NIGHT 19 — Webster, Weber, Bushman and Hitler

How does a bushman find water?

(Bushmen is a term that refers to the indigenous people of Southern Africa.)

He digs a hole with a small opening and places salt in it. He waits for a baboon pass by.

You see, baboons are crazy for salt. When the baboon passes by, it puts its hand into the hole. What does it discover? Salt! It tries to remove its hand but it can’t because its bigger and holding all the salt. But the baboon isn’t going to let go of the salt. So it just stands there.

When the bushman returns, he just takes the baboon, puts it in a cage and feeds it. After a while, the baboon gets thirsty. The bushman sets him free.

The baboon, naturally, swings over to the nearest resource of water and the bushman follows him quickly. Once they arrive, they both drink from it.

I was watching a video of the interview of a standup comedian and he was asked why he walked away from fame and an opportunity to make a lot of money. He recited this analogy and said he felt that for a long time he was the baboon but he believes he finally learnt to let go of the salt.

Repeated it here cause it seemed like such a beautiful analogy and pleasant story to end/start your day with, depending on what time you are reading this.

I have been studying a little bit of psychology from Crash Course.

They mentioned something called Weber’s Law(in psychology).

It basically states that you perceive differences through your senses on a logarithmic and not on a linear scale.

We, humans, have a high difference threshold when it comes to colours.

Basically what Weber’s Law means is that if I showed you the colour blue, yes, you would identify it. But if I made it very slightly darker or very slightly lighter on a very minute scale, you probably wouldn’t notice the difference and still see it for the same colour.

But change it enough and you can see red, yellow, green, black, white etc. These colours are all sufficiently different enough for you to perceive them, i.e, a logarithmic scale.

(Warning: Take everything I say with a pinch of salt and if you take anything I say seriously, google up some stuff related to it before paraphrasing it.)

(I should attach that disclaimer to all of my entries.)

(But if you have read any of them, well, the disclaimer is there without me having to type it.)

What’s fascinating is that all of the colour stuff sparked a memory of something I read in a book once. It’s a pretty interesting study.

Basically the researchers found this tribe deep within a forest (I don’t recall any of the specifics). This tribe of course conversed in their own specific language. Now the intriguing part of this study was that this language didn’t have a word for the colour ‘blue’. At the same time, they had multiple words for may different shades of ‘green’.

I hear you say, “Well so what if they don’t have a word for the colour ‘blue’, words are just words, it doesn’t make a difference.

(I just did a quick Google, its a study done by BBC on the Namibian Himbas.)

Anyway, they did a study where they showed the Himbas a number of circles where they were all green and one was blue. Now any one of us could pick out the colour with relative ease but the Himbas couldn’t, they took a long time and there were a lot of mistake.

At the same time, they repeated it where all the circles were green and one was just a darker shade of green. But if I or you were to attempt it, it would be tremendously difficult to differentiate because the difference is really hard to pinpoint. But the Himbas quickly pointed the one darker circle within seconds.

An astonishing example where language can affect how you perceive colour.

Guess that’s why they saw words are powerful.

I remember the Stanford prison experiment where they investigated guard brutality against the imprisoned criminals. One of the dehumanizing factors was the referring to the prisoners by number instead of name.

Oh, I also remember( I seem to be remembering a bunch of stuff today) there was this story of a woman who heard Hitler address a large crowd and was mezmerised by his charisma and rhetoric.

She went home and told her husband of the moustached orator and how his speech was impressive. Since her husband had missed the whole thing, the next day, she decided to sit down and write the main points of Hitler’s speech for him.

To her astonishment, she couldn’t write down a single point. That’s when she realized that what had inflamed her and the crowd so wasn’t the speech but the manner in which Hitler had spoken, the charisma he oozed, the rapid actions and the gestures.

Hitler wrote his own speeches unlike most leaders and edited them atleast five times and practiced his gestures.

It’s also partly how he got democratically elected and won an election in 1932.

So I guess, what you say, the way you say it, the words you say all hold power when used in the right manner.

Be cautious.

I was done for today but Medium keeps telling me that I am spelling the word “colour” wrong and doing those red underlines you see in MS Word.

They wouldn’t do that to me in Britain.

Annoyed, I shall leave after explaining why Americans spell “color” differently from the way the British do (“colour”) as well .

Okay, the answer I was aware of to this question is apparently incorrect.

The answer I knew was that American newspapers used to charge by the letter so they began to drop letter like the ‘l’ in ‘cancelled’ and the ‘u’ in ‘colour’.

However the actual answer is that Noah Webster (the guy from Webster’s Dctionary) felt that British English was too pompous and superfluous so he designed a new format of English through his dictionary and in way declared a literary independence from the nation that colonized them.

“I have removed the ‘l’ and the ‘u’. Hahahahhahahahahahahha. We are free from your rule now.”

I am just kidding. Of course, it was much bigger than that and the influence of his speller lasted over a century.

What’s the last thing that you created that lasted more than five years?

Good night, people.



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