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Brain Tricks - cellophane — LiveJournal
the story of an invisible girl
Brain Tricks
I was writing a little school exercise that alphabetizes the days of the week. I ran it, and the output looked weird. I knew it had to be wrong.

Then I looked at it more carefully, and realized... it was correct. It's just that the order of the days of the week is so ingrained in my head that it looks completely Wrong for friday to come before monday! It's like they are numbers. They have their order already, and it's not alphabetical.

So I added a few new days of the week, to make the output easier to read and believe.

Unsorted: Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Appleday Zebraday Doomsday Humpday Alpacaday
Sorted: Alpacaday Appleday Doomsday Friday Humpday Monday Saturday Sunday Thursday Tuesday Wednesday Zebraday

Later I was mulling over this mental phenomenon, the fact that alphabetizing a list can remove order instead of imposing it. "The problem is that days of the week are like numbers," I thought. Then of course I wondered - what would an alphabetized list of numbers look like? Good thing I have a handy little program that alphabetizes things.

Unsorted: one two three four five six seven eight nine ten eleven twelve thirteen
Sorted: eight eleven five four nine one seven six ten thirteen three twelve two

Those look really wrong to me too. It's hard to read them as letters, not numbers, and acknowledge that they're really in the correct order.

It reminds me of a brain-teaser I've seen in a few places, where the words of colors are colored incorrectly. It can be hard to say the color of the text, instead of reading the text. Like this:

blue yellow purple green black

Interesting how the brain works!

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yellowmouser From: yellowmouser Date: October 21st, 2007 07:55 am (UTC) (Link)
thelifeofbrian From: thelifeofbrian Date: October 21st, 2007 11:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Quite amusing...

Interesting to note that anything comes after Doomsday. But, does it
really come after Doomsday, or is that just to tease us or give us hope?
delosd From: delosd Date: October 21st, 2007 02:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Alpacaday. ** Snort! **

I'm SO glad I wasn't drinking my morning coffee when I hit that.
greyyguy From: greyyguy Date: October 21st, 2007 08:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
The colored word thing never gives me any problem. Being color blind, I rarely pay attention to colors like that, so I don't get tripped up by the color fo the word being different then the word :)
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