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 August 2009 - Nr. 8
Hunny by David McKague

My Dog Teaches ... about Pebbles, Feathers and Cannonballs

You know what they say about generalities – "All generalities are false."

Of course, that statement is itself a generality. But did you catch the earlier one? Who, after all, is "they"? A few learned people? English teachers? Everyone in the entire world?

The problem with generalities is not that they happen to be "true" or "false". Much of what we know about the world we live in comes from extending our knowledge from isolated circumstances into the wider sphere. In fact, that is what Science is all about – trying to find the general law which is applicable to every situation.

When Leonardo da Vinci dropped a pebble and a cannonball from the Leaning Tower of Pisa and proved that they hit the ground at the same time, he was working with the "generalization" of the laws of gravity. The fact that a feather falls much slower has to do with another factor – air – and does nothing to disprove our generality of acceleration due to gravity. (As we learned in Science class, without air the cannonball, the pebble and the feather all fall at the same rate.)

So we use generalizations such as these continually and they help us put some order into our lives and make sense of the complex world in which we live.

No, the problem with generalities comes when we adopt one which is not true, or only partially true, and then cease to observe because "we have it all figured out". We learn by experience that we don’t have to worry about a falling feather, that a falling pebble will hurt us, and that we had sure better get out of the way of a falling cannonball! And because it is much harder to hold up a cannonball than a pebble, somehow it seems "logical" that it would fall at a faster rate. So it is easy for someone to make the assumption that the heavier something is, the faster it will fall without ever putting it to the test – without looking and finding out for themselves, in other words.

What does all this have to do with dogs? Not much. But perhaps it does give us an insight into how we can unwittingly take in a generality that is partially or completely untrue. After all, before da Vinci, the broad assumption, even among scientists, was that heavier things fell faster.

In the day to day business of living, things can get a bit more complicated. Dealing with inanimate objects is one thing. Trying to apply generalities to living things which can have their own individualities and responses is quite another.

And we also have the problem of information bombarding us from many sources – family, friends, associates, television, radio, newspapers and in recent years, the internet. Too much information often leaves us bewildered rather than enlightened. And if we were completely honest with ourselves, how much of this information do we actually assess for ourselves?

It’s all too easy, when we get a bit of news or information, to jump to unwarranted conclusions. When a headline screams out at us "MAN ATTACKS CHILD!" do we leap to the generalization that men must be dangerous? Probably not. But that is mostly because we have enough experience with men to know that the opposite is more likely to be closer to the truth.

But what if the headline reads "PIT BULL ATTACKS CHILD"? Now we are in much less familiar territory than "men". Is our first instinct to think "Pit bulls must be dangerous"? Unfortunately, many people will do just that even though (and probably because) they have no personal experience with the dogs. Other factors that may have been more important and relevant are ignored because one has adopted a generality that "explains it all". When someone comes to such a conclusion without direct personal observation and examination, they cut themselves off from further knowledge which could help themselves and others live better lives.

When we do make the effort to see the world directly through our own eyes, we may be surprised at what we find out. We may even experience resounding revelation like a cannonball crashing to earth.

"Instead of arguing with others, get them to look. The most flagrant lies can be punctured, the greatest pretences can be exposed, the most intricate puzzles can resolve, the most remarkable revelations can occur simply by gently insisting that someone look."
From The Way to Happiness by L. Ron Hubbard

Previous "Petitorial" articles by David McKague:

Editor’s note: I would like to encourage dog lovers everywhere to start a PETITION to have this law thrown out or revised to such a form where justice prevails. SFR.

Email to David McKague
David McKague talks about the pit-bull or pit bulls, pets, dogs, the duress put upon dog and the owners, especially through laws in Ontario, Canada, that affect and encroach on rights and freedoms of the individual, human rights, reputation of individuals and owners. David stresses the importance of being responsible and understanding when dealing with pets.

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