March 3, 2015 / 4:56 PM / 2 years ago

Poll: U.S. evenly torn on dress in online craze - blue or white?

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Poll results released on Tuesday show the U.S. public is evenly torn in a debate that is rending the fabric of America - or at least fraying a few nerves: is that dress white or blue?

The questionably colored frock became an Internet sensation after a Tumblr user posted a photograph last week, saying her friends couldn't agree on its color and asking others to weigh in.

The question has sparked rants on Twitter by celebrities like Taylor Swift (blue and black) and Kim Kardashian West (white and gold) and good old-fashioned breakfast table tirades from Pleasantville to Peoria.

Even statistics can't settle the debate. A Reuters/IPSOS online poll found 39 percent see white and 37 percent see blue - a split not statistically significant enough to end the debate. The question was asked of 1,906 adults between Feb. 27 to March 2. The results have a credibility interval, a measure of accuracy, of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

"Smoggy sky blue," said Patty Craig, 59, a retired courtroom clerk from Riverside, California, who participated in the poll.

"White," said Julia Nowak, 35, of Minneapolis, a stay-at-home mom standing her ground in skinny jeans and bedroom slippers.

The scientific explanation for the wildly divergent views of the dress is color perception tied to both a person's eyes and brain, said Johns Hopkins ophthalmologist Neil Miller on the university's website.

Aside from those who clearly see either white and gold or blue and black, the Reuters/IPSOS poll found, 10 percent see both white and gold and blue and black and 14 percent see none of those color combinations.

Even the most sartorially challenged are engaged in the color wars.

The amount of time that Roger Viens, 70, and his wife have spent viewing, learning about and discussing the dress is exponentially longer what he typically dedicates to his own clothing selection each morning, he said.

"I just grab anything," said Viens, a retired grocer from West Deptford Township, New Jersey.

He said he sees a blue dress and his wife Jane, 65, a retired secretary, "went for the other color."

Mitchell Buchanan, 51, whose wife buys his clothes and lays out his daily outfit, allowing him only to pick the necktie, said when it comes to the dress, there is detente in his household.

"I see Navy. She sees a lighter shade. But we both see blue," said the school technology officer from Reynoldsburg, Ohio.

Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Lisa Lambert

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