clishmaclaver Outer Space


5 examples of how the languages we speak can affect the way we think.

To say, “This is my uncle,” in Chinese, you have no choice but to encode more information about said uncle. The language requires that you denote the side the uncle is on, whether he’s related by marriage or birth and, if it’s your father’s brother, whether he’s older or younger.

“All of this information is obligatory. Chinese doesn’t let me ignore it,” says Chen. “In fact, if I want to speak correctly, Chinese forces me to constantly think about it.”

This got Chen wondering: Is there a connection between language and how we think and behave? In particular, Chen wanted to know: does our language affect our economic decisions?

Chen designed a study — which he describes in detail in this blog post — to look at how language might affect individual’s ability to save for the future. According to his results, it does — big time.

While “futured languages,” like English, distinguish between the past, present and future, “futureless languages,” like Chinese, use the same phrasing to describe the events of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Using vast inventories of data and meticulous analysis, Chen found that huge economic differences accompany this linguistic discrepancy. Futureless language speakers are 30 percent more likely to report having saved in any given year than futured language speakers. (This amounts to 25 percent more savings by retirement, if income is held constant.) Chen’s explanation: When we speak about the future as more distinct from the present, it feels more distant — and we’re less motivated to save money now in favor of monetary comfort years down the line.

But that’s only the beginning. There’s a wide field of research on the link between language and both psychology and behavior. Here, a few fascinating examples:

Navigation and Pormpuraawans
In Pormpuraaw, an Australian Aboriginal community, you wouldn’t refer to an object as on your “left” or “right,” but rather as “northeast” or “southwest,” writes Stanford psychology professor Lera Boroditsky (and an expert in linguistic-cultural connections) in the Wall Street Journal. About a third of the world’s languages discuss space in these kinds of absolute terms rather than the relative ones we use in English, according to Boroditsky. “As a result of this constant linguistic training,” she writes, “speakers of such languages are remarkably good at staying oriented and keeping track of where they are, even in unfamiliar landscapes.” On a research trip to Australia, Boroditsky and her colleague found that Pormpuraawans, who speak Kuuk Thaayorre, not only knew instinctively in which direction they were facing, but also always arranged pictures in a temporal progression from east to west.

Blame and English Speakers
In the same article, Boroditsky notes that in English, we’ll often say that someone broke a vase even if it was an accident, but Spanish and Japanese speakers tend to say that the vase broke itself. Boroditsky describes a study by her student Caitlin Fausey in which English speakers were much more likely to remember who accidentally popped balloons, broke eggs, or spilled drinks in a video than Spanish or Japanese speakers. (Guilt alert!) Not only that, but there’s a correlation between a focus on agents in English and our criminal-justice bent toward punishing transgressors rather than restituting victims, Boroditsky argues.

Color among Zuñi and Russian Speakers
Our ability to distinguish between colors follows the terms in which we describe them, as Chen notes in the academic paper in which he presents his research (forthcoming in the American Economic Review; PDF here). A 1954 study found that Zuñi speakers, who don’t differentiate between orange and yellow, have trouble telling them apart. Russian speakers, on the other hand, have separate words for light blue (goluboy) and dark blue (siniy). According to a 2007 study, they’re better than English speakers at picking out blues close to the goluboy/siniy threshold.

Gender in Finnish and Hebrew
In Hebrew, gender markers are all over the place, whereas Finnish doesn’t mark gender at all, Boroditsky writes in Scientific American (PDF). A study done in the 1980s found that, yup, thought follows suit: kids who spoke Hebrew knew their own genders a year earlier than those who grew up speaking Finnish. (Speakers of English, in which gender referents fall in the middle, were in between on that timeline, too.)

(via akaili)


Flashed face distortion effect: Grotesque faces from relative spaces

Abstract: We describe a novel face distortion effect resulting from the fast-paced presentation of eye-aligned faces. When cycling through the faces on a computer screen, each face seems to become a caricature of itself and some faces appear highly deformed, even grotesque. The degree of distortion is greatest for faces that deviate from the others in the set on a particular dimension (eg if a person has a large forehead, it looks particularly large). This new method of image presentation, based on alignment and speed, could provide a useful tool for investigating contrastive distortion effects and face adaptation.

From the Journal of Perception 

Sorry for the bad video quality, it’s my connection + bad lighting in the room. 

These are scattered, random thoughts. Probably don’t make much sense. Just something to think about, if you want to. Learn a lot so I can improve since I’ve never filmed myself, besides this time and… one other time. 

