Monday, January 9, 2012

"Distractable" is an understatement

Some people say, "Take time to stop and smell the flowers" but being easily distracted means I eat them instead.

Reading Cosmos magazine tonight has taken me on a really enjoyable journey... Their article on synaesthesia (sorry can't link as it is in the digital subscriber section) has prompted me to wonder if my friend who sees auras actually has an unusual form of synaesthesia? So possibly people are not actually putting out an aura - rather her synapses are cross wired and when she interprets their emotions it shows as a coloured field around the person.

And from there it was all tangential...Looking for support about this idea I came across the  Periodic Table of Swearing and then a blog about the benefits of being bilingual.  Apparently bilingualism makes you better able to apply theory of mind (guessing what other people are thinking, empathising etc...) and this gels well with my personal theory that ALL kids should be sent overseas after highschool for at least a year and this would stop all wars because it's very difficult to make war when 1/2 your population is shagging the enemy. (When you stop seeing people in 2D and understand they love their kids as much as you do it is impossible to make war on a population).

THEN on the same blog site I discovered the Navajo Indians' taboo of eating fish. This reminded me of an account I read over 20 years ago of an early Tasmanian explorer's encounter with an aboriginal woman when he was fishing (pub. date approx early 1900s). He offered her some fish but she expressed revulsion and rejected the offer. He concluded that native Tasmanians did not eat fish so I wondered if there was any confirmation of this in modern anthropology. Reading this article, The Polemics of Eating Fish in Tasmania, it looks like this question is still far from settled and there is a tousle over that the lack of evidence (ie lack of fishbones in the ancient middens) does not mean people are not eating fish however the subtext is about anthropologists quibbling over whether dropping fish from the menu represents a step back for their society having lost the knowledge of fishing or a fine tuning of their needs as richer fare was available for less effort. I speculate that the anthropologist's emotional-ethical pre-disposition towards the native people may affect which side of the issue they stand on. (At a stretch I could say that this phenomenon is similar to that issue of empathy & theory of mind attributed to bilinguals ;-)

I eventually regained my original track, and there were plenty of studies of the various types of synaesthesia but no studies supporting my idea about aura readers although someone beat me to the hypothesis and has suggested an emotional synaesthesia. I wonder how many aura readers would submit themselves to such a study and what would their conclusions be - those of the scientist and the subjects?

Post Script: While I was writing this post an old friend rang and raved on for a couple of hours. He was very drunk and in a very deep funk as his uncle died last week. Sigh...c'est la vie...

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