Thursday, 28 February 2013

Science is a cool thing.

Thanks to a colleague tweeting, I stumbled across this really nice article about really nice research regarding the influence of our culture on how we perceive, for example, fairness. Or see the world. Or how easily we are fooled by optical illusions.
The research team's paper is titled "The Weirdest People in the World?”, it's 58 pages long (well, including the abstracts) and available for free online (just click the link).

When I read the article, I was instantly reminded of Chimamanda Adichie's speech about the danger of a single story... which sort of goes into the same direction. It's also a beautiful speech, and very thought-provoking, and I can really recommend it.

In case you have no time or no desire to follow those links, I can tell you in a nutshell what I personally am going to take away from this: It's hard to judge people from a distance; it's easy to fall into your own preconceptions that are based on your own background; it's way too easy to suppose that everyone else will see things similarly to you while that is probably not the case. And the further you get away from your own culture the greater the differences will probably be. Which also applies to getting away from your own culture in time - with the added complication that you can travel to pacific islands and try to figure out the cultural differences, but you can't travel back to the ninth century to do the same. So, just to be on the safe side, we should suppose that those medieval folks did think, and act, and perceive things much differently from us today.

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