Why THAT Dress Should Change the World

If you're like most people, you know what you know, and you're virtually 100 percent certain that what you know is right. Whether it's the existence of God, that guns are dangerous, that ISIS is evil, that people on welfare are lazy, or that you're beautiful or not beautiful, you feel in your bones that you are absolutely correct and that anyone who disagrees with you has some serious problems. Then along came a blue and black dress. And suddenly everything changed.


The blue and black dress was first posted to Facebook and Tumblr by a couple of women who were trying to get some opinions on it -- and they soon became flummoxed when friends began arguing over its colors. Some saw the dress as white and gold. Some as gray and gold. Some as blue and black. And some saw one thing in the morning, another in the evening.

What the heck was happening? Was the End of Times near?

No, what was happening was simple brain science. Because of the way the light fell on the dress in the photo, some people's brains are trying to compensate for poor light quality by ignoring the blue tones, making the dress seem white and gold, and other brains are trying to ignore the gold tones, meaning they will see blue and black. Other brains are shifting back and forth, trying to figure out what the hell is going on.

As much as we would like to believe there is imperical truth to all, the reality is that truth is all in perception. For centuries, we thought the Earth was flat, and the sun revolved around the Earth. Hey, it looked that way. Of course, it was our perception that was off. (I wrote about this phenomenon when it appeared that 18 people ignored a Chinese toddler dying in the street.)

In the "invisible gorilla" experiment, cognitive scientist Daniel Simons had people watch video of women passing a ball back and forth and asked them to count how many times the ball was passed. Check it out:

Well, did you spot the gorilla? Almost 50 percent do not. That's because your brain can become so distracted while focusing on one task, that it can literally bypass a gorilla in your midst. A big part of the reason for car accidents -- and why you shouldn't text while driving!

My point is this, the next time you think you are oh-so-right about something, stop and ask yourself: Am I seeing a white and gold dress when it might actually be blue and black?

In other words: Could I be wrong?

It's a question none of us like to ask ourselves, but one we should ask ourselves frequently.

Ask it when you're pretty sure your friend just insulted you by email. Ask it when a guy doesn't call you after a date and you're sure it's because YOU did something wrong. Ask it when you know that your husband is just pretending not to hear you. Ask it when you are dead certain that America is always right about everything. Ask it when you are sure that YOU could never end up in THAT position!

And for those of you who see blue and black, no, it doesn't mean you're always right. It just means you are right this time.

If you simply can't bring yourself to entertain the idea that you're wrong, try saying, "Well, I'm not exactly sure what's right here, I'd have to gather more information ..." Not that difficult, eh? Kind of freeing?

More from The Stir: What Color Is THAT Dress? Celebrities Battle It Out

I'm not saying you shouldn't stick to your guns about what you feel is right -- but don't jump to the conclusion that you are always right. Allow some leeway for the gray areas. Remember, not everything is black and white -- or even blue and black.

Does the dress make you rethink whether you are always right?

Image via skiked/Tumblr

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