Impractical Science

Something that irks me is the notion that the only science worthy of being conducted is that which has a direct practical application. I think if humans were omniscient enough to know what is useful, then we really would be past doing science.

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The case which prompted this post: the reconstruction of a mummy larynx. True, it doesn’t directly help a living person. Plenty of people damage theirs in car accidents, falls, etc. By acquiring an 3D image of the person’s and building a replica, we could replace lost ones. And the person could have their same voice. Voice is part of identity given we recognize others by the sound of theirs. Mechanical replacements that sound inhuman are like wheelchairs: approximation, but the user still loses a lot.

Science and technology are collaborative endeavors. Others replicate a finding. They take an idea and do something similar but different to see if there were hidden variables that change the finding. Or, produce a product from the idea.

Too much focus on practical science is what led us to the Replication Crisis in psychology. People needing a useful result, meant not enough people replicating experiments to see if the results held. Mythical results went years without anyone publishing they were bunk.

Proper Names

Fleur calls me Honey. I am sure it started as parroting my wife. But, she does it now as a replacement for Dada. Well, when she wants my attention.

Fleur: Daddy.
Hoooonnneeeeeeeeeeyy!

Actually, you know what? That latter is similar in approach to how the wife calls the teen. Booooboooooooooooo!

Fleur has taken to calling the male Little People toy in the toy house “Honey” too. I need to observe the name she has for the female. Curious if she has a name yet. I am also curious if she will call other adult males Honey. (And their reaction to it.)

The first toy I noticed she named was an annoying unicorn that makes noise. We never named it because, honestly, we hoped it would disappear (burn in a fire). Fleur named it Lady. Same as a dog down the street she loves to visit.

I ponder often the psychology of names.

  • They occupy space in our brains. And they seem important due to processes in the brain encoding and retrieving them.
  • Our language seems built around labeling things. English has a subject and an object, both of which are “things” and the verb saying what we are doing with the things. So we need nouns to identify and distinguish between the things with greater and greater accuracy.
  • I think what I like most about science is the precision I gained in thinking about what things are by developing ever increasing vocabulary about them.
  • We start with physical things and move into more abstract. I call myself a technologist which is not an actual object. It is a job title with a loose and very subjective sense of duties.

Empathy

The pandemic has allowed us to have evening walks. We get to meet our neighbors.

The other day one of the neighbor children fell and was crying. Fleur was most distressed about the other child being in pain. It took quite a bit of reassurance and the other child no longer crying to pull Fleur on her way.

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Humans are social creatures. We attend to even the distress of a stranger. It bodes well Fleur was distressed. Right about now is when we should be seeing signs of autism.

Autism more has issues with shallow empathy or reading the emotions on another’s face or tone. Once they cross the bridge keeping from the shallow empathy, they are able to feel deep empathy. This deep empathy is the ability to feel the emotions of others, a merging of identities.

Top shelf

As Fleur gets both taller and better at climbing, things seem to migrate to higher places on the shelves. This of course, makes them top heavy. Obey gravity: It’s the law!

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The wife and I are not in total mutual understanding of what should be up there. For instance, I put the coffee creamer with fake sugars up there. The normal creamer I didn’t as there wasn’t room in the spot, so all five containers were opened as she didn’t find them in the lower spot.

Really, that just encourages her to try to climb to get things put out of reach. Better, is for things to disappear. Out of sight, out of mind, out of screaming at not being allowed to have it.

The same trick works with toys. Things she has not played with can disappear. When they reappear, they are new and fresh and must be constantly played with.

Cargo shorts II

I previously wrote about cargo shorts. But, really, I have different kinds of shorts.

  • Cargo shorts have side pockets on the down near the knee.
  • Utility shorts have one a “tech pockets” for a phone plus maybe a zippered pocket or two.
  • Carpenter shorts have a loop for carrying a hammer plus another for pliers or similar sized items like a phone.

It occurred to me that I could use a carabiner clip on the carpenter hammer loop to carry a water bottle.

So, yes, my brain normally looking at efficiency has morphed into how to make dealing with toddler life efficient too.

WFH with a Tyrannical Toddler

Our world…

Developmentally speaking, “2 years old might be one of the roughest ages” for social distancing, says Arthur Lavin, a pediatrician in Cleveland and chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health. A 6-month-old offered peas for dinner either wants them or not, but a 2-year-old knows something tastier exists. It’s the age of challenging the world, making vague demands and feeling intense emotions at every turn.

Expert advice for sheltering in place with a tyrannical toddler. Washington Post, On Parenting. By Veronica Graham. April 1, 2020.
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The article goes on to advise parallel play…

  • Stay close and present
  • Keep up physical contact
  • Pick toys that encourage exploration and imagination
  • Scale back on toys

I think we have done pretty well. Fleur spends time with me on conference calls. I will turn on the video so she can talk to early bird coworkers before a call starts. She gets bored pretty quick on moves on to something else adjacent to me.

Placebo First Aid

Every incident requires a bandaid. A wipeout in the road causes a scrape. The fix is a bandaid. An imperceptible maybe jammed finger requires one too. It hurts. Therefore it needs a bandaid.

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In this case, causation doesn’t matter. What matters is how to make it feel better. Early on, I found much success in kisses. They were an accepted method of restoring health for not serious wounds. The more real injuries Fleur obtained, the less acceptable kisses were to hurts.

Placebos are powerful tools for healing. The brain being suggestible can run with them and cause impressive healing. Medicine accounts for them in efficacy studies as any time the patient believes in the cure, they can heal.

Our placebo bandaid are a cheap box of 100 I found. They barely stick. And fall off after a few hours. Just after the toddler has forgotten about the injury. In fact, if the complaint persists past the placebo bandaid, then I misjudged the injury.

Tangible

Itsy Bitsy Spider is a favorite Fleur song. Sitting on the porch after a rain, I thought it would be good to connect it to tangible things. Rain drops still fell. The yard was bright with sunshine. And at the end of the porch was a gutter, aka water spout.

I sang the the song and pointed to the drain and explained it was a water spout and sang the song again. She looked at me and the gutter and did the hand motions for the song. The excitement just grew about there being a spider specifically in the water spout attached to the house.

She had to tell Mom all about it. And brother.

When do we get to the part of language where we explain the use of metaphors and simile as explanation tools?

People!

Ms. Fleur’s Neighborhood:

We go on a walk every day in the neighborhood. Well, less so now that summer has arrived. The available time will get earlier and earlier every day that we can without needing to take a shower right after it.

Fleur has gotten to know the neighbors. We are all starved for social interaction. She gets excited to see people. Familiar neighbors or strangers, it doesn’t matter they are people.

She is human. (More so than me.) So as a social creature, she craves social interaction.

How to Raise a Science Lover

The best place to begin would be trying to make science something that you discuss within you home on a regular basis. This will familiarize your child with the subject, making it feel less daunting, while also showing them how interesting it can be and how important it is in the real world. You should also try and encourage curiosity within your child, by answering any questions they have about the world around them to the best of your abilities. There may be times that you don’t know the answers, but rather than shrugging it off, it would be better to help your child do some research and figure it out together.

How to Raise a Science Lover. The Stevenson Life

We have a good start. We have a good library of baby books that tackle scientific subjects. And, I enjoy connecting those to real life. When there is a fall, after the crying, we talk about gravity or friction. The effect had a cause, so I am pointing the attention to the cause.

The issue I have is with the concept of science as answer regurgitation. The challenge will be developing the understanding the Scientific Method. Question, hypothesis, prediction, test, evaluate. Plus data recording, replication, peer review.

The really entertaining part is she has a focus on causation. Science methodically seeks to explain it.