?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Eclipse, superstitions. - Balinares — LiveJournal

Oct. 3rd, 2005

02:11 am - Eclipse, superstitions.

Previous Entry Share Flag Next Entry

So there's this ongoing partial eclipse right now. Sunlight is dimmed; life goes on as usual.

Being ever the scientist with a sense of everlasting wonder for cool shit, there I go in the office with the windows that open sunwards at this time of the day, with two sheets of paper, one of which I pierced a tiny hole in with the tip of a pen.

Nicephore Niepce, blessed be your soul.

I project the pinhole onto the other paper, I find the right focal, and there it appears: a tiny crescent, the photographic image of the half-eaten sun.

And this is where I want your whole attention.

I've got that piece of paper. It's lying in the sunlight. Half of it is shadowed by another piece of paper. Only a tiny additional crescent-shaped spot in the middle is left unshadowed, like a stencil. It's the exact same fucking paper receiving the exact same fucking sunlight as any other piece of paper lying in the sun. It just has a spot in the middle of the shadowed part where that sunlight is shaped like a crescent.

Yet, according to several coworkers, that crescent shape makes the piece of paper dangerous to look at. Dangerous. Some were borderline panicky about it.

The very same people that don't blink an eye when looking at a photograph of an eclipse.

Nothing you'll tell them will make them think. They just, quote, "won't take the risk".

Because, you know, they said so on TV: the eclipse is SUPER DANGEROUS and you musn't look at it in ANY WAY WHATSOEVER, unless you've got those special glasses made by professionals. (The professionals are magicians that put a special anti-eclipse pixie dust in their glasses that's not available to commoners like you and me.)

There are days like this when I'm reminded that on the evolutionary scale, this species has barely stepped out of the cave.


Today's thought: if you deliver information to people like they're stupid dumbasses, they WILL act as such.

Comments:

[User Picture]
From:kefen
Date:October 3rd, 2005 12:52 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I can't remember who I heard that quote from in the first place, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was from you:

Group IQ = Lowest IQ in the group / Number of people in the group.

Tho I know exceptions to this rule, I've noticed it's often true — and yes, I've noticed my own IQ decreasing accordingly, at times...
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:kefen
Date:October 3rd, 2005 01:00 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Hmmm or maybe it was even...


Group IQ = Lowest IQ in group
(Number of people)2

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:balinares
Date:October 3rd, 2005 03:59 pm (UTC)

Re: Hughes' Rule of Communities:

(Link)
A witty remark, although I'd say that the core group of PBX elements sort of disproves it as a generalization. :)

This particular case is not as much one of groupthink, I'd say, as one of animal-level fear trumping the very willingness to think. Which is perhaps tangential, but not exactly the same thing.

But it seriously pisses me off, be it only because of the political implications. Frighten people and they'll stop thinking rationally.

Sometimes people SCARE ME.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:balinares
Date:October 3rd, 2005 07:56 pm (UTC)

Re: Hughes' Rule of Communities:

(Link)
I don't know; the share of people that Don't Get It is, all considered, not that large, given the overwhelming mundanity of the world at large. Not sure I'm in much of a position to comment, though, as I don't feel that I really truly Get It myself. :)

And yes, of course you are right about us falling for it too. Having a sense of introspection about it does make a difference, yes. Or so I like to tell myself anyway...
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:unblue
Date:October 3rd, 2005 03:10 pm (UTC)
(Link)
You know, my parents are pharmacists, and in the weeks before the 1999 eclipse, sold the glasses made, as you said, by professionnals.
And they ran out of such glasses two weeks before the eclipse, and had discussions like those :
"Hello, do you have glasses for the eclipse ?
- Sorry, we don't have them anymore.
- Alright then, I'll have to stay inside and shut the curtains."

It stopped being funny after a while. Still today I can't understand what kind of confusion of the mind can lead people to think that sunrays suddenly become deadly when the moon hides them.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:grey_wolf_xvii
Date:October 3rd, 2005 03:14 pm (UTC)
(Link)
It's not just the moon! The Gods are angry!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:balinares
Date:October 3rd, 2005 03:59 pm (UTC)
(Link)
This is why I love you. :)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:jallora
Date:October 3rd, 2005 05:03 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Still today I can't understand what kind of confusion of the mind can lead people to think that sunrays suddenly become deadly when the moon hides them.

