This 'Yanny' or 'Laurel' clip is dividing people online even more than 'The Dress'
Forget "to be or not to be", because "Yanny" or "Laurel?" is the most important question for social media users who have been divided over a viral audio clip, reminding many of 'the dress' situation back in 2015.
People simply can't decide whether the viral clip - which features a robotic voice saying a single word - says "yanny" or "laurel", and the question has stirred up quite the fight on the internet.
The audio first appeared on Reddit, posted by user RolandCamry, who has become the anonymous individual responsible for many people's internet breakdowns. It then moved on to hit the wider social media sphere when it was posted to Twitter by a 20-year-old Instagram “influencer” named Cloe Feldman.
Unsurprisingly, the outcry has had many people recalling the 'dress debate' that took place in early 2015; when Alana MacInnes and Caitlin McNeill, both from Scotland, asked Tumblr users whether a dress was gold and white, or blue, the debate became an internet sensation, and everyone had an opinion on it.
Perhaps both arguments are so divisive because every person who sees the dress, or hears the audio clip, is certain that they are right about it. This was exemplified online with social media reaction to the "yanny" or "laurel" discussion.
The clip has even made its way to Hollywood, with A-list celebrities joining in the fight. James Corden, Chrissy Teigen and Ellen Degeneres were all on Team Laurel, while Mindy Kaling and Stephen King vouched for Team Yanny.
To make things even more confusing, there were a few people who claimed to be able to hear both phrases:
So, what the hell is going on here? Some scientists have claimed to have the answer to this global predicament, with some insisting that what you hear depends on the bass levels, and a few experts posting examples of this on social media.
However, this explanation has not satisfied some, who still claimed to hear the same one word. This led Brad Story from the University of Arizona's Speech Acoustics and Physiology Lab to comb through the clip, his conclusion being that it originally said "laurel", but that things have been confused by frequency.
"I'm pretty sure the original recording was 'laurel,'" he says. "The reason it can be confused is that there is a family of frequencies produced by the shape of our throat and mouth."
He continued: "The three lowest frequencies are used to encode language as a sound wave. The third frequency distinguishes between l and r. This frequency is high for l, like at the beginning and end of 'laurel,' and low for r, as in the middle of 'laurel.'"
Britt Yazel, a researcher at the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain, agreed with Story, saying: "I honestly think after looking at the spectrograms and playing with some filters that this is just the word 'Laurel' with some high frequency artifacts overlaying it."
So, are they right? Have they solved the great debate of 2018 and stopped the impending Third World War that was on its way?
I wouldn't bet on it. The "yanny" and "laurel" warring tribes are still pretty angry.