science of us

Let’s Take a Look at That Weird Science Moment on The Bachelorette Last Night

Photo: Paul Hebert/ABC

You’re going to roll your eyes at this one, but hear me out: The Bachelorette is one of those TV shows that has something for pretty much every kind of television viewer. You want cheesy romance? Clearly, check. Comedy? Check, even if most of it is unintentional. A psychodrama that depicts the slow unraveling of multiple characters over the course of a season? Oh, boy, check. Or maybe you just want to turn off your brain for a bit, and get a little drunk and just watch good-looking people be around other good-looking people. Check.

Except, okay, fine, maybe it’s not a great fit for people who want to learn some science from their TV shows. After all, this is the franchise where a woman once showed up in a shark suit claiming to be a dolphin. And then there’s the whole jumble of words that one of the contestants, Alex, spouted off on last night’s episode about eyes and feelings, and sides of the brain. “I’ll give you a fun fact,” he told bachelorette Rachel when the two sat down for some one-on-one time. “When you talk and make eye contact with me, you look at me left eye to left eye, which means that you’re being very open. Your left eye is the one that goes to the emotions.”

So, just a PSA for any Bach fans who were trying to puzzle that one out: not a thing. To Alex’s credit, it is true that each half of the brain processes the visual information gathered by the opposite eye. And it’s also true that the right hemisphere — the one that gets its visual info from the left eye — is the side that’s associated with emotions, creativity, and intuition, while the left hemisphere is more closely linked to logic and analytical thinking.

But neither sight nor the right brain–left brain division is quite so simple. For one thing, the brain joins the data it receives from both sides in the visual cortex, which is why you see the world as one clear scene in front of you, rather than two separate side-by-side images. For another, the journey from raw visual information to complete picture is a multistep process; the way the brain makes sense of color, for instance, is different from how it processes shape, motion, distance, etc. Similarly, research has shown that different parts of emotional processing actually happen in different hemispheres — it’s not just the right.

We’ll give Alex this much, though: Anyone who watched last night, regardless of TV taste, will agree that the guy can definitely dance.

About That Weird Science Moment on The Bachelorette