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Mark ChangiziRSS Feed of this column.

Mark Changizi is Director of Human Cognition at 2AI, and the author of The Vision Revolution (Benbella 2009) and Harnessed: How Language and Music Mimicked Nature and Transformed... Read More »

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In How Many Limbs Should Humans Have? I described my Limb Law, an empirical law I discovered which relates how long an animal’s limbs are to how many limbs it has. This law is explained by virtue of animals having evolved a limb design that minimizes the amount of needed materials to reach out into the world (see links to my academic work in the previous piece).
In War of the Worlds, giant alien robots emerge out of the ground and begin vaporizing large numbers of actors. There’s a lot to like in those scenes, but there are three things I could not stand.

Like those three legs they walked around on.   Not their fragile-appearing spindly-ness,but their actual three-ness.
Note: RPI put out a press release today (4/29/2010) on my work today so I am reposting this with today's date also.

As I lay inside the box in the pitch blackness waiting for the show to begin, I wonder if the operator forgot to start it. Nothing is happening – no sound, no sights…nothing at all. Ah, wait, did I just hear something? Maybe, although perhaps that was just part of the box’s machinery I am not supposed to hear. But now I’m hearing it again, more distinctly – a raspy visceral groaning.

Definitely the show has begun!

In Writing As Superpower I outlined how writing is for the eye, at the expense of the hands, despite the fact that our brains may have evolved to comprehend speech. We still prefer to 'listen' with our eyes, despite our eyes not having been designed for this.   In Harness The Wild Eye I showed how non-linguistic visual signs are a visual system designed to recognize objects and efficiently react to the information. 

To begin to grasp why using object-like visual symbols for words is a good strategy, consider two alternative strategies besides the objects-for-words one.

In Writing As Superpower we discussed that writing is really for the eye, at the expense of the hands, despite the fact that our brains may have evolved to comprehend speech.  We still prefer to 'listen' with our eyes, despite our eyes not having been designed for this.

The way we write is for the hand but the shapes of our symbols are for the eye.  And that is due to culture.