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Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Geology of Sociology (revised)

Geology is not all that different than Psychology, really. Admittedly, Geologists have a little more "science" on their side because experiments with the earth's properties tend to behave in more repeatable, thus, predicable, patterns than the psychological constructs of human personality. One thing common to both Geo and Social Studiers is that they examine subjects in "layers," one, with picks and shovels (if a river canyon isn't handy), and the other, with probing questions. So, in a sense, both dig for evidence... pealing back layers of time one by one... delving deeper into their subjects "history" for answers to today's questions. Perhaps Pearl Buck said it best, "If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday." So let's do that, let's examine yesterday, shall we, how my little tantrum ended up getting pal Boonie "burned at the stake."

You see, this is why Geology is a "science" and Sociology is not. Geologists can explain the past and predict the future based on experiments where outcomes are repeated, while Social "Scientists" can only take "educated guesses." Take "mob mentality," for instance.

If asked, each of you could come up with great examples of unpredicted mob mentality... how a victory, or defeat, in a football game can end up producing the same destructive result... riots, looting, police cars turned over, fires, injuries and even, death. In the "lab," a social scientist might predict that a "victory" would be celebrated peacefully and in good cheer. But those darn "variables," (alcohol) they are sneaky little buggers. 

Maybe yesterdays post didn't read to you the way it read in my pea brain. You understand how reading the same text with different voice inflections can spell the difference between seeming agreement or sarcastic disagreement, right? Well, let's just say the voice "inflection" didn't come through. One must be careful when inserting "tongue in cheek," the outcome is often "foot in mouth," or, worse, "head in ass." 

If you would be so kind as to take off your scientist's "lab coat," for a minute, and put on a Shrink's "bow tie," you might, as I did, find yesterdays comments instructive and interesting. Now I'm not about to draw your conclusions for you; I'm not a certified Therapist nor do I possess an "armchair" or "pulpit" from which to speak with authority. Still, if you would indulge this quack... take a second look at the comments... and then re-examine your newly drawn conclusions with the benefit of "hindsight,"  (the new information provided above). Keep the words, "mob mentality" in mind... maybe you'll catch my drift.

Please, don't think I'm being critical of your comments; after all, it was my words that lit the fuse. Besides, this blog would quickly die and fall into the Abyss without the fuel of feedback; it's the only reward this humble and "Adsense-less" blogger gets. 

As I look back on what was intended to be a tongue in cheek "Boonie Rant," I think of it as an interesting example of how unintended consequences can spring from group dynamics... sort of a Social Experiment gone awry in a Mad Blogging Scientist's Laboratory. I must say, it reminds me of a novel I read as a kid, "The Ox-Bow incident."

One thing Boonie is not, is a hypocrite. He lives an austere life by choice... no postcards, no fancy rig. All he needs is his dogs, Coffee Girl and Poncho, a roof over his head, and a desiccated wash to hike in. Sometimes I envy the simplicity of it all.      

Now, on to some real Geology. Join us on a Chinle Trail hike... out of the canyons for a change, and into wide open sunshine. Chinle Trail is by no means one of our "secrets," it's on the map of trails. That said, we discovered some pretty cool secrets beyond the end of the trail a few years ago... just doing what comes natural, wandering around like lost Israelites, looking for the Promised Land. 

Have a great Sunday... get outside for a hike or walk... and thank you for participating in the conversation. 
mark and bobbie... wandering the west.


  1. What a glorious hike with fun hiking companions! The 'just three miles one way' turned into a twelve mile hike making it a looooong hike for all but Bobbie who then proceeded to take her weights for another walk. Everyone else took a nap'ums. The pictures just don't do this place justice. It's incredible back in there! I want to go back and explore the the formations closer to the trailhead. Can we please? Can we? For a cookie? -Susan & Maikel

  2. I enjoy reading Boonie's blogs and will continue to do so. This is part of a quote from his last blog post - "mountain biking and hiking, with an interest in birds, photography, and geology". So do you think that he actually "hates" awesome views? Some people are just too serious about what they read on blogs.

  3. Well, I sure hope no one took my comments as burning Boonie at the stake, as they were also tongue in cheek and I enjoy reading Boonie's blog. He provides a persepective I enjoy even when I disagree.

    As for geology, if you hadn't said that was Chinle, I would swear it's Brushy Basin Morrison. But you can see the Navajo way above it, and the Morrison is on top of the Navajo by quite a bit. The Chinle is beautiful stuff. The petrified logs often trapped uranium and were highly prized by uranium miners. That's quite a log there. Beautiful photos, as usual.

  4. Susan and Maikel,
    Make those cookies oatmeal chocolate chip :))

    Point taken :))
    The Box Canyon Blog is an outlet for my "art." The writing and photography are my creations, and like most artists... and Boonie, I strive to be "different." Seems hypocritical to call him out on it, eh?
    thanks for for comment.

    Spotted Dog,
    No... actually you were more the "voice of reason" among the lynch mob :))
    You would notice the petrified log :)) There are some long intact ones you wouldn't believe...
    the casual hiker might just assume the are pretty colored rocks laying across the trail (mostly submerged). Didn't know about the Uranium.
    Thanks, mark.

