Hopkins Ophthalmologist Explains the White & Gold Vs. Blue & Black Mystery of “The Dress”

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If you were anywhere near the internet last week, you probably spent some time arguing with friends and loved ones about the color of a particularly mysterious dress. 

The phenomenon of “the dress” inspired a thousand thinkpieces and at least one tattoo (seriously). And even though it clearly looks gold and white to me, I’m grudgingly willing to accept that maybe IRL the dress is black and blue. But the actual colors involved are much less interesting than the fact that so many people could disagree so vehemently about something as seemingly simple as color.

Johns Hopkins ophthalmologist broke it down for the Hopkins Hub:

It has to do with the individual’s color perception. Presumably, the cones—the photoreceptors in the retina—that see the primary colors (red, blue, and green) either are functioning differently in different individuals or the information that gets to the area of the brain that interprets color (V4) is interpreted differently by different individuals.

There’s also the matter of implied shadow/background colors — the New York Times has a nice explanation of that part of the phenomenon, too.

Who knew that we could learn so much from a meme?



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