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Families Are Divided Over Whether They Hear 'Yanny' or 'Laurel'

Photograph by Reddit

It has been a few years since a certain black-and-blue (or, fine, white-and-gold) dress tore the internet apart. Now, people are wondering what magic is at work again with an audio recording that sounds like it's either saying "Yanny" or "Laurel."

During a time when everyone is arguing about everything, neither side is budging even though both sides are right. The computer generated audio clip first appeared on Reddit and then grew more viral after YouTube star Cloe Feldman tweeted it. It's so divisive that it has created riffs between husbands and wives, parents and children, and brothers and sisters everywhere! (You might think we're joking, but just wait until you read the tweets below.)

But, first, if you haven't heard it already, give it a go. (Warning: May cause explosive arguments.)

There may be several explanations for this audio illusion, which is perceptually ambiguous and can be seen two ways, much like whether your kid sees a duck or a rabbit in this image.

"This happens because the brain can’t decide on a definitive interpretation. If there is little ambiguity, the brain locks on to a single perceptual interpretation. Here, the Yanny/Laurel sound is meant to be ambiguous because each sound has a similar timing and energy content, so in principle it’s confusable," Professor David Alais from the University of Sydney told the Guardian. "All of this goes to highlight just how much the brain is an active interpreter of sensory input, and thus that the external world is less objective than we like to believe."

Mind. Blowing.

The quality of the clip itself isn't very clear in the first place. There can be a lot of factors at play here. For instance, how sensitive are your ears to certain frequencies? What accents are you used to? What device are you using? Was there a conversation around you that mentioned "Laurel" already? Visually, do seeing the words first influence what you hear? (Ugh, we're going to need more coffee for this.)

Where do you and your family stand? Are you Team Yanny or Team Laurel?

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