Friday, August 03, 2018

Why Do We Love This Idea?

The Hidden Brain is a series of podcasts from NPR, apparently based on a book by Shankar Vedantam. I heard it mentioned on another podcast and thought this really sounds like my kind of thing. The unconscious or hidden influences on our thought, the neurology behind our behavior, what's not to like? The most recent in the series is something about bilingualism and multilingualism, so I am even more likely to find this interesting! Three minutes in, he is dead wrong about an entire topic. He is charmingly trying to explain that the language we speak shapes the way we think. Except it doesn't. Fake news. It's one of those undead ideas that keeps coming back no matter how many times it is killed. We must want to believe this. There is some experimental evidence that in some very fringe-y areas of color perception there might be a slightly measurable difference. That's it. I am going to bet that I could learn many useful things from Shankar Vedantam. He might be the most useful and interesting person for me to read or listen to at this point in my learning. Yet now that I know that he is unreliable in this one area, I cannot trust anything he says in thinking about the world and working out my own theories. I can't use him in conversation. I think I have asked before what the attraction of this idea is, that we keeping coming back, as to a relationship we know is harmful or a food that upsets our stomach. I don't get it.

3 comments:

Texan99 said...

"Thinking in Bets" is worth a look. She probably does a better job with real data on tricks our sub-minds play on our conscious minds.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Thank you

HMS Defiant said...

Have we eliminated 'schools of thought' or is this merely another case of waiting for the science to catch up to the perceptioni? I know a man who teaches cognitive theory every day and 'blending' whatever that is but I simply refused to jump into any field that revered Chomsky.