{nasty violent shock}

There must be a word for the feeling you get, the first time you realize that you are odd.

This sentence (not this sentence, that sentence) scares me halfway to spitless, even after all these years.

You see, when I was a small child, I used to skittishly toy with the idea that perception was not substantially subjective, but utterly so. In one person's mind, we all look like big green monsters. In another person's mind, we speak entirely in "sss" sounds and purple is the only color in the world. Every bit of tangible data in the world exists as nothing more than a blank slate for selective perceptions to draw upon... and if you were to truly see things the way someone else did, it would drive you insane.

I used to suffer dreadful nightmares about being rendered involuntarily telepathic. I saw the hideous green monsters in my mind, and would often peer suspiciously at the people around me, wondering "Which of them sees the monsters? Who could it be?"

Words written upon a page and wafted upon the air become absolute. They attain meaning within the ear and the eye, to each person, their own language, their own sounds.

After a year or so of paranoia, I relaxed. My inner skeptic was beginning to develop, and I knew to take my own imaginings with a grain of salt. Furthermore, I knew I was not telepathic, and therefore likely to be safe. A greater assurance was mine later, when I learned how foreign languages worked... if my idea were true, a written foreign language could not possibly be misunderstood, after all. The irony of the dis-proof was not lost on me.

During my pre-teen years, I confided my former flight of fancy to my mother.

Her response: "Well, in a way, it's true. Everyone does see things slightly differently."

I experienced a brief return to the night sweats after that conversation. This time, it was more of a response to the idea of never being understood by another person.

So I look at the sentence above... and find myself a little bit frightened to look away.

Ummm... what if it IS Spanish??? {whimper}

It's not.

At first I was sort of scared that it might be, but then I realized that it wasn't like those really tricky questions of subjectivity like "is anyone except you self-aware?" Good luck answering that one, and even if you do, I won't believe you because you could be programmed to answer that way.

But answering this one only takes a digital camera with a timer: Digital because it's cooler, and with a timer so it's cleaner.

First I pulled the window shades down in the room. Then I shut the door. Then I activated the electromagnetic anti-Van Eck Phreaking array. I set the timer on my camera, pointed it at the screen, and ran out of the room.

Then I picked myself up off the floor and remembered that I had shut the door. A few seconds later, I was outside, and the room was all but invulnerable to spying. No one was watching that troublesome sentence of questionable Spanish. A timer expired, the digital camera emitted a digital click and an analog flash, and the hard part was over. I opened the door, lifted the shades, and shut off the humming array.

The sentence on the screen was still in English, and so was the one in the digital camera's digital memory. Therefore, it does not change when I am not looking.

Though come to think of it, I don't know Spanish. People who claimed to speak Spanish may only have been muttering random syllables to confuse me. How do I know that this so-called "Spanish" doesn't really look and sound exactly like English? Maybe it's just another liberal myth, or even a self-perpetuating lie. Maybe everyone who speaks "Spanish" thinks that he is the only one who is mumbling nonsense and has only managed to fool everyone else by dumb luck. Maybe no one wants to be the first to point out the reality of the Emperor's New Clothes. Sure, you'll tell me that it really exists, that it is a legitimate language, even that you yourself know it, but I think you're just unwilling to be the first to admit the terrible secret that you and all "Spanish"-speakers unwittingly share.

Never fear someone wearing a tin-foil hat: the real psychos weave the stuff into their thoughts. And never believe anyone who says they speak "Spanish."

Unfortunately, Pender's experiment should not set all our minds to rest, since as long as the camera was observing the sentence, Pender was "looking" at it in a sense. His observation may have been delayed, but the information conveyed by the photons zipping off the screen and into the camera's memory did eventually reach Pender's eyes. In fact, any means of observing the sentence indirectly will still convey this information, unless you never look at the result of that observation, in which case you will still not know if the sentence was transmitido en español.

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