YOU SEE WHAT YOU LOOK FOR

THE CONTRARIAN

 

An oft-told tale concerns an experiment in which a group of kids was sorted randomly into two classes. One teacher was told that her class were all exceptional students, and the other was told that her class were a pretty dumb bunch.  The ‘bright’ class did much better than the dumb bunch, because they measured up (or down) to their teachers expectations.  Of course both groups were of equal ability, randomly selected, but both teachers saw and acted on what they expected to see, based on the prejudice planted in their minds.

If you want to do somebody dirt, plant the gossip that ‘he is cheap’, or ‘he is lazy’, or ‘he is a womanizer’. People will interpret his actions in accordance with the prejudice you have planted, and see what they expect to see, and his reputation is ruined, or at least besmirched.  Businesses like restaurants know that it takes 99 good impressions to cancel out one bad impression.

I was at one of those think tank sessions where we are supposed to come up with the magic formula to make northern Ontario grow like, say, Alberta, and I spouted my favourite soapbox lecture. That is, “the Colonial System is alive and well and holding us back, Toronto is the center, where all the smart, worthy people are, and we in the north are just rustic colonials who should stick to hewing wood and drawing water”.

“So, what is your point”, says one of the participants, “its true local people are rubes, the only northern people with any smarts are guys whose specialty can only be practiced here, like me, I am a wildlife biologist”.

He came with the city prejudice that he would see nothing but rustic rubes, and that is what he saw, even living among us for 20 years. Even though, with our big and sophisticated industrial base, a much higher percentage of our population has university degrees than in most cities.

And that is one of our big problems, too many of the people in leadership positions came here with prejudices, and only see what squares with those prejudices. In a very real sense, they are a ‘fifth column’, working against our best interests, albeit not intentionally.

A BC-based lobby group called “ForestEthics” sprang full-blown from nothing to national prominence a couple of decades ago, and their whole schtick is that the boreal forest is endangered and all development should be stopped. I love conspiracy theories, so I speculate that perhaps this is sponsored by BC interests to take the heat off logging in the rain forests there.  Or perhaps sponsored by the Men in Black as another part of the plan to clear us all out so the US can have our water.

Of course the boreal forest is doing just fine, in fact, thriving. Like all living things, trees grow old, and die and are replaced by new life.  This happens in the boreal forest by fire; modern forestry practices mimic that renewal, so the forest gets better, not worse.  This makes forestry in the boreal forest the most environmentally friendly of all.  Logs not cut in the boreal forest are eventually consumed by fire, and man’s need for that log is met by one cut in a disappearing rain forest.

ForestEthics is helped in their quest to destroy us by that ‘fifth column’, people who came here with prejudices. They will solemnly agree with ForestEthics that the forest is disappearing, “just go for a drive along the bush roads and see all the trees gone”.  They only see what agrees with their city prejudices, and so do not notice that the road they are driving on was built to harvest the forest, so of course it has been logged.  They do not notice that they are not looking at a desert, but a healthy growth of new, vigorous young trees, busily sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere.  They do not bother to know that the forest removed was old trees, deteriorating more than growing, putting CO2 into the air rather than removing it.

Just an example of how our education job is not just the city folk, but our own city transplants.

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