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

TED Blog

language Economist Keith Chen starts today’s talk with an observation: 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.

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“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…

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How real science labs work

xcorr: comp neuro

"Piled Higher and Deeper" by Jorge Cham www.phdcomics.com “Piled Higher and Deeper” by Jorge Cham

I was reading The Antidote – an excellent book on negative thinking, stoicism and the bankruptcy of self-help; via this post on the New Yorker – and I stumbled onto a paper by the psychologist Kevin Dunbar on how science is made.

It’s an illuminating read. Dunbar followed 4 molecular biology lab for a year, reading paper drafts, sitting in on lab meetings, and generally tracking the progress of the science and the morale of the troops.

Of course, the quality of the work being done in a lab is partially determined by the quality of the scientists involved and the amount of work being put in. In addition, however, there are human dynamics that affect the quality of science being made.

What I found particularly interesting is the idea that perseverance at the individual level needs to be counteracted by collaborative…

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