  5. I had a habit of getting myself into the Bearpit on more than one occassion regarding a fellow Blogger's continuous rude, sarcastic, & caustic remarks. Stopped reading his blog nearly 2 years ago but finally became frustrated with his personality & repeated snipes & vented my feelings with his antics last June. I have since had mixed feelings about that post but if someone steps off the curb, walks across the street & directly slaps me in the face because of their own insecurities, jealousies, & personality flaws, I am probably going to up & smack that person right back.....one way or another. Like an Elephant, I never forget personal affronts like that. Right or wrong, it is the way it is & in the wise words of Popeye his very self....I are what I are:))

  6. Bayfield Al,
    I read that post a while back and knew exactly what you were saying and how it felt. And I wondered, because this happens to me, if you would regret parts or all of it at some point down the road. Of course, we all do... bloggers too. Some days my skin is a little thinner than others, and I end up throwing stones from my BCB "glass house." Not real smart, but it sure feels good at the time :)
    Thanks for easing my conscience a tad.

  7. Well, I am one of the lucky few to read the referred to post for the first time AFTER reading this one since I tend to check in infrequently. I try hard not to "react" to what other people say or do, but Boonie is the one blogger I found myself reacting to as well. He has a habit of making misogynistic comments that I finally couldn't ignore anymore and stopped reading his blog for that reason. Perhaps he's a nice guy in person, and perhaps he doesn't have as much disdain for women as he appears to, but I just couldn't stomach it. That being said, everyone enjoys different things when they travel. I have no idea what people see appealing in geocaching, but I keep my opinions on that to myself because it's rude to say so and crazy to expect everyone to enjoy the same things. Human beings are complex people with different brain chemistry that draws them to different things. That's what makes the world such an interesting place! Adding this hike to my list, of course!

  8. Mob mentality? Lynch mob? Wow! And here I thought people were trying to defend you and let you know how much they appreciated your blog and your photography----no matter what the other he-who-will-not-be-named guy thought :)


  9. Pam and Wayne,
    Re: "Human beings are complex people with different brain chemistry that draws them to different things. That's what makes the world such an interesting place!"
    I can't imagine a homogeneous population... boring, especially if everyone was like me :))
    Now where would you get the idea Boonie is not a big fan of women? hee hee. Oh yeah... from his blog. But I think you have to go back a ways. He might be changing a little... or just keeping his mouth shut tighter. :))

    No, I think you misunderstood. The "lynch mob" was not after me, they were after Boonie. It was amazing, all those readers willing to stand up and take a bullet for me :)) Kinda makes me tear up...
    Thanks, :))

  10. Sociology is like geology? nah, not even close. When asking a question changes the outcome, it is soft science, not "real" science. Sociology doesn't take things in layers but rather in boxes. The same way you take pieces of any problem to make doable jobs out of big, complex jobs. The trick is in knowing when how you ask the question changes the outcome and so the answers are less than definitive. Then one must probe further to figure out what is real and what is perception.

    I went back to read Boonies posts and really, I don't get the umbrage (except if you used it as a platform to opine your own ideas). Maybe its because I take all blogs as opinion pieces of the author's choosing. If I find the view interesting, I read, if not, I don't. I never expect the authors of blogs to only express topics of my interest. I expect them o write about what interests them. Also, the umbrage wasn't all that bad - just a bunch of people saying they don't like to read Boonie - which is their prerogative.

    Boonie does express some obnoxious opinions and stereotypical characterizations. But if I feel like engaging and call him on it, he quickly backtracks to more specific points. I suspect he is more curmudgeonly in his blog than in real life, but I don't know him.

  11. Tesaje,
    Actually, the metaphor was geology to psychology... delving into the "layers" of each to reveal answers to questions. Not the greatest analogy, tho, guilty as charged. Unlike my newspaper column, I don't waste my day refining blog posts to thesis levels... it's done in a rush so I can get outdoors and enjoy my "postcard" surround and collect some photos to share with readers (lookers). Admittedly, I don't get it "right" sometimes (some would say "rarely.") Ha.

    I did my best to backtrack a little because the post came off as more of a rant instead of a tongue in cheek piece. There is a "history" of Boonie and I going round and round about "postcards," not to mention several other things.

    Boonie is a friend (and a nice guy in person)... we meet up from time to time and keep our sabers holstered. One of the reasons I enjoy him so much is that he is different... an RV anomaly for sure. Boonie is a counter statement/argument to societal norms... he questions obvious accepted doctrines and, unlike most of us, looks at the world through a backward held magnifying glass which allows him to see the "whole." His blog persona is quite different than reality, actually.

    Thanks for your challenging. thoughtful comment :))

  12. I guess I should have read this post more carefully before we headed out on this trail. We needed to go further. We only got about 3 1/2 miles back. I wanted to go through the petrified forest. Wish we had kept exploring. But it was in the 80's that day. Your day looked a little cooler. Maybe a hike back when it cools!


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