Post I’ve made after making the video: (This is in the video if my English sucks beyond comprehensions)

I’ve been reading Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, and in his book he presents an idea that, summarized (if I got it right) would be - when you first look at things or a person, you get impressions and emotions right in the first 2 seconds - and they are in most cases the right and most accurate ones. I personally don’t like this book because it seems to be a psychology for the masses, really simplified and while he presents an interesting idea, he adds examples on top of it instead of expanding that idea. I’ve only read few chapters of it, so I’m not gonna judge it yet, but while I dislike it at the moment I’d still recommending - it’s still an interesting read.

Any way, I wanted to talk about Words. If his idea is true, then the first two seconds, the first impressions you got of me are the right ones. They should be unprejudiced, nonjudgmental, nonstereotyped. That’s something you should aspire to, in order to get the right impressions of people. When you wish to share that with me, like if I ask you what impression did you get of me - you need to put it into words. And have you ever felt that ecstatic, not sad not happy, not delirious not exciting yet you want to explode - feeling? When listening to a new song or you are at a concert? You know you do, well wasn’t it extremely hard to explain to someone who hasn’t felt it?

Our communication is flawed. It’s like the emotions get transcribed or translated through four steps. The first step is translating your emotions, something that only you understand because everybody has a different set of emotions and a unique set of you - into thoughts. When thoughts kick in, the world around you kicks in, all the prejudices and all the ideas how to translate it the best way possible. It’s extremely hard, and it’s fascinating how our brain actually works. After that, thoughts get transcribed into words, and words get transcribed into typed out words if you are on the internet. Along with words you have hand gestures, non verbal speech, facial expressions. On the internet, you don’t even have that. With every transcription we lose several extremely important keypoints. 

We don’t have an USB port for emotions, unfortunately.

Other thing I wanted to talk about is language - if we make the language, not the language us, then we need more words. But, since it can be found in a thousand copies, the dictionaries, the guidebooks, whatever - it’s fact. It’s something unchangeable. You are not allowed to change it. The same thing with the fact that there were several acknowledged psychological researches were they concluded that society and their peers raise children and - not their parents, their parents guide them. While it may not be true, in most cases of my experience and other stories - I see that it is true! Then why don’t we change that definition?

Are we that scared of change? Losing boundaries? Are we that insecure in ourselves, that we don’t trust us, not to say others?

by Luka.

(Pst, extras: Matthew gave some great insight on my rant, so here you go if you’re interested.)
Matt: Ah right good. Well I sort of disagree with your point that emotions are transcribed into thoughts, which are influenced by the culture/society or whatever, because I feel that you can “think” or whatever without having an emotional trigger, but perhaps you were talking in a certain context, I don’t know. Regarding “not being able to change language”, well, you can. English and other languages are.. well I can’t remember the official term but basically they are defined by the people. When a word becomes commonly used it becomes part of the language, whereas I think German is a “rote” language or something where the language is as written, or whatever, and cannot change from “German” as it is. But yeah basically a shared symbol system only gets us so far. As Aldous Huxley says - “We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes.” 

Luka: Only in the context of trying to describe something you felt. There is no ‘language of the feels’ (?). You need to put it in a box, and if you start by saying something and that person has a facial expression you (<insert reason here> think of/take it in as a negative one), you immediately change your whole definition, maybe changing your whole emotion in itself. And about the language part - it’s only because we don’t add new words. We’ve already had a discussion for respect/gratitude, but none of those words fit our definitions (if you remember it Matt/Nic/A/if anybody else was in it), we got confused over them. 
Any case, now I know what to improve - write thoughts first, then pile them up, see if your initial point is getting across, then make a video. This was just a mumbo-jumbo I had to share with someone.

Matt: Well that’s the same for language as a whole when you think about it Luka. We try to translate experience into words, into little boxes with specific definitions which we are told. Experience is probably the furthest thing from words as you can get, it is incomprehensible or at least indescribable as a whole, but because we need to get shit done we ascribe arbitrary values to certain dimensions of reality that we separate and call a “chair” or whatever. But any word has connotations, and language therefore influences and boxes in our thinking, and possibly even our experiences too. There were studies done in children pre and post-language, and there were notable differences in the way the appeared to perceive the world around them.

Luka: Yeah, touched that point after in a brief unfinished sentence (?). I just find sorta strange we’re good at a system that is flawed in so many ways, and that technology can’t break this ‘thoughts’ shell. It’s fascinating how our brain works though, translating them through the ‘levels’.

