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ion
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30 Oct 2007, 5:17 am

I think in pictures. How can anyone say it's not possible? I've been doing it for 26 years!
I have a hard time understanding how people can think in words, though.
I mean, words are just combinations of different glyphs (written) or sounds (spoken) and have absolutely nothing to do with what they represent, other than that someone somewhere decided that they should.

If I hear or see the word 'Table', I have to imagine the concept of a table, which means I have to translate it.
Why do that? Why not just think of a table? It's much more straightforward.

Nikola Tesla was famous for being a visual thinker, and he could come up with and design a new invention in the finest detail, and even try out the models in his mind to see how they would work, before even going to the drawing board.


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30 Oct 2007, 5:41 am

ion wrote:
I think in pictures. How can anyone say it's not possible? I've been doing it for 26 years!
I have a hard time understanding how people can think in words, though.
I mean, words are just combinations of different glyphs (written) or sounds (spoken) and have absolutely nothing to do with what they represent, other than that someone somewhere decided that they should.

If I hear or see the word 'Table', I have to imagine the concept of a table, which means I have to translate it.
Why do that? Why not just think of a table? It's much more straightforward.

Nikola Tesla was famous for being a visual thinker, and he could come up with and design a new invention in the finest detail, and even try out the models in his mind to see how they would work, before even going to the drawing board.


You know, it is funny how some people (ahem) think.... Frankly, there is a level I think at that is above words/pictures. I guess everyone has to think on that level SOMETIME. It is like if I see the picture of a table, how should I interpret it?

This morning I had a dream, and I actually saw and could read the writing on a piece of paper. I just wish I could do that in normal life(READ mental images). Images just seem too vague normally to read.

As for Nikola Tesla trying out designs, in his head, is THAT unusual? The part I find unusual is that he could supposedly do all those calculations and do things to such tolerances, and THEN write it down.



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30 Oct 2007, 8:20 am

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Obviously they have no words to think with, so how do they formulate their plans


Why Obviously? Haven't you ever dogs talk to each other? Its been proven that dolphins have a language. And if you spend enough time around cats you'll notice that mom cats always do the same pur to call their babies to them (its something like a half meow, half pur) which is different from their other meows/purs. They might have fewer "words" but that doesn't mean they dont' have anything resembling the "words" that humans have

Thinking about how animals learn to recognize human words, its entirely possibly they think about things in "words" created by the sound of things, so a bird to a dog might be a "chirp," just the same way humans use the word 'meow" to describe a cat's vocalizing.



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30 Oct 2007, 9:43 am

Helen Keller could clearly think, and quite well, before learning fingerspelling. True, she had had some exposure to language before losing her sight and hearing, but I doubt she thought in words before Annie came along. In addition, young babies or deaf children who have not yet learned language can certainly think. It seems an absurd idea that one can only think in words.



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30 Oct 2007, 11:48 am

Spaceplayer wrote:
Is this accurate, meaning, is this truly "thinking?"


Yes, just as much as verbal thinking. And why not? When I play chess I don't think a lot with words, but I think more visually.

Ayn Rand was a philosopher and as such undoubtedly good at (verbal!) argumentations to express and defend her opinions. But they would be just that, opinions.



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30 Oct 2007, 1:31 pm

I need pictures when I have to think really hard about something. I can't keep things straight in my head another way. I usually create pictures in my head when I think about logical or mathematical concepts. The pictures in my head are visual analogies to abstract concepts.



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30 Oct 2007, 1:35 pm

Well, I'll admit I know little about Ayn Rand, but what little I did read led me to pretty quickly decide that she wasn't worth the brain cells it would take to read some of her works, and that statement just kind of confirms that. Just because one person thinks in one way doesn't mean another necessarily will.
I can, and occasionally do, think visually, but not primarily. I'm trying to decide if, when I make a "literalism" mistake, I jump into visual thinking. I don't think so, but I couldn't be sure. My thoughts are mostly aural (sound-based). That does mean mostly words, yes, but not exclusively, and I have to sound them out in my mind. Sometimes I lapse into harmonies, specific instruments, melodies, sequences, or pieces of music I've heard that relate to my ideas to express what I'm thinking about in my head. I do know that, from what I remember of childhood and what I've heard from others, I was exceptionally late in starting to think in words at all. I was definitely into Primary school (5 or 6) before my thoughts were even mostly in words. Prior to that, they were kind of nebulous. Not particularly complex, and they just... were. No visuals, no sounds, no words, no nothing attached to them. I just knew what they were, and had to translate them into language to relate them to others. I can remember the feeling, but cannot recreate it.

So, here's my back-of-an-envelope hypothesis: when we first achieve sentience (the ability to think and self-awareness) somewhere between 1 and 2 we all, neurotypical and autist, think "pure thoughts," with no other attachments to those thoughts. The thoughts, our wants, needs, ideas, none of them are attached to anything, visual, language, anything. They just are. As we age and learn language, both our need to communicate and growing need to use abstractions lead us to fix those thoughts onto a more "concrete" base, so we can make our thoughts more coherent and complex. For NTs, it is natural that, because they're looking and communicating with others so much, the concrete "foundation" they use for their increasing thought processes is language. It's the most obvious for them. But for the autist, who has little wish to communicate, and so less of a reason to build their foundation upon a method whose primary purpose is to communicate to others, but who does primarily see the world in patterns, they may begin to build their foundation on what's in front of them - visual imagery. That doesn't mean all autists will be visual thinkers. Some will latch onto language anyway, some like me who have a musical affinity will become aural thinkers. I wouldn't discount the possibility of tactile thinkers, although how much use that would be in forming even basic abstractions, I don't know. There are likely other methods, and the very rare who never create a "foundation" at all. But this would explain why most NTs seem to think in words, most autists in visuals.

