November 29, 2006

Blind kid uses echolocation to navigate

This TV news clip of a blind 14 year old African-American who listens to echoes from his tongue clicks to avoid running into things is fun to watch, especially the part where in a pillow fight he hurls a throw pillow across the room at the TV announcer man and -- bullseye -- nails him right in the crotch.

According to the movie "Ray," Ray Charles didn't need a cane because he always wore hard-soled shoes and the echoes were enough for him to avoid obstacles. Of course, it helps if your brain is wired for sound like Ray Charles's was.

Wikipedia has a short article on "Human Echolocation." The tongue-clicking makes me wonder if the famous click languages of the Bushmen, Hottentot, and two black African tribes had something to do at one time with echolocation, although I've never heard that. Perhaps it could be useful to echolocate to avoid stumbling into things while walking on moonless nights, especially in forests where there is no starlight and lots of tree trunks to run into. The Bushmen generally don't lived in heavily forested country today, but they've been around an awfully long time, so we shouldn't assume they never did. But it can be very dangerous to walk around at night in leopard country, so maybe people just stayed put.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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