WHY do we call ourselves Homo sapiens [the wise man] when we, so obviously, ARE NOT?
It’s amazing to see my point made as clearly as this:
This morning I came home from swimming and turned on the TV. I joined a program in progress on the Science Channel. A narrator was describing a tentative plan to build a tunnel to carry human traffic across the Atlantic Ocean: a body of water humans haven’t yet explored thoroughly, don’t even have a map of yet but know enough about to know it’s seismically active.
I said, ‘Huh?’ dubbed the whole project ‘hubris’, changed to a History Channel and ran smack into another one.
It seems Henry Ford tried to buck the Amazon Forest and failed miserably. He was manufacturing cars during the 1930’s and needed rubber. Rubber trees grow in the Amazon Forest—so he bought a huge acreage and set about planting rubber trees without doing even the most basic research.
The Amazon naturally produces approximately 20 rubber trees per acre of land. Ford tried to plant 200 trees per acre. Now, rubber trees are prone to a leaf-blight. If their leaves touch, they spread the blight among themselves—rather like rot spreading through bushels of apples when they’re stored together. Not surprisingly, blight got loose in Ford’s rubber tree forest and the trees died.
Belatedly, Ford called in a botanist who did the research and explained the problem to him. Ford, like so many rich men, was used to having his own way. He seized on one portion of the report by the botanist which said the trees didn’t like the hilly location and the blight did. So, Ford bought ANOTHER plantation on flatter terrain and tried again. Again, he planted trees so closely together their leaves touched and, again, the trees all died.
Finally, in 1945, after he’d been trying to grow rubber for 14 years, DuPont produced synthetic rubber and Ford gave up trying. Without ever having set foot on either plantation, he had spent $40 million—the equivalent of $200 million in today’s money.
Ford’s folly cost him several millions. Cheap compared to the hundreds of billions proposed for the Atlantic tunnel [assuming it were to come in on budget (and when is the last time THAT happened?)] not to even mention the lives that will, inevitably, be lost if the plan goes forward.
Lessee -- we've got ships. We've got airplanes. What the hell do we need a tunnel for?
I'll bet I know: Britain and France built the Chunnel. And the US can't STAND the fact that somebody else did such a great engineering job. So, we've got to go them one better -- and damn the consequences, full steam ahead!
I don’t know about you, but MY definition of the word, ‘wise’ includes the ideas of 1] using reason to reach decisions and 2] learning from past mistakes.
So, where the hell do we get off calling ourselves Homo sapiens?