The Department Of Pointing Out The Obvious (DOPOTO) has spent a leisurely summer doing what we always do; spotting trends, analyzing worldwide news reports and cultural shifts and then pointing out the obvious (we take our name seriously) to interested parties, albeit in a more relaxed way than usual in deference to the season. This has been an especially rainy summer in the Northeast, where DOPOTO headquarters is located, but plenty hot as usual, the odd weather indicative of nothing more momentous than just one of those things. Others would have the world believe that the inordinate amount of rainfall is indicative of some coming ecological or climatological apocalypse, but our dedicated research staff has found that to be as reliable as when many people complained that the moon landings 40 years ago changed the weather forever. Which is to say, unreliable.
While 40 years ago those reports were generated mostly by old ladies just for something to complain about or to make enough noise so that people would realize they were still alive so hold off on the funeral plans already, today’s ecological apocalypse Paul Reveres all seem to have some sort of psuedo-scientific axe to grind. Some were saying that the planet has been subject to more hurricanes, typhoons and other violent tropical storms than ever before and that their severity is increasing every year. It turns out there is really no way of knowing that for sure since measuring these things is only a fairly recent phenomenon and a process that has improved very quickly in the past couple of years, just like every other technical aspect of modern society. The Digital Revolution and the Information Age brings us amazing new devices and sources of information more rapidly than our ability to process them can adjust. So naturally conflicting schools of thought emerge as we struggle to keep up with the dizzying pace of our own inventions.
The only thing that hasn’t changed is human nature in this constantly changing world. We are a curious race of beings, eager to know what’s what about everything under the sun. And so we often take this quest to extremes and jump to conclusions that are not always justified. The only real reason we are aware of so many storms is that we only very recently gained the ability to count so many of them that previously blew themselves out without the benefit of human detection and measurement. The Department has long since established that trees that fall in the forest without people there to hear them do indeed make a sound. It is not always about us. There is no concrete reason to believe that we are subject to more or fewer storms than 200 years ago, when the method of remote storm detection for humans was having your flimsy wooden sailing ship sunk to the bottom of the deep blue sea with all hands and no one the wiser until Jaques Costeau came along in the 20th Century and put Davey Jones’ Locker on television.
But, as DOPOTO researchers and analysts have learned during our tenure as pointers-out of the 800 pound gorilla in the room, there are those people who cannot stand not to know about every mystery that has puzzled mankind since the dawn of time and so latch onto any theory that seems to explain these things, no matter how unrealistic or even outlandish, or worse, at least in this department’s admittedly biased view, contrary to the obvious. And so they gravitate to an explanation of why the sky is blue according to their personal bent, either religious, scientific or just for the sake of being a know-it-all-blowhard uninterested in actual truth as long as he or she is perceived as an authority in possession of knowledge above and beyond their peers.
Unfortunately, the rapid dissemination of information and the dizzying pace of technological advancement has produced no shortage of people who fall into the blowhard category, usually lazy minds that latch onto a piece of valid information or revealed truth but are too lethargic to explore a subject any further once they have formed a theory. They completely discount any new insights into their pet idea that might serve to contradict their notions. On such practices are built many fine religions and impressive political theories, but no valid science. Science (at the risk of being too obvious even for an organization that specializes exlusively in obvious) is the discipline of seeking provable truth. A true scientist always bows to the obvious and to solid proof, even though that proof may have just wiped out their life’s work and long-held theories, rendering their “knowledge” null and void. Plausibility cannot be confused with fact. That’s the risk a person takes when they enter any branch of scientific study.
Which is why science is a rare calling, since by definition the scientist is required to be the ultimate realist. A person with the most extensive knowledge is the person most aware of how little they really know for certain. The finest brain surgeon in the world cannot cure the common cold, a humbling realization. True scientists don’t leap to hasty conclusions, using terms like “tests indicate” or “results are consistent with” or “field study and experimentation points to” and avoid making definitive pronouncements until proof positive is obtained. True scientists don’t have the luxury the rest of us have, to be so certain of something without really knowing why. Which explains why there are so few true scientists. In this lighting-fast age of technology and information, at least human nature is our Rock of Gibraltar for unreasonable assumptions. Nothing much new to report under the sun in that regard. Besides, it’s late August, it’s hot as blazes, it’s sticky and humid and here at DOPOTO we are compelled to admit that we are just as brain-fried as anyone else at this point.
This has obviously been a half-baked speculative lazy-ass summertime doldrums report from The Department Of Pointing Out The Obvious.