Are Colors Universal?

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By Dr. Chip Colwell. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

How do language, biology, and culture shape an individual’s experience of color? A journalist investigates the anthropological debate about whether color is a human universal.

Remember the meme #TheDress? Was it white and gold, or blue and black? With the help of Nicola Jones, a freelance science journalist who writes for Nature and SAPIENS, SAPIENS host Jen Shannon explores the question of color perception to find answers. She learns about the book The World Color Survey, an Amazonian tribe in Peru whose language has no color words, the biology of the human eye.

Nicola Jones is a science reporter and journalist. Follow her on Twitter @nicolakimjones.

Simon Overall is a linguist and guest lecturer at the University of Otago in New Zealand. You can follow him at @ginsengburger.

For more on the debate about color perception, read Jones' article at SAPIENS.org: "Do You See What I See?"

SAPIENS: A Podcast for Everything Human is part of the American Anthropological Association Podcast Library.

Music for this episode includes:

  • “I’m That Guy,” “Chads Story,” “Cerutti,” “In Transit,” “Museum,” “School Daze” by Matthew Simonson
  • “Palms Down,” “Soothe,” “Bridgewalker” by Blue Dot Sessions
  • “Marimba Colors” by Jason Paton

34 episodes