For the past two days, a little
white blue white blue dress has set the entire social media scene abuzz.
If you haven’t been acquainted already, here is how the story went. Two days ago, 21 year old a Scottish singer by the name of Caitlin McNeill received a picture from a friend.
Her friend was about to get married and the bride’s mother had wanted to wear this dress to the wedding. It would have been a pretty unremarkable picture if not for the fact that people who have seen the dress could not agree on the colour.
Some saw it as white and gold, while others saw it as blue and black. People’s opinion were divided. Sarah decided to share the picture on Tumblr fan page she has. From then on, the picture and the debate on its colour went viral.
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Celebrities weighed in. Justin Bieber had something to say.
So had Ellen DeGeneres.
It spawned memes.
And even our Prime Minister was moved by it.
White and gold or blue and black?
Well, the truth is, the dress is indeed blue and black. #TheDress
And here is what neuroscientists have to say about it.
Light enters the eye through the lens. They are projected to the back of the retina where the millions of photoreceptors called rods and cones try to make sense of the image.
Cones are better with colours and how colours are perceived depend on the make up and balance of cones in our eyes.
On top of that, our brain is always striving for the perfect ‘white balance’ just like how a camera does. Differences in white balance will largely affect the colour we perceive the dress to be. For a more through explanation, go to this Gizmodo article.
Is what we see absolute?
I have always thought of what I saw as absolute. After all, sight is one of the most basic of our senses.
If I see a cup, it is indisputably a cup. If I see a chair, there it is, a chair. If the sky is blue, it is blue sky until the sun sets and it turns crimson. We trust our vision and seldom give much thought to it.
Yet, this dress fiasco has taught me that nothing is absolute. What you see is only an interpretation of reality. Your intepretation. You could be so damn sure of it, but in reality it is not to be.
If anyone had challenged me from the start, I would have wagered a healthy sum of money and/or a ridiculously embarassing forfeit (I have childish friends) that the dress is white. It would have been rather painful to be proven wrong.
The Stock Market
It pays to remember that the stock market works in exactly the same way. A stark difference in opinion is required for it to function.
If you want to buy a stock, someone has to sell it to you. You would want to buy because you are of the opinion that the price would go up. The other party would be selling because he or she is of the opinion that the price will come down.
Chances are, both of you would have access to pretty much the same amount of information. The same stock price movements, the same financial statements, the same analysis recommendations and in a perfect market the same level of access to news.
Like rays of light flooding through the lens of our eyes, we take all the information in and make a decision. Sometimes the process is deliberate. Other times, it is almost spontaneous.
And like the cones in the back of our eyes that determine whether we see white or blue, the process will lead us to determine whether we should be buying or selling the stock.
Just like the dress, we will be called upon to take a stand.
Know that we could possibly be on one side of the spectrum, know we could possibly be very wrong, know that we are vulnerable and we should remain humble about our investing decisions. That is the hallmark of the successful investor!