Sunday, February 9, 2014

Technology and the Parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant

In the parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant, each man feels a different part of the elephant and when ask what an elephant is, responds

  • "An elephant is like a rope" (the tail)
  • "An elephant is like the trunk of a tree" (the leg)
  • "An elephant is a wall" (the body)
  • "An elephant is like a spear" (the tusks)
  • "An elephant is like a hose" (the trunk)
Nature provides us many amazing things and our finite human minds are sometimes like the blind men.  We can't always see how all of the pieces fit together.  A classic example is early attempts at using baby formulas.  The percentage method was used to achieve what was thought to be the correct ratios of nutrition for baby formula.  The result was scurvy, rickets, and other dietary related diseases. [1] .  It would be like using just the right ratio of rope, tree trunks, walls, spears and hoses to try and duplicate an elephant.
Eventually baby formula was improved, but mother's milk is generally accepted as the best for infants.

Still, we continue to look to technology to solve our problems.  I'm not saying all technology is bad.  I'm saying that technology has advantages and disadvantages and we might not be fully aware of the unintended side effects.  Rather that write an exhaustive thesis about this, I decided to share drawings that show a modern twist to the parable of the "Elephant and the Blind Men".  Please "like" on Facebook and "tweet" or "text" to a friend.