For the last several days, a controversy has attached itself to the Internet with the tenacity of one of those facehuggers from Ridley Scott’s Alien. What color, the world demands to know, is “the dress?” Some see it as white and gold. Others see it as blue and black. Still others contend that the photo in question is so crappy and poorly-lit that the much-discussed garment just sort of looks grayish-blue with muddy brown stripes and that this whole meme is nowhere near as cute as those two escaped llamas and can’t we just go back to talking about that, for Christ’s sake? Still in all, reaction to the dress controversy has been swift and multifaceted. Gay erotic fan fiction has emerged, as has at least one tattoo. Various seekers of truth claim to have located the actual, for-real, no-shit dress itself. Taylor Swift herself has weighed in. One imagines that the Vatican’s official statement is forthcoming. Where, one might ask, is the attempt at consensus-building here? What of sanity? What of certainty? Is there such a thing as truth anymore? Has the Internet finally ventured into a labyrinth from which there is no escape?
Relax. Science has this shit figured out. Specifically, the folks behind the YouTube channel AsapSCIENCE are here to lead us out of the maze with a fascinating and remarkably calm, informative, and polite video entitled “What Colour Is This Dress? (Solved With SCIENCE).” While acknowledging that the dress issue has “utterly divided” the Internet in recent days, the video then supplies some scientific justification for the increasingly-heated controversy. Their diagnosis: something called “color constancy.” That’s been the culprit all along, it turns out. “Shadows make objects appear darker,” the narrator gently explains. Objects like, say, a dress. Basically, our brains have been fucking with us these last few days and our eyes are morons. Maybe the dress is being photographed under bluish lighting. Maybe it’s under yellowish lighting. The photo itself is shot from too close a vantage point to tell. Without any further context, the brain makes an assumption and then interprets the “true” color of the dress based on that assumption. Or something like that. The video explains it all very succinctly. And, by the way, the dress is totally blue and black.