HomeHuman MindsDo you see what I see? “The Himba Tribe”


Do you see what I see? “The Himba Tribe” — 2 Comments

  1. I had been interested in research like this 30 years ago, when I was studying psychology, but also because I had lived in Kenya. Swahili, like most Bantu languages, has only 3 real words for color (more or less, dark – light -red), with the others like “color of leaves, etc.” Anyway, I was intrigued by this very thing, can our language affect our perception, but most experiments didn’t show much difference in ability to distinguish colors, even if you didn’t have words for it. The most promising findings were in distinctions between blue and green. But then it turned out that races from nearer to the Equator had different relative numbers of green (middle wavelength) and blue (short wavelength) retina cones! (Presumably an adaptation to the more intense light.) So I gave up on the idea. This new research is interesting… but I’m skeptical. I’ll try to find the original….

  2. One thing that seems self-evident is that experience and training affect our perceptions. A chess grandmaster sees a chess board in a very different way than does a novice; a trained musician hears details in a piece of music that a casual listener would miss completely. I wonder how much of this is at play here. Still, it’s interesting that in the video the Himba guy finds it really difficult to pick out which item is a different color when to me it’s glaringly obvious — and it’s not because I’m a trained color specialist.