Word-based communication is basically telepathy!

GET THIS: Using this weird organ in my throat, I can vibrate air that moves little hairs in your ears that somehow magically can be turned into meaning. OR, EVEN WEIRDER: I can move my fingers over this fancy electronic box and cause little lights to turn on and off in given patterns that you can detect through this little pinhole in your eyes, associate with particular wave patters you’ve previously experienced by the hairs in your ears, WHICH IS SOMEHOW MAGICALLY ASSOCIATED WITH MEANING.

RIGHT NOW, I AM BASICALLY PUTTING THOUGHTS FROM MY BRAIN INTO YOUR BRAIN. Tell me, how is that NOT telepathy?? Telepathy has already been invented, guys. It’s called: WORDS!

It blows my mind that words are an effective communication tool. We can say SO MUCH with them. We have words for SELF-REFERENCE, for IMPLICIT self-reference. This might not yet blow your mind; if it doesn’t, then you NEED to read Godel Escher Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. The fact that I can think thoughts, translate those thoughts into words, and express those words through various physical media is pretty crazy all on its own. But that’s not all I can do! I can also perceive the changes in the world around me caused by other people, interpret those actions as words, and translate those words into ideas! And sure, it’s probably not the EXACT SAME IDEA that’s being shared. But it’s SO CLOSE! And the better you know a person, and the more you talk with them, the closer you can come to replicating their ideas inside your own brain!!

The real conclusion here is that one- and two-year-olds are the most impressive creatures that have ever existed. They are somehow, INDEPENDENTLY, figuring out how to participate in this mass telepathy project we are all constantly engaged in. And NO ONE HAS TO EXPLAIN THE TECHNOLOGY TO THEM! They just figure it out!! HOW DO THEY DO THAT?!?! I mean, I know that they are strongly motivated by a desire to connect with their caretakers; that this is an advantage to them to make sure that their caretakers continue to care about and engage with them; that this helps them thrive. But STILL. It’s totally crazy to think how often this happens, and we just go along taking it for granted.

Clearly, this is something common that completely amazes me. What common, everyday occurrences do you find fascinating?


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