This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a “laurel”. Or a “yanny”. No one can decide.
A widely shared audio clip has divided the internet into two warring tribes – those who hear “yanny” and those who hear “laurel”.
The rival factions, the Yannies and the Laurels let’s say, have been locked in a bitter battle for aural supremacy since at least Monday, when Reddit user RolandCamry – the anonymous harbinger of internet meltdown – posted the clip online.
After the video migrated to Twitter, the armies’ numbers swelled. In the last 24 hours, “yanny” has been mentioned more than 310,000 times. The Laurels are currently edging it with closer to 330,000 uses of the word.
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Model Christine Teigen – who better to lead the Laurels into battle? – nailed her colours to the mast with a swipe at the Yannies.
“It’s so clearly laurel,” she roared to her 10 million followers, possibly all the while bedecked head to toe in chain mail of gleaming bronze.
“I can’t even figure out how one would hear yanny,” she continued.
Lining up alongside her, one Stephen Fry – broadcaster, British national treasure and Laurel fo’ life.
YouTuber Logan Paul struck the first, inevitable blow of the wars to come.
But the Yannies are a proud and noble band. They refuse to let such blasphemy pass unchecked. And when their need was greatest, the hour at its latest, up stepped Toronto councillor Norm Kelly with a veiled threat to “clean” the Laurels’ ears out.
The subtext could not be clearer – this was obviously a warning to the Laurels that their ears would be removed and worn as trophies around his neck.
Fortunately, just when all seemed lost, a ray of hope was glimpsed.
A voice of reason emerged, one who could bring together the warring clans and explain their differences.
The secret, it turns out, is frequency. The part of the sound that makes some people hear Yanny is higher frequency than that which makes some people hear Laurel.
As Lars Riecke, assistant professor of audition and cognitive neuroscience at Maastricht University, explained to The Verge: “If you remove all the low frequencies, you hear yanny. If you remove the high frequencies, you hear laurel.
“If your… ears emphasise both the higher and lower frequencies, you can toggle between the two sounds.”
So we can all agree to disagree. Even this lot.