An Exercise In Thought

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Image from Marcos Martinez

The following piece is written in a way which may cause mental discomfort for some people. If this is you, stop reading and take a short break: no one will think worse of you.

As yuo’re rnadeig tihs, teh fsirt tohuhgt to etenr yuor haed is pobalrby sotmhieng aolng teh lneis of ‘you dno’t konw hwo to slpel, do yuo?’. Wlel, taht’s nto teh pniot of tihs pecie: teh ami is to srtat yuo thniknig. By nwo yuo mya be woerdinng hwo yuo’re mgainang to raed tihs, or paerphs yuo’re sltil at teh bengninig, stirnaing yuor barin fro teh soilotun to tihs mses of lertets. Teh ttruh is, it’s nto rlelay taht cilcmatoepd: it’s jsut mnulaitipoan of hwo oru bniars wrok. Tihs wno’t be nwes to smoe of yuo – atefr all, tihs wsa oevr a dcdeae aog, adn teh sdtuy iltesf asmlot terhe dcdeaes brfeoe taht. It’s siltl inerstintg tohguh, adn cmeos form a rsrceehaer at Nignthtaom Unerisitvy in 1976 (taht dtae is creroct, it hsna’t been smrbalced) by teh nmae of Graham Rawlinson (aslo nto sbceralmd, taht wluod mkae hsi nmae isoibsplme to raed). He funod, in hsi teshis, taht scbiralnmg lteters whitin a wrod wilhe lievang teh fsrit adn lsat lertets uncuhtoed hda olny a vrey mnior ecfeft on seklild redreas. An upepr lmiit esixts tohguh: eetxrme srcbmanlig laeevs the wrdos ulnbrebedae. Scneiee, tohguh, is nto the porspus of tihs pceie.

Tnhiknig aubot it tohugh, igrninog any srnagte mnid-geams or sfcieinitc eaxiptlanon fro the menomt, yuo hvae to aptprieace jsut hwo wofndluelry copemlx our brinas are. Aetfr all, eevn if not cornsnidieg the hgiher prsoseces of the haumn mnid liltaelry eevry bsaic futnocin honlidg us totegher is infelcuned in smoe way by our biarn, the coamnad cetrne for the bag of ognars and fsleh we clal our boedis. Mikesats are mdae, of csuroe, but for the msot prat we fuotnicn wlel eognuh for the hurdmum of our dliay lvies. Jsut tkae a mneomt to sit bcak in yuor cahir and apcparitee yuor biarn for a bit. It sundos sntrgae, but tihnk aubot it and yuo’ll srtat to rielsae the salce of it. Molinils of nureons fnirig, tniy ertlecic plsues dcaning in the drak of yuor sukll and it all cmeos tohgeter in a sngile intanst to from a lvinig, briehnatg preosn who can execpnerie the wlrod of the osiudte. Azimnag, ins’t it?

Back to the normal form of writing and admit it: you just breathed a silent sigh of relief at the sudden release of stress from having to read that mad jumble up above. I’d rather not write like that either: it’s a pain having to mentally jumble words before typing them. The relief you and I feel is perfectly normal of course: every person knows that blissful feeling that follows periods of intense mental exercise. Don’t worry if you couldn’t read all of the above words by the way; I didn’t follow strict guidelines when scrambling and so not all of the words will be understandable. Don’t get bogged down too much in the details though, just take this piece as it is: an opportunity to work out your brain, and appreciate just how amazing the mind is. Now please excuse me, I have to go and lie down for a bit after typing all that.

Further reading on the topic: http://www.mrc-cbu.cam.ac.uk/people/matt.davis/cmabridge/

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Hamish Tso 11L

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