After playing 100+ decibel bagpipes for 40 odd years I was concerned but not surprised to notice signs that my hearing might be failing. From 10yds or so I could always hear my car doors locking/unlocking, then recently I found myself pressing the button a few times and listening hard to hear the click. Turned out the key thingy needed a new battery.
Are you sure it wasn't your hearing aid that needed one?
I think that as you age you lose the ability to hear higher pitched tones. I think that's what's happening here and those who hear lower tones better than higher ones will hear one thing and vice versa.
I just listened to it on this BBC page and it now sounds like Laurel. I can't imagine how I thought it was Yanny.
I was merely curious. I am no better than you or anyone.
But not curious enough to test your theory that we've all been used. Not very scientific is it?
Anyway, for the patsies that tried the green needles/brainstorm one, a mate was trying it on his tablet last night - I could hear it but couldn't see the screen and wasn't particularly thinking of either word - and it sounded like two different recordings being played in a random order. Not sure if that tells us anything or not.