People Are Still Talking About THAT Dress...

by Pamela J. Hobart

Unless you've been on an internet-free retreat for the past couple of days, you've surely heard about "The Dress" by now. Basically, the internet went and lost its mind over a difference of opinion... yet again. Some people see white and gold stripes in the original picture of the garment, but others see blue and black. Now, enough time has passed that we have legitimate polling data about the dress, and it turns out people are extremely thoroughly split.

Survata, an independent research firm located in San Francisco, tapped 400 people in its survey-taking network to ask about the appearance of the dress, and the breakdown of results shows just how divided on this topic we really are. According to the survey, 42 percent of the respondents voted "black & blue" and 40 percent voted "white & gold," but the margin of difference is apparently not statistically significant (a small minority of participants said "neither," goodness knows what they saw... polka dots?).

And, as Survata CEO Chris Kelly added, "Amazingly, the results were roughly equal even when cutting by gender, geography, or the respondents 'technographics' - e.g., iPhone vs. Android." In other words, the disagreement on the dress cuts across all kinds of party lines. Be sure to bring it up at your next social engagement if there are any awkward silences because the, uh, fun of debating the dress will apparently never end.

What color is the dress, really? Well, it's complicated. As reported in Wired, human vision evolved to compensate for lighting conditions. The same object looks different when observed in the lights of morning, afternoon, or evening, and our brains automatically subtract away this (and other) visual artifacts in order to allow us to think about what an object looks like, in itself. Generally, this subconscious process makes our vision better. But in particular circumstances, like the backlit, indoors, apparently-fluorescent conditions of the original photo of the dress, the compensation can betray us. This is the photo that rocked the boat:

And here's a photo from the manufacturer, Roman Originals, that may or may not settle the matter:

If you still haven't gotten enough of this phenomenon, try 7 other optical illusions to totally confuse you, or check out the best memes inspired by the dress. And, note to self: horizontal stripes are apparently no longer a fashion no-no, hooray!

Images: swiked/Tumblr, Giphy