More Signals v Causes

I came across a couple good examples of confusing signals and causes this week.

1. Does language cause culture? In this case, do languages that “grammatically associate the future and the present, foster future-oriented behavior”? More likely: Language is shaped by culture. Cultures that save for the future evolve words that convey that part of their culture.

2. Does consumption of processed meats shorten life?  More likely: Folks who eat things that have been considered bad for you for the last 50 years also have other unhealthy behaviors that may contribute to shorten lives.

Thanks to the What We Think and Why blog for republishing my earlier Signal v Causes post.

3 thoughts on “More Signals v Causes

  1. re: language v. culture.
    from the sapir-whorf hypothesis wiki: Currently, a balanced view of linguistic relativity is espoused by most linguists holding that language influences certain kinds of cognitive processes in non-trivial ways, but that other processes are better seen as subject to universal factors. Research is focused on exploring the ways and extent to which language influences thought.[4]
    heard a gal talking about gender differences today. theyve done tests where people treat a ‘disguised’ baby as a boy if told the babies name is joe. and treat the baby as a girl if told the babies name is jane. im quite certain that child will be raised mostly by the language around it and therefore language does cause culture. i think this is also backed up by the meme concept presented by richard dawkins. ideas are dynamic, and they do seem to be affected by the same natural forces that select for genetic information to be passed around.

    • dave — It’s not surprising that people use language to convey their culture and value through the generations. Language is a manifestation of humans. Humans are not a manifestation of language. But, I could be wrong.

  2. re: meat v. life
    i think the key word here is processed. and i think that yes, processed meat is worse for you than organic, raised in the wild meat. i think that raising meat for consumption is an inherently more complex system than tracking down that meat in its natural environment and therefore more likely to result in negative outcomes. i think there are many confounding factors in any longevity study, but surely if one were to smoke, the coughing alone should tell you that it might not be the best thing for your health. listen to your taste buds after eating a walleye you caught vs. a walleye you bought in a store.


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