A colleague mentioned the vexed question of whether the Chinese language makes hypothesis and counterfactual thinking more difficult, since it is rarely marked grammatically the way it is in languages possessing a subjective mood.
I'm unable to generalize to my own satisfaction about the question "are Chinese speakers less able to hypothesize than speakers of other languages?" Before hazarding opinions on the subject, I would review cognitive measurements of people engaged in the act of counterfactualizing, something I know has been studied. But where language alone is concerned, my professional view as a linguistic sinologist is that the distinctive topic-comment syntax of Chinese merely makes it harder to distinguish counterfactuals decisively from non-counterfactuals — a counterfactual actually becomes easier to produce but harder to recognize than if morphology were involved.
Whether all that translates to sociological conclusions is not for me to say. I will venture, though, that the tendency of non-Chinese people to imagine or believe unbelievable things about China and its culture must be unequaled in the world. We may feel smug about the foolishness of Western men caught in Chinese honey traps when we recall the cases of Bernard Boursicot and Shí Pèipú 時佩璞 (basis of the "M. Butterfly" story) or Katrina Leung 陳文英 and her friends in the U.S. government (subjects of a failed spy prosecution in the Bush-Cheney era). But what is there to laugh at, when much of the non-Chinese world also gazes on China with eyes heavily clouded by fantasy — sometimes admiring, sometimes hostile, but fantasy nonetheless? It seems to me that fantasies about Chinese language and culture are common even within Chinese society, itself.
Perhaps all this is the result of telephantasmia "counterfactualism at a distance" as a feature of Chinese culture - the generation of useful fictions in observers's minds. Could that somehow be related to the lack of counterfactual marking in Chinese grammar?