There is a dimension of audio weirdness beyond that of even "yanny and laurel"

Is it too early for a palate cleanser? I say no. Palate cleansers follow the same social conventions as drinking: Later in the day is better, evening is best, but on a Friday — sure, go ahead and start in the morning.

The fascinating wrinkle with “yanny and laurel” was that different people somehow heard two dissimilar-sounding words in the same audio clip. That was a function of frequency: A recording of the word “laurel,” which utilizes lower frequencies, was apparently re-recorded while being played on speakers that boosted higher frequencies, which are utilized by “yanny.” The now-famous audio was a mix of the two, hence the varying interpretations. The Upshot came up with a nifty widget that lets you adjust the audio to stress higher or lower frequencies. Play around with it and you can hear “laurel” or “yanny” at will.

But something interesting happens when you do that. Although I hear “yanny” when the frequencies are balanced and “laurel” when you adjust it to emphasize lower frequency sound, which is what you’d expect, I continue to hear “laurel” when I re-adjust the widget to emphasize higher frequencies. That is to say, once my brain “hears” one word in the audio, even if it’s not the word I “naturally” hear, I go on hearing it for awhile. Because my brain’s been momentarily “primed” to hear one word or the other, it continues to hear that word until the audio stops playing. Then it “resets” and I can hear “yanny” again.

That’s a long-winded intro to this maddening clip, a new viral sensation. The wrinkle this time is even more fascinating: Instead of different people hearing dissimilar-sounding words, you yourself will hear both. It seems to be purely a matter, again, of “priming” the brain to hear one or the other. Not only do “brainstorm” and “green needle” seemingly have no sounds in common, they barely have any letters in common. And yet. And yet.

Theory: The crazy virtual-reality simulation we’ve been living in ever since Trump became a presidential candidate is now starting to show glitches.