The US Air Force has apologised and withdrawn a tweet that made light of killing Taliban militants in Afghanistan by invoking the viral .
Laurel or Yanny explained: why do some people hear a different word?
The tweet from the air force’s main Twitter account came after days of intense fighting in the Afghan city of Farah, which has served as a reminder of the perils facing US-backed Afghan forces even after 16 years of war. The has provided air support with A-10 attack aircraft and drones.
Its tweet said: “The Taliban forces in Farah city #Afghanistan would much rather have heard #Yanny or #Laurel than the deafening #BRRRT they got courtesy of our #A10.” The #BRRRT was meant to suggest the sound of Gatling gun fire.
The tweet sought to link, somewhat awkwardly, the conflict to an internet debate over an audio file in which listeners can hear either the word “Laurel” or “Yanny”. The audio “illusion”, which first , seems to be saying one word – but whether that word is “Yanny” or “Laurel” is the source of furious disagreement.
The sound is an example of a “perceptually ambiguous stimulus” such as or , said Professor David Alais from the University of Sydney’s school of psychology.
After questions at a Pentagon briefing about whether the tweet was appropriate, the air force deleted it and expressed regrets for the attempt at humour.
“We apologize for the earlier tweet regarding the A-10. It was made in poor taste and we are addressing it internally. It has since been removed,” it said.