The Consequences Are Too Important to Risk Guessing

Creeping Zinnia as we see it (left) and with UV shades made visible (right). The petals clearly appear two-toned to bees, the concentric colours drawing them towards the nectar Creeping Zinnia as we see it (left) and with UV shades made visible (right). The petals appear two-toned to bees, the concentric colours drawing them towards the nectar. BBC News

Politicians are often faulted for trying to apply simplistic solutions to very complex and complicated problems.  But they are not the only ones, in fact there are some scientists that theorize looking for a simple, quick and easily applied solution is part of our DNA.   Naturally – so goes the theory – we group things into convenient categories and develop narratives that explain relationships, events and anything else we see in our environment.  The categories help us understand what things are threatening, which are helpful and those that can be ignored totally.  The narrative puts us into the environment and helps us choose the appropriate way the react to every occurrence as it happens.

Over the course of the history of organized civilizations, but particularly during the last two hundred years a group of scientific disciplines have evolved that have refined the processes, biology, geology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, astronomy and many subcategories of the standard disciplines. Much of the 19th century was spent just finding and categorizing everything on the planet.  In the 20th century science moved forward on  more sophisticated fronts;  advances in chemistry, physics  and mathematics made a great deal of difference in the way the world can be analyzed and understood.  Technology has been an important part of the progression toward a better understanding.  We reached the limit of our senses to perceive the world early in the 19th century, since then there have been many technological improvements that allowed us to “see” things we cannot in truth see; sometimes that seeing is only an inference based on a mathematical models (now with computer graphic capabilities we can literally see a picture of the theories).

The picture above comes from the BBC News and goes with a story of scientists learning to understand what a bee sees by using data-based models.  We have known for a long time that the eyes of different species allow the individuals of the species to see differently than other species.  Actually the same is true of hearing, taste and the sense of feel – and I suspect it is equally true of conscientious.  Consciousness is the last bastion of higher-being, humans are best thinking in science.  In my opinion it is naive to think we alone are aware of our existence, feel fear, pain and experience sadness and happiness.  We persist in that opinion because we cannot effectively communicate with any other species.  Anyway, back to the bees and their eyes.

The story explains how the scientist developed and use the techniques:

The researchers collected what’s called “spectroreflective” measurements of the petals and leaves of a large number of different plants. These measurements show the colour of plants across both the visible and invisible spectrum. Users of the database can then calculate how these plants appear to different pollinating insects, based on studies of what different parts of the spectrum different species see. Neil Bowdler, BBC News, 12-10-10

Somethings we can only understand through chemistry, some through enhanced imaging technology and some through complicated mathematics.  Scientists a century ago had to use more basic methods. Charles Darwin used very careful observation, detailed descriptions of all the constituent parts he could observe, experimentation and finally very careful development of a theory to explain what he had observed. He was also a master of arguing against himself and then continuing to study looking for more data to overcome those objections.

I would suggest that all the lawmakers use legislation to solve problems, control behaviors, create new profitable opportunities and of course raise more money to fund government should first use Darwin’s basic model and then apply some of the advanced mathematical models that science uses to predict behavior and consequences. Harry Reid can you hear me? Life is too complicated and we have too much on-the-line, you know pun online, to risk, second pun, on shooting from the hip.


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December 2010
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