10 Extraordinary Languages That Do Not Involve Speaking


MATTHEW MICHAEL 

 

The idea of a language with no speech sounds like an oxymoron at first, yet throughout the history of the world, humans have found countless surprising and innovative ways to communicate—often in complex conversations—without the use of speech as we know it. The concept itself is not as alien as it might seem. Morse code has entered the consciousness of many, having been featured on TV and in film, while the hand signals of American Sign Language (ASL) can be seen on streets and cities as friends and family talk with just their hands.

While ASL may be the most well-known of the non-spoken languages, the reality is that it is just one of hundreds (or perhaps thousands) of varied sign languages that have cropped around the world. In fact, think of any way to communicate or make noise without speaking, and there is probably a language somewhere on our diverse and fascinating globe that uses it—be it humming, drumming, whistling, or tapping.

10Silbo Gomero

For centuries, one sound has been a constant presence down the narrow volcanic ridges and valleys of the island of La Gomera—whistling. That’s because the 22,000 people who live here are unique in the Canary Islands archipelago, bilingual in Spanish and Silbo Gomero, a whistled version of the Spanish language that has allowed locals to communicate with each other from distances of over 3 kilometers (1.9 mi) away since the 16th century.[1]Using the natural formations of the small, circular volcanic island, the whistled language of 4,000 words echoes up and down La Gomera, creating a truly unique and somewhat ethereal atmosphere. Many on the island understand the language, and most of the older inhabitants are fluent, but with the looming threat of Silbo Gomero’s extinction over the past few years, the local government now requires that all children learn it in school, helping to revitalize the language and keep the island whistling.

9Sfyria

If Silbo Gomero impressed you, prepare to be astonished by the whistled language of Sfyria.A nearly extinct 2,500-year-old language known by only six people in the world, Sfyria sounds like birds singing and is a true linguistic feast.[2] And unlike Silbo Gomero, Sfyria has a completely unique vocabulary and grammar and is not a whistled version of another, already spoken language.

The incredibly rare Sfyria heralds from a tiny mountainous village called Antia on the little-known Greek island of Evia and may have been invented as a way to warn residents about invading pirates. Its remote location has allowed the language to survive, only being discovered as late as 1969, when a plane crashed near Antia, and rescuers on the scene heard locals using the whistling to communicate.

But its remote location is now, sadly, part of its demise. The village’s population has been falling for decades, and now, the number is down to just a few dozen, with only six Sfyria “speakers” left.

8Monastic Sign Language


So, imagine you are a monk sitting in your monastery, completely devoted to God through ritual prayer and a dedicated vow of silence. Others surround you in silence, but naturally, you want to converse. You know you are not allowed to talk, but nowhere does it say you cannot communicate. It was that exact thought process in the tenth century by Christian monks that helped create Monastic sign language, a way that monks began to communicate with their fellows through gestures and hand movements yet at the same time continuing to respect their vow of silence to God.[3]

While the lexicon is limited and mainly revolves around the day-to-day activities of the monastery, many different versions of Monastic sign language have cropped up in monasteries around the world over the past 1,000 years, some of which continue to be used today.

7The Tapping POWs


It’s not just monks who have to be silent; some people, like prisoners, are forced to be.

American prisoners of war (POWs) during the Vietnam War came up with an ingenious way of talking to each other in Vietnamese prisons—they used tapping.[4] Banned from talking with each other, the POWs created a system of taps, similar to Morse code, where they would tap out letters to form words and sentences. While the tapping could be used for simple things like “hello” and “good night,” it was also used in complex sentences, such as telling others what interrogation had been like and therefore warning them of what to expect when it was their turn.

Can this tapping truly be classified as a language, though? Well, former POW Vice Admiral James Stockdale’s words seem convincing. “Our tapping ceased to be just an exchange of letters and words; it became conversation,” he wrote in his memoir. “Elation, sadness, humor, sarcasm, excitement, depression—all came through.”

