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I thought the ‘What color is this dress?’ controversy was stupid… until I asked my wife to weigh in

Updated Dec 19th, 2018 8:57PM EST
The Dress White Gold Blue Black

For the past day or so, the Internet has been embroiled in what I thought was a completely stupid controversy over the color of a dress. It seems that some people think the dress, pictured above, is white and gold while others see it as blue and black. My own first instinct was to see the dress as white and gold but upon closer inspection, I realized it was likely blue and gold. Case closed? Not quite.

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When I asked my wife about it this morning, she laughed at me and said it was “clearly” blue and black. I told her that I got where the blue was but I said that, for the life of me, I could not see where she was getting black. She then proceeded to point to the gold parts of the dress and say, “See?! That’s obviously black!”

But I couldn’t see it. I still can’t see it. There is absolutely nothing black about this dress. Look again:

Where is the black?

Wired talked with some neuroscientists about this controversy and it turns out that the dress really might be blue and black after all, although my brain is apparently tricking me into thinking it’s blue and gold.

“What’s happening here is your visual system is looking at this thing, and you’re trying to discount the chromatic bias of the daylight axis,” Bevil Conway, a neuroscientist at Wellesley College, tells Wired. “So people either discount the blue side, in which case they end up seeing white and gold, or discount the gold side, in which case they end up with blue and black.”

Regardless, I still cannot see black anywhere. This must be how my cat feels when it finally catches the laser pointer mark and realizes that she can’t actually sink her claws into it. It is not a good feeling.

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.