The Sounds Of Silents
December 6, 2017 3:48 PM   Subscribe

 
Is that a typo, or is the University of London called "City?"
posted by I-Write-Essays at 4:07 PM on December 6


The name of the institution is "City, University of London".
posted by capricorn at 4:13 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


Also, no idea whether it's because I've got some funky neurological processing stuff going on, but I'm disappointed to say the GIFs do nothing for me. Bummer!
posted by capricorn at 4:14 PM on December 6 [4 favorites]


It's how they bill themselves on the website. Wikipedia says their charter issued in 1966 called them 'City' in honor of their proximity to the City of London.
posted by pwnguin at 4:15 PM on December 6


As for the effect, I feel like there might be some feedback loop where you see shaking, and brace your ears for it, and that alone has some 'signal' that your brain has picked up suggesting low frequency waves, Pavlovian style.
posted by pwnguin at 4:16 PM on December 6 [8 favorites]


This is really interesting. In what way do people report they "hear" a thud with the jumping high-tension tower? It evokes for a me a strong mental "auditory image" of a thudding sound, which feels almost involuntary, but a) it's very clearly an imagined sound, and I would not confuse it with an actual auditory percept; and b) I'm not sure if I'm experiencing it entirely spontaneously, or if it's partly due to having been primed by the link text of the FPP.

From what I've read about synesthesia, and from the people I've personally spoken to with various forms of it, synesthetic experience is characterized by 1) automaticity, the synesthetic percept is always present with the stimulus; 2) involuntarity, the percept occurs regardless of the person's intent; 3) reliability, the synesthetic percept will always be the same with a given stimulus (though at least one person I've spoken with has said hers have changed very slowly over the course of years); 4) distinction from other stimuli, the percept is real and a part of the experience of stimuli, but also recognizable as different from an equivalent "normal" perception (e.g., someone with letter-color synesthesia may say that a letter A is green, while also perceiving that it is written in black ink).

I'm curious if this sort of visual-auditory effect matches those criteria for the people who report that they "hear" a thud, or if most people are more like me and only "hear" it as a strong association, or if most (or many) people are experiencing an auditory perception that is not distinguishable to them from a sound-induced auditory perception.
posted by biogeo at 4:19 PM on December 6 [14 favorites]


I get it, but I can tell my brain is absolutely applying something to what I'm seeing.
posted by rhizome at 4:22 PM on December 6 [7 favorites]


I can't hear it, but I can feel it vibrate through my chair. Seriously.

This GIF, it ohnevermind
posted by maudlin at 4:25 PM on December 6 [9 favorites]


I can't hear it. Like I can get that a thud is implied but there is nothing auditory going on. Maybe my brain isn't normal.
posted by floam at 5:02 PM on December 6 [2 favorites]


Yep, I definitely hear a cartoonish clomp-thud and it needs to stop.

From what I've read about synesthesia, and from the people I've personally spoken to with various forms of it, synesthetic experience is characterized by

Well, unless you've recently ingested some highly refined lysergic ergot, then one can sometimes induce and direct synesthesia at will, it's highly transient and it's often so willy-nilly you can breath the sound purple and smell visual textures and all kinds of wacky things.
posted by loquacious at 5:09 PM on December 6 [3 favorites]


It's similar to the effect of reading something, then realizing the voice in your head sounds like Zoidberg why not. Then you can't stop hearing it woo woo woo woo.
posted by SPrintF at 5:26 PM on December 6 [2 favorites]


Then you can't stop hearing it woo woo woo woo.

Good news, everyone! Now you are hearing everything you read in my voice. You are very welcome.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:29 PM on December 6 [9 favorites]


Maybe my brain isn't normal.

Mine isn't either then. I went to take the quiz and finally gave up because I was tired of being like "Nope, still not hearing anything with the silent GIF"
posted by jessamyn at 5:32 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


I went to try a few more on the subreddit. So far, I've been watching the first one for about 20 minutes and I can't hear any bells. I'll keep at it for a while and see though.
posted by floam at 5:44 PM on December 6


Interesting that this has come back around again. I posted an Ask about that GIF six years ago (but the link to the GIF is broken now). Watching it still makes me feel sick and dizzy.
posted by fuse theorem at 5:50 PM on December 6 [2 favorites]


I don't hear this one, but I a couple of days ago I saw a gif of cat hissing which I could hear distinctly.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 5:57 PM on December 6


Definitely "hear" a thud.

