A Mind @ Play Posts

3rd May 2017 / / Technology
18th February 2017 / / Languages
23rd January 2017 / / English
11th January 2017 / / General

In the weird and wonderful world of words, which world of words is the weirdest? And if we replace ‘weird’ with ‘hard’, we find one of those eternal questions facing language learners: which language is more difficult?

25th December 2016 / / Books

Blind WatchmakerWhat is it about the theory of evolution which makes it so difficult to comprehend? Why does it require a leap of faith for many people to understand? And why do they feel they need to believe in evolution in a way they never would with, say, gravity?

Having finally got around to reading The Blind Watchmaker this year, one remark really stuck in my mind, when Dawkins turned to describing the human experience in terms of units. The way we perceive the world around us is intrinsically bound to the way we encounter it. We consider time, for instance, within a fairly specific range. Once we go beyond that range, our natural, indeed evolutionary faculties are incapable of perceiving the world outside those bounds with any degree of accuracy. That’s not to say we hit a brick wall when we step beyond that range. We’re still perfectly capable of contemplating the meaning of extremely long or short timescales, for example. We can measure them, compare them, calculate them; we can analogise and use metaphors. But we are far from being able to really grok what they mean.