Is it possible to prove that we all see the same colo(u)rs?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Lary Larson, Oct 30, 2001.

  1. Lary Larson

    Lary Larson Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 3, 1999
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    0
    OK - this concept has been rolling around in my head for several years now. It's time to throw it out to you smart people to see what you come up with.
    How can you prove that what I see as blue is the same color that you see? Isn't it possible that the color I identify as blue and the color that you identify as blue are completely different colors? We all call the sky blue, but it might appear to you as the color I see as red, we both call it blue because that's what we were taught to call that particular color.
    This is a hard concept to explain, so I apologize if I did a poor job. Anyway, any thoughts?
    Lary
    ------------------
    Want to help the HTF find ET? Click here! Learn more here .
     
  2. Brad_W

    Brad_W Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2001
    Messages:
    1,358
    Likes Received:
    0
    You can't really prove it. Although, here's an interesting thought:
    If you were to take out your eyes and replace them with mine, after a while (cuz you wouldn't be used to seeing the way I do/must get adjusted to new set o' eyes) you will see the way I do. Very bizzare, but true concept.
    ------------------
    "I was born to murder the world." -Nix (Lord of Illusions)
    My Home Page http://www.geocities.com/masternix/DVD.html
    My List O' DVDs:
    http://www.dvdaficionado.com/dvds.html?cat=1&id=meshuga
     
  3. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2000
    Messages:
    8,967
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yep, I have wondered the exact same thing for years also. But in the end, I don't think so: The effects that colors have on people are strikingly similar: I don't think anybody would call a red or yellow room relaxing... That at the very least indicates a similarity in the way we perceive colors.
    Colors are simply frequencies of radiation that our eyes can perceicve. While there might be slight variations from one individual to the other, it is my belief that we perceive the same frequency roughly the same way.
    ...except for these people who actually see red as green and green as red. I don't know how they are called in english. I would be curious to know how they realise that what everybody is calling green is actually red for them.
    --
    Holadem - They are called "Daltoniens" in french.
     
  4. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 1998
    Messages:
    9,694
    Likes Received:
    164
    I know exactly what you're saying, Lary, and I've thought the same thing for many years.
    What makes me think we do see the same colors is the fact that we can talk about them objectively in terms of the wavelengths of various colors and the data shown in spectrographs.
     
  5. Chuck C

    Chuck C Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2001
    Messages:
    2,224
    Likes Received:
    1
    Back in my Physics days, we'd look at gas filled bulbs thru a special filter called a diffraction grating. You'd then see several lines of pure color at a specific wavelength. White light is a mixture of all light in the visible spectrum, and that's why it's crucial to separate light into it's purest form in order to understand it.
    Back to the filter, it's plain to see that red is red (~650 nanometers) and blue is blue (~470 nm). However, this may not prove that we all see the same colors. Red and blue are just names...to prove that we all see the same colors, you have to look at the extremes. If you can see any trace of light at < 390 nm (x-rays) and/or > 780 nm (radio waves), then you're a freak of nature, and thus see different colors.
    Let's say you are looking at a bulb filled with neon thru a grating, and let's say that there is a strong peak/line of light at ~638 nm (very red). I suppose that minor fluctuations of the width and intensity of that line may differ from the published width and intensity of the line thus bringing about discrepancies in the way humans see color. If you're saying that blue may in fact be red, do yourself a favor and find a physics lab, run some tests, and assure yourself that the light produced at around 650 nm is in fact red.
    Also take into account that every human has nearly the same amount of cones in their eyes. Cones, which are photoreceptors of color, can be broken up into red, green, and blue cones. Scientists have proved that the respective cones are sensitive to certain wavelengths of light. I suppose if you were missing some of each type of cone, you'd see different colors than everyone else.
    Did I just prove that we all see the same colors? No. Did I babble? Yes. Hopefully, I've provoked some thought as to whether we all see the same colors. Given that everyone is unique, it would not surprise me would see different colors.
    ------------------
    Chuck
    Chuckster's HT Site
    The At-Home Home Theater (E.L.)
    The Dorm Room Theater (E.L.)
     
