The Meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything

No – this post is in no way connected to the classic Douglas Adams book. This is the first post of what may or may not become a new feature topic to The Psychology of Me, and that’s science. I have always been interested in science; it is such a huge part of everything around us. From the smallest things to the biggest, science has an impact in much of everyday life. Chemistry, physics and biology are everywhere and it’s in our understanding of these subjects that we live in the world we do.

If it wasn’t for our understanding of how coal, gas and oil burn at a chemical level, and our understanding of how we can use it to heat water, make steam and drive a turbine then there wouldn’t be the electricity powering the computer I am writing this on. Science is how we understand the things that go on around us. But science isn’t just confined to the pursuits of biology, chemistry and physics. There is social science, too.

Biology, chemistry and physics are the disciplines through which we try to gain a better understanding of the world around us. Social science is concerned with how we fit in to this world. It looks at law, economics, psychology and sociology. At its further reaches, it can also include law and history. Psychology – the study of the human condition. A subject I studied at school and became fascinated in. I love science, but as a creature moving through the world and the cycle of life, humans are complicated, unpredictable and really very interesting. History helps us to understand who we were and where we came from.

As we move through this life we understand the world better, and understand ourselves better. Technology helps us to expand the knowledge we have, and make accessing and sharing that knowledge easier all the time. The internet is a wealth of information, once you manage to trawl through the less-scientific material to reach the real gems. There are some fantastic sites out there that help make science accessible to the masses. A real gem started out as a page on Facebook. It grew in followers, and has its own website: www.iflscience.com.

Hopefully, with all the information and ideas out there, this will become a topic that I will work on and expand. There is a whole universe of subject matter to pick from, so I will definitely give it a go. But that will do for now, so I will leave you with this final thought:

You-Are-The-Universe-Expressing-Itself-As-A-Human-For-A-Little-While

On sharks, media hysteria and potential Darwin Award candidates

Recently I climbed up on my soap box in a post about the barbaric plans being pushed forward by the West Australian Government to cull “large sharks”, which you can read here. This morning I opened up the Sky News app on my phone to see an article involving sharks in Australia in the headlines. To my surprise it wasn’t about a shark-related fatality. It wasn’t even about the frankly disgusting cull plans, or the protests to prevent it. It was about human stupidity that will give the policy makers what they will perceive as further ammunition in their quest to rid the oceans of Earth of possibly the most fascinating creature alive.

The first issue with the article the headline and sub-headline start out with the phrase “killer shark” only for the first line of the article to then call it a “dangerous shark”. Let’s stop for just a moment. Is there ANY evidence the shark swam up to this guy and thought “I think I’ll kill this guy!”? Nope. It was caught by a “professional fisherman” and pulled in close to the boat. So the shark hasn’t killed anyone at this point, and nor did it according to the article. But that doesn’t stop the “journalist” claiming it is dangerous and a killer. Mass media hysteria – gotta love it. The politicians will see this and be in rapturous joy – “oh look, this killer shark just attacked an innocent human! We must kill them all!”. The media has a responsibility to report the facts, but facts don’t sell. Stories with drama sell. If there is no drama, add some. I wouldn’t be surprised if the author was humming the theme from Jaws under their breath as they sat at the keyboard!

Anyway, back to the story. The shark, having been caught and brought close to the boat is still swimming in the area, probably less than happy at being dragged by the hook in its mouth. So in his infinite wisdom, our subject decides to put a birdcage over his head and torso, and then jump in the water with the “killer shark”. It swam at him, so he threw the cage at the shark and leapt out of the sea screaming in terror. 

            What did he think would happen? It is no surprise that the shark went for him, especially after having a birdcage thrown at it. The guy is extremely lucky he didn’t become a Darwin Award candidate. If you haven’t heard of the Darwin Awards, they are a tongue-in-cheek award for people who either die or otherwise remove all chance of them procreating through their own stupidity, thus improving the IQ of the remaining gene pool. Take a look at past winners and you will get the idea. If he had died in his idiotic folly, the media would report on the tragic death of an innocent man in the maw of a snarling, bloodthirsty evil shark. And the governments would love the weight it would lend their campaign.

