20 June 2009 by Published in: rants 2 comments

It’s time to put this failed thought experiment to sleep for good.  Here’s a simple way to remove 99% of the cases:

Consider the color spectrum (ROYGBV).  Now consider a bizarro person who has two colors randomly flipped in their own private spectrum (such that they perceive ROYGBV to be RGYOBV).  WTF?  Now we have green in between yellow and red , when, by definition, any transition from red to green must include yellow.

Similar arguments exclude all but the complete inversion case (I got this far in fifth grade.  Science is finally catching up!)  And for that, we turn to Wikipedia:

Realistically, since the spectrum of color is only a section of the much larger electromagnetic spectrum, an inverted frequency of electromagnetic radiation (not just visible light) would cause catastrophic physical problems far greater than an altered perception of color. Most supporters of the “Inverted Spectrum” argument have an illogical understanding of colors and their corresponding frequencies.

And check out this ridiculous quote:

In his book I Am A Strange Loop, Douglas Hofstadter argues that the inverted spectrum argument entails a form of solipsism in which people can have no idea about what goes on in the minds of others– contrary to the central theme of his work. He presents several variants to demonstrate the absurdity of this idea: the “inverted political spectrum”, in which one person’s concept of liberty is identical to another’s concept of imprisonment; an inverted “sonic spectrum” in which low musical notes sound like “high” ones and vice versa (which he claims is impossible because low sounds can be felt physically as vibrations); and a version in which random, complex qualia such as riding a roller coaster or opening presents are reversed, so that everyone perceives the world in radically different, unknowable way

And then this guy completely runs away with it, and finally explains that crazy image I always see in the Mac color calibrator:

So is color real? Well, photons with specific wavelengths seem to correspond to specific colors. But the interior of the CIE 1931 color space is a representation of the a most ridiculously abstract concept, labels that aren’t even labels, something our brain experiences and calculates from averaged photon wavelengths. It is an example of what philosophers call qualia – a subjective quality of consciousness.

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  1. ross
    Sun 29th May 2011 at 12:24 am

    Do we see colors the same? = Yes.

    Every standard, typical, working, human eye is built and structured in the same basic way. Therefore, they should all function in the same basic way. For example, two cars built the same way will function the same way when exposed to similiar conditions. Similairly, all typical human brains are structured, and therefore function, in the same basic way. Typical humans also interpert all their other “testable” senses in the same basic way. For example, everyone recoils when they touch a hot stove, ice cream universily tastes “good”, and nails on a chalk board is an irritating sound. So how could a standard eye sensing a standard light frequency, and interpreting it with a standard brain, see it in anything other then a standard way?

  2. Sat 17th Nov 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Because color is created by light and it’s energy,(thats why at night there is no color) and with in lights energy is colors. As light touches an object most colors are absorbed by the object but some are reflected back. The colors that are reflected back is the color that we see. It all depends on how well your eye adapts to the reflected colors, there fore everyone see’s it differently, whether it is slightly different or an conpletely different color.

    As you know strewberies and blood are red (for example) well other people might see your red as blue or another color because its depending on how well your eyes pick up the energies from the light.

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