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Re: The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint

crisp thinking
Joshua Allen wrote:
>>Then you badly misunderstood the article.  When sinophone and
> anglophone
>>native speakers were compared *on an English-language test*, the
> former
>>were quicker to respond to "Is X earlier than Y?" if they had been
> primed
>>with questions like "Is X above Y?" than if the priming question was
>>"Is X before Y (spatially)?", whereas anglophone native speakers were
>>the other way about.
> Yes, that's exactly what I said -- Lera proved that questions addressed
> in the listener's representational system are more quickly understood.
> You chose to ignore my point that the differences between the two groups
> would have been even more pronounced if you had divided two groups based
> on vertical vs. horizontal representation systems rather than childhood
> language.  I'm not arguing that the results are false, but that such
> correlations are easy to find and they exist apart from linguistic
> boundaries, and they are not nearly as significant or meaningful as
> people think.
> Childhood language may be correlated with certain internal
> representational system choices, but it's not deterministic, and the
> results of such experiments are little more than parlor tricks.  It
> would be equally easy to deduce a set of terms that had different
> affinity between men and women (and in fact, I have participated in one
> such experiment).  Then the researcher could separate men from women
> without having to see or hear them, simply by noting response times to
> particular questions.  The same could be done to separate Jew and Moslem
> by using particular metaphors peculiar to each culture.  Again, parlor
> tricks.  The question is, what's the significance?  Many languages do
> not have as many words to classify relatives (aunt, great-uncle, etc.)
> as English does.  You could easily concoct an experiment that
> highlighted these differences.  But does it "prove" that these people
> have trouble thinking beyond the extended family?  Maybe it proves that
> they are more intimately aware of family connections ("my brother's
> wife's mother" is more descriptive than "brother's mother-in-law" or
> "sister-in-law's mom").  If I were a huckster or racist, I could "prove"
> nearly any thesis with these facts.
> This stuff is conducted with the same scientific and logical rigor as
> phrenology, and is the worst kind of deceit because it is used so often
> by facists to cloak their wild theses in a mantle of scientific purity.
> Again, I welcome people to read the papers available and come to their
> own conclusions, and would warn that if they find themselves attaching
> anything beyond "parlor trick" mentality to the Sapir-Whorf crowd,
> please stay away from anything requiring crisp thinking :-)

So anyone who accepts, in part, that language may influence thought is 
lending support to hucksters, racists and fascists? I think I will take 
your advice and stay away from that sort of "crisp thinking". ;-}

Bob Foster


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