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do you have color synesthesia?
y 11%
n 88%

Votes: 18

 Is this a troll?

 Author:  Topic:  Posted:
Mar 18, 2002
There's an article about color synesthesia today on the AP science wire.

Maybe I misunderstand what synesthesia is; I thought it was about as common as, well, being able to read, but this article suggests otherwise - that it's more like one in 25000 or at best one in 200. The writer makes it sound like people with color synesthesia literally see colors bursting out of the newspaper. For me the colors are distinctly associated, but in my mind - not like hallucinations.

Poll: Do you think you have "synesthesia"?


More diaries by poltroon
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0: white
1: cream
2: red
3: orange
4: green
5: magenta
6: blue
7: yellow
8: brown-red
9: dark brown

a: red
b: brown
c: cyan
d: dark brown
e: dark green
f: light green
g: dark purple
h: ochre
i: cream
j: purple
k: red
l: tan
m: ochre
n: yellow
o: white
p: dark blue
q: dark purple
r: dark brown
s: red
t: green
u: ochre
v: gold
w: ochre
x: black
y: yellow
z: black


bizarre (none / 0) (#1)
by osm on Mon Mar 18th, 2002 at 09:16:18 PM PST
i only see cute teen girls when i read those letters.

but... (none / 0) (#3)
by poltroon on Mon Mar 18th, 2002 at 09:49:47 PM PST
Do they have painted lips or fingernails or doodads in their hair? What are their clothes or underoos like? And more importantly, does each girl have her own special letter?

Don't tell me they're buck naked.

yes (5.00 / 1) (#7)
by osm on Mon Mar 18th, 2002 at 10:47:22 PM PST
and they are blonde or platinum blonde with beautiful , hypnotic emerald eyes that are ever so slightly crossed, giving them an innocent, fawn-like appearance.

Don't tell me they're buck naked.

Don't get me started.

It's so... different. (none / 0) (#2)
by elenchos on Mon Mar 18th, 2002 at 09:41:58 PM PST
And therefore threatening. I mean, wouldn't synthesia freaks invariably have a disruptive influence on the established social order? It is clearly deviant, right? Hopefully there will be a drug treatment to remedy this bizzare and unnatural condition very soon. In the mean time, I suggest it be dealt with using fear and shame, lest this abnormality is talked about too much, and the young become too accomodating towards the synthesistic weirdos of the world.

Until then, you should make a script that converts text into colored html so we can see what the world looks like from your (freakisly abnormal) point of view.


I do, I do, I do
--Bikini Kill

What's wrong... (none / 0) (#5)
by poltroon on Mon Mar 18th, 2002 at 10:32:47 PM PST
with you people? My sister actually pointed the article out to me - she and I both see the colors, though we argue.

Adequacy, for example, is red, dominated by "A", kind of like a big red apple, but an apple with a worm in it; that "qu" and "cy" are pretty mucky.

What if this were one of the formal elements of poetry?

It's all so frighteningly abnormal. (none / 0) (#9)
by elenchos on Tue Mar 19th, 2002 at 12:55:32 AM PST
Now I know why those villagers with torches and pitchforks keep surrounding your lair. This kind of poetry would make men insane, and they would drown their children.

Hey. What does this do when you're looking at color-higlighted code?

I do, I do, I do
--Bikini Kill

Monochromaticism is very important to you. (5.00 / 2) (#14)
by doofus on Tue Mar 19th, 2002 at 10:56:21 AM PST
You seem to view color merely as an opportunity to make clever visual associations. Why not consider that color is an opportunity to get the most out of our too-brief existence, rather than a mere prelude to a later phase of our all-too-brief existence?

For that matter, why not think of color visualizations as yet another opportunity to get the most out of life? Thus, why waste any of our short, short lives fussing over color? What does that get you, in the end?

synesthesia (none / 0) (#4)
by Akumu on Mon Mar 18th, 2002 at 09:59:52 PM PST
From the article: "Others, however, are surprised to learn that they are unusual." I know, out of easily hundreds of people, one who has synesthesia. She sees colors when hearing music, though, not when reading.


I've heard of that. (5.00 / 1) (#10)
by hauntedattics on Tue Mar 19th, 2002 at 05:50:43 AM PST
Apparently the modern composer Michael Torke has this version. He's written a whole series of color-influenced works, the most famous of which are "Purple" and "Ecstatic Orange."

Seeing colors with music is something I can imagine much more clearly than seeing colors with words or numbers. It would make reading the newspaper a bit overwhelming...

Hallucinogenic drugs (none / 0) (#11)
by Anonymous Reader on Tue Mar 19th, 2002 at 06:41:09 AM PST
Are reported to reproduce effects similar to this. Perhaps someone with more knowledge on the subject could elucidate further.

seeing colors (none / 0) (#12)
by poltroon on Tue Mar 19th, 2002 at 08:35:02 AM PST
For me, it's just an association - which is why I said maybe I don't really have what the article describes. It's like reading the word "orange" - you can't do it without having a mental image of orange, right? I don't literally see colors, but letters and numbers are all associated with specific colors, and it doesn't change. Like "c" is always blue. It's not overwhelming, because you don't literally see anything. It's as intrinsic as each letter representing a specific sound.

