Back in 2015, the nation—nay THE WORLD—came together to furiously debate an issue that would have—until very recently—been considered completely absurd: What color is this dress?
Is it blue and black or white and gold? To me, it’s obviously blue and black. But apparently, only about half the internet agrees with me. Weirdos.
Well, as it turns out even scientists are also somewhat befuddled about what exactly is going on there. But what this controversy did is shed some light on a fundamental truth: Your brain sucks. All our brains suck. Or let me put it another way: Our brains are actually really amazing, but they’re not nearly as infallible as we like to think they are.
Our brains filter a constant tsunami of stimuli and piece the important parts together to recreate what we know as “reality.” And they do all this in damn-near real time—which is really impressive if you think about it. But here’s the thing: a big chunk of what we consider “reality” actually consists of our brains making guestimates.
We know this because researchers have devised ways to consistently fool our brains into seeing things they’re not really seeing—even when our brains know that’s not what they’re seeing. These little reality busters are known as “optical illusions.”