The problem is not with sharks, but with humans and their insistence on putting themselves in the world in which they dominate. Many companies offer tourists shark-watching tours all over the world. The boats head out and bate the water with chum, or use synthetic seal analogues to entice the sharks to surface near the boats, or leap out of the sea. Humans entice sharks in to contact situations with us, yet we then feign shock and horror when these encounters end badly, usually for people. We cannot expect to be able to entice them towards humans, but not see us as a source of food.

Until people learn to understand these animals, appreciate their importance, and respect them safely, then fatal encounters are going to continue – albeit very rarely according to the numbers – and the misinformed will succeed in taking an already threatened creature in to extinction.

I hope this will be my last soap box rant on this topic, but then I thought the first would be! Keep the debate going – use the comments section to let me know what think about all this! 🙂

 

The Darwin Awards

The Darwin Awards


How about a cull on human stupidity instead of sharks?

This post is a bit of a rant really, but maybe it will stir up a little conversation and debate! This one came about from a post on Facebook and a report on the BBC website. The post and report talk about plans by the Western Australian government to cull sharks in their waters. The idea goes like this: set up 72 baited hooks about 1km from the shore to intentionally trap sharks, measure them, and callously kill any over 3 metres in size. While this sounds a big fish, it covers a number of species in Australian waters including the Tiger, Bull and Great White sharks.

Ok, yes, I am a fan of sharks (pretty impressive piece of natural engineering in my view!) but this is just human stupidity at its best. Sharks accounted for 2 fatalities in Australia in 2013. Drowning accounted for 290 deaths, and 1,600 were linked to alcohol. If the government banned swimming in the sea, then instead of preventing just 2 deaths, they would prevent 292. More lives saved, without killing a single shark.

Drowning and alcohol led to more fatalities than sharks

Drowning and alcohol led to more fatalities than sharks

Sharks have swum the oceans for millions of years doing what nature and natural selection intended them to do: hunt. Suddenly strange air breathers come in to their worlds swimming on pieces of wood, they accidentally kill a few in the pursuit of food and survival, and those in power decide to wipe them all out. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against surfers – most of them are fully aware of the risks in their pursuit, it’s the politicians I take issue with! Sharks are the top predators on Earth, with some impressive senses to help them out. And as a by-product of this, they keep the ecosystem in check, ensuring a balance in species numbers. Kill the sharks; you kill the ecosystem, pretty simple really.

Here’s an idea – why don’t we bait some hooks with cash to catch the politicians? Any that are too stupid to spot the trap should be thrown to the sharks. And then the balance of human intelligence and natural order will be restored! 🙂

I hope this sparks some debate and conversation! I am always open to differing views, so whether you agree or disagree with my opinions – put them in the comments and lets have a healthy debate! 🙂

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So what’s this blog all about?

Yes, I know, I have had this blog for some time now! But isn’t it too late to add a “what’s this blog all about?” post? No! Ok, so some of you have read bits and pieces on this blog and probably have a vague idea what’s going on here – though that isn’t a given. Some of you are new followers, and are probably none the wiser as to where my mind is going as I expand this little blog of mine.
I’ll let you in to a little secret – this is the way my mind works. Welcome to my world! So I have my share of interests. Films, sports, music, reading, writing, travelling, trying new things. I also love photography, but you’re in the wrong place for that. Head to my photography blog here to see my photos! This is my little retreat where I will share my thoughts on all these and more. Sometimes my posts won’t have a theme; they will just run along with my train of thoughts. Hopefully you are all thinking “I want to see where this goes” rather than “definite fruit loop!” – if you are the former camp, pop your email address in the box and follow my blog as I take you through my world! 🙂