LISTEN: Yanny vs. Laurel is tearing the Internet apart

Every so often, the Internet comes up with a picayune debate that ties people in knots. A few years ago, it was The Dress. Now it's this.

Yanny vs. Laurel. What do you hear?

This latest Great Internet Debate began on Reddit, and spread like wildfire across social media. Ellen DeGeneres played it for the audience on her TV talk show, and even new age musician Yanni got involved. Ellen heard Laurel, while Yanni — probably not surprisingly — heard his own name.

The Internet, arguably, hasn't been this divided over something that didn't involve politics or sports since the Great Dress Debate of 2015 — white and gold, or blue and black?

But why do people hear different things?

Rachel Gutman, a science and tech reporter with the Atlantic who also holds a degree in linguistics, says the power of suggestion may have something to do with it.

"The recording isn't entirely Yanny or entirely Laurel, it's kind of somewhere in the middle," Gutman told CJAD 800's Natasha Hall, "and so if there's something around you that could nudge you either way, maybe you only read Yanny, maybe you're reading a list of people on Twitter that heard Laurel, that's going to influence, perhaps, which was you hear it."

She suggests pitch can also be a factor.

"People discovered as this has been making the rounds, that if you lower the pitch of the recording, you're more likely to hear Yanny, but if you raise the pitch, you're more likely to hear Laurel."