Monday, February 18

Jabberwocky What Now?: Cons of Language

Being a novice to the blogosphere, I was surprised to find how difficult it was to find blogs of notable worth. Nonetheless, my efforts were not for naught. Language is something we all take for granted. Many of us use it effortlessly, as we were just born knowing how to use it. In fact, some theories suggest that we are, but that is beside the point. This week, I chose to focus on the wonderful world of language. Inspired by the great Charles Dodgson, whom many know as Lewis Carroll, I decided upon Dave Munger’s “Study finds some thoughts really do require language” as my first cyber-spar. Munger is the co-founder and president of, and a frequent contributor to his wife’s, Greta Munger, blog Cognitive Daily. is a blog centered on discussing and creating peer-reviewed research. In this post, Munger argues that language is in fact a requirement in some forms of thought; although, as you will see in my comment, his argument is premature. The second post I commented on was Dr. John M. Grohol’s “Why Do Kids Lie?” which I found at Grohol, a Psy. D., comments on an article found in New York Magazine, showing that kids learn how to lie…from their parents! For your convenience, both comments are posted below, and linked in the post titles above.

"Study finds some thoughts really do require language"
Thank you for this intriguing post. I had to think about your argument for a long time before I really understood that language "most definitely appears to be a requirement for some thought," seems flawed to me. From what I understood from the study, verbal distraction tends to corrupt the process of encoding language from visual to verbal memory; by no means does this conclude that it is necessary to express something through language. That language distracts the process of translation seems to be the real issue here.

The lack of research on the non-verbal and brain damaged population minimizes your argument. If some adults are distracted between thought processes, does not mean that deaf people will also postulate the incorrect answer? That research has yet to be done, therefore the answer is inconclusive, and your argument is only half supported.

Also, when it comes to rationalization, and theory of mind, I do have to agree with you that some type of language is necessary in order to express it. How can an adult rationalize where the mouse thinks the cheese is hidden? Naturally, through his observation. In this study, the subject's observation was deterred by the verbal distraction. In all, I think you found evidence that supported your argument. The study was centered on language, as the study you provided showed that "thinking while talking" was a distraction. It was a little far reaching to state conclusively that language was a "requirement" to some thought processes.

"Why Do Kids Lie?"
Let me be the first to say--I am in your debt for helping me prove that my lying ways are not my fault--blame it on my parents! If only that were the case. I can proudly admit that those days are long gone, the days where lying was a force of adaptation, and not habit. Would I go as far as to say that I was only mimicking my parents, as opposed to saving my own skin?

I find it difficult to completely lay the burden of responsibility on parenting, rather socializing in general, as was the case in the "Bobo doll" modeling experiment by Bandura. Children do view their parents as models, and as your example shows, parents even encourage their children to lie about things. This poses the consequence of habitually lying children when they do not know the difference between a "social lie" and the other, as your post mentions.

You also mention that lying gets easier with practice, as is the case with every behavior one learns; still, are parents completely responsible? I think every child, after a certain age, makes the conscious decision to lie in order to avoid negative consequences. In that case, is it still the case that parents are responsible for that? Your research makes it sound like lying is a conditioned behavior, where children, through no fault of their own, are taught to lie. Is that the case for every child?

1 comment:

KMC said...


At first glance it may appear that the two posts you selected are not related, but upon further review I believe they are. In a sense, both post deal with the nature vs. nurture debate. I do believe that at times, thought does motivate language, but beyond that I do not know. I could see where it would be difficult to accept this, because how can anyone write or comment on something that can not be monitored or proven. The second post on 'Why Do Kids Lie?' I believe is a question that will never entirely be answered. The simple answer would be to get out of trouble, but I agree that people would be quick to blame their parents for their own shortcomings. However, lying is not easy, because once you lie, another lie needs to be fabricated to cover up the first, and so on and so on. In most instances lying may be harder than telling the truth, but I'm sure you would agree that there are times when lying is necessary. The occasional lie is an adaptive behavior to a situation. I believe that you did a wonderful job of engaging the authors' and the reader. I would have liked to have seen specific examples, I believe this would have substantiated your comments greatly. The images that were selected tie in well with the comments themselves. Overall it was a job well done.

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