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“A whole dimension of completely weird, incredible things”

Errol Morris has this “Op-Doc” (Opinion-Documentary, as odd as that sounds) over at the New York Times. Technically, it’s about historical research, but I think the phenomenon holds true for biology, as well. As interviewee Tink Thompson puts it, “if you put any event under the microscope, you will find a whole dimension of completely weird, incredible things going on”. I’ve always loved Morris’ work. A lot of it deals with issues of knowing—how we know what we know, how we sometimes deceive ourselves, what evidence does or doesn’t say. Important issues for any scientist.

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    1. Arachnofool

      The umbrella ‘riffle’ is certainly a wacky idea. But if you were part of a team of men, and you wanted many people to shoot at the same time, at a moving vehicle, the sign of an open umbrella could be a clear and distinctive enough for all to coordinate. As in “fire when the car passes in front of a man with a black umbrella”. You could even call the whole thing off, simply by not opening the thing. I have no need for conspiracy theories, and simple explanations do suffice, but the version of the court session and the umbrella man’s testimony don’t explain the coincidence of location (why there, at that moment?), the sinister version does however. Also, not to be a thick head, but the face of the umbrella man didn’t seem visible to me from the pictures of the shootings, can we be certain that the man speaking at that court was the same who stood there? If so, are we certain he wasn’t lying? If I understand correctly, the testimony came after the question “can you come up with a not sinister explanation?”. A fabricated testimony is also a simple explanation, and more than ‘sinister’ I would say it is ‘common’. Or at least more commonly practiced than walking in the sun with an open umbrella or protesting in such a symbolic way without even a sign to clarify your statement. In any case, really good video, exciting reflections and the questions I make are only that, questions.

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