  6. Larry Schneider

    Larry Schneider Second Unit

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 1999
    Messages:
    356
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm mildly color-blind. I can distinguish colors, but I definitely don't see what a person with normal vision sees. Try a color-blindness test; what you see clearly as the number 21 is invisible to me.
     
  7. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2000
    Messages:
    5,030
    Likes Received:
    0
    I've known a few colorblind people, and they say they can distinguish red and green as long as they aren't near similar, but look sort of gray I guess.. so in that case they don't see the same color as us, but whatever they see they associate with the right words...
     
  8. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1997
    Messages:
    8,311
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    Florida
    Real Name:
    Joseph DeMartino
    1) No, we can't "prove" that what you perceive - inside your own head - as the color blue is the same thing that I perceive.
    2) It doesn't matter, because whatever our individual perceptions, we are all reacting to the same spectrum of visible light, and we all give the same name to different parts of that spectrum, so we can all communicate in a common language about colors. Even if the color we both call "green" looks "red" to you and "blue" to me, we'd agree that lawns, spring leaves on trees and British race cars are all "green".
    Odds are that we do really all see pretty much the same colors, because we're all using the same basic hardware to do it (while there is variation, our eyes and brains are all "built" to the same blueprint). Exact perceptions are hard to match up, however, since those are purely "internal" matters. For that matter we can't be sure that "hot" and "cold" feel the same to you as they do to me, or that we are feeling the same sensations when we speak of "pain". But, again, whatever the individual perceptions, the phenomenon are common and can be discussed in a common language.
    Regards,
    Joe
     
  9. Lary Larson

    Lary Larson Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 3, 1999
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    0
    Interesting replies so far...
    Brad, if what you say is true, then I should think that it would be possible to prove this point. Before I replace my eyes with yours, I would look at a color wheel with just colors, no names, and record which colors I identify with each color name. Do the same thing after the eye swap. If the answers match, we see the same, no? As an aside - have there actually been whole eye transplants? I know corneas are pretty common.
    Holadem, I'm not sure we can conclusively say that people's reactions to colors are a good indicator that we're seeing the same. Couldn't it be argued that our reactions are due to conditioning?
    In response to physics-based explanations, which are certainly logical and in all probability are where the true answer lies:
    Do we know whether color perception is completely a function of optical mechanics, or does our brain interpret or filter the colors? This is where I think this question ceases to be a simply scientific analysis and becomes something almost philosophical. A bit of a Zen koan kind of concept - to me, at least. I like the idea that if you could see through my eyes, you'd witness a bizarro world.
    Joe, you're completely right, of course. I'd never really thought to apply the concept to other senses, though. Maybe we can use this concept to put an end to the whole DD vs. DTS debate. [​IMG]
     
  10. Lary Larson

    Lary Larson Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 3, 1999
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    0
    In thinking about my response to Brad's comment, I take it back. If the answers matched both times, it would prove that optical mechanics function the same in each set of eyes, but not that we're perceiving the same colors. To prove that, I suppose you'd have to swap brains as well. I know that hasn't been done yet.
    [Edited last by Lary Larson on October 30, 2001 at 02:19 PM]
     
  11. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 1998
    Messages:
    5,584
    Likes Received:
    0
    The short answer is no.
    I don't think there is any way to prove that any two people experience the same thing from a given color, and there is no way to exchange the system that allows this (combination of eyes, brain and the individual experiences that define what they mean to us). How varied the difference is between our perception of color, I don't know, since a lot of it will be relative to other colors, but most of our perception comes from learning the difference between colors; we learn that grass is green, the sky is blue etc. What if we were brought up believing light was dark? The experience would be the opposite of someone who had those states taught the other way. All we have done by convention is assign an arbitrary name to a certain spectrum of light. How that is actually experienced by different people would depend on their associations, and individual interpretation.
    ------------------
    Zardoz Online | Burt Lancaster is The Swimmer | dOc
     
  12. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 1997
    Messages:
    1,560
    Likes Received:
    0
    For the record, I know color blind people who are what is called "red-green color blind" who can easily differentiate between red and green. It is, however, difficult for them to distinguish shades of red and green. All shades of red look the same and all shades of green look the same. Those color blind charts contain shades of colors.
    Now, say I was in a car and you were standing still. If I were moving fast enough towards an object that you call red, it is possible for me to see it as green (Doppler color shift). So it is possible to see two different colors from one source. [​IMG] But to prove that all shades look exactly the same to everyone, I think, is impossible.
    ------------------
    Bill [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  13. Greg Morse

    Greg Morse Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 1998
    Messages:
    156
    Likes Received:
    0
    My right eye has different color saturation than my left one. Does that count? For some reason I see everything from my right eye with an inordinate amount of red, kind of like a warm setting on the TV. My left eye has normal color saturation.
     
