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  The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers

The Question (ID Number 778)...

    Mr. Quinn, I have two questions for you about amazing facts that I often see or hear repeated. That Eskimos have 20 words for snow and that we only use 10 percent of our brains. What wrong's with Eskimos that they need so many words for one thing and why do we have an organ that is 90 percent of no use?

    ...and the response:

    As soon as someone tells me that Eskimos have twenty words for snow, I immediately turn off, because this means that he's someone who happily settles for a common catchword he's seen in a comic book or an Anne Landers column. Eskimos perceive twenty different things that we dullards perceive as a single thing. Their perception is simply finer than ours in regard to this phenomenon (vitally important to Eskimos, but not to us).

    I also turn off anyone who settles for the silly catchword that we only use ten percent of our brains. The truth, unlike the catchword, is that we only use ten percent of our brain at any given moment. We use and need 100 percent of it, but if we used all 100 percent at the same time, we would be swimming, singing, mowing the lawn, walking, running, frying an egg, painting, skiing, playing chess, writing a sonnet, teaching arithmetic, solving a crossword puzzle, performing brain surgery, composing music, dancing, watching a movie, listening to a symphony, having sex, robbing a bank, reading a book, and hammering a nail—all at the same time, while driving a car in rush-hour traffic.

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