Monday, September 8, 2008

"Understanding is secondary......"

In the final episode of the movie Kaspar Hauser today, this line jumped out at me:
"understanding is secondary, reasoning is the thing."
This led me to ponder the issue - do we use a language to model reasoning or do we use language to deliver understanding. It reminded me of a "contextual" study I learned about a few years ago. Written language has the ability to deliver its message regardless of its order, if we are familiar with the words. As long as the first and last letter are in the right place, all the other letters can be jumbled and our brain can decipher the meaning. Aren't we amazing creatures! Here is the text - see if you can read it.

The phenomenal power of the human mind

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdaniegThe phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid! Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer inwaht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? Yaeh, and I awlyas thought slpeling was ipmorantt.

NOTE: I read this somewhere and I just had to pass it around. I do not know the origins of the text


Jorgen said...

I saw this in Larry Harper's intro honors course my first semester. I've tried it in different contexts. It becomes harder to follow when you start identifying specific names and so on.

Msot lkleiy yulol be albe to raed tighns lkie this whtuoit MCUH pobrelm, but wehn I beign to dcussis nmeas scuh as Jnoahatn Mhieclas, eevn with the peirfx of monntneiig the wrod "nmae", it beoemcs much mroe dfilfiuct. But not impossible.

Jorgen said...

PS: The evolved human brain is much better at making predictions than other animals. I'm half-convinced that that is a large part of "what sets us apart" from animals.