Matt: I’m pretty sure technology will be able to break the barrier between minds though Luka. Already we have technology that can translate brain activity into video and audio, as crappy as it is. The issue still remains that whatever you are seeing is still just a translation though. Even if we had brain implants and could send experience or whatever telepathically, you’d still have to wonder whether your experience of, say, the colour red is really the same as theirs, and the brain patterns are not just equivalent to words, they are symbols representative of but not dictating the content of experience.

Luka: Bingo! Same thoughts. I was always sad when I thought that the colours could be different to every person and even if he had a chance to literally show it - it’d probably get misunderstood. Yet, I want a new system because this one seems limiting.

Everything is a competition.

My best friend and I play this game, it doesn’t matter which one is it, the important bit is: it’s combat-oriented, you gain gold for killing neutral monsters and player champions, it requires timing and knowledge of the character you are playing play/are playing against. He asked me to play me versus him, in order for him to practice, while I share some advice on how to get better and what he should change/when it’s obvious he’s about to make a move/when is the right time to react etc. I’m playing that game far longer than him, it’s normal that I’m better at it, but I always feel really guilty because it seems he gets really frustrated and down because of it. He falls even more into his insecurities and becomes down-spirited, although he says it helps him improve (and it does) – yet I always feel bad.

Today, I was really tired and sleepy and was not paying attention nor fully concentrated, plus there was another player watching he wanted to impress (in order to prove himself), basically, we were even, but in the end the match ended being in his favour (for the first time). During it, while he was ahead, he said „This is fun :D From now on we always play when you’re sleepy lol“. And for the first time he said „Good game“ when the match ended, while before, when he had a worse score than me, he’d say nothing in that sense. I wouldn’t say „Good game“, I was doing it because he wanted me to help and I didn’t really have fun playing against someone who is trying his best yet still failing just because I had more time on my hands to get better at it. Nor was I having fun since I felt my friend is feeling bad because of his lack of skill, which he shouldn’t feel bad about in the first place, it just takes time. Not like games are designed for 190+ IQ. 

I was incredibly angry and sad at the same time. I felt as some sort of a toy in order to boost his ego, a puppet in order to impress some random guy he doesn’t even know nor should care about what he thinks of him, and now it was fun – but before? Not it was fun when he was winning, being better than me, superior than me? All those other 1 versus 1 matches, what? They weren’t fun? Why are we playing –a game-, if it’s not for fun? To prove ourselves? Honestly? What do we have to prove to each other, we’re already friends?

Then I realized, at some points in these matches, I too would stop thinking about fun sometimes and would kill his champion in order to prove my superiority and how I can win against him easily, to make myself feel better or give an excuse to myself for a mistake I’ve made. I’d advise him what he could’ve done to prevent me killing his champion etc., but still, I had that feeling inside of me, even for a short time.

Why is everything about being the best and winning?

Mortal Kombat or Tekken 3, the narrator: You win!

Pokémon opening theme: “I want to be the very best”

Your teachers: You need to be the best in class in order to get into whichever college you want!

Your parents/Job adviser/Anyone: You need to be the best worker so you get recognize and become provided with all the material needs you want/require!

Yourself: I need to get better at <insert>, so people will notice me.

Is it really that important to win? Couldn’t “Hope you had fun!” have sufficed? Is showing superiority against somebody/to somebody what really motivates us?

There are 6 billion other people on the planet. You are not going to be the best. Stop proving yourself to someone, stop proving your worth to yourself. You are worthy. Be you. If it’s fun, if it’s what you want, do it. When it stops being that, stop doing it. 

Yes, you have to be the best in class in order to get into whichever college you want, that’s how the system works, but not if it’s making you feel bad and affecting you negatively in general. You’re smart, you’re young, no, you will not end on the street if you don’t get into UCLA. No, you don’t have to be the best worker, you have to be a good worker. Good, in general, in all qualities, not excelling in one particular field.

Society, stop turning everything into a goddamn competition.

Stop planting subconscious ideas into my head which make me compete against my friend(s). They’re my companions, my allies, not my opponents or someone I have to prove my worth to. I don’t have to prove anything.

I think, therefore I exist. I exist, therefore I’m proving myself to everybody. 

They wouldn’t be my friends if they didn’t think I’m “worthy enough”. 

Why does everything have to be measured?

It’s an unnecessary and a negative system. How do you define best, in a field such as photography for example anyway? 6 billion people, those are 6 billion brains, who will pick a different photograph from 6 available ones and grade it as “the best”.

Who then decides which one is the best?
Or do they compete against each other?
Fight in the mud?

