One of the most helpful things that the internet has taught us is that people really do perceive things very, very differently, whether it’s the colour of a dress or the sexual desirability of various cartoon characters. And now it’s taught us that sounds are heard differently by different people, which doesn’t sound like it should be such a crazy revelation but here we are.
At the time of writing the internet was ablaze with a synthesised sound file that either sounded like “Laurel” or “Yanny” to different people who couldn’t even comprehend why anyone would hear something different.
What do you hear?! Yanny or Laurel pic.twitter.com/jvHhCbMc8I
— Cloe Feldman (@CloeCouture) May 15, 2018
It turns out the one of the factors that determines whether you hear Yanny or Laurel is how well you perceive high pitched frequencies. Those are generally the first frequencies to go as we age – and, incidentally, there’s a theory that this is one of the reasons why older people typically don’t like “today’s music” (i.e. they literally can’t hear a lot of it).
There’s no real way to prevent it, as it’s based on physical changes to the hair cells in your cochlea which are not replaced when damaged, and it can be exacerbated by extreme noise, illness or certain types of medication. It also seems to affect men slightly earlier than women.
So, because everything is now about the Royal Wedding, we need to ask the obvious question: what would Harry and Meghan hear?
And while the correct answer is “I honestly do not care, why are you asking me this pointless garbage question?” the other answers are “probably ‘Laurel’ for Harry and ‘Yanny’ for Meghan”.
You see, Harry is younger, but was a big brave solider boy who was around loud weapons and ‘splosions, while Meghan, though older, is an unspoilt totally-English-now rose whose cochleae are probably still…um, covered in a thick carpet of hairs? That sounds weird, and a bit hot and itchy.
Mind you, both have done a far bit of standing around waving on tarmacs while jet engines idle behind them, which isn’t ideal for one’s hearing. Maybe they both hear “Laurel”, or just a high-pitched whine. In any case, they’d have people to do their hearing for them, surely?
But the key lesson here is that there’s no wrong answer. In other words, if you hear “Yanny” you’re correct. If you hear “Laurel”, you’re correct.
And if you hear “Make them pay… make ALL OF THEM PAY” then you need to seek help immediately.
The same applies if you hear this: