Utterly Useless Facts #3

What The Experts Don’t Know

From Iris Einstein

It is a truism that the more we learn the less we know. Nowhere is this so sweetly evidenced as in the following ‘facts’.

Biologists (the experts who study living organisms) have no agreed definition for the very thing they study: Organisms.
And it doesn’t stop there. They can’t agree a definition for ‘species’ either – nor (amazing, shock, horror) for ‘life’.

Anthropologists (the experts who study ‘Man’ [sorry, fellow females but that’s what the word means] and ‘his’ culture in all its aspects) as with the biologists, have no agreed meaning of the very thing  they study: Culture. Nor can they agree the meaning of the word ‘meaning’. (Sorrowful, hey.)

(Back to Biologists)
Behavioural Biologists (the experts who study the behaviour of living organisms) haven’t yet agreed what constitutes the very thing that they study: Behaviour.

Psychologists (the experts who study all aspects of human and animal behaviour) cannot agree on what constitutes ‘personality’.

It’s worth noting that, apparently, Chemists and Physicists are generally agreed that they know what they’re talking about. (No comment.)

As for Meteorologists, according to them, a medium sized cumulus cloud weighs the same as 80 elephants. (Don’t get caught out in the rain!)


Facts taken from 1,227 Facts To Blow Your Socks Off (2012) which, incidentally, Crimmie kindly gave me for Christmas year 2012.

About crispina kemp

Spinner of Asaric and Mythic tales
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8 Responses to Utterly Useless Facts #3

  1. Brian Bixby says:

    The issues around defining species complicate the creationist/evolutionary debate in the United States. Creationists assume species refer to morphologically distinct beings, while evolutionists adhere to either a Darwinian or genetic definition.

    I’d like to draw a firm division between cultural anthropologists, historians, sociologists, group psychologists, and cultural studies-people. Perhaps I should refer back to the preceding point. Are they different species? Can cultural anthropologists and group psychologists interbreed and produce fertile offspring? Are there unusual genetic markers for sociologists?

    Now, are those African elephants, or European elephants? (With credit to Mont Python’s swallows.)


    • crimsonprose says:

      I’m glad you brought up the interbreeding. I was taught that what separates species is their inability to cross breed and produce fertile young – i.e. their DNA has sufficiently mutated that it is no longer mutually compatible. ‘m not sure about cultural anthropologists and group psychologists interbreeding. Would we like the results? As to elephants, Iris’s source doesn’t specify. I suppose having larger ears would help the said 80 elephants stay aloft. Living in an area well fertilised by seagulls, the idea of elephants aloft causes a shudder!


      • Brian Bixby says:

        Aerial seagull-elephant-European swallow competition could be epic. But I wonder: could the gulls and elephants interbreed?

        Hmmm, cultural anthropologist x group psychologist = cultural psychologist? I think that was Jung.


      • crimsonprose says:

        Yeah, I guess it would be. Time was, he was my hero. It might have taken me three readings over the course of 10 years to understand his Aion’, but I got there in the end. It was a mega-amazing moment. Chills down the spine, a feeling of being fully in-tune with the man.
        But, can I be given at least 2 weeks notice of this prospective aerial combat. I don’t think they make hard-hats with wide enough brims, and an umbrella would be too weak.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Judy says:

    Well in school the definition of life was that it eats, poops, and reproduces. Well it’s a trimmed down, non-philosophical outlook for sure.


    • crimsonprose says:

      I’m not sure a plant poops – at least not in a recognisable sense. But I like the definition. I remember the debate on what constitutes a plant, and what an animal. The ability to move, we said, but the teacher found examples of ‘moving plants’, Biology is rich in such unanswerable ponderables.


      • Judy says:

        HMM good point…maybe its just eliminate!! But, it is those blurred lines which make it all so interesting. Even with the taxonomy of herons..when is it big enough to be ardea instead of egretta? Of course all egrets are herons..just category of heron with aigrettes during breeding. I suppose I am still a lumper rather than a splitter feeling there must be strong reason for new classifications. And, maybe the ponderables aren’t unanswerable as much as the answers tend to morph over time and new information. We learn!! Its fun!


      • crimsonprose says:

        The average human has a need to categorise – it’s supposed to be the first thing Adam did, even before making baby Adams and Eves. There is a sense of security in being able to name things, and ‘lump them together’. That’s good, that’s bad, that make’s you sick, that’s fun. It’s just scientists go for different categories – less fun ones. :).


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