This world is barbaric. And they say we evolved. Spinning in circles, tip-toeing in one place.


[More questions than answers, really.] ~ Luka

I’m feeling rather unmotivated and tired, although I’ve slept for 12 hours and eaten properly. I reckon a lot of people can relate to that state, but let’s ask ourselves - what is it?

One cause, and it’s the most popular one in the media although they don’t tell us how to cope with it, could be “spring fever" or "spring fatigue".

We’re mammals, after all, they tell us ‘nature is waking up’ and (for some reason) - I feel like we expect we’re supposed to jump and instantly be filled with energy and motivation. But we all know how -waking up- actually feels. It’s a process that takes a while, and depending on your eating/sleeping habits and what you before bedtime - it might take a long time. Some people instantly feel that bursts of energy and motivation, some don’t. It’s the same with ‘waking up from winter’ except it takes longer

Wikipedia says: “Weariness (despite an adequate amount of sleep), sensitivity to changes in the weather, dizziness, irritability, headaches […]” - during this period I’m especially irritated. I’m irritated by the sole fact that I’m irritated, and that I want to get stuff done, but I can’t. My whole body aches, I’m constantly sleepy and can’t concentrate, I miss my usual enthusiasm and energy, since I’m quite a jumpy person.  

It also says “mid-March until mid-April” but I for one start feeling it mid-February, and it goes on until early or mid-April. My sleeping and eating habits are really bad, I have a bad appetite, and often because I’m irritated since I didn’t do what I planned on doing - I stay up to fix that.


So, what can we do in order to ‘wake up’ sooner that is to accept the fact that for us it just might take longer and there’s nothing wrong with that?

(NOTE: None of these are pearls of wisdom, normal points you’ve heard before, I just feel I need to remind myself and others of them.
Also, I don’t know much about protein/carbohydrates/shit in general, this is me speaking what I think might benefit you, if I’m wrong and you’re sure it might do the opposite for people - say so, reply or ask or anything.)

  • 1. Eat well and drink lots of fluids (water is still your best option). Google “high energy food” if you don’t know what to eat, some of those would be - fruits and vegetables (first), eggs, mushrooms, chicken, dairy products, salmon or tuna, etc. 
  • The body needs vitamins and proteins, since during the winter we’ve mostly consumed carbohydrates, fat and food with lots of calories. 
  • Your breakfast should be the biggest meal of the day, with lots of various food. (French toast, eggs, orange juice, bacon, bit of butter or cheese damn I’m hungry now). 
  • Eat snacks between meals, or if you can’t eat a proper meal, then it’s even more important. Protein bars and chocolate is good, but sunflower seeds or fruits or nibbling on some cheese might even be better. 
  • Drink a lot (water water water), especially if you’re on your job or college, and you’re moving around (ergo, you’re sweating, the body is losing fluids) or eating salty snacks (peanuts for example, you have to drink to provide your body with fluids, careful since peanuts do have unsaturated fat in them, not really a high-vitamin/protein snack there).
  • Fruits and vegetables. With your breakfast, after your supper, between meals. DON’T YOU DARE PEEL THAT APPLE, it has the most vitamin C in it. Lemon juice (or just lemons if you can eat them, I love them), orange juice, anything. It will also keep the actual fevers away. (My sister’s class for example: 11/20 are sick this week. Weeha.)
  • 2. Sleep. Organize your days, at least in small notes, outline it, in order to see what you -need- to do that day, and what you can leave for another day. Remember, sleep > work, even though most of us somehow turn that other way around. (Fuck society.)
  • 3. Exercise. After you wake up - take 10-15 minutes to stretch, close your eyes and breathe. If you have the time - walk to work/college. Instead of sitting in the cafeteria, take your coffee/lunch and walk to the park or around the campus. After a while, you’ll only feel the -healthy- fatigue, not this “I’m so tired I wanna sleep hurr durr” fatigue. 
  • 4. Personally, might be the most important point in this rant-post: It’s okay to feel this way. Everything irritates you, when the weather changes your mood fluctuates like mad, you just want to sleep etc. etc. Most people feel that way, even if they don’t - you do, so why wouldn’t it be okay and as important as everything else? Explain to people that you’re not feeling well lately just so they aren’t offended by your actions (even though - their problem, but better to prevent it than try curing it, right? Right? Right.) 

Hope you’re not feeling this tired and unmotivated as I am though, and if you are, try some of these things, they seem to help.

Also, happy birthday Ama.

~ by Luka

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