Mind Games

In Sean Hall’s This Means This, This Means That, Chapter 3 challenges us with multiple conceptual structures. A concept can be defined as an abstraction or generalization from experience of other existing concepts. Hall states that concepts are the basic building blocks in human thinking, and they are highly flexible. The following one stuck out to me:

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I, along with everybody else I’m sure, had no problem reading this. In fact, I’m sure we all read it without even thinking twice.

Here is another example to try:

I cnduo’t bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg. Unisg the icndeblire pweor of the hmuan mnid, aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whoutit a pboerlm. Tihs is bucseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey ltteer by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Aaznmig, huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghhuot slelinpg was ipmorantt! See if yuor fdreins can raed this too. (found on: http://www.ecenglish.com/learnenglish/lessons/can-you-read)

Hall explains this particular structure in relation to how our eyes and minds view images. He asks us – If we tend to see the whole word before we see its parts when we read, then what happens when we look at an image? He uses Picasso’s portraits as an example. Picasso is well known for taking an image and mixing it up, making it look like something other than it should be. This is a visual of the example that Hall uses in Chapter 3. Because we see the different parts of a face, our mind automatically recognizes that it’s a person. However, this could sometimes be considered a flaw in the human mind.

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(picture found on: http://mhsartgallerymac.wikispaces.com/Picasso)

Hall is trying to get us to realize to look at all parts of a whole, whether it’s a word, image, or anything else for that matter. Also, to recognize that parts are considered wholes by themselves. Sometimes when we look at an image, we miss the true underlying meaning by looking at it as a whole rather then taking the time out to look at parts.

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(Image found: http://trifini.com/mind-tricks-images.html)

Looking at this image as a whole, our mind recognizes it as the side profile of an Apache Indian. Take another glance at it. It’s actually an Eskimo walking into a cave. This is a great example of how our mind can sometimes miss the actual meaning of an image by focusing on it as whole at first.

This brings us back full circle to the jumbled word example. To be honest, I initially thought it was awesome that our minds allow us to recognize words even when they are completely discombobulated. Then, I realized it was just an example to show us how our minds tend to immediately focus on things as a whole. (Thanks, Hall.) Unfortunately, our mind can play tricks on us sometimes.

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6 thoughts on “Mind Games

  1. This is a very interesting blog post. I honestly did not even realize the sentence had been mixed up until you pointed it out. I just read it and had no problem. I am sure you’d normally think that reading a reversed sentence may be impossible but to many it requires no effort at all. This definitely tells us that Hall is correct. It’s intreguing to think that our minds are programed to see things as a whole rather than separate. Our experiences and our comprehension all come together and enable us to see phrases or symbols in a big picture.

    Personally, I find the images to be a little more challenging. I have to often stare at them for a couple of minutes before seeing the second picture. This may be because it is a picture and not text. Then again, some people look at a picture and see it immediately. I think it differs for every person.

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  2. I love this topic! It is very interesting to me that we can decode such a complex set of words. What I find even more interesting is how so many people can look at one picture and have many different opinions on what the picture is showing. For example at a quick glance I saw the side of a man’s face, however, after further examining the picture I saw an older lady going into a home or hallway. Though my first assumption was spot on with what many others see in this picture, my second interpretation is completely different.
    Situations like this make you truly think about how we as a society view things. We view them at a quick glance and never fully analyze them for the full picture or meaning. I think Hall was on the right track, I feel that if we focus more on the singular parts that make up a whole maybe we will have a better understanding of the whole itself.

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  3. The brain hacks are amazing. I was a biochemistry major prior to switching to education and while doing my research for anything, I always came across body science that proves we aren’t as much in control as we think. Perceptual realities are so biased that we can’t even trust our own eyes. Case in point- what you are seeing is jumbled into a trillion little pieces and even more so you see it upside down and your brain flips it. So what are you loosing during the translation- think about it.

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  4. I found this post to be very interesting. After taking a teaching literacy course, I’ve seen this “phenomenon” before where a person can decode letters and automatically know the word. There are only certain letters that one needs to see in order to decode it quickly. A lot of it relates to fluent reading too.
    Anyway, I think that while decoding letters is easy, images hold a little bit more difficulty. Paintings and images can have several elements to them which could take much more time to find, let alone create a meaning with. Plus, the art is completely interpretive, which means designating a meaning could be endless.

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  5. This blew my mind! I am good at reading misspelled words, but this was interesting. As a future educator, It will be ironic telling al my students that spelling is very important when after reading this, it is not that important. As long as the first and last letters are the same we can still read it, which i think is crazy. I feel like there are some words that have the same beginning and end letters, so maybe it has to be all the same letters, but only the order of those matter? I do not know, this was crazy! I have seen pictures like that before. It relates back to the idea of semiotics and symbols. The pictures can be seen in multiple ways, it is all up to the viewer’s interpretation. Interesting, and engaging blog topic, it really got me thinking about the English language.

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  6. I love decoding words like this! I don’t know how I do it so quick! I love how Hall makes us see that we have to just look at everything as a whole and just different parts.

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