6Khoisan Clicks

A form of communication that has fascinated visiting foreigners to many African nations for years has been the use of “clicks.” Khoisan, a group of languages from across the African continent, has used clicks for consonants for generations, and while many of these languages are now extinct, there are several that continue to be used in places like the Kalahari Desert and Tanzania.[5]In fact, Dutch colonialists in South Africa were so stumped by the clicking noises of Khoisan speakers that they actually nicknamed them “stutterers,” believing the noises were a form of stuttering speech problem, rather than a language. Despite being grouped together, the Khoisan languages are actually very diverse, and many can be significantly different from each other—the clicks may sound similar to foreign ears, but they are definitely not!

5Damin

Photo credit: Keith de Witte

The Damin language—meaning “being silent”—is a now-extinct nasal clicking language from Australia, the only clicking language known to have been fostered outside of Africa.

Created by the Lardil people, an indigenous group from the Northern Australian island of Mornington, this clicking language was being “spoken” up until the 1970s in male initiation ceremonies, where it was taught to young males as part of their rite of passage to becoming men.[6]

With around 150 root words, each word or noise would represent several words in the Lardil’s spoken Tankic language. While the Lardil believed that the language was created during a time when mythological ancestral figures roamed ancient Australia, the far more likely and far less dramatic explanation is that Damin was simply created by Lardil elders as part of the rite of passage for young men.

4Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language

While the most well-known unspoken language in the world may be American Sign Language (ASL), there are actually hundreds, if not thousands, of different types of sign languages around the globe.Many of these have been created organically in small, mostly rural communities with exceptionally high rates of deafness. One of those communities, the al-Sayyid Bedouin tribe, can be found in the hot, dusty Negev Desert in Southern Israel.

The community numbers around 3,000 people but has had an uncommonly high rate of deafness for decades due to a genetic disorder that came from the tribe’s founders in the 19th century.

Currently, around 150 people, or five percent, of the tribe’s population is thought to be deaf; for comparison, the rate in the United States is just 0.1 percent. Because of this, a unique sign language began to form in the community during the mid-20th century and is regarded as the tribe’s second language. With everyone able to sign fluently, and therefore able to talk to all members of the community, the deaf of al-Sayyid are not stigmatized or left out of community business—in fact, marriage between deaf and non-deaf members is common.[7]

3Hmong Whistle Language

Photo credit: BBC

If you ever find yourself in the foothills of the Himalayas among the Hmong people, then strain an ear and put it to the wind—you might be lucky enough to catch the sound of birds singing, or at least something that sounds very much like that . . .

In fact, that singing may not be the sound of birds chattering among themselves but rather the whistled language of the Hmong, whose tuneful whistles carry whole sentences along the wind, passing them from person to person through valley and mountain for distances of up to 8 kilometers (5 mi).

It’s also a very romantic language. “Boys wander through the nearby villages at nightfall,” the BBC reports,” whistling their favourite poems between the houses. If a girl responds, the couple then start a flirty dialogue.”[8]

2Piraha

The Piraha language of the remote Piraha tribe in the Amazon rain forest is almost unrivaled for its simplicity. It has just eight consonants and three vowels and is one of the world’s simplest tongues. What it lacks in letters, it makes up for in sounds, however; the Piraha use a complex variety of tones along with differing syllable lengths to give diversity to each of their 11 letters.It is, technically, still a spoken language, however. But this is where things get especially interesting.

Due to the very small number of consonants and vowels, but the very large and complex range of tones used, the Piraha often completely drop the consonants and vowels and just hum their sentences, getting rid of speech altogether.[9] It’s not just humming, either. The 800 people who “speak” the language sometimes choose to sing or whistle it instead.

The tiny Amazonian tribe has one more incredible and extraordinary aspect to their language—it has no numbers.

1The Talking Drum

Some unspoken languages can also be lifesavers.Used in West Africa up to and including the present day, drumming has a centuries-long tradition in the region as a form of communication. It also had a role to play in the slave trade. Using what is called a “talking drum,” an hourglass-shaped drum that could copy the tone and accent of speech, villages and kidnapped locals were able to communicate over distance and with each other secretly despite the marauding slave traders—and this form of communication continued on slave plantations throughout the world.[10]

For skilled players, whole sentences could be created on the drum using not just the drumhead but cords that run down its side that allow a user to control the pitch. While the talking drum can still be used to talk between friends, these days, it remains most alive in West African culture through music.

