Leaf, prevented from leafing

NetFuture #153

Steve Talbot on the limits of predictability. I am quoting this passage, about an experiment on a leaf in a vacuum chamber, because it is similar about how experimentation on psychotherapy leads to “therapy, prevented from being therapeutic”.

It’s a remarkable achievement, but it comes at a cost. What appeals about the evacuated chamber is that it makes the entire event appear to be almost nothing but a predictable manifestation of the law of gravity. This is what the apparatus has been designed to do. But it achieves this by putting the leaf largely out of sight. It removes the leaf from its natural context and excludes from view most of what we would normally expect to see as leafy behavior. The leaf, you could say, must be prevented from leafing in order to show off just a single aspect of the lawfulness it always respects. We highlight the single aspect by training ourselves to ignore what it is an aspect of.

Leave a Reply