The Dress: A Fake Science Investigation

The Dress

It captured the attention of the entire world. A single dress picture that millions of people saw differently. So we decided to investigate. We didn’t have a choice. It was a scientific calling. After all, we couldn’t ignore the Tweets.

So the question is clear: why did all these people see a different dress? We did the research and found the answers.

Examining the picture itself

Here it is, in all its glory. The dress picture that entranced the world:

The Dress Picture

We contacted Dr. Kerry Smithwell, a color scientist at the University of New Mexico. She was immediately perplexed by the image. The unedited transcript is below — let’s just say the interview was intriguing.

Fake Science: Tell us. Why do some people see this dress as black and blue, while others see it as white and gold?

Dr. Smithwell: I think you have the wrong picture.

FS: What do you mean?

Dr. Smithwell: This is a can of garbanzo beans.

Fake Science: Now what possible color phenomenon would cause you to see a can of garbanzo beans instead of the dress?

Dr. Smithwell: Who are you?

The conversation ended shortly afterward. But we’d just uncovered an entire new wrinkle in the way people see color.

Experts can’t agree on the color of the dress

We surveyed the top fifteen color scientists in the nation, and they all had fascinating responses.

A simple picture of a dress can divide the world’s greatest minds. Dr. Josiah Hemel, a department chair at Johns Hopkins, said, “Did you attach the wrong file?” Muriel Ariel, author of Color: A History, said, “Pls Resend?” And Dr. Richard Hughes, a neurologist who studies color perception around the world, replied to our email with a cryptic response: “Huh?”

The world’s top color scientists all saw the dress differently. Just as the world saw gold and white or black and blue, they perceived the dress in their own unique way, as a can of garbanzo beans. But what was really going on?

An investigation deepens

It’s possible that different brains see different colors differently — with evolution no doubt the culprit. While some of us correct for photographic lighting by seeing a blue or white dress, others of us see a can of garbanzo beans. Perhaps it relates to a primal desire for food? No one knows.

In the end, the dress remains a great mystery of our time. If the experts can’t agree, how can we know the real color of the dress? We’ll leave you with our last email with Dr. Lucy Deboe, a neurologist at Columbia.

This is a picture of garbanzo beans.

That’s right: even the experts can be confused by a picture of a dress.

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Discuss Your Knowledge

What color dress do you see?

  • Those are not garbanzo beans. Those are chick peas.

    • kaytie

      They’re not chick peas, they’re legumes.

      • Santiago Sierra

        actually I see a kitchen

  • just Jeff

    Judging from the pic, I’d say I’m looking at $450/ month 2bdrm apt with “new appliances throughout”

  • The teakettle is orange.