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Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Boiled Frogs

The toughest job in the world, and something impossible to frame correctly is talking technical to someone with no interest in technology or science. Sure, the occasional NASA spokesperson can go on TV and totally embarass themselves with the feigned excitement of the Beaver catching a prized bullfrog, but true wisdom seldom gets transferred effectively. Instead, people are transfixed by the spokes-person's excitement, much like an infomercial huckster can captivate an audience with some lame product.

On occasion, I have tried talking to some new acquaintance about some technical detail (as hit-or-miss as trying a cold-call in direct marketing). I recall one incident, where I was trying to convey the idea of variability in some physical effect. But instead of using the term variability, I used the term "fluctuation". I swear the person looked at me as if I was cursing at them in Cajun. End of conversation.

It occurs to me that if, and most likely when, the facts of energy depletion have to be imparted to the majority of the laypeople, the reaction will be like the frog slowly being boiled to death. Most will only start to catch on after it's too late.


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