What God can tell us about the true colour of the mystery dress

The world is abuzz with mystery and solutions for the age-old question: Is this dress white and gold or blue and black?

A dress of indeterminate colours


Spoiler alert: The correct answer is that it is neither.

The question is a psychological trick, mixed with a dash of optical illusion. You are asked to select between two options:

  • White and gold; or
  • Blue and black.

Clearly the darker bits are not black, but they do look kind of like poorly lit gold. And clearly the lighter bits are not white, but they do look blueish. So what is happening? It is a three step process:

  1. Our brains are hard-wired to find patterns, so the first thing we notice out of either answer is the parts that are correct.
  2. The second step in the process is to fall victim to power of suggestion to convince ourselves that the incorrect part of each answer is also correct, because after all, those are the only options presented to us. There is a dash of the Checker Shadow Illusion at play here too.
  3. The third step in the process is that everybody forms an opinion about their interpretation and argues about it.

Come to think of it, this is almost exactly how religion works.

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