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10 Things That Happen To Your Body If You Walk Every Day


I am a MORINING WALKER Primarily. I also do Afternoon walks and evening Walks and I agree with every thing here.

Dhananjay Parkhe

 

10 Things That Happen To Your Body If You Walk Every Day
*LIFE STORY
On Aug 8, 2018

You’ll be shocked to learn what happens to your body just from walking daily.

The real question is, do you have an extra 15 to 30 minutes free every day? Within a 24 hour period, anyone has a half an hour to spare. What should you do with that time? Walk of course. There are too many benefits and good things that come with that 30-minute walk. It is the cheapest and one of the most effective ways to do your whole body good.

Brain changes for the better
There has been a study done showing the effects of walking on the brain. According to this study, endorphins increase and stress levels become significantly lowered. Lower impact exercises like walking also aid in the overall brain health and even reduce the percentage of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Enhanced vision

It may sound fishy, but apparently walking every day can benefit the eyes as well. Walking improves some eye pressure thus reducing glaucoma in some cases.

Keeping the heart strong

Walking is just as useful as running according to the American Heart Association. It can help in avoiding heart related issues like strokes or other heart related issues. It improves circulation, reduction in cholesterol and can stabilize blood pressure.

Larger lungs

Besides eliminating toxins in the body, walking improves the lungs by coaching them to have more oxygen flowing throughout the body. This can greatly impact lung function for the prevention in lung diseases.

Improving the pancreas

A study was done that showed people who only walked had better glucose levels than those who ran 6 times as much. This means that people can practically walk their way to preventing diabetes and walking is the better option over running.

Aiding in digestion

Balancing the gut for better gut health is vital to prevent colon cancers and other problems like flatulence and constipation. Walking can help normalize the colon by keeping the colon literally moving.

Leaner muscles

When a person loses fat in their body the muscles become more prominent and they become leaner. This can be achieved by taking 10,000 steps a day. Going uphill or adding an interval throughout the walk can increase muscle tones to different parts of the body as well. All of that can be marked as you working out at the gym for the day. Walking is much easier on the body so there is less soreness and no healing time which means more continuous walking.

Firm joints and bones
Feeling stiff and in pain can be hampered by walking 30 minutes everyday. Stronger joints, warding off injuries and even ruling out bone loss are great ways to keep your body healthy. The Arthritis Foundation recommends walking for a healthier and being comfortable in your own body.

Relieve back pain

Much higher impact sports or exercises can damage the back. However, lower impact exercises like walking can relieve back pain and aches by circulating the blood within the spinal area. This along with strengthening flexibility and posture can practically erase any back discomfort.

Balanced mind
Walking by yourself but with others can improve mood, lower stress or anxiety. It has even been known to reduce depression in people.

Pass this along to your friends to teach them the benefits of walking!

via 10 Things That Happen To Your Body If You Walk Every Day

Doing Ethics with Our Brains by John Hooker – We can rationalise anything !


“We are told that we live in a post-truth age. When the facts get in the way, we turn to ‘alternative facts’ that serve our purposes. Rather than listen to another point of view, we focus only on arguments and talking points that support our ideology. Not everyone is like this, of course, but it seems to capture the tenor of the times. Worst of all, it exacerbates the polarization that so many worry about, because we can’t find common ground.
The root problem, in my view, is a gradual abandonment of rationality. We can’t reach consensus because we no longer acknowledge a rational basis for resolving disputes.

Ethics was an early casualty of this retreat from reason.”

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About John Hooker | John Hooker is a T. Jerome Holleran Professor of Business Ethics and Social Responsibility, and Professor of Operations Research, at Carnegie Mellon University. He has also held visiting posts at several universities, most recently the London School of Economics and the State University of Campinas, Brazil. He brings his extensive background in philosophy and logic to the rigorous analysis of ethical dilemmas, and his background in management science to making sure the dilemmas are realistic. In addition to his blog, Ethical Decisions, he has published over 170 research articles, eight books, and five edited volumes on ethics, philosophy, operations research, and cross-cultural issues, including Business Ethics as Rational Choice and Working across Cultures. He is the founding editor-in-chief of the world’s only academic journal dedicated to teaching business ethics, and he developed the ethics program in the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University.

via Doing Ethics with Our Brains by John Hooker – 165.01.TakingEthicsSeriously – ChangeThis

10 Of The Weirdest Things The Chinese Government Has Banned


10 Of The Weirdest Things The Chinese Government Has Banned

OLIVER TAYLOR 

Censorship is a big deal in China, where the government has made it clear that it will go to any length to control information. The Chinese government strictly controls news spread through the Internet and mass media, consequently deciding what its citizens know and what they do not.

