Last week, we posted about the words we don’t have, and how language shapes our worldview at a fundamental level, down to the way we use our senses and how we perceive our reality. There is a great deal of research that supports this conclusion, and it is often presented as settled fact, which is probably a mistake. I came across a paper in Science Advances called “Different reference frames on different axes: Space and language in indigenous Amazonians,” which examines this concept and concludes that it may not be language, but experience and environment that most drive some of the behaviors and perceptions we discussed in Tuesday’s post.
I encourage you to read the article, which is both fascinating and approachable (unlike some of the scientific papers I try to read, like this one about prime numbers), and not just because it serves as a useful reminder that science is never truly settled and that the nature of scientific inquiry is one of skepticism, not trust or belief. Its experimental setup is worth noting, as are the various confounding factors it identifies that pertain to almost any research in the behavioral sciences.
This is just a quick post to share the paper, which, while interesting on its own, is even more interesting in the context of our post from Tuesday on the same topic, “Words We Don’t Have.” If you haven’t already, I hope you go give that a read.