The Only Interesting Thing About DressGate Is That Humans Can’t Necessarily See Blue
No matter how many scientific explanations I read about THE DRESS last Friday, nothing made it feel any less inexplicable or mystifying – until I read about how human beings may not necessarily be able to see blue on our own. Blue might be a sort of psychological phenomenon. That has put that ugly-ass dress into pretty sharp perspective. (This GIF also helped tremendously, apropos of nothing.)
So, yeah, back in the 19th century, William Gladstone was studying ancient Greek texts when he realized that none of them contained descriptions of anything — even water or the sky — as “blue.” A scholar named Lazarus Geiger (best name ever) continued Gladstone’s work, studying ancient texts across various cultures, and found the same to be true almost everywhere. Only ancient Egyptian texts had any descriptions of things being “blue,” and it’s worth noting that they were also the only culture that was able to produce a blue dye for fabrics. In every other culture, descriptions of black and white came first, then red, then yellow or green, with “blue” consistently appearing as a linguistic phenomenon last.
Compare that with the fact that there’s a tribe in Namibia, the Himba, who don’t differentiate between blue and green in their language and, in tests, can’t usually distinguish between shades of blue and shades of green. The Himba can, however, differentiate between shades of green with very subtle differences.
So it seems, at least from the documentation we have, that either humans were color-blind to blue for millennia, or we just didn’t notice it or couldn’t differentiate it from white or green. Madness! That is way more fucked-up than a dress that was lit too brightly! So if you’ve been wondering if you’re crazy for seeing the dress as gold and white, don’t worry, it’s reality that’s crazy, not you.
[Image via Shutterstock]
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