'Yanny' Or 'Laurel': The Debate Ripping The Internet Apart

by Thea Glassman
Image via Twitter/Vox

Is it “yanny” or “laurel”? Honestly, no one even knows

The internet is currently being ripped apart over a four second clip. No one can decide if the words “yanny” or “laurel” are being said in a now viral piece of audio, and it’s creating quite the lively online debate. Remember the whole “blue dress or gold dress” controversy of 2015? It’s basically just like that, only people have gotten even feistier on Twitter since then.

The whole drama began when a Twitter user posted an audio clip and asked the internet if they heard the word “yanny” or “laurel.” 20,000 comments later, and no one can agree on what’s being said. For the record, I have now listened to that clip ten times and exclusively hear “laurel.” I also saw a blue dress and shiny legs and refuse to be told otherwise.

Some people were standing firm on #TeamLaurel.

Others were pushing hard on the #TeamYanny side (but…HOW?!?)

The battle lines were proving fierce.

And some people actually heard both words, which I feel like makes them magical unicorns probably.

By the end, we were all feeling exhausted, confused, and suspicious of people we thought we once knew.

If you’d like an answer to this whole debate STAT, The Verge talked to Lars Riecke, an assistant professor of audition and cognitive neuroscience at Maastricht University, who had some pretty interesting thoughts on the matter.

Riecke noted that he heard “laurel” but his eight-year-old daughter heard “yanny.” This is because older people begin to lose their hearing at higher frequency ranges and “yanny” is said with a higher frequency than “laurel.” This is terrible, terrible news for all of us in the #TeamLaurel camp.

On the more comforting side of things, Bharath Chandrasekaran, a professor of communications sciences and disorders at the University of Texas at Austin, told The Verge that the audio quality could be impacting what people are hearing.

“It’s a little bit noisy, so that itself causes perception to be a little more ambiguous,” he said. “Because it’s noisy, your brain is filling in with what it thinks it should be.” Yeah, let’s just go with that one.

This debate will probably rage for a few more days, which is actually totally a-okay because it’s the first time in a long time that people are arguing on Twitter over something that is not completely horrendous and politically divisive. So, here’s a big round of applause to whoever created this yanny/laurel (it’s laurel) clip.