“You Will Only Hear The Word You’re Reading” TikTok Goes Viral

Twitter has once again produced a meaningless debate that will make your question your own sense of reality, like the infamous black/gold Dress and the Yanni and Laurel test. Like many of these strange illusions, there is an explanation. First, you should try it yourself. 

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The TikTok created by @emilysophie.m was posted to Twitter by @AlexShawESPN, where it went doubly viral. In the video, an audio clip plays. On the screen there are two words, “green needle” and “brainstorm.” For most people what they hear in the audio depends on what word they’re looking at on-screen. It’s very weird and it totally works on me:

Lots of people were very disturbed by this witchery. If your perception of reality can be so different from one replay to the next, what else are we constantly misinterpreting?

Eventually, someone came along to explain that this effect has a name:

The McGurk effect is a perceptual phenomenon that demonstrates an interaction between hearing and vision in speech perception. The illusion occurs when the auditory component of one sound is paired with the visual component of another sound, leading to the perception of a third sound. The visual information a person gets from seeing a person speak changes the way they hear the sound.’

So, both sounds are playing in this clip and your mind fills in the confusion with the clarifying information of the word. In a way, we “hear” with sense besides our ears, like visual context or theoretically even other types of senses. They all kind of work together.

And even weirder, it doesn’t work for everyone, either because they have different hearing abilities or their brains work differently than for the people it does work:

What a mystery the mind is. Thank you, TikTok for pointing that out yet again.

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