Several Western companies—including Google and Facebook—have either left or been banned in China over censorship and privacy issues, leaving Chinese-owned companies that the government can easily manipulate in their place.

Away from the Internet, China has also banned several other weird things—usually for ridiculous reasons. Although the government often says otherwise, most of the items on this list were banned for political reasons.

10Hip-Hop

Photo credit: The Independent

Hip-hop songs and hip-hop artists with tattoos are prohibited in China. The ban was issued through the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), which stated that hip-hop artists had refused to toe the line of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

SAPPRFT ruled that media agencies must not feature artists who use vulgar or “tasteless” lyrics and artists whose “heart and morality” differ from that of the ruling CCP. Additionally, the artists must neither be classless nor questionable.[1]

Weeks before the ban was issued, two popular Chinese hip-hop artists, Wang Hao (stage name “PG One”) and Zhou Yan (stage name “GAI”) had been sanctioned for what the government called “bad behavior” and use of lyrics that were not aligned with the ideology of the CCP. PG One was also accused of using lyrics that insulted women and promoted drug use.

9Time Travel

Photo credit: chinahush.com

Films and television shows depicting time travel have been disallowed in China since April 2011. The government stated that the ban was necessary because movies depicting time travel are often historically inaccurate and filled with feudalism, superstition, and reincarnation, all of which are capable of distorting and insulting the history of China.

The ban came at a time when time travel films were gaining popularity. Their plots often involved people teleporting from modern China to ancient China. The events in the fictional ancient China were usually modeled after real events that happened in ancient China but with some exaggerations. The government fears that this could alter citizens’ opinions of the past.[2]

8Celebrity Gossip

Photo credit: newsweek.com

Around June 8, 2017, several Chinese blogs and social media accounts that were focused on celebrity gossip mysteriously disappeared from the Chinese web. It was later revealed that they had been shut down on the orders of the government. Apparently, the government had called representatives of several big Chinese Internet companies to a meeting and had given them a list of 60 blogs and social media accounts it wanted shut down.

According to the government, the ban was necessary because the blogs and social media accounts were of “poor taste” and did not promote “socialist values.” The shutdown was surprising to many Internet users because the government had often left sports and entertainment news uncensored.[3]

7Reincarnation

Photo credit: Christopher

China has banned reincarnation. That is, people who claim to be back from the dead. Anyone who wants to be reincarnated or claims to have been reincarnated needs to seek approval from the government and follow the rules as listed by the Chinese State Administration for Religious Affairs.

Despite its hilariousness, the prohibition has very real religious and political undertones. It is targeted at all Tibetan Buddhists, specifically the Dalai Lama, the spiritual and political leader of the Tibetan people and followers of Tibetan Buddhism.

Tibet used to be an independent country. Then, over five decades ago, China invaded and added the country to its territory. The Dalai Lama fled Tibet for India, where he still holds sway over Tibetans.

They believe that the Dalai Lama is capable of reincarnation after death. Considering that the current Dalai Lama is already old, a successor is bound to be appointed within the next few years or decades. By controlling who can be reincarnated, China will be able to decide who becomes the Dalai Lama. When this happens, it will be able to bring all Tibetans and Tibetan Buddhists under state control.

Even if the Dalai Lama decides to be reincarnated among Tibetans outside China (maybe in India or the United States), China could refuse to recognize that Dalai Lama. It could even appoint another Dalai Lama from the Tibetan population in China, leaving Tibetans with two Dalai Lamas. This will inevitably cause disagreement and confusion among Tibetans.[4]

6Puns

Photo credit: The Guardian

No pun intended, puns are banned in China. They are commonly used on the Chinese Internet and media where Chinese words, characters, phrases, and idioms are slightly adjusted to give them different meanings. The government claimed that the ban was necessary because puns eroded Chinese culture and could mislead people (especially kids) or cause what it called “cultural and linguistic chaos.”[5]

However, it is known that the ban was not intended to preserve Chinese culture or prevent whatever the government meant by “cultural and linguistic chaos.” Rather, it was intended to stop Internet users from using puns to bypass Internet censorship and mock the government.

