Apr. 18th, 2005

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My good learning textbook has fun words in it.

Dichotomania: the desire to divide all methods and styles of cognition simplistically into "left-brain" and "right-brain" thought. I've been haranguing my kids about this for years, but I've never had a word for it.

Spandrels: an evolutionary term--side-effects of a mutation with adaptive benefit, that aren't the original adaptive "purpose" but are cool anyway. So the immediate adaptive benefit of increased brain size in humans might have been better problem-solving skills, better memory for food and predator location, language, or any number of other possibilities depending on your pet theory (it's hard to test these things). Spandrels would include the ability to compose symphonies, long philosophical rants at 4 AM, and democratic constitutions. I love this word. It sounds like extra sparkly bits that got added on to something already beautifully functional, just to make it more decorative. It makes me feel like I'm walking around dressed up all fancy.

The cynics may now try to figure out an equivalent word for traffic jams, water pollution, and Welsh-language television (no offense intended to Ibliss--just a Good Omens reference).

Spandrels. Spandrels, spandrels, spandrels... it's better than "plethora!"

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