Johns Hopkins upends adage that blind people lack deep knowledge of visual phenomena
August 16, 2021

People born blind have never seen that bananas are yellow but Johns Hopkins University researchers find that like any sighted person, they understand two bananas are likely to be the same color and why. Questioning the belief that dates back to philosopher John Locke that people born blind could never truly understand color, the team of cognitive neuroscientists demonstrated that congenitally blind and sighted individuals actually understand it quite similarly.

“A common intuition dating back to Locke is that a blind person could learn the arbitrary fact that marigolds are ‘yellow’ and tomatoes are ‘red’ but would still miss out on in-depth understanding of color,” said senior author Marina Bedny. “The idea is that to really know something you have to see it for yourself, and without vision, you pick up shallow facts by talking to people. This study with blind people suggests the opposite. Talking to people conveys in-depth understanding of color better than arbitrary color facts.”