In this Lecture, based on his book, U.C. San Diego cognitive psychologist Benjamin K. Bergen draws together research in psychology, linguistics, and neuroscience to offer a new theory of how our minds make meaning. When we hear words and sentences, we engage the parts of our brain that we use for perception and action—repurposing evolutionarily older networks—to create mental simulations. Embodied simulation, as it’s called, is the reason why it takes time to travel over distance, even in our mind’s eye; why it’s possible for us to become better baseball players by imagining a well-executed swing; and why it’s so hard to talk on cell phones while we’re driving on the highway. Rather than merely calling up abstract ideas to understand language, as others previously argued, our brains engage in a creative act to construct rich mental worlds in which we see, hear, and feel.
Science in your inbox every Wednesday!
eSkeptic is our free email newsletter, delivered once a week. In it, you’ll receive: fascinating articles, announcements, podcasts, book reviews, and more…
Did you know that you can support the work of the Skeptics Society by donating to us via PayPal or eBay? You can make a one-time or recurring donation to the Skeptics Society via the PayPal Giving Fund, or favourite us on eBay Giving Works, and specify the percentage of your eBay sales that you’d like to donate to us. Your donations directly support the work of your Skeptics Society.
Browse by Topic
Science Based Medicine vs. Alternative Medicine
Understanding the difference could save your life! In this superb 10-part video lecture series, Harriet Hall, M.D., contrasts science-based medicine with so-called “complementary and alternative” methods. The lectures each range from 32 to 45 minutes.
Is Terrorism an Existential Threat?
This free booklet reveals 10 myths that explain why terrorism is not a threat to our way of life or our survival.
The Top Ten Strangest Beliefs
Michael Shermer has compiled a list of the top 10 strangest beliefs that he has encountered in his quarter century as a professional skeptic.
Who believes them? Why? How can you tell if they’re true?
What is a conspiracy theory, why do people believe in them, and why do they tend to proliferate? Why does belief in one conspiracy correlate to belief in others? What are the triggers of belief, and how does group identity factor into it? How can one tell the difference between a true conspiracy and a false one?
The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts
Do you know someone who has had a mind altering experience? If so, you know how compelling they can be. They are one of the foundations of widespread belief in the paranormal. But as skeptics are well aware, accepting them as reality can be dangerous…
Top 10 Myths About Evolution (and how we know it really happened)
If humans came from apes, why aren’t apes evolving into humans? Find out in this pamphlet!
Learn to do Psychic “Cold Reading” in 10
Psychic readings and fortunetelling are an ancient art — a combination of acting and psychological manipulation.