The 'Laurel' or 'Yanny' debate is actually more insightful than you think.

Do you hear "Laurel" or "Yanny"?

That's not a question any of us would have imagined having to answer before. Thanks to a viral tweet, though, a computerized voice that's uttering one name or another is dividing the internet in a way we haven't seen since "The Dress."

Have you tried it yet? Here you go! (This might just rip your entire life apart.) (Sorry.)


What did you hear? If you're like me, you heard "Yanny" all the way.

If you're like my husband and the other half of the internet (including Twitter icon Chrissy Teigen), then you heard "Laurel," and you're not going to let anyone tell you any different.

So what’s really going on here?

No one truly knows. It seems that no one really knows where this audio clip even came from. Could it be aliens communicating from the depth of space? Could it be Russian bots? I can't answer that. But I can provide a few theories that might help explain why people are hearing things differently.

According to The New York Times, which enlisted the help of several experts, it could have a lot to do with which part of the "frequency range" people give attention to. So if someone tends to hear in the higher range of things, then they're going to hear "Yanny" rather than "Laurel."

Check out what happens when you manipulate the bass. Can you hear both words? (Or is this just fueling outrage?)

And that's before you even get into the linguistic explanations or the fact that everyone's brain processes things differently.

We think we all hear the same things, but as University of Chicago psychologist Howard Nusbaum told Gizmodo, "If I cut your ears off and put someone else's on your head, sounds would sound different." (Of course, this is not an invitation to do such an experiment. I will be very mad if my name comes up in legal proceedings.)

What people hear could also have a lot to do with how they perceive the world.

Here's the thing about brains: They're really good at making snap judgments. That's because brains like to organize and categorize. A study of how people perceived "The Dress" (a study on this! what a time to be alive!) found that even when outside factors were manipulated, once people saw the dress as either blue/black or white/gold, that's the only way they would see it — even when the image was placed in different settings.

One thing's for certain: Regardless of what people hear, both "Yanny" and "Laurel" appear to be on the recording. And if someone distinctly hears just one from the start, a sound and audio engineer told Gizmodo, it's possible they'll stick with that word to the exclusion of the other.

What does that mean?

When someone hears something differently from you, do you wonder why they're hearing what you're not or do you immediately assume they're wrong? It's likely the latter. That's because people make such judgments every day. And why shouldn't we? In the best cases — for instance, when someone decides whether it's safe to jay-walk — those judgments keep people safe.

But we often don't go back and correct snap judgments. And because we focus on information that confirms the beliefs we already hold (that's backed up by research too), we never actually have to. That leads to problems like not expanding our worldviews or allowing ourselves to take in new information. In fact, research has found that once we form opinions, it's incredibly difficult for us to change them — even (and especially) after real facts have been presented.

So before you send your friends a text asking which word they hear (and you absolutely must because why should my marriage be the only one to be torn apart?), consider that they're not wrong either way. And, as Gizmodo points out, "If you listen enough, you might begin to hear things the other way too."

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Images via Canva and Unsplash

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

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