Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Not My Work, but I'll Post It Anyway!

I stole this from here: http://www.fark.com/comments/6555276/71673482#c71673482
My Friend James sent it to me, I thought it was a good read, enjoy!

I wrote this for a redlit article a few days ago. Took a while, so I figured I'd get some more use out of it.

Rocks are not ducks, no matter how much you want them to be.

Hear me out on this one. Let us say that one day you're walking along on a bit of a hike, and you trip over something. You look down and pick up a fist-sized rock. Being a bit of an amateur geologist, you're intrigued by the texture and weight, and decide that you're holding a big piece of granite. "Look,", you say to nobody in particular, "what a cool piece of granite!".

"Nope!", says a voice behind you, startling you. As you turn, you realize it's a friend of yours. Why he's out here in the field you're not sure, but you keep your composure and respond, "Yes, it's a dense igneous stone with a fine texture. Looks like granite to me."
Your friend replies, "No, it's a duck." You're perplexed, but you calmly point out that it has neither feathers nor a beak, nor is it by any ready means of analysis alive. It is in fact a rock, from the igneous family, and it appears to be granite.
Your friend insists it's a duck, because he read it in a book.
You realize that this conversation is going nowhere, so you take your rock, excuse yourself, and head for home. When you get there, you pull out your Big Book Of Rocks, and you realize that, as you compare the neat pictures to your rock, you've made an error. It's not granite, it's rhyolite. Pleased with your new knowledge, you clean the thing off and as you put it on a shelf next to your Boxee Box and that Beanie Baby you thought would be valuable some day (hey, we all make investment errors), the doorbell rings. You answer it, and it's your friend, now dressed nattily in a white shirt and tie, dark pants, and carrying some sort of pamphlet. Without benefit of small talk, he blurts out "See, it's a duck".
"No, it's rhyolite," you respond, "I didn't realize it had that much quartz in it until I got home. When I took a closer look, I realized it wasn't granite".
"You were wrong about it being granite, so it's obviously a duck. Do you want one of these?" he says, proffering you a pamphlet that appears to say something about the creation of ducks. You refuse the copy of The Ducktower, close the door, and go back to your interesting rock.

Some months later, you happen to be entertaining some folk from the nearby university. One of them is a well-known geologist, and she seems to be taking special interest in your rock. You ask her what she thinks of your rhyolite.
"Oh, that's not rhyolite," she says, "in fact, I can't remember seeing a specimen like that before. Do you mind if I take it and run a couple of tests on it? I promise I won't sample too much of it." You agree, and she vanishes out your door, heading for her lab. A couple of days later, she sends you an email saying "You've found a new type of mineral! This is really quite a discovery. You get naming rights, as long as you don't call it 'UFIAnite' or 'Farkelium' or something stupid like that". As you read the words with growing elation, you hear a knock at your door. Maybe she brought your rock back? Quickly, you mentally strain to come up with a good new-mineral-sounding name but you can't come up with anything better than "lovezombium" by the time you get to the door. You open it...and it's your friend again. "See! I TOLD you it was a duck!" he blurts.
You count to ten. In Sanskrit. Backwards. Then you slowly and calmly try to explain what the geologist told you. He shakes his head emphatically.
"No, you were wrong each time you said what it was. So obviously I'm right, and it's a duck."
"Um, I learned more about it, and each time I obtained more knowledge, what I knew about it changed. That doesn't make it a duck."
"Yes it does. My book has said ALL ALONG that it's a duck. My facts haven't changed, and yours have changed all the time. So mine are obviously more correct. It's a duck."

You give him a firm shove out the door, and slam it with some satisfaction. He goes on to be the Republican frontrunner in the next election.

Science changes as we learn. Religion refuses to change no matter what we learn.

And rocks are not, in fact, ducks.