Jean Berko Gleason is the mother of the “wug test” whose findings rocked the world of linguistics when they were first published in 1958. The test demonstrated that children as young as three or four can internalize complex grammatical codes no one has necessarily ever tried to teach them — like forming plurals — and apply these rules broadly, even to made-up words (like the adorable “wug” featured below) they’ve never heard before.
Below you’ll find the 27 delightful hand-drawn pictures that comprise the original wug test. Try them out with the kids in your life — or even by yourself. And tell us what they said that surprised you. What are they modeling or constructing on their own?
Sort of in conflict with a very recent post, but hell, who cares? I’m actually pretty enthused by the interesting-ness of this whole deal.
"Some have suggested that, as Duke students, our privilege precludes us from speaking out against social and economic injustice. We recognize our privilege, and neither purport to speak on behalf of those suffering the worst consequences of widespread inequality, nor suggest that we know what is best for any individual. However, we strongly disagree with the notion that because we are fortunate, we cannot recognize and reject the existence of rampant inequality and injustice. We believe this assertion to be patently false. Denying the privileged the right to speak out against an injustice perpetrated on a group of people different from themselves forces them to stand idly by as their fellow human beings suffer. We refuse to stand idly by."
Lat Saturday night I went to a party. Almost half of the sloppily drunk and questionably dressed twentysomethings there were organizers of Occupy Duke, and I spent part of the night backed into a social corner listening to someone’s impassioned speech about privilege and endowment transparency and leaderless movements and — I don’t even remember, and I doubt he does either. Not sure how many Solo cups in he was by then.
Today on the bus I ran into a friend who told me that he’s been avoiding one of the movement’s more outspoken members — he was at one point confronted and told that as a “close friend” he was “expected to come out” to spend the night in front of the Chapel. As though that were an obligation of his by virtue of loyalty, or something.
I definitely support and sympathize with Occupy Duke, but I do and always have found it extremely uncomfortable to be personally pressured about my political beliefs. It’s not that I don’t hold them, and it’s not that I don’t want to talk about them. I just think that, in a way, friendships are deeper than world views, which are oftentimes difficult to defend and based in irreducible principles. I want my friends to be good people, but I don’t doubt for a second that good people can hold a variety of opinions about the world on a macro level, and I would rather not be pressured by friends to hold certain beliefs. Let’s talk about it intellectually, but let’s not stake our friendships on this.
We like to think that humans are supremely logical, making decisions on the basis of hard data and not on whim. For a good part of the 19th and 20th centuries, economists and social scientists assumed this was true too. The public, they believed, would make rational decisions if only it had the right pie chart or statistical table. But in the late 1960s and early 1970s, that vision of homo economicus—a person who acts in his or her best interest when given accurate information—was kneecapped by researchers investigating the emerging field of risk perception. What they found, and what they have continued teasing out since the early 1970s, is that humans have a hell of a time accurately gauging risk. Not only do we have two different systems—logic and instinct, or the head and the gut—that sometimes give us conflicting advice, but we are also at the mercy of deep-seated emotional associations and mental shortcuts. People are likely to react with little fear to certain types of objectively dangerous risk that evolution has not prepared them for, such as guns, hamburgers, automobiles, smoking, and unsafe sex, even when they recognize the threat at a cognitive level.
Even if a risk has an objectively measurable probability—like the chances of dying in a fire, which are 1 in 1,177—people will assess the risk subjectively, mentally calibrating the risk based on dozens of subconscious calculations. If you have been watching news coverage of wildfires in Texas nonstop, chances are you will assess the risk of dying in a fire higher than will someone who has been floating in a pool all day. If the day is cold and snowy, you are less likely to think global warming is a threat.
Alternative: be scared of everything, all the time.
Brain imaging was invented for medical diagnosis. But its far greater importance is that it may very well confirm, in ways too precise to be disputed, certain theories about “the mind,” “the self,” “the soul,” and “free will” that are already devoutly believed in by scholars in what is now the hottest field in the academic world, neuroscience.
“He never asserted himself. That was the one thing that helped him escape. In an odd way he stood in the shadows of the wall of life, was meant to stand in the shadow. He saw the men and the women in the houses of lust, sensed their horrible and casual love affairs, saw boys fighting and listened to their tales of thieving and drunkenness unmoved and strangely unaffected.”—Sherwood Anderson (Winesburg, Ohio) (via wwnorton)
The things I’ve given to consulting recruitment these past two weeks. Time, energy, my naivete about hiring practices and the look of post-graduation success. I’ve worn so many name tags, shaken so many hands, calculated so many market sizes.
Then tonight — at Cosmic of all places — being approached by a British guy with a popped collar who told me he worked at a consulting firm before business school, and feeling my own instinctive disgust and attraction to that specific claim of his, feeling at once that I viscerally hated and feared and envied his background.
Later, I joked that I could have kept flirting under the guise of talking about his work, but I think it’s more likely that I would have done it the other way around, feigning interest in him to get more information about his experience.