Friday, March 11, 2011

Think Different

I am fascinated by how people think differently from each other. I think there are big differences in the fundamental methods people use to think, but because we rarely talk about how we think these are not well known.

Feynman talks here about how he heard numbers in his head when he counted and his friend saw numbers visually.

He believed that such fundamental differences explained why we sometimes have such difficulties communicating with each other.

I 'see' numbers as a kind of line and I have heard other people describe other ways they 'see' numbers

Reading is another place people think differently. When I read I 'hear' the words as I read them. This is called subvocalisation and is normal but it slows down reading. "Subvocalization, or silent speech, is defined as the internal speech made when reading a word, thus allowing the reader to imagine the sound of the word as it is read". There are all sorts of online guides as to how to stop subvocalising. My wife does not subvocalise and never has. She describes seeing words as the actual word rather then hearing it and then understanding what it means.

Do left handed people who do that hook handed over the top writing have a fundamentally different view of writing? Do you know of any other basic cognitive tasks that people carry out in completely different ways?


The Beer Nut said...

I'm left handed, but I've written in languages that move in both directions and never really felt there was any big difference. I don't think I do the hook thing though.

In Hebrew, vowels aren't letters and are more akin to punctuation. You get used very quickly to writing a word and then filling in its vowels ("pointing") afterwards. Sub-vocalisation helps a lot there. Especially in an exam...

Nic said...

S'funny. When I was a child I saw simple numbers as colour blocks of different sizes. 3 is yellow, 4 is red, 5 is blue and 6 is green.7 is yellow-and-red because 3-and-4, tho' 8 is purple, not 4-and-4. Definitely visual I guess. And words are shapes with different letter patterns.

(BTW. Hopped over her from bioniclaura knitting blog. Good luck at the awards.)

red dave said...

That is fascinating. There is a book called Born On A Blue Day by Daniel Tammet I keep meaning to read. He sees numbers as shapes with different colours. He says this is what allows him to do amazing number feats like reciting Pi from memory to 22,514 digits

Thanks for the good wishes Nic

Beernut you know Hebrew? I am starting to think you are some sort of secret agent