When my son was playing on the swing-set the other day, he mentioned that dogs were color-blind.
“I think you are mistaken, buddy. I know that people think that animals are colorblind, but I think that many just see a different variety of colors than we do.”
Technology is awesome – I took my phone out of my pocket and said “Okay Google Now…[the phone beeped]…Are dogs color blind?” My phone replied, “No, dogs are not colorblind in the sense that they see more than just black, white, and gray. However, the color range they perceive is limited compared to the spectrum we see. To put it in very basic terms, the canine color field consists mostly of yellows, blues, and violets.”
So, we had a conversation about ROYGBIV and how we share YGBIV with dogs, but that our dog likely doesn’t see a stop sign or a pumpkin in the same way that we do. In fact, their experience differs from almost entirely from our own except for how we share blues.
Of course, he was flummoxed when I told him that many birds have been reported to be able to see colors that we can’t. “What do they look like?” he asked.
“We’ll never know,” I replied. “Keitel will never see red; we will never see what a peacock is really supposed to look like.”
We take for granted what we see, without appreciating how much of the world remains in the shadows – literally and figuratively. In this instance, a conversation with a 7-year-old helped remind me of how our biology limits our capacities, both perceptual and cognitive.
How we apply this understanding is up to us.
*re-printed from a conversation on SomaSimple