It might have something to do with the tensor tympani muscle?
posted by sjswitzer at 5:57 PM on December 6


I kind of did feel like I heard a little something from some of these. I do indeed have synesthesia, though. But I wish they hadn't primed us with that framing before showing us the GIFs. I feel like it should've just been "This is a test of your perception. Watch these short videos and report the level of sound you experience on a scale from 0 to 5. These videos may seem almost imperceptibly quiet or silent. It's normal and OK if that's so; just report 0 in that case." Or something like that—I get that they might not want to have a bunch of people filling out their contact form or bugging them by reporting their audio isn't working, or they might want to make sure people who don't have speakers or headphones participate (and/or don't get confused by any inadvertent real speaker or headphone noise). But it seems like there should be some way to get around that in the framing. Then they could debrief participants with a screen or two about the effect after the survey ends.
posted by limeonaire at 6:00 PM on December 6 [4 favorites]


My eardrums feel like they are “flexing” to the beat of the thumps. When I watched it earlier where I had some ancillary noise from other offices/outside, it was much more pronounced. Now that I’m somewhere quiet, it’s less so but I’m still getting a little vibration in my ears and I know the sound it would make in my mind. Very cool illusion. Remind me again why we think our brains are advanced enough to save for retirement?
posted by amanda at 6:40 PM on December 6 [8 favorites]


amanda, that's definitely your tensor tympani, which kicks in naturally in response to loud noises to protect the ear/hearing and also can be voluntarily controlled (well, at least for me) causing a kind of rumble sound. Interesting!
posted by floam at 6:42 PM on December 6 [6 favorites]


As others suggest, it seems to be a sort of wince in anticipation of a sound, which is pretty much but not quite the same as actually hearing it.

The camera shake is what sells it for me.
posted by rokusan at 6:45 PM on December 6 [3 favorites]


> The camera shake is what sells it for me.

And for me as well; I opened the page to only the top half of the gif, without the skipping tower visible at all, and I still experienced the same thud 'sound' as when I saw the entire gif.
posted by invokeuse at 6:49 PM on December 6


I "heard" it right away, but agree it might mostly be because I was primed for it. Too bad, I wish I could unsee it and have a clean watch. For me it's definitely not a tensor tympani thing. It's an internal imagined sound, like an involuntary mirror-neuron response.
posted by pmburns222 at 7:13 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


floam, I can also voluntarily control my tensor tympani.

I first noticed it in my teens when I blinked really hard, then I was somehow able to control it independently.

It's a completely useless skill, but I have read that it can actually emit an audible sound from your ear canal. So there's that, I guess?
posted by sjswitzer at 7:17 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


Felt it more than heard it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:27 PM on December 6


I first noticed it in my teens when I blinked really hard, then I was somehow able to control it independently.
Heh. In addition to the tensor tympani rumble thing which I developed similarly to you when I was very young, I can also voluntarily cause the pop sound that happens on airplanes/swallowing without affecting other muscles. I actually made an AskMeFi about it. Welcome to the superhuman club.

posted by floam at 7:30 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


I definitely hear "jif".
posted by JackFlash at 7:33 PM on December 6 [13 favorites]


This is one of those “I thought I was the only one” things.
posted by 4ster at 7:44 PM on December 6


This is freaking me out.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:40 PM on December 6




I definitely hear "jif"

ಠ_ಠ
Do you even read the tags, bro?
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:30 PM on December 6 [2 favorites]


It's a completely useless skill, but I have read that it can actually emit an audible sound from your ear canal. So there's that, I guess?

A healthy human ear actually does spontaneously emit little popping sounds every once in a while, called otoacoustic emissions, which you can't hear yourself because your auditory system filters it out. They can be picked up by microphones, though, and they're one of the things used to check hearing in infants, as deaf individuals often don't produce them.

Yep, I definitely hear a cartoonish clomp-thud and it needs to stop.

loquacious, would you indulge my curiosity? Would you say the sound you hear is indistinguishable from what you would hear if that really were the soundtrack to a video of the jumping high-tension tower, or that the sound is "there" but perceptibly not coming from your computer or anything else?

