March 18th, 2014


Interesting Links for 18-03-2014


I cannot see with my mind, and I did not know this was unusual.

Discussing this article* with Julie I discovered that when people talk about seeing things in their minds eye they are not speaking metaphorically.

I did not know this.

I don't know if _you_ knew this. Or, if you do see things when you imagine them, that you did not know that others didn't.

Julie does not like raw vegetables. They taste bitter to her. Raw vegetables taste _awesome_ to me. That someone might not like the taste of raw cabbage seems very odd to me. But, at least, in this case it's something that is immediately obvious, and we even have a genetic explanation for why**. But that's something _normal_ - everyone past the age of six knows that different people like different food. And anyone adult who isn't a complete dick is perfectly understanding of different people's food preferences.

But even then a lot of people are quick to judge other people's food preferences, to label others as fussy, or childish. When you start to uncover these other differences, ones that aren't obvious, surface, differences, people get a lot less polite and understanding. There seems to be a widespread belief that we shouldn't even try to understand other people - that they _should_ be just like us. That even attempting to be understanding that people might like watching people kicking around a football, or writing fiction about characters that touched them, or painting their skin their different colours, or discussing the patterns they see in mathematics, or anything else that _they_ like that _we_ don't is somehow demeaning to our own preferences.

I wonder if, as we slowly gain more knowledge of the mind, and explanations for how it works, and why it does the things it does, whether this will lead more people to say "Oh, it's fine that they like Mathcore, have a huge waxes moustache, and practice polygamy, scientists have explained what leads to that." - if the idea of "normal things that people do" will expand as we develop more and more explanations for them.

It shouldn't have to be that way, of course. You shouldn't have to point at gay penguins in order to justify the idea that homosexuality isn't "unnatural" (whatever that means). You shouldn't have to find a justification for why plot is important to you in order for other people to believe that you like yours to be unspoiled. You shouldn't need to justify liking your tea without sugar (or with three). But it seems somehow hardwired into people - they need a _reason_ for you to be different, or there is something wrong with you. Presumably because otherwise your difference might mean there was something wrong with _them_.

People have their preferences. People have their differences. They just do.

And apparently many people can see things when they imagine them, clear as day, while my brain operates in some other way that means I just get concepts and ideas, without nary an image at all.

Truly the world is an amazing and wonderful place.

*Site seems to be down now, so you'll have to take my word for it that it was fascinating. Or read the Google Cache of it.
**The TAS2R38 gene, which I have the CC variant of, and Julie has the GG variant of, meaning that I cannot taste propylthiouracil, and can't tell when certain things are bitter. I wonder if this also explains why I don't mind various artificial sweeteners.

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