It's called the "magical thought" in psychology (translation not warranted, "pensée magique" in french). When confronted to something bigger than them, or that they're unable to grasp, people will refer to a magical/mystical/god/hell/curse/whatever explanation rather than face the fact that they don't know.
What's more, if you add to that the right message (such as "Don't you dare look at the sun during the eclipse, or it'll burn your eyes, unless you have your talisman/glasses!")well, it's not that surprising...


(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:balinares
Date:October 3rd, 2005 05:23 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I think you told me about that once, yeah.

I think that people just simply don't think. Or more precisely, they don't stop to think. It is not natural for them to think in terms of logical causes and consequences. Ergo, they perceive, from TV hearsay, that something is bad about the sun during eclipses, and that glasses can keep them safe, and nothing in their brains triggers the process of actually thinking about that perception.

It's this lack of a thinking trigger that matters, I think. I don't know if there's a word for it. It's not stupidity, as the mean part of me would once have sneered; it's just... well, lack of a think-starter. If there is no word for this, we definitely need to coin on up.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:kefen
Date:October 4th, 2005 07:26 am (UTC)
(Link)
Laziness of thought?

Like not needing to actually start thinking when a zillion people did it for you already — I mean, if it says so on TV, many many very smart people studied it and know better so better do what they say and not bother anymore...

(And I remember Brel saying stupidity was just laziness, it somehow makes sense too...)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:balinares
Date:October 5th, 2005 01:09 am (UTC)
(Link)
Not even laziness, I think. Laziness would require awareness that there /is/ some thinking to do, and a purposeful decision not to follow through. Which I don't think is the case there.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:chamois_shimi
Date:October 3rd, 2005 04:41 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I bet all of them have looked at the sun when there wasn't an eclipse! Foolish people. Don't they ever use their brains?
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:balinares
Date:October 3rd, 2005 05:27 pm (UTC)
(Link)
As said just above... I think that they indeed don't stop to think about stuff. Thinking about a perceived fact just doesn't seem to be something their brains does automatically. There probably exists a way to kickstart people's thinking processes; I don't know how, though.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:luna_the_cat
Date:October 3rd, 2005 04:49 pm (UTC)
(Link)
There are days like this when I'm reminded that on the evolutionary scale, this species has barely stepped out of the cave.


Today's thought: if you deliver information to people like they're stupid dumbasses, they WILL act as such.


A-yup.

Of course, sometimes people act like stupid dumbasses no matter how information is delivered, too....
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:balinares
Date:October 3rd, 2005 05:34 pm (UTC)
(Link)
It's not untrue, yet in this case, despite the choice of words, I don't think it's a case of people being stupid, as in, unable to think, as one of people NOT THINKING OF THINKING. The thinking process just never starts. It's frustrating.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:kangarunitarian
Date:October 3rd, 2005 05:25 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Dumb muffins.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:balinares
Date:October 3rd, 2005 07:58 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Perhaps not in the sense you'd usually mean it... See my comments above. :)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:aisheth
Date:October 3rd, 2005 06:29 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I am quite frankly surprised at the reaction of those people. I think the watching of at least 4 hours of Discovery Channel or related programming should be mandatory as a remedial measure.

Snugs from Aisheth
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:balinares
Date:October 3rd, 2005 08:07 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I don't know, really.
I'd rather people had an inward urge to watch such programming, rather than it being forced on them. That's what would make a difference... The desire to learn and think. :/
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:janetraeness
Date:October 3rd, 2005 06:36 pm (UTC)
(Link)
*snicker* ... They taught us how to do that to safely look at eclipses in grammar school.

Lately, everything I've heard seems to confirm the opinion that 90% of the human race is stupid. (Some days, I just wonder which part of the population I'm in.)
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]
From:balinares
Date:October 3rd, 2005 08:01 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I don't know about stupid. I'd rather people were stupid like T'al was: as slow as they'll freaking want, but willing to spend what time it'll take them to think.

Which is, and that was his secret all along, quite smart, only in very slow motion. :)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)