Sometimes I read articles, written by intelligent, educated people, that are quite banal and trite, and I wonder why. Why was a piece written and why was it published?
I'm not talking about pieces with which I disagree for whatever reason, but ones that seem to state the obvious and add nothing new to the human discussion.
Most recently, an article in The Boston Globe (Feb 28, 2010) by Samuel Arbesman, called "Warning: Your reality is out of date", fits the bill exactly. Arbesman has invented the term "mesofacts" to denote the kinds of facts which change slowly, rather than in quick fluctuation or not at all.
"Mesofacts are the facts that change neither too quickly nor too slowly, that lie in this difficult-to-comprehend middle, or meso-, scale."
I understand the range of rates of change. I think the term "mesofacts" is an interesting choice for the mid-range rate. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why the middle range is hard to comprehend. Surely, we see fast, medium, and slow change all around us all the time.
People age, probably not as slowly as many of us would like, but certainly as slowly as some of the meso-changes Arbesman cites. Compost decomposes; car bodies rust; glaciers form and melt; neighbourhoods decline or are gentrified. I know that my atlas showing the USSR and other no-longer-existing countries is out of date. And I don't find that hard to comprehend.
I wonder what is the point.
Is the piece really about continuing to be informed? - Arbesman does address what we think we know from our education and how those facts change. Is it the introduction of a new-fangled term that might catch on and make its inventor famous? Is there a book coming out?
I feel cheated by this kind of article and always suspect a hidden agenda.
I guess it's buyer beware. And maybe I'm just being naive in thinking that there should be a little more meat in the sandwich.