”

My answer: blue and black. And if you can only see white and gold, covering up the washed out background on the right might help you see the image for its pixels and not what your brain tells you it represents.

If you are viewing the image as a representation of objective reality, your eyes might be color correcting for white balance, like they do when you step outside on a very sunny day or rummage through a drawer at dusk. That color correction, which I think is triggered by the sun glare at the top and bottom right of the image, makes the dress look white and gold.

The right half of the neckline is definitely more gold than black, crop the image if you don’t believe me. And the image is washed out, so the actual black parts of the dress never look completely black. Once you accept the image’s reality, black becomes gold and the blue snaps into white to compensate, based on all the color combinations you’ve seen before in real-life, bright-light situations.

But if you don’t accept the image’s reality, maybe because you work with images or you’re a cynic or you take things super literally (or maybe because, by default, you simply recognize that an image can never actually *be* the thing it is an image of), you see blue and black, because those are literally the colors that are there in the image.

And they also happen to be the colors in the actual dress. It’s on Amazon, it’s royal blue and black, case closed.

But remember: the actual dress is a trap.

This is about images, and how we perceive them, and how we fill in the blanks in our perception without realizing what we’re doing, even if the process is based on believing in the reality of things that aren’t real at all.

And it’s also about how angry we get when other people, through equally automatic and unquestioned processes, arrive at conclusions that directly challenge our understanding of the world around us.

There’s a moral in here somewhere, but I’ve already unfriended/unfollowed the people I would have told it to.

I had really good reasons, though. They were just so incomprehensibly wrong all the time.


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