The Panda Blog

Attempts at understanding life


Here goes another one of my attempts at explaining an unconventional theory that someone somewhere no doubt has already thought of.

What is the first color of the rainbow? “Red,” most people would answer right away. But how do we know that the color I see and call as “red” is the same as the color you see and call “red,” even if we’re looking at the exact same picture? What if somehow in my convoluted world the “red” and “blue” I see that make “purple” is different from the “true colors?” Maybe all of my cones are inverted, and what I call red is actually your green, what I call blue is actually your orange, and the mix of my purple that I see is actually your yellow, and my purple would be seen as just a brownish goop to you. Is there any way to know?

Actually, “true color” is a misnomer. Color doesn’t exist as a tangible entity in nature, it exists only in our minds as light bounces off objects. Thus, different interpretations of color may be normal (e.g “the dress”), but the natural state of the world is actually devoid of color. Maybe instead of calling people who can’t see color “color-blind,” we should consider them normal and people that can see color at current “normal” levels should simply be called “color-enhanced.”

We already know that humans see colors at different “levels”, such as color-blindness, but people that are color-blind are documented cases of different sight. Perhaps a more esoteric difference in sight is one of people’s, whose languages don’t include names for certain colors, perception of color. As explained in this article, members of the Himba tribe have a hard time differentiating between green and blue, possibly because they don’t have a word for blue. On the other hand, due to the fact that they have more words for the color that we are content in simply defining as “green,” they could easily differentiate between the different shades of green.

Maybe its simply the interpretation of the world around us that grants humans the ability to see colors. Without being previously told that the sky is blue, Guy Deutscher’s daughter could not decide what color the sky was. This informal experiment implies that it would be possible to completely change someone’s perception of a color just by teaching them from the beginning an incorrect color something was, for example, oranges are generally purple. It might even be possible to completely remove a word from the vocabulary a child is exposed to, thereby causing them to see orange as purple. (Just to be clear, I wouldn’t support such a non-consented to experiment)

We know that people can see different colors due to gene mutations or culture, but what about my original question, just by natural perception? Will we ever know? Maybe we’ll never find and resolve differences in our original interpretations of the different wavelengths of light bouncing off objects and entering our eyes, but at least those of us who can differentiate between colors can officially say that we’re “color-enhanced.”

Thanks for reading,


After writing some of this post yesterday, I found this video while browsing YouTube today. Darn, well at least my prediction at the beginning proved true :/


3 comments on “Colors

  1. nosaj
    April 2, 2015

    In your post, you mentioned that we can never know how other people see colors. This phenomenon doesn’t only apply to colors, but also to all other aspects of the physical world. In a sense, the world exists only within our own mind, and our only channel to the outside is our senses. We can never know whether the events we observe, and thus believe are true, are actually, fundamentally true. In 1984 by George Orwell, the government changes all historical documents to remove any references that might undermine them; and the citizens believe that the government’s fake version of history is true. Similarly, in our world, the only way to understand life is through the things we are exposed to. Maybe our entire world is a lie…

    (Oops sorry for ending on a cliffhanger 😛 )


    • royalreter
      April 3, 2015

      Lol you sound like you’re writing an SAT essay or something 😛 But yeah I don’t know that I’m not the only sentient being in the world, and the rest of you are just figments of my imagination… maybe I’m not real and *you*-whoever you may be- are the only truly independent creature out there. Perhaps I wrote this whole message just so you can read it. :O


      • nosaj
        April 3, 2015

        Oops too many practice SATs = bad.
        But IMSA apps…


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This entry was posted on April 2, 2015 by in Analysis and tagged .
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