5‘I Disagree’

Photo credit: Narendra Modi

In March 2018, the China National People’s Congress voted to expunge the law that limited the president’s rule to two five-year terms. This is believed to be the first step in President Xi Jinping’s attempt to rule China for life. The government had kept all preparations under wrap and only hinted of the proposed amendment two weeks earlier.

Some citizens opposed the proposed amendment and openly criticized it on social media. Many compared China to North Korea and used the phrase “I disagree” to show their disapproval. That continued until the government banned the phrase. Internet users who made posts containing “I disagree” got an error message in return.[6]

Besides “I disagree,” the government also banned ”migration,” “boarding a plane,” “life-long rule,” “long live the emperor,” and Animal FarmAnimal Farm is the name of the popular novel by George Orwell, while “boarding a plane” is similar to a Chinese phrase meaning “ascending the throne”—as in Xi Jinping was trying to become king.

4Winnie-The-Pooh

Photo credit: BBC

The Chinese government banned Winnie-the-Pooh after it realized that its citizens were comparing the fictional character to President Xi Jinping. Due to Internet censorship, Chinese citizens are unable to use certain words on the Internet. So they often find creative ways to bypass censorship and use these words. One method is by using different words or characters to represent people and events. For President Xi Jinping, it was Pooh.

When a picture of Xi Jinping shaking hands with Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, surfaced on the Internet, Chinese citizens responded with pictures of Pooh shaking hands with Eeyore the donkey. When another picture showing Xi Jinping popping his head out of his presidential limousine surfaced, the people responded with a picture of Pooh popping his head out of a toy car.

The ban was not the first time that pictures of Pooh were prohibited on the Chinese Internet. Earlier, a ban came because the Chinese Communist Party was preparing for a congress and there were concerns that more questionable pictures of Pooh might pop up.[7]

3Livestreaming

Photo credit: theconversation.com

China disallowed livestreaming after realizing that it could not be censored like other online content. This wasn’t the reason the government gave, though. They stated that the prohibition was necessary to clean the Chinese Internet. The ban was issued in June 2017 and was targeted at Sina Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, and Ifeng and AcFun, two video sharing sites similar to YouTube.

Livestreaming was gaining popularity at the time of the ban and involved unusual technologies that the government was not used to censoring. For instance, in 2016, Ifeng livestreamed the US presidential election, something the Chinese government would not have ordinarily allowed. So they just instituted the ban while they worked on censorship.[8]

2‘N’

The letter “n,” the innocent 14th letter of the English alphabet, was another unfortunate victim of China’s censorship. The ban came after China announced its plans to remove the two-term limit for president.

In mathematics, the Chinese use the letter “n” the same way we use the letter “x.” So “n” stands for unknown or infinity. Chinese citizens were using the letter to denote the number of years that Xi Jinping will remain in power. However, the government probably realized that the letter “n” had other uses and lifted the ban a day later.[9]

1Religion

Photo credit: The Independent

China categorizes itself as an atheist nation. Although it prefers that its citizens remain atheists, the government claims to allow freedom of religion. However, serving and retired members of the ruling Chinese Communist Party are banned from having a religion. They cannot get involved in religious activities and are expected to act against certain religions like the Falun Gong, which the government categorizes as an evil cult.

The so-called freedom of religion is a sham because the state strictly regulates religions, decides how they operate, and bans them when it suspects they are acting against its goals. The government also regulates religious books, traditions, and methods and places of worship. It does not hesitate to ban them when necessary. For instance, churches require state approval to operate.[10]

The government also holds a monopoly over the distribution of Bibles, determines who becomes a church leader, and regulates Christian holidays. The government used to be lax about its monopoly over the distribution of Bibles until recently. Then it started clamping down on the online sales of Bibles.

China does not allow the Vatican to independently appoint Catholic bishops in their country, either. Rather, the government negotiates with the Vatican to determine who can become a bishop. At one time, the Chinese government even banned Christmas.

