Linguistic determinism is the idea that language and its structures limit and determine human knowledge or thought.
For example, speakers of different languages may see different numbers of bands in a rainbow. Since rainbows are actually a continuum of color, there are no empirical stripes or bands, and yet people see as many bands as their language possesses primary color words.
Mind blown? (Mine is/was/will be for a while.) You might want to check out (and perhaps contribute to) this discussion on quora: Is mathematics invented or discovered?
You prefer the things you own because you rationalize your past choices to protect your sense of self.
In experiments where people were given Coke and Pepsi in unmarked cups and then hooked up to a brain scanner, the device clearly showed a certain number of them preferred Pepsi while tasting it.
When those people were told they where drinking Pepsi, a fraction of them, the ones who had enjoyed Coke all their lives, did something unexpected. The scanner showed their brains scrambling the pleasure signals, dampening them. They then told the experimenter afterward they had preferred Coke in the taste tests.
They lied, but in their subjective experiences of the situation, they didn’t. They really did feel like they preferred Coke after it was all over, and they altered their memories to match their emotions.
They had been branded somewhere in the past and were loyal to Coke. Even if they actually enjoyed Pepsi more, huge mental constructs prevented them from admitting it, even to themselves.
Had there been an Opinion Science course to complement Deductive Reasoning in universities, the world at large would be a magnificently different place than the one we live in today.
I see sounds.
Describing how I perceive music in so many words is still a struggle for me. The inadequacy in saying that I “see” sounds, how there’s no word in my lexicon of descriptors for how it really works in my head, the need for these words, is only as new as my knowledge of how unique it is. Each attempt to describe it feels like sparring, words and I, in a match arduous and stubborn. We’re both stubborn - the words in their elusiveness and me, determined as I am to find them. The fight is tiresome and exhilarating.
The assignment was to write a paper about a unique phenomenon or disease or disorder or malfunction of some sort - a project ostensibly designed to build empathy. The course was held in one of the carpeted classrooms of my school, so it couldn’t have been a Science or Biology class. Social Studies, maybe. A girl with not-black hair whose name I don’t remember went to the front of the room, wearing jeans and no glasses. She was bright. I liked her.
She wrote her paper about a phenomenon called synesthesia, where neurons carrying data from the input of a perceptive sense crosses paths with another sense’s pipeline on its way to the brain’s processing center, resulting in a “mixing” of the senses - touch, smell, sight, etc. Sense-signals are delivered to the wrong decoding facility, basically.
One form of this phenomenon, she said, was sound-to-color synesthesia, in which some or all auditory information is sent not just to the hearing-center of the brain, but to the visual center as well, which in this case results in every sound having a unique color.
“Wait, wait, wait,” I said, interrupting her - it was a pretty informal class - “you mean everyone doesn’t have that?”
Our everyday visual perceptions rely upon unfathomably complex computations carried out by tens of billions of neurons across over half our cortex. In spite of this, it does not “feel” like work to see. Our cognitive powers are, in stark contrast, “slow and painful,” and we have great trouble with embarrassingly simple logic tasks.
Might it be possible to harness our visual computational powers for other tasks, perhaps for tasks cognition finds difficult? I have recently begun such a research program with the goal of devising ways of converting digital logic circuits into visual stimuli – “visual circuits” – which, when presented to the eye, “tricks” the visual system into carrying out the digital logic computation and generating a perception that amounts to the “output” of the computation. That is, the technique amounts to turning our visual system into a programmable computer.
The broad strategy is to visually represent a computer program in such a way that, when one looks at the visual representation, one’s visual system naturally responds by carrying out the computation and generating a perception that encodes the appropriate output to the computation. That is, there would be a special kind of image that amounts to “visual software,” software our “visual hardware” (or brain) computes, and computes in such a way that the output can be “read off” the elicited perception.
Ideally, we would be able to glance at a complex visual stimulus—the program with inputs—and our visual system would automatically and effortlessly generate a perception that would inform us of the output of the computation. Visual stimuli like this would not only amount to a novel and useful visual notation, but would actually trick our visual systems into doing our work for us.
View an image, learn a thing.
Reminds me of Asimov’s Detective Elijah Baley series. In The Naked Sun an android with the Three Laws in place was successfully utilized in a murder through a a verbally issued command that acted as a logarithmic loophole.
Also, Snow Crash.