RE: birding-aus Colour Charts and Seeing Colours

To: "'Syd Curtis'" <>, "" <>
Subject: RE: birding-aus Colour Charts and Seeing Colours
From: Susan <>
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 1999 12:38:39 +1000

-----Original Message-----
From:   Syd Curtis [SMTP:
Sent:   Tuesday, 15 June 1999 6:16
Subject:        birding-aus Colour Charts and Seeing Colours

G'day everyone.

A thought on the subject of colour charts and seeing colours.

How can I know that a particular colour looks the same to other people as
it does to me?  Do the colours of all birds look the same to all people?
It doesn't to those who suffer from various types of colour-blindness, but
for the rest of us?

Is it possible for a particular colour in a field guide to look identical
to the colour on the bird to one person but not to another?

Pink is pink, is pink.  Or is it?

Does it matter?

This is a really interesting question and I don't know the answer! I don't 
pretend to know much about this topic not being a bird bander or an 
opthalmologist but it's something that I've always found intriguing (maybe 
because I get the words for yellow and green confused all the time!) I remember 
years back reading an article somewhere about men's and women's different 
colour perceptions and i often have arguments along the line of "it's green" 
"no, it's blue". The Japanese don't even differentiate between green and blue 
in some instances, just one example of a multitude of culturally based 
differences. So I took up Syd's challenge and found a couple of interesting 
snippets on the New Scientist page 
1) Indeed, it is a challenging thought (one appreciated by Newton), that there 
are no colours in objects or in light, but that colour is psychologically 
projected onto the outside world by the brain. <snip>, our perception of hues 
shifts and changes, depending on their context. 
2) People find it easier to distinguish colours if the division corresponds to 
a linguistic, rather than a supposed universal, distinction, the team concludes 
in this week's Nature (vol 398, p 203). "The effects of culture are being 
underestimated," says Davidoff. From New Scientist, 20 March 1999
Re: Syd's fourth question, if you are looking at a colour card and it appears 
to match the bird, then regardless of whether you are perceiving that colour 
differently to the person sitting next to you, shouldn't it still match? If you 
get my meaning... 

Susan Myers 

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