Muslims are not treated any better. The government has banned Muslim names, dress styles, and traditions. Muslim women cannot wear burkas, and men cannot have beards. Parents cannot give their children Islamic names, either.

In 2017, China banned Muslim civil servants from fasting during Ramadan, the Islamic month when Muslims are expected to fast. It even stationed guards at government buildings all day and night to ensure that the ban was enforced.

The government also demanded that students in Muslim-majority regions watch communist films and engage in sports on Fridays, just to stop them from fasting and participating in joint community prayers that are held on Fridays. China also has strict guidelines to determine who performs hajj, an annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The government demands that any Muslim who wants to make the hajj pilgrimage must be between 50 and 70 and must pledge allegiance to the government.

Great Day! 10015 Unique Visitors to my Blog. WOW. 100015 Gratitudes from Dhananjay Parkhe🙏🙏🙏❤️❤️❤️👍👍👍


Dhananjay Parkhe – is Grateful to all the unique 10015 visitors to this blog so far!

My Heartfelt Gratitude to all my BFFFs and unknown visitors for encouraging me to Keep going- from Jay Parkhe – jaymentor

3 months ago, I did not know I would be looking forward to chasing these numbers. In fact, I never chased any numbers on WordPress unlike my corporate life but always felt – I must share and write what is worthwhile to many readers. I am able to engage with them, interact with them – make new friends, network and be happy.  I am grateful to God, WordPress and my BFFFs for making this possible.  I thank you from bottom of my heart.  I hope the Startpreneurs, C-Suite Mentor’s mentees that read this blog find this meaningful. I wish you all the best.

🙏🙏🙏❤️❤️❤️

WOW ! 400 Followers – Again ! Thank you.


I never thought, I would have any followers or BFFFs as I have come to call my readers – The Best Friends, Followers and Fans!  I love them and their comments and likes. I like to read their blogs and like and comment.

For a short while when I reached a 360 number, I added a blog one of my mentees made and made me an Admin.  While setting it up I don’t know what I did – all 360 were migrated to her blog and I was at ZERO ! WOW – WordPress, I said.  But soon, I withdrew as Admin as she appointed social media interns to manage her blog but the followers and friends and fans did not return.

I said, OK. So be it ! But after about 10 days or so as I see 400 or you back – I feel so deeply grateful to you all – let me say a BIG THANK YOU !

 

Your mind isn’t deep at all. In fact, it’s flat. | Big Think


Your mind isn’t deep at all. In fact, it’s flat.
August 9, 2018 by DEREK BERES

Photo: Getty Images
A box of crackers features the tagline, “Conscious eating.” An artistic subgroup embraces the Burning Man ethos: “Conscious music.” This self-declared genre arises from the same set that talks about techniques for “higher consciousness.” In every instance, the sentiment is obvious: my product is better than yours because there’s something deeper going on over here.

Consciousness, from their perspective, is like a ladder descending into an unfathomable abyss. This depth can be penetrated, through meditation, through breathing exercises or austerities, through faith or sheer willpower or a combination of the two, or through, apparently, eating crackers. For some, higher consciousness is handed down at birth, from a past life, or bestowed by a teacher, as in the Indian idea of shaktipat. Whatever the method, everyday consciousness only scratches the surface. Something deeper exists, waiting to be mined by the steadfast observer.

A deep sigh of relief washed over me when reading that Nick Chater called the notion of higher consciousness “nonsense on stilts.” The British behavioral scientist doesn’t mince words in his new book, The Mind is Flat. While many believe consciousness to be a hidden mystery few can access, Chater’s take on this evolutionary phenomenon is quite pedestrian. What you see is effectively what you get.

No amount of therapy, dream analysis, word association, experiment or brain-scanning can recover a person’s ‘true motives,’ not because they are difficult to find, but because there is nothing to find. The inner, mental world, and the beliefs, motives, and fears it is supposed to contain is, itself, a work of the imagination.

This is not shocking if you consider consciousness in its most fundamental regard. By definition, consciousness is simply what you’re paying attention to at the moment, which can amount to no more than four or five things. You can refine from there: the goal of meditation, for example, is to focus on one thing—a mantra, a candle flame, your breathing, something basic and accessible. Whether you’re an expert meditator or chronic multitasker, the effects on consciousness are physiological, not mystical.