"cartoonish clomp-thud" describes my mental imagery with the animation pretty well, but I wouldn't describe my experience as "hearing" it.
posted by biogeo at 10:31 PM on December 6


Also, re: calling this phenomenon "vEAR" for "visually-evoked auditory response", every time I encounter one of these new acronyms with the gratuitous lower-case initial letter, I experience a strong percept of the sound of my own teeth grinding.
posted by biogeo at 10:35 PM on December 6 [5 favorites]


For me, one of the most annoying aspects of this phenomenon is when GIFs of people speaking are subtitled, but loop before I can "hear" them finishing the utterance. Like this one, where all I can think is "What? She thinks you're too critic? No!"

It's like having a joke spoiled by the subtitles on Hulu, but then the actual joke gets cut off by an advertisement anyway and you're just left hanging.

This is tangentially related to how much it takes me out of the moment when sci-fi or fantasy films have monsters or other creatures without any lip anatomy, but with the unexplained ability to pronounce words like "map." I guess they're all master ventriloquists. Or maybe that should be "naster dentriloquists."
posted by wakannai at 2:53 AM on December 7 [3 favorites]


When I look at it I can hear the whip of the cords acting as the jump rope and the boom of the tower as it lands.
posted by asteria at 5:44 AM on December 7


I can definitely hear it with the power line gif. The deciding factor seems to be whether or not the image shakes at an audible (or just below audible) low frequency. Probably an adaptive brain mechanism to supplement our hearing in dangerous situations. Or, as pwnguin said, maybe just a learned association.
posted by grumpybear69 at 5:52 AM on December 7


I guess I have a hard time with “primed to hear it” counter argument because wouldn’t you be just as likely primed to not be fooled? I did look at a few of the other noisy gifs and while it was easy with some of them to imagine the sounds, the images seemed more complex and it wasn’t as involuntary as with the jumping tower. Secondarily, without the notice that I was going to encounter an illusion, I don’t think I would have noticed my response at all! It wouldn’t have occurred to me to note the lack of actual sound.
posted by amanda at 6:19 AM on December 7


biogeo: From what I've read about synesthesia, and from the people I've personally spoken to with various forms of it, synesthetic experience is characterized by 1) automaticity, the synesthetic percept is always present with the stimulus; 2) involuntarity, the percept occurs regardless of the person's intent; 3) reliability, the synesthetic percept will always be the same with a given stimulus (though at least one person I've spoken with has said hers have changed very slowly over the course of years); 4) distinction from other stimuli, the percept is real and a part of the experience of stimuli, but also recognizable as different from an equivalent "normal" perception (e.g., someone with letter-color synesthesia may say that a letter A is green, while also perceiving that it is written in black ink).

I have synesthesia, and that is an amazingly accurate description.

For what it's worth, I 'heard' the noise in my head while watching the gif, but it did not have the same feel as synesthesia to me. I knew the sound wasn't real, and I could ignore it if I wanted. The fact that Fs are green is solid and immutable, whether I choose to acknowledge it or not.
posted by twilightlost at 10:21 AM on December 7 [4 favorites]


It makes me flinch, I don't hear anything.
posted by bongo_x at 10:40 AM on December 7


Just pointing out here that I noticed a difference in the effect depending on how I looked at the gif/tweet -- in timeline, as a single tweet, as a standalone gif, and as a "sideways" gif. I think the second was actually the most pronounced and having the gif without any surrounding text or Twitter folderol lessened its sensory impact.
posted by dhartung at 12:56 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]


Dhartung, does it seem more pronounced when your brain is taking in more stimulus? That's what I was feeling when I had other ambient sounds while watching the gif. It was hard to concentrate to determine if there was a real sound or not because there were other competing sounds so my brain decided to just go with it. Whereas, in a quiet space it was easier to kind of turn the effect on and off.
posted by amanda at 8:13 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]


When the whole blue dress/gold dress thing was going around, there was a manager at work (dude) who was absolutely angry about the whole thing, convinced that people were trying to trick him and he was no fool! I had the thing up on the projector as a kind of joke while setting up for an all-hands meeting and all of a sudden he went, "Ohmigod! It just changed in front of my eyes!" He was flabbergasted. I said, "Yeah, it's an optical illusion. You were taking it a little personally, don't you think?" People hate to be fooled and yet we are fools...every day.
posted by amanda at 8:17 AM on December 8 [3 favorites]


If you think you're weird because you don't hear it, that's because the article thinks that "up to 20 percent of people" equals "most people".

It's a trick played by most people's brains that causes them to misperceive percentages. Up to 20 percent of people have it.
posted by clawsoon at 3:22 PM on December 8 [3 favorites]


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