In the valley of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
“Civilized” societies take the reading process for granted. We laud our ability to combine letters to form words, and to combine words to form sentences, as vastly superior to the hieroglyphics and pictograms of "primitive" societies. By age 6 most children can learn the basics of reading, and by age 13 some children not only have mastered the process of reading, but some cultures celebrate that mastery as a rite of passage.
The significance of words as pictograms is demonstrated by the Cambridge University Comprehension example in which virtually all of the words with four or more letters intentionally have the internal letters jumbled. As long as the first and last letters of the word are the same, most people have little or no trouble "reading" and understanding the statement because the words are part of the comprehension pattern of the sentence.
Comprehension, however, requires not only seeing the combination of letters as words, and the interpretation of those words, but requires the ability to take those words and combine them into concepts. We fail to appreciate that the process of putting those letters together to form words IS the formation of pictograms, and that "words" are useful ONLY if those words can be combined with other words (ala pictograms) to create concepts.
As we entered the Information Age, the illusion became that the more we knew, the greater our chances of success and survival. However, evolutionary survival is based upon both physical skills AND comprehension skills, not just in having information. (It is the difference between "wisdom" and "knowledge.") We now have access to so much information that the primary skill for success and/or survival has become comprehension. People who lack the comprehension skills (to usefully interpret and filter information) have become second class citizens like the Gammas and Deltas of Aldus Huxley's "Brave New World." People who cannot read (or properly comprehend what they read) are frequently the ones now kept in cages like the “humans” in the book and movie "Planet of the Apes." (Literacy competence is perhaps the single most significant factor in our prison population.)
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