Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Sahara dust discusssion - A NON-SCIENCE BLOG

The year started well!

An interesting discussion took pace over the work e-mail network. My Boss sent out to everybody the photo above - it is from the cockpit of an AF plane flying through a Saharan dust storm. We study the effect of Saharan dust on hurricane genesis.

The photo triggered an "interesting social experiment". Almost everyone that got back to my Boss had the same response: this has to be touched up, or "Photoshop!", etc. Below is part of the e-mail tread that followed.

"Are we getting to the point (or have we already passed it) that nothing out of the ordinary is for real anymore? Or believable? The wonderful Internet and media communications of today brings us more and more "things" to see and absorb, but technology has also brought us more ways to "manipulate" those things to the point we are not sure if these are real. Given this trend, are we doomed to a future of virtual reality, where the real and the manipulated world we see are blurred, in many cases intentionally? Will "seeing is believing" be a phrase of the past? Seems at least on the Internet, it already is. "

"I can't speak to this specific case (I haven't even viewed it yet!), but I do know that EVERY time a friend or relative has forwarded a "cool" or "amazing" photo "that a co-worker personally took", I was ALWAYS able to find a reference online (e.g., on snopes.com) to that exact image either being a hoax or else being egregiously mislabeled (e.g., a supercell in Australia being labeled "Hurricane Rita as it makes landfall"). As a result, I automatically assume that any cool images forwarded to me (no matter by whom) are hoaxes unless proven otherwise. Alas, proving a negative often takes more effort that I'm willing to invest. "

"...this is exactly my point. It has become "guilty" until proven "innocent". In my opinion, a sad turn for our younger generations attempting to discover their world, and for communication in general"


"On the other hand, I believe an important part of education is learning how to be a skeptic..."

My personal insight:
It's easy to be a sceptic in 2007! What's much harder is to be a believer!
I consider myself lucky to be working for my Boss!
Because despite the occasional disagreement on the color scheme of a poster,
we seem to agree on the bigger picture...and that's what actually matters!!!

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