Freaky Audio Illusions In The News

By now, you’ve probably heard of the “laurel/yanny” audio illusion making the rounds. If not, you can hear it on the page of this article about it at The New York Times that embeds a helpful tool to modify its frequencies in various ways to adjust which of the two words it sounds more like.

Like the infamous dress that people obsessed over 3 years ago, this audio illusion can be used to provoke philosophical questions about perception and knowledge.

An even more striking audio illusion is also being circulated in which you hear either “brainstorm” or “green needle” depending on which you think about before you listen to it.

You can hear “Brainstorm” or “Green Needle” based on whichever one you think about from r/blackmagicfuckery

You may be able to hear “brain needle” and “green storm,” too, if you think about those phrases as you listen.

As with the dress, this is not just fun, but a hook with which philosophers might engage the public. If you know of public philosophy on these audio illusions, please share links to them in the comments. I’d also encourage readers to suggest philosophical work (not necessarily intended for the lay public) that’s relevant.

Earring by Otis Jaxon

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Jonathan Cohen
Jonathan Cohen
6 years ago
James Olsen
James Olsen
6 years ago

Casey O’Callaghan’s collection of essays “Beyond Vision” is excellent and focuses on auditory perception.