Interesting. (none / 0) (#18)
by hauntedattics on Wed Mar 20th, 2002 at 08:33:34 AM PST
I have certain subjective reactions to numbers for some reason, believing that some are better than others. For instance, I'm always happier to get an extension ending in an even number or 5, than to get one ending in an odd number. When I was a kid, I was always upset when I got a 94 on a test, but a 93 or 92 was acceptable.

Maybe people make random associations with words, numbers, etc. at some point early on their lives and it just sticks. But what the article describes appears to go quite a bit further than that.

Definitely not (none / 0) (#6)
by jvance on Mon Mar 18th, 2002 at 10:41:20 PM PST
I'm color blind (protanope). If I had color synesthesia, I'd be functionally illiterate.
Adequacy has turned into a cesspool consisting of ... blubbering, superstitious fools arguing with smug, pseudointellectual assholes. -AR

my reaction (5.00 / 1) (#8)
by Anonymous Reader on Mon Mar 18th, 2002 at 11:17:02 PM PST
When I read your list of colors I compartmentalized them into the 'Other' so they all appeared black on gray (the adequacy color scheme). This kept them from causing emotional reactions in my body, which allowed me to cooly analyze them in a logical fashion. As I continued to observe the list of colors (while my mind wandered elsewhere), I briefly allowed them to come to life and then I crushed them back into their compartment. I cannot allow them to come too close to me or I will be emotionally overwhelmed, you see. There are so many tastes and smells and memories and ideas in those colors, that I have to keep them under control. If I don't keep them under control they will control me. All of life is a battle for control, by will. I only have a finite capacity for feeling, and I cannot choose to spend it too freely, or I will be empty, working, and just like all the others. I think you will know what I mean, in some way, because it is part of all of us, and I think you know.

You're wrong (none / 0) (#13)
by Fon2d2 on Tue Mar 19th, 2002 at 10:01:57 AM PST
OK, I don't have color synesthesia, but your color associations are obviously wrong. First consider that W.O. identifies 5 as green and 2 as orange where as you state that 5 is magenta and 2 is red. The letter-color associations are wrong as well. A is red (you got that right), C is yellow, and D is green. I know those for sure. G is maybe orange (not sure) but definitely not dark purple. F I think is blue or purple. I'm leaning toward red and orange for m and n and possibly for z. The rest I'm unsure about.

right (none / 0) (#15)
by poltroon on Tue Mar 19th, 2002 at 11:04:47 AM PST
Now that's what I'm talking about... That's how it is with my sister and I, we can't agree on any of the colors. Why don't you think you have this "synesthesia" thing?

Because I don't (none / 0) (#20)
by Fon2d2 on Wed Mar 20th, 2002 at 11:03:25 AM PST
Honestly, I only have a few week mental associations with some numbers and letters which I believe stems all the way back to some preschool toy. The early DOS PCs and there BASIC interpreters destroyed my number associations. 1 is now blue, 2 is now green, 3 is red, 4 is magenta, etc. On the other hand an interest in music has preserved the first few letter associations. I don't have color associations when listening to music though.

One thing I would like to know about. You know those color association tests? The one where they string a long list of color names in a row with each name being a random color and you have to read it quickly without messing up? What's that like for you?

whenever i see BLACK (5.00 / 3) (#16)
by Trollaxor on Tue Mar 19th, 2002 at 03:23:13 PM PST
i see my soul

hey, me too! (none / 0) (#17)
by nathan on Tue Mar 19th, 2002 at 04:07:17 PM PST
no text
Li'l Sis: Yo, that's a real grey area. Even by my lax standards.

Possible Explanation (5.00 / 1) (#19)
by jvance on Wed Mar 20th, 2002 at 09:34:48 AM PST
Did you have letter and number refrigerator magnets when you were a kid? Maybe you picked up your color associations from those. It's exactly what I'd expect, considering your strong aesthetic sense.

Synesthesia sounds more like some sort of sensory crosstalk.
Adequacy has turned into a cesspool consisting of ... blubbering, superstitious fools arguing with smug, pseudointellectual assholes. -AR

no... (none / 0) (#21)
by poltroon on Wed Mar 20th, 2002 at 12:45:22 PM PST
I used to work for a guy who claims those magnets might be responsible for his color associations. But I don't think we ever had those. We had wooden blocks with colored letters, but I think there were only three or four colors, like red, green, blue, yellow. Maybe such toys simply introduce the idea that letters can be associated with colors. My sister (twin) has color associations too, but they're all different than mine. I wonder what other sorts of weird things might be going on in people's heads - it seems like there could be any number of other quirks in how people perceive things that they take for granted as being normal.

True (none / 0) (#24)
by jvance on Wed Mar 20th, 2002 at 10:53:22 PM PST
As I mentioned in another comment, I'm protanomalous, I think. I looked at this site, and protanomaly fit better than deuteranomaly. My color sense is definitely very unlike yours. <sarcasm>Christmas is a vivid time of year for me, you bet your ass.</sarcasm>

Red and green are about as different, to me, as yellow and orange are to you[1]. You'd think that my deficit would be obvious, right? No. My parents didn't figure out anything was wrong with my vision until I was about 8 or so. I thought everyone saw things the way I did.

[1] Of course I have now way of knowing this - it's just a guess.
Adequacy has turned into a cesspool consisting of ... blubbering, superstitious fools arguing with smug, pseudointellectual assholes. -AR


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