Belmont Club

The mysteries of nature

The economic crisis has forced many people to make do with less. In nature many creatures cope with resource constraints by migration and adaptation. What lessons does nature offer for those who have to make ends meet? See how its done after the Read More.

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Readers may object that this is a case of choice. Cats like to squeeze into small, tight spaces like sinks, closets, boxes and suitcases or even paper bags. But why? People have a variety of explanations, describing it as a heat-conservation adaptation or the instinctive need to hide from other threats. Or maybe they just like cozy spaces for reasons we will never understand. Similar reasons are advanced for their desire to perch in high places, having to do with the security advantages of the high ground.

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Our model for behavior centers around the economics of rational choice, even for animals and nature. Yet there are times when one suspects there is more to it than that. Tennyson once asked if we could ever truly know a flower.

Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies;—
Hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower—but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.

Maybe humanity will never understand what a flower is; or what a cat thinks. Bureaucrats and social planners appear convinced they know what man and climate is. The “science is settled” to the degree that they feel we can affect the variables. Our regulatory edifices are monuments to that claim. They will never cease from trying to build perfect societies on the basis of some model. That’s probably alright for as long as nobody believes for an instant that they’ve got it completely right and we are at the end of history. We’re not even at the end of boxes for cats.

It is interesting to consider whether one of the solutions to the current economic crisis lies in a reduction in the confidence in our models. How much of a load does our “certainty” impose upon the solutions we apply?

There is a point in the first video where the Japanese cat changes his relationship to the box even while maintaining some connection. Maybe we are the point where we have to alter the way we deal with the boxes we’ve built for ourselves.