Yet that’s not how we feel, which is why Chater’s book is likely to rattle many mental cages. An emotion, he says, is an interpretation of a physiological change in your body. He’s not the first thinker to posit this; Lisa Feldman Barrett wrote an entire book on this topic. While this will not square well with those who claim they know something to be true because they feel it, Chater’s point should not be dismissed. Anecdotal interpretations have the habit of often being wrong.

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We actually have a limited set of feelings. Think about the innumerable issues that cause a stomach to churn. Context matters, and in this sense, our brain contextualizes the physical sensations based on past experiences. Memory is fluid but based on prior events. Essentially, Chater states that we’re just making it all up as we go along.

We crave narrative and go to great lengths to fill in incomplete stories regardless of the validity of assumptions being made. This is why Chater thinks the role of psychotherapy is dated. He calls the Jungian notion of a collective unconscious “the astrology of psychology,” rather fitting given that Jung speculated that UFOs are psychic projections from our hidden collective drive. To Chater, comparing Jungian analysis to psychology is akin to relating astrology to astronomy. One exploits patterns of thought and behavior in an attempt to derive coherence, while the other relies on data to pinpoint exact locations and predictable patterns.

Chater believes psychotherapy feeds the illusion of a hidden depth and claims the industry is on the outs.

[Psychotherapy is] doomed by the fact that there is not a deep inner story that is hiding from you. Rather, you’ve got the first draft or a set of incoherent notes for a novel. You’ve got an incoherent muddle. And we’re all incoherent muddles to some degree. But when some of those incoherencies cause us problems, when we’re terrified of something we very much want to do, even something as narrow as a fear of spiders, these are conflicts in our thinking and reactions.

In his latest book, The Strange Order of Things, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio writes that feelings are “for” life regulation. They provide essential information to help us remain in homeostasis. If something is out of whack a feeling lets us know. Again, context matters. Our stomach gets jittery if we’ve eaten something rotten and when we’re courting a romantic partner. As Damasio states, feelings alert us to potential danger as well as potential opportunity. There is nothing metaphysical about the process.

But we perceive it to be other, as Chater writes. Instead of a perception refined by years of experiences, we come to feel that the deep well of the unconscious is simmering below the surface, like the famed kundalini energy at the base of the spine. Hyperventilate enough and you unleash its fury. Well, true, Chater might say—hyperventilate enough and your nervous system is certainly going to react in peculiar and dangerous ways.

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Does this make psychotherapy useless? Not so fast, Chater concludes. First off, talking to another is proven medicine. Chater also says creativity is an important aspect of our humanity. Ingenious solutions can be worked out between a therapist and patient, provided it’s understood as a metaphor. His contention seems to be assuming metaphor to represent reality as stated. Constructing new patterns of thought and behavior has therapeutic utility; uncovering unconscious motives or beliefs is not only counterproductive but dangerous:

The reason I think the unconscious is a dangerous metaphor is because it gives you the impression that mental things that are unconscious could be conscious. This whole idea of uncovering things from the unconscious and making them conscious has the presupposition that they are of the same type.

He compares this yearning for a hidden depth to Freud’s iceberg: consciousness at the top, the real story under the surface, which Chater says is a mistaken analysis of how our brains actually work.

The things we’re conscious of—experiences, thoughts, fragments of conversation—are completely different in type from the things we’re unconscious of—all these mysterious brain processes, which lay down and retrieve memories, piece fragments of information together, and so on. The brain is doing lots of unconscious work—but it is not thought in any way we understand it.

What is unconscious can never be made conscious because the information is inaccessible by design. I’ll never be conscious of my liver detoxifying my blood, but if something goes wrong in that process I’ll certainly feel the result. If the unconscious could be made conscious, we’d never need a doctor to diagnose an illness; our body would tell us.

We’re just not as deep as we think, which is fine: we have plenty of work to do on the surface. Perhaps if we stop taking so many metaphors as reality, we’d get along much better, with ourselves and those around us. There’s plenty to see when we open our eyes. Closing them to seek a treasure causes us to miss the treasure right before us.

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via Your mind isn’t deep at all. In fact, it’s flat. | Big Think