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What ‘Yanny vs Laurel’ viral debate says about ending global conflict 

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2018, 3:46pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2018, 3:46pm

The recent “Yanny vs Laurel” audio clip on Twitter has gone viral, dividing people into two camps who claim they have heard one word over the other. While the fun element of the phenomenon is obvious, it also raises the important question of how people’s perception can affect judgment (“Audio illusion cuts deep into what’s human”, May 18).

People born in different nations often don’t share language, culture, sets of belief, customs, traditions or viewpoints. Linguistic, cultural and racial differences are usually barriers to the understanding and acceptance of diverse behavioural, ideological and cognitive tendencies, as one’s perception is shaped by one’s experience, upbringing and education. 

Nobody can agree if this robot says ‘Yanny’ or ‘Laurel’ 

Perception is built upon the belief system, which is not easy to change. People argue over issues ranging from politics and religion to daily routine and cultural appropriateness, and such argument often is a result of the lack of mutual empathy on the part of interlocutors, and even contempt for those with a different viewpoint.

On an interpersonal scale, such quarrels may lead to bitter relationships; on a larger scale, such disagreements may give rise to discrimination, racism, stereotyping and even wars.

The hate crimes happening in the US, the chaos in the Middle East, the ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea, the narrowly averted trade war between China and US, and the North Korea nuclear crisis are reminders of how human perception can affect the political and economic stability of the world.

Call me naive, but only when human civilisation avoids clouded judgment arising from impulsive perception can true peace be achieved. That should start with a heightened awareness of the fundamental differences that exist between communities, nations and language groups.

World leaders should take the lead to show that disputes can be resolved through dialogue. Like the “Yanny vs Laurel” clip, any dispute is just a matter of perception.

Jason Tang, Tin Shui Wai