Rock Star Psychologist Steven Pinker Explains Why #TheDress Looked White, Not Blue
Then, it is not surprising that he may have the clearest explanation for the clothes that take over the Internet. Read it below.
Since the days of Mickey Ryder and Monica Lewinsky, a blue dress has not aroused so much enthusiasm.
A Tumblr user posted this photo and begged \"Guys, please help me --
Is this dress white and gold or blue and black?
My friends and I couldn\'t agree. we were scared.
\"She\'s not the only one who\'s scared ---
The puzzle, repeated on the Internet, triggered hundreds of comments and guesses, including the judgment of some celebrities.
A few minutes later, a dozen of the students in my introductory psychology course emailed me asking me to explain.
I had to catch the plane and in the bar at the airport I overheard the bartender arguing with a few customers about the dress.
This is my best guess of what is going on.
This puzzle has nothing to do with the reversal that philosophers call it.
Spectral paradox (
Is my red the same as yours? )
, Related to the situation that people agree-
At least publicly.
About the color they see
Also has nothing to do with the rod and cone.
The viewing conditions of the image are well entered into the brightness range of the cone.
Stick can\'t see the image at all.
The two different senses don\'t seem to depend on the color setting of the display.
According to Internet reports, the two can see different colors on the same screen.
It is related to brightness persistence and color persistence.
The problem with the visual system is that any light that hits the eye may come to a dark object that is exposed to free glare, or to a froma light object that is exposed to free dim light.
That is to say, as far as the brain is aware, patches of 100 units of brightness in the image may come from the black surface that reflects 10% candles 1000, or from the white surface that reflects 90% candles 111.
Still, we usually see a white snowball in the shade and a black coal in the sun.
This is a phenomenon of perseverance.
In addition to this challenge, a yellow one
The orange patch may come from white cloth under warm light (
Such as tungsten wire or halogen lamp bulb)
Or an orange cloth illuminated with white light (
Like the sun and sky on a sunny day).
Still, we usually see a white shirt under a floor lamp, which is white, not orange.
This is a phenomenon of color persistence.
The brain \"guesses\" the color by using the overall range of brightness and color in the image, as well as an explanation of the 3D shape and arrangement of the surface, thus achieving these consistency, the brightness and lighting direction of each major area of the image.
It then removes this lighting information from each patch, generating a salvage value for the patch, which (
When everything goes well)
Track the inherent brightness and color of the actual surface in the world.
This is the value corresponding to our subjective experience of surface color.
So, depending on the overall lighting, the same patch in the image may look very different, especially if the patch is treated as a direct lighting or a shadow.
Edward Addison\'s check
Shadow illusion, we can\'t see that the and B squares on the screen are physically the same, showing brightness permanence in action: we perceive the square with the light they will have in the world.
Same, Rubik\'s Cube.
Cube illusion shows color permanence in action: the brown square on the top and the yellow square on the side are physically the same on the screen, however, given that the brown and yellow tiles in the world have shades, we do think they are brown and yellow.
In conclusion: the brain compensates for shadows and other kinds of lighting and forces us to see the brightness and color of the surface of the world, which is different from the physical values on the screen.
Digital cameras also face the same problem, that is, the so-called \"exposure\" and \"white balance\", rather than brightness persistence and color persistence.
The algorithms in their chips are far less complex than those in the brain (
For example, you can\'t consider the 3D structure of the scene)
, But by using mean, contrast, and extremes in an image, they are usually very good at compensating for lighting, and usually render white to white, yellow to yellow, and so on.
However, this effect only works if they shoot a typical scene, which is mainly illuminated by a single light source, such as the sun or the light above the head, it has a typical variety of light, dark and colored surfaces.
However, when the scene is not typical in some ways, the camera can produce excessive Pictures
Or insufficient exposure (
Failure of Lightnesss persistence)
Or in color (
Failure of color persistence).
This brought us clothes.
Dressing scenes are a nightmare for digital cameras.
First of all, the lighting is completely mixed.
First of all, the dress looks like it is in the shadow, while the background is illuminated by very bright and warm lights (yellow-orange)floodlights. Alternatively (
Hard to say)
The dress may have been blown up by a bright light, and its light is also absorbed by the reflective surface in front of the woman.
Second, the lights in the background are brighter than the shadows, so that they maximize the recording power of the camera sensors, and many patches in the background are \"cropped\" into pure blinding white, no information on the color of the lighting is provided.
The third problem is that the dress looks like it\'s made of glossy, glossy material and glossy highlights don\'t look like a typical surface.
Exposure and color-
The balance algorithm in the camera usually \"assumes\" that they look better --
In any case, the camera cannot cope with this extreme scene.
According to recent internet sources, it now appears that the dress is indeed blue and black: This suggests that the camera \"assumes\" that the dress is in a dark blue shade rather than bathed in a yellow floodlight.
It removes most of the blue color and compensates for a deep shade, thus washing the dress almost white.
For the same reason, it renders black stripes that actually reflect just bright and warm light into dark yellow. (
The glossy dark yellow is considered gold. )
Back to the human perception.
The brain is very good at color persistence, and they often succeed even when looking at photos of the scene rather than the scene itself.
That is, the brain usually compensates for the color projection in the photo and allows us to see the color of the object in the photo as in the world.
But just reached a point-sometimes the same atypical condition as fooling the camera (
Such as mixed lighting and unusual materials)
Can also fool the brain. The blue-
Dress photos are one of these fringe cases.
Some viewers saw the scene like a camera, reading the dress as bathed in blue light in shadows, and seeing it in white and gold.
Others gather enough information from the image to correctly see the skirt illuminated by bright warm light to see the light
The blue part of the dark blue.
By the same calculation, there is a dark yellow plaque on the retina (
If it comes from the surface bathed in bright and warm light)
Must be a dark neutral, that is, black.
Some pictures show how it works.
Photoshop allows user seconds
Guess the camera and decide what is real black and what is real white.
If I set the bright highlights on the skirt to \"white\", which is consistent with the white surface under the deep shadow the camera guesses, the photo will be presented in Whiteand-
The gold audience saw it: but if I set its deepest shadow to \"black\", the red-hot yellow color is eliminated correctly --
The orange of the actual lighting, the photo is rendered in blueand-
The black Perceptor sees: why some people accept the camera\'s shadow lighting assumption and treat the skirt as white and gold, which is still a mystery when others feel the illumination of the flood light, see the dress is blue and black.
This difference may reflect the fact that there are shiny skirts in case of uneven light, or that both have different experiences.
But I suspect the difference is arbitrary.
When a person sees an image that is highly degraded or distorted, their brain suddenly locks in an explanation, so they no longer see the image in any other way.
This is what happened in the famous images of Jesus and Dalmatian.
At first they look like a plate of spots, but you can\'t do it again once Jesus or Dalmatian shows up
See them and restore the first impression of the splash.
When people first see photos of dresses with unusual lights and materials, it\'s hard for their brains to explain the color and intensity of the light, locking in one of these two possibilities, see the material of the skirt in the proper real scene
The color of the world, and then it\'s hard to see it in any other way.
Steven Pinker is a John Stone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University.
He studies language and cognition, writes for publications such as the New York Times, Times and The New Republic, and is the author of ten books, including linguistic instincts, how the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, the things of thought, the better angels in our nature, and recently, the sense of style: a guide to the writing of the 21st century thinkers.