Tuesday, February 05, 2019

The decay of cognitive diversity - global WEIRDing is upon us

I recommend that you read this brief piece by Kensy Cooperrider, a cognitive scientist in the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago. He notes that just as we are beginning to appreciate that most behavioral sciences have focused on a small sliver of humanity - people from Western, educated, industrialised, rich, democratic societies (i.e. WEIRD) - younger generations of the indigenous people across the world who have had distinctive and different ways of parsing the world are becoming increasingly WEIRD. A few clips:
For centuries, Inuit hunters navigated the Arctic by consulting wind, snow and sky. Now they use GPS. Speakers of the aboriginal language Gurindji, in northern Australia, used to command 28 variants of each cardinal direction. Children there now use the four basic terms, and they don’t use them very well. In the arid heights of the Andes, the Aymara developed an unusual way of understanding time, imagining the past as in front of them, and the future at their backs. But for the youngest generation of Aymara speakers – increasingly influenced by Spanish – the future lies ahead.
Cooperrider proceeds to describe numerous examples of cognitive diversity that are disappearing, differences in how we relate to space, time, numbers, nature, each other, how we filter our experiences and allocate our attention.

1 comment:

  1. Curious: the explanation I've heard says, "Western, educated, industrialized, romantic (as in Romanticism), democratic."