  14. Julie K

    Julie K Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2000
    Messages:
    1,962
    Likes Received:
    0
    My left eye seems to see things slightly warmer than my right eye.
    I don't think it's too outrageous to think that we might see colors slightly different. Eyes will have different corneal thickness, number of cones, density of the various liquids, and so on. I've even read anectdotal accounts of people's color perceptions changing after LASIK.
    However, having said that, I'll say that I doubt anyone perceives color radically different than anyone else. Despite minor differences, we all have the same hardware and software used to detect light and interpret it. We already can easily determine who sees color moderately differently (ie, people with various types of colorblindness). A person with radically different perceptions would likely be very obvious.
    But in the end, the question "Is it possible to prove we all see the same color" is unanswerable. A better way to phrase the question is "Is it possible to prove that some people see color differently?" That question can be put to the test.
    ------------------
    My DVDs
    "Some people think I'm over-prepared, paranoid...maybe even a little crazy. But they never met any pre-Cambrian life forms, did they?"
     
  15. ken thompson

    ken thompson Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2000
    Messages:
    251
    Likes Received:
    0
    I doubt any differences in color perception have anything to do with the eyes rather it would be how your brain interprets the info given it.
     
  16. Brad_W

    Brad_W Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2001
    Messages:
    1,358
    Likes Received:
    0
    Buzz,
    I'm an SLPA and am interested in what context you are referring to aphasia in regards to color blindness? Aphasia is an impairment of language use as the result of damage to the brain. Then you have two different types of aphasia, Broca's aphasia which is characterized by difficulty in producing spoken language. Then there is Wernicke's aphasia which involves a primary difficulty in understanding spoken language. I am just curious as to your use of aphasia regarding color blindness.
    ------------------
    "I was born to murder the world." -Nix (Lord of Illusions)
    My Home Page http://www.geocities.com/masternix/DVD.html
    My List O' DVDs:
    http://www.dvdaficionado.com/dvds.html?cat=1&id=meshuga
     
  17. isobel meldar

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 1999
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    0
    "i taste color"
    -hallucinoginnie
     
  18. Steve Schick

    Steve Schick Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 1999
    Messages:
    84
    Likes Received:
    0
    Ouch... my brain hurts.
    This is just like the scene in Animal House when they are talking about micro-universes.
    ------------------
    You liked the movie? ......Try it on a nine foot screen.
    My DVD Profiler Collection
     
  19. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 1998
    Messages:
    5,584
    Likes Received:
    0
     
  20. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2001
    Messages:
    17,492
    Likes Received:
    1,373
    Location:
    One Loudoun, Ashburn, VA
    Real Name:
    David Fischer
    I've only looked at color theory for about an hour, and that was several years ago (while cramming for my Ph.D. qualifier [​IMG] ), but here is what I think I remember:
    On the whole, people see colors the same. Physically, we process light the same. The studies (from the '40s?) regarding this are what led to the CIE charts -- color charts that give the relative response of our eye versus wavelength -- which are the basis for color calibration.
    But, I'd expect there to be variations between people, since we vary physically in so many ways. Of course, everyone differing physical attributes. Some people have excellent hearing, others good eyesight, others more discriminating taste. Experience suggests that some people have a more acute perception of color than others, even if our physical interaction with light is the same.
    Also, color perception gets more complicated when you factor in viewing conditions: is it a reflective or transmissive object, what is the illuminating light source, are our eyes light adapted or dark adapted, what colors border the object? All of those affect our color perception.
    But if you're really asking when we see a 550nm wavelength, is my mental image of "green" the same as your mental iamge of "green", I'm not sure off hand how to get at that issue.
     

Share This Page