Thursday, May 29, 2008

Like Fish In the Sea

I'm thinking about development right now: brain development, personal skills development, idea development, Self development.

I'm surprised at the number of different areas the concept of 'the fish in the sea (being the last to discover water)' applies.

When I went looking for the phrase, 'the last to discover water' it was to give attribution to an idea that was animating my new understanding that Gary is not able to differentiate my thoughts from his, or his from mine. I found the attribution in Nathan Collier's blog. (Warning, I di
dn't check the veracity of his attribution!)

I read a little of his blog: Actually, fish would be the last creatures to discover water, simply because they know nothing else. They know no other reality so there’s nothing to compare it to.

And then a little more:
So, too, we are the last to discover our assumptions about reality because we are so immersed in them. We need someone with a different perspective, a different world view, to point out the things we take for granted, those things we see as “givens” or “unquestioned norms,”...

And then:
We do not understand what we do not know. We cannot comprehend “unknown unknowns.”

How do you uncover your blind spots?

So, to paraphrase a US ex-Secretary of Defense, sometimes we don't know that we don't know something! Furthermore, thinking we know something, prevents us from knowing it. (!)

It seems the task of the human brain is to make sense of the world. And one of the ways it does this is by making associations--as a short-hand way of dealing with an overwhelming amount of information.

A danger of this can be blind spots--an assumption that we already know all we need to know about something. I suppose this is the origin and perpetuation of prejudice. (Connor's teacher and I were talking yesterday about a topic that seems to have no bearing, except it is an example of this type of disordered thinking: Connor fancies himself to be a daredevil. His teacher compared him to Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin. I said, "yeah, and look what happened to him"--and I was then reminded of the horrific consequence of his death: mutilations of stingrays. To some humans, the death of a well-known documentarian equated a license to kill the type of animal that had been the agent of his death. Where on earth is the sense in that? Then I'm reminded of the collateral effect of 9/11--the backlash against not only Muslims, but anyone who
resembled Muslims, even if only the most superficially.)

Clearly the brain has another task, and that is to discriminate and distinguish between associations.

I'm reminded of a parable told within the story of "Zorba the Greek" by Nikos Kazantzakis. Someone is over-eager for the metamorphosis of a butterfly to be completed. It has emerged from its chrysalis and slowly the wings are unfolding. Impatient, the observer tries to hurry the process by blowing his warm breath on the wings. To his horror this results in deformity--the wet wings stick to each other in clumps. Unable to differentiate from each other, they are useless and the poor creature dies.

Perhaps prejudice, and anxiety cause assumptions and associations to fuse, and the ability to discriminate between the subtleties of different ideas is lost, along with the ability to be fully functionally human.


I give up!
Something very weird is happening with the text-sizing and I can't seem to fix it. I'm sorry about that, but it looks like I'm going to have to let it stand.

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