Zumwalt Poems Online

“Knowingly, and unknowingly, I relentlessly measure everything you do,
And that’s okay, as long as I don’t then pretend that I have ever measured you.”
— Zumwalt

“Accuracy of observation is the equivalent of accuracy of thinking.” — Wallace Stevens

We can observe what one does or what they have.

We cannot observe who they are.  We are basically limited to observing what they do and have. And usually, we only see a very small percentage of that.

But even if we saw everything, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, we would be left with only seeing manifestations and phenomena, not the essence of who people truly are.  We may know it’s safe or dangerous to be around this or that person in this or that circumstance, but we have no direct understanding of those people, we make the leap from observing what they do to who they are.

So its pointless to compare ourselves to others.  We can compare what we do to what someone else does.  Or we can compare what someone has to what we have.  Just don’t fool yourself that you can compare yourself to anyone else.

The truth is that you cannot measure anyone.  You can measure their body. You can measure the size or weight of their brain, their heart, their stomach.  With the right equipment, you could even count the number of neurons in their brain, the number of synaptic connections, and, if using top-of-the-line (though still futuristic) equipment, the number of neurotransmitters and their motion and chemical composition.

To say the heart, the stomach or the brain is the person is a large leap of illogic and foolishness.  To say the body (containing the heart, stomach, brain and several gallons of water) is the person is also not true.  Maybe removing an appendix, a few skin cells, a couple of liters of water, or consuming a bit too much at a cruise ship buffet changes the viewpoint or experience of the person , but so can reading a book or watching a movie or interacting with someone else — and we don’t confuse the books on your bookshelf or your friends and family with you.  Or do we?  Yes, we often do! Since we cannot observe you, we observe things around you and use these are proxies for measuring you.

Be careful that what you observe is relevant to what you evaluate.  Do not observe the behavior of ducks in the park and assume that you have collected pertinent data to evaluate the behavior of wolves in the wild.  Do not observe the behavior of a person, and assume that you can evaluate the person: you can only evaluate their behavior.

Data seduces us.  We see data and we sometimes don’t stop to see if this data is relevant, complete or appropriate for our analysis.  Our process of drawing conclusions may be sound, but if we are not observing what we need to observe, then we cannot expect valid comparisons or evaluations and this in turn will impact our understanding and any subsequent action.




Comments on: "Thoughtful Thursday: Observing, Comparison and Evaluating" (3)

  1. A very interesting point about Observation and so many people can quite often be quick off the mark when judging a person too or other people so to speak.

    Can one really know what’s inside the mind of your best friend and neighbour. Speaking from personal experience I think not. Simply because anything at one particular point in their life can change them or ourselves for that matter.

    For example from my own personal experience one perhaps can never judge a book by it cover and one can also never know who they are really living next door too.

    Many moons ago now when I was around 20 years old and out of work. My next door neighbour offered me a job helping him out during summer with some outside painting work to tie me over till I found another job.

    To be honest I always got on with this neighbour and his family. He had a lovely wife and 2 lovely daughters around the age of 11 and 13. He himself would of been around the age of 36 at the time.

    Well about a year later his wife fell ill and she died of cancer. I was working somewhere else by then. I was still living at my moms house next door to him and we had known them for a good 12 years. But even after his wife died both my mother and myself used to chuck on him from time to time to see if he was OK. He appeared to be OK and he was what appeared to be a wonderful family man who loved his wife and children very much.

    It was around 9 months after his wife had died that both me and my mother noticed the police pull up and go to his house next door. The social services had also been called out and for the life of me I could not understand what was going on.

    That day was the last time I ever seen my neighbour and his kids. We later found out that he had molested his own kids was sent to jail and his kids were put into care.

    I would of never ever expected him to do that in a million years and the only possible conclusion I can think of any reason as to why he did such a thing. Was that something must of snapped in his brain when he lost his wife.


  2. You have a very interesting blog. I am enjoying your posts very much, thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: