The Dress: A Philosophy Problem Gone Viral (a few updates)

The Dress: A Philosophy Problem Gone Viral (a few updates)


Making the rounds yesterday was the dress. Take a look, and figure out which two colors it is:

dress 2

Some people see the dress as white and gold, others see it as blue and black. Which do you see it as?

The phenomenon is interesting and fun, and there are explanations of it at Wired (more science-minded), Vox (more philosophical), and elsewhere. Millions of people are currently obsessed with discussing the dress and figuring out why there is such disagreement about it. This is a kind of philosophy problem gone viral, and it’s an opportunity for philosophers to speak up publicly and provide some insight into the phenomenon and—since people are curious—-actually be listened to.

Is there a lesson here for those concerned with outreach and public philosophy? Are there other such problems that could gain such traction so quickly in social media? Should we try to take advantage of the momentum? What should next week’s viral philosophy conundrum be? Discussion and ideas welcome.

And by the way, it’s blue and black.

UPDATE: Buy it here (read the comments!)

UPDATE 2 (2/28/15): “What would Wittgenstein say about that dress?” by Barry Smith (University of London) at BBC News.

UPDATE 3 (3/3/15): The Brains Blog hosts a philosophical roundtable on The Dress.

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