Yanny vs. Laurel: Solved! Who Was Right?
By now, you’ve heard the infamous Yanny or Laurel video for yourself. At the very least, you’ve heard the debate.
It’s The Dress all over again, but this time it’s people’s sense of hearing that’s turning husband against wife and sister against brother.
But, as is the case with most things, there is a correct answer.
#Yannygate, which no one is calling this, involves a single audio clip played in a video.
Some people hear “Yanny.” Others hear “Laurel.”
Others hear both.
(For me, I heard “Yanny” in a high pitched voice, but when I brought my phone closer to my hear, I heard “Laurel” clearly in a deep voice, and I can no longer hear “Yanny”)
People are joking about this being grounds for divorce, and respond with shock and disbelief that anyone could hear anything but what they themselves are hearing.
But there is a correct answer.
The voice is saying “Laurel.” Officially.
As with so many social ills, this one originates on reddit.
A redditor by the name of RolandCamry made a recording of the robotic pronunciation of “Laurel” from vocabulary.com.
He says that, because he recorded the audio off of his speakers, there is a distortion that creates the auditory peculiarity.
Speaking to TMZ, RolandCamry says that the “Yanny vs Laurel” debate originated when he played the recording for his friend, who heard “Yanny.”
They then decided to broadcast this peculiar audio clip to find out what others hear.
The words “Laurel” and “Yanny” have very similar acoustic qualities.
If you’re wondering why people hear it differently, there are a couple of factors.
One, different people played the audio on different devices under different circumstances.
Do you ever switch a song from one device to another and suddenly it sounds clearer (or like crap)? That difference can radically alter your perceptions.
Two, different people hear things differently and process auditory information differently. In fact, people’s senses can vary a great deal without realizing it.
Age is even a factor. Those with “younger” ears are more likely to hear “Yanny,” which is at a higher pitch. Those with “older” ears are more likely to hear “Laurel.”
Three is that our brains work based on efficiency rather than accuracy.
If you already “know” what you’re hearing, that is what you’re likely to hear.
Which is why some people heard both, and had to process the audio over multiple listens before they heard it differently.
This is a similar phenomenon to how one might hear song lyrics.
Once you read that Rihanna sings “so if you must falter, be wise,” your mind is less likely to process the audio as “Caligula, salsa, beehive.”
So, there you have it.
Congratulations to Team Laurel. You guys were right.
Congratulations to Team Yanny. You guys have younger ears, for whatever that’s worth.