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People used to dream in black and white before color TV

Last night, I had a dream that Noam Chomsky's comments about 9/11 were deeply related to the color wheel used by painters. In the dream, this seemed as obvious as night and day. Yet the following morning, no trace of it made rational sense.

Our dreams are the most obscure things about our internal lives. Materialist science says that dreams are nothing but information being processed by the sleeping brain, manifesting as random images, and depth psychologists like Carl Jung argue that they offer profound insights into our problems.

The problem of what our dreams mean is unlikely to be solved anytime soon, but some of the mysteries around dreams just get deeper and deeper. For example, the bizarre fact that prior to colorized television, most people around the world dreamed almost exclusively in black and white.

persona 5 classroom quiz color tv black and white Credit: Persona 5

It's scientifically proven. In the 1940s, around three-quarters of all people were dreaming in black and white. This was true until the 1960s, when color TV become common. By 2001, less than 20 percent of all people claimed to dream in black and white.

The reason? It's childhood exposure to color TV. Your grandparents will dream in black and white more often than you do. Your children, on the other hand, may have an absolutely tiny number of dreams that aren't in color. Personally speaking, I always dream in color, and it's insane to think that's because I've grown up with TV and the internet. It just brings up so many more questions.

Like, what about people who have never seen TV at all? We see in color, so why do we only dream in color if we've grown up with colorized TV? It's really a conundrum. The only possible explanation seems to be that our screens have far more influence on our subconscious than we would like to believe.

color tv dreams black and white Credit: Leif Parsons

The subconscious, the dream world, and our exposure to technology are all profoundly intertwined. But to what extent? Is growing up with the internet changing other parts of our brains we don't even understand? Will audio, video and the lightning-speed of Twitter and Snapchat change the way we think and dream entirely?

The way we process information in our brains evolves alongside our technology. The more advanced our technology gets, the more certain parts of our subconscious minds change to adapt to it.

dream classical black and white color tv Credit: Inquiries Journal

It's a really spooky thought, and at first glance, it seems impossible. Could our screens really have such a major effect on us? Well, if they change the way we dream, then yes, absolutely. And what are our dreams, then? If they merely process information, then it makes sense that colorized information would lead to colored dreams. And yet, that still doesn't make sense for the simple reason that, as I said before, we see normally in color!

It's all in the subconscious, clearly. Technology affects our subconscious thinking, in dreams and in ideas that float deep beneath the surface, technology is changing us. Perhaps Carl Jung was right, and we truly are led by our subconscious into our waking beliefs, and if we are ignorant of our subconscious, we are just letting the deep waters beneath our surface souls direct our lives - and we call it fate.

What will 3-D television do to our dreams? Virtual reality? We will almost certainly find out. It is, for that reason alone, an insanely amazing time to be alive.

  • Aug
  • 273 shares
  • Alexander Blum