OK folks, that's my idea. Shoot it down.


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31 Oct 2007, 2:30 am

Ayn Rand is wrong about this. It is possible to, when thinking, represent concepts with pictures, instead of with words or speech. I can do it.

It's a lot faster than using sounds of speech, but isn't how I normally think, and I sufferer from a lack of pictures for some concepts, making those concepts extremely hard to represent. However, it is faster and for some concepts clearer, in the same way seeing and knowing everything about a scene or image is faster than having someone describe it to you. It's the only way to consider rotating/unfolding objects in 3d space, for example, even thought I normally think in words. I found it odd in primary school that other people couldn't 'unwrap' the net for a cube, for example, or even attempt more complex shapes.

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Not particularly complex, and they just... were. No visuals, no sounds, no words, no nothing attached to them. I just knew what they were, and had to translate them into language to relate them to others. I can remember the feeling, but cannot recreate it.

For me, visual thinking seems closer to this than spoken-word based thought.

I find I can achieve similar speeds of thought if I think in words and don't finish the sentences. I know what I'm going to 'say' anyway, but still find this tiring, because I feel like I have to finish the sentences. Not doing so feels wrong, in the same way that lying to people or breaking established routines feels wrong - both things I can do when I have to, but prefer to avoid.

Visual thinking is associated with (some say that it's the same as, or the cause of) dyslexia, and it's easy to see why. What does the word 'the' represent? How do you make a picture for that word? It's not associated with any concept at all.

I'll start with the shooting-down, and this seemed like an easy first target:
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But this would explain why most NTs seem to think in words, most autists in visuals.

Proof? Has anyone actually found a link between aspergers/autisim and visual thinking?


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31 Oct 2007, 3:27 am

cagerattler wrote:
I meant to add to my previous post that to assume thinking in pictures does not happen, leaves the problem of how dogs, cats , and other animals 'think'. Obviously they have no words to think with, so how do they formulate their plans? How do they plot ahead to, for example, to know what to do when they want to go from point A to point B, especially if the route is complex? If animals can do this without words, why not humans?


I find psychics fascinating myself. I once watched a show where a psychic was communicating with animals. She said they speak to each other with images. They often send those images to us & wonder why we don't keep up the conversation. They must think we are pretty stupid if that's the case. :D



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31 Oct 2007, 6:37 am

I communicate with many different animals through gesture and various sounds, not words. There is nothing psychic about it.



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31 Oct 2007, 8:32 am

http://www.wrongplanet.net/postt37650.html

It's my thread I once posted and which concerned the subject of thinking in pictures.



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31 Oct 2007, 1:10 pm

-Main wrote:
I'll start with the shooting-down, and this seemed like an easy first target:
Quote:
But this would explain why most NTs seem to think in words, most autists in visuals.

Proof? Has anyone actually found a link between aspergers/autisim and visual thinking?

Thanks. It was only a hypothesis, you expect most of those to go down in flames. Interestingly, a cursory internet search doesn't really seem to turn up much - lots and lots of Temple Grandin when I include autism in the search terms, but one person's individual experiences do not a trend make. However, most interesting I think was Wikipedia's assertion that the majority of people, NT and Autistic alike, are visual thinkers. I saw a couple of issues with the article on Wikipedia, though - firstly, the articles cited seemed to mix up visual thinking with visual learning, I'm not sure if I believe that one is necessarily connected with the other. Secondly, the first two references didn't back up their claims, and the third was an online survey which conspicuously didn't give the methodology for finding participants. My gut is, where it doesn't say, it's a self-selecting group and therefore cannot be considered representative. There didn't seem anything else that I saw which would convince me that these studies were rigorously conducted, which is kind of disappointing. Sadly, I don't really have much time to do more than a cursory search.
I have to admit, my assumption that most people think in language is based upon a few roundtable discussions I've seen on TV, and a few conversations with individuals. A case of using anecdote as general fact, which was probably a mistake. Still, there is one conclusion I think that we can draw: visual thinking is common enough that Ayn Rand wasn't just wrong, but mind-bogglingly, earth-shatteringly wrong. And perhaps most concerning, it seems like many reporting on autism (I won't assume the majority of researchers are making the same mistake, although they might be) are taking Grandin's assertions on visual thinking at face value whereas if visual thinking is common, she may have latched onto an idea which doesn't play nearly as great a part in her autism as she thinks it does.


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31 Oct 2007, 1:34 pm

I mostly think in words, but like others I know for a FACT that the idea you can only think in words is ridiculous. I remember thinking in concepts before I used language, and I remember feeling like my thought was slowed down once words got into it. Like my mental abilities are all funneled through inefficient words. The idea that that's the only way our brains can be wired is ludicrous.

Not to mention to believe it you'd have to believe that everyone who says they think in pictures is lying. It's kind of hard for me to grasp, but I can sort of imagine what it must be like. Could probably force myself into it if I really wanted to and spent a LOT of time on it.

Regarding other animals, I am curious about whether my poodle thinks in words or not, or more in concepts. She understands a LOT of English-a dog book I have that covers all breeds said poodles understand "paragraphs"-not words, entire paragraphs. It's possible she actually uses it for her internal thoughts, or she may treat it like a foreign language she's versed in, and has to mentally translate. Who knows.

(She's amusing though because she clearly understands a ton when she WANTS to, but then other times acts like she can't understand simple concepts...because she's not going to stop doing what she's doing :D )



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31 Oct 2007, 5:38 pm

Sand wrote:
I communicate with many different animals through gesture and various sounds, not words. There is nothing psychic about it.


Sure same here. Language through mind & body are two different things.



hhyyjj163
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01 Nov 2007, 8:15 am

i think chinese fonts is more "picture" than english fonts
so chinese fonts to me is more easy to understand


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