The older I get, the more I appreciate the magnificence of scientific inquiry and the more I appreciate its civility. Science and politics are worlds apart, one populated by people who strive to understand the world, the other by a noxious species of vile beasts whose very existence calls into question the legitimacy of arguments decrying the extinction of any species.
This frame of mind arose this morning after I read news online and then, to calm myself and lower my blood pressure, I read about scientific inquiries into how language might affect the way we see the world.
First, I read an article in Science that referred to some additional resources. The next piece I read was an abstract of an article that discussed studies that explored cognitive processes of people who are bilingual in German and English. The research suggests that a second language can influence the way in which we perceive events and the world around us.
Another piece examined the way in which perception of colors is different between Russian and English speakers (and which educated me about the fact that there exists no single word in Russian for what English speakers would describe as blue; there are two words that apply to light blues [“goluboy”] and darker blues [“siniy”]).
But what brought to mind my deep appreciation of scientific inquiry was the fact that the suggestions made by the researchers in each of the studies are challenged by other researchers who disagree that language can influence perception. The challenges are not abrasive, accusatory condemnations, though. The challengers offer reasoned arguments that they expect will be scrutinized and subjected to scientific exploration and inquiry. The beauty of it is that scientists (a term I used to describe people who explore any and all aspects of life using the scientific method) are not pursuing a personal agenda, they are looking to find answers.