There's got to be a reason

FTLComm - Tisdale - Tuesday, January 19, 2010

This evening as I was looking over the various news stories around the world, two very different stories seemed to tag one another in my mind. One dealing with genetic research and the other, an essay on modern technological developments. Clearly, the two are in quite different realms, especially when you consider the focus of our attention has been on one of the world's most serious natural disasters in our life time that is taking place in Haiti.

It is part of our nature, all of us, not just those who sit around reading the news each day, but all humans long for simple understandable explanat-ions for things that they witness and know about, but can not quite fathom the causative factors involved. Though my undergraduate studies were in the humanities, I have always had a deep and abiding interest in the sciences and yet in those years it just never came through to me, that most things can and should be, explainable. But there were two clues that took me years to understand.

In my first year as a school principal in a remote Northern Alberta community very close to the 60th parallel, where the arctic nights see the atmosphere above, free of almost all particles and the sky is black. It was normal to get telephone calls all through the night from oil workers who were seeing for the first time the sky without the contamination of the lights of civilisation and each call I would respond by getting up and taking a look and then calling the guy back to explain a perfectly obvious phenomena of celestial objects and a crystal clear atmosphere. No UFOs were seen by me on those observations.

One day in a collage mathematical class, for once I had actually done the assignment and I questioned the interpretation of the solution that the professor was explaining. I said to him before a very large class, " I don't believe that to be the answer." To which the professor pointed out that a mathematical solution Mr. Shire is not a matter of faith.

You see from those two situations there is the implication that for most things there is a reasonable explanation and faith and superstition really have no part in explaining the way things are.

It was in graduate school that I really had my head turned around. I was studying psychology and becoming a working psychologist. It is implicit when dealing with human behaviour that every bit of communication is meaningful and that human behaviour is the result of volition. Things don't just happen. These principles I accepted but it was not until I was actively working with people as a counsellor, did I discover that even a little digging revealed amazing causative factors..


Whenever a discussion occurs that involves the invasion of computer technology into our lives, somewhere in that conversation someone will invariably say, "Just where is all this going." Followed by a profound shake of the head as everyone realises that cell phones, iPods, television on demand, cars that talk and respond to commands, are not fads, but are here to stay and this isn't the end, but only the beginning.

is introducing a new tablet device a week from tomorrow and a huge amount of speculation is going into just what this new product might do if it follows the patterns of the iMac, iPod, iPhone, iTunes and so on.

The greatest revolution in understanding the biological nature of life and in this discussion, human life, is the work that is moving very rapidly forward in genetics. Science has barely scratched the surface of this mystery and already it is producing amazing revelations.

The news papers around the world abound today with related stories to a rather obscure study of men in the United Kingdom. Most English men, all Irish men and most of the male inhabitants of Northern Europe come from a common ancestry. This is more than just some goofy stuff that explains how agriculture spread over Northern Europe it is a chromosome comp-arison that shows that farmers were a specific breed of people who passed on father to son and so on, their genetic material, that made them successful. While at the same time, the females of the same part of the world are genetically related to hunters and gathers.

This study shows and explains what historians and anthropologists have tried unsuccessfully in the past to explain the enormous success of Northern European people who heralded a way of making food abundant, hence making money, which in turn made it possible for industrialisation and ultimately, the technological conquest of the planet. Who would have guessed a chromosome being responsible?

In today's Guardian, Ian Sample in a short but clear article, Most British Men are descend ended from ancient farmers, tells the story that gives the clue to why the agricultural and thereafter the Industrial revolutions. Two other articles relate other aspects of this research, the Reuters story Europe's conquering heroes? Likely farmers: study and the Science Daily story, Most Modern europeans Males Descend from Farmers Who Migrated from the Near East.

The story about technology relies upon the past performance of the computer company Apple, as it predicts some insight into the future, while the stories about the chromosomes of Northern European men goes a long way toward explaining some very complex things, that up until now, were just conjecture. Now the "why" factor is more apparent. The moral of this little story is that as a society and as a people, we need to expend as much energy and effort as we can on education and research. We need to do that because the explanation of what is, will lead us to what will be, the communities to engage these pursuits will, with their new knowledge, lead in the future that will be created.


Timothy W. Shire


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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
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