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Does Your Language Shape How You Think?

Does Your Language Shape How You Think?
Seventy years ago, in 1940, a popular science magazine published a short article that set in motion one of the trendiest intellectual fads of the 20th century. At first glance, there seemed little about the article to augur its subsequent celebrity. Neither the title, “Science and Linguistics,” nor the magazine, M.I.T.’s Technology Review, was most people’s idea of glamour. In particular, Whorf announced, Native American languages impose on their speakers a picture of reality that is totally different from ours, so their speakers would simply not be able to understand some of our most basic concepts, like the flow of time or the distinction between objects (like “stone”) and actions (like “fall”). Related:  thinking

The internet: is it changing the way we think? | Technology | The Observer Every 50 years or so, American magazine the Atlantic lobs an intellectual grenade into our culture. In the summer of 1945, for example, it published an essay by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) engineer Vannevar Bush entitled "As We May Think". It turned out to be the blueprint for what eventually emerged as the world wide web. Two summers ago, the Atlantic published an essay by Nicholas Carr, one of the blogosphere's most prominent (and thoughtful) contrarians, under the headline "Is Google Making Us Stupid?". "Over the past few years," Carr wrote, "I've had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. The title of the essay is misleading, because Carr's target was not really the world's leading search engine, but the impact that ubiquitous, always-on networking is having on our cognitive processes. But just because fears recur doesn't mean that they aren't valid.

Isolation in America: Does Living Alone Mean Being Alone? | Human Capital Today living alone is common in nearly all of the most developed and affluent societies in the world. I had originally thought it was an American phenomenon but, in fact, it’s a global one. I believe that the rise of living alone is the biggest demographic change since the baby boom. In all of human history no society has ever sustained large numbers of people living alone for long periods of time. That began to change in the 1950s and 60s. So today we find ourselves in an unprecedented social experiment, and my book is the first comprehensive report on this social change. HCB: Is there a typical “singleton”—a person living alone? Klinenberg: We found four main groups of singletons from this study. Another group is adults age 35 to 65. What’s so interesting is that these groups have managed to make living alone a very social experience. HCB: And what about the other two groups? Klinenberg: The other groups have more challenges. HCB: Do you plan to continue your research on this topic?

A Fascinating New Theory About the Human Mind, Evolution and Mortality Photo Credit: June 7, 2013 | Like this article? Join our email list: Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email. From the book DENIAL: Self-Deception, False Beliefs, and the Origins of the Human Mind by Ajit Varki and Danny Brower. The story behind this book is strange and improbable. The improbability of it all becomes starker when you consider what different circumstances the two of us came from. As for me, I was born just two months after Danny, but was raised on the other side of the planet, in India.

Listen, Little Man! How To Raise Kids Who Aren't Narcissists The guy right in front of you on the plane just stood up before the plane finished taxiing. He's taking out his luggage, forcing a flight attendant to intervene. He keeps saying he has a very important meeting to go to -- did he just use the phrase "C-suite"? -- and he has to get off the plane first. Ugh! In a new study, a team of child development and psychology researchers from Europe and the United States sought the seeds of narcissism by tracking 565 middle-class children and their parents over a year and a half. That's not to say that parents shouldn't be nice to their kids. Kids with narcissism agree with statements such as "I like to think about how incredibly nice I am" and "Kids like me deserve something extra." While it can seem subtle, there's a difference between self-esteem and narcissism. Here's another way to think about it. So where do people like Plane Guy come from?

The Truth Is, Philosophy Rules Your World : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture A 2012 installation in the small Italian village of Corigliano d'Otranto celebrates the philosophies of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle and their search for a better way of life. Carlo Hermann/AFP/Getty Images hide caption itoggle caption Carlo Hermann/AFP/Getty Images A 2012 installation in the small Italian village of Corigliano d'Otranto celebrates the philosophies of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle and their search for a better way of life. Carlo Hermann/AFP/Getty Images If philosophy's main goal is to figure out what makes life worth living, it is also, by extension, a preparation for dying. For this we must thank Rebecca Newberger Goldstein's inventiveness and intellectual courage. To the seafaring Greeks, one of the greatest fears was to perish, without a trace, under the sea. Plato clearly succeeded. Goldstein is the first to admit that there is an elitist trend in Plato's ideas, typical of an aristocrat who didn't have to work for a living.

Bill Moyers Essay: Freedom of and From Religion BILL MOYERS: The president did something agile and wise the other day. And something quite important to the health of our politics. He reached up and snuffed out what some folks wanted to make into a cosmic battle between good and evil. No, said the president, we’re not going to turn the argument over contraception into Armageddon, this is an honest difference between Americans, and I’ll not see it escalated into a holy war. The Catholic bishops had cast the president’s intended policy as an infringement on their religious freedom; they hold birth control to be a mortal sin, and were incensed that the government might coerce them to treat it otherwise. When the president announced his new plan, the bishops were caught flat-footed. SEN. BILL MOYERS: But here’s what Republicans don’t get, or won’t tell you. So the battle over contraception no longer seems apocalyptic. BILL MOYERS: We Americans have wrestled with that question from the beginning.