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How Description Results in Understanding


Describing one thing with accuracy forces you to study extra about it. On this method, description could be a software for studying.

Correct description requires the next:

  1. Remark
  2. Curiosity about what you’re witnessing
  3. Suspending assumptions about trigger and impact

It may be tough to stay with describing one thing utterly and precisely. It’s laborious to beat the tendency to attract conclusions based mostly on partial info or to depart assumptions unexplored.


Some programs, just like the ecosystem that’s the ocean, are complicated. They’ve many shifting elements which have a number of dependencies and work together in difficult methods. Attempting to determine them out is daunting, and it might probably appear extra sane to not hassle making an attempt—besides that complicated programs are all over the place. We reside our lives as a part of lots of them, and addressing any world challenges entails understanding their many dimensions.

One approach to start understanding complicated programs is by describing them intimately: mapping out their elements, their a number of interactions, and the way they modify by way of time. Complicated programs are sometimes difficult—that’s, they’ve many shifting elements that may be laborious to determine and outline. However the overriding characteristic of complicated programs is that they can’t be managed from the highest down. Complicated programs show emergent properties and unpredictable diversifications that we can not determine upfront. However removed from being inaccessible, we are able to study loads about such programs by describing what we observe.

For instance, Jane Jacobs’s complete description of the interactions alongside metropolis sidewalks in The Loss of life and Lifetime of Nice American Cities led to perception about how cities really work. Her work additionally emphasised the multidimensionality of metropolis programs by demonstrating through description that trying to handle a metropolis from the highest down would stifle its adaptive capabilities and negatively affect the town itself.

One other e-book that makes use of description to light up difficult and complex relationships is The Sea Round Us by Rachel Carson. In it she chronicles occasions within the oceans, from the cycles of plankton development to the motion of waves, in accessible, evocative descriptions. It’s no bother to conjure up vivid photographs based mostly on her phrases. However because the e-book progresses, her descriptions of the elements coalesce into an appreciation for the way multidimensional the ocean system is.

Carson’s descriptions come by way of a number of lenses. She describes the ocean by way of the habits of animals and volcanoes. She explores the ocean by describing its vertical integration from the floor to the depths and the underside. She seems to be on the oceans by way of the lenses of their currents and relationships to wind. In complete the e-book describes the identical entity, the seas that cowl nearly all of the earth’s floor, by way of 13 totally different descriptive lenses. Though the elements are damaged down into their fundamentals, the great view that Carson employs permits the reader to simply grasp how difficult the ocean system is.

Not one of the lenses she makes use of impart full info. Attempting to understand how interconnected the elements of the system are by taking a look at simply her description of tides or minerals is unattainable. It’s solely when the lenses are mixed {that a} full image of the ecosystem emerges.

The e-book demonstrates the worth in description, even in the event you can not conclude causation within the specifics you’re describing.

One noticeable omission from the e-book is the function of plate tectonics within the motion of the ocean flooring and related phenomena like volcanoes. Plate tectonic idea is a scientific child and was not but broadly accepted when Carson up to date her authentic textual content in 1961. However not figuring out plate tectonic idea doesn’t undermine her descriptions of life on the backside of the oceans, or the affect of volcanoes, or the altering form of the undersea cabinets that connect to the continents. Though the reader is invited to ponder the why behind what she is describing, we’re additionally inspired to be within the second, observing the ocean by way of Carson’s phrases.


The e-book will not be an argument for a selected method of interacting with the ocean. It doesn’t have to make one. Carson’s descriptions supply their very own proof of how making an attempt to vary or handle the ocean system could be extraordinarily tough as a result of they reveal the multitude of connections between numerous sea phenomena.

Describing the entire from so many alternative angles illuminates the complicated. By chronicling microinteractions, corresponding to these between areas of cold and hot water or excessive and low stress, we are able to see how adjustments in a single side produce cascading change. We additionally get a way of the adaptability of the residing organisms that reside within the oceans, like having the ability to reside in depths that haven’t any gentle (and subsequently no crops that depend on photosynthesis) and adjusting biochemistry to reap the benefits of differences due to the season in temperature that have an effect on water weight and salt contents.

The reader walks away from the e-book appreciating the problem in describing intimately one thing as difficult because the ocean ecosystem. The e-book is stuffed with observations and quick on judgments, an method that encourages us to develop our personal curiosity in regards to the sea round us.

The Sea Round Us is the Farnam Avenue e-book membership’s summer season choice. Members get extra useful resource supplies to assist get essentially the most out of this fascinating e-book. Be taught extra or take part.


Victoria Joy
I am an independent lady, working hard to share my ideas from my experiences to the whole world. I want people to be happier and to understand that your life is very very important. Walk with me and experience the beauty this world can offer by following simple logical steps.


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