Look under the Light

I learned a lot from an illustrated storybook I received when living in Iran, called Once the Mullah.

The mullah lived in a village with this wife and children, and offered advice to the local denizens. He was sometimes wise and sometimes foolish.

In one story the mullah was searching for his keys under a lamp post. His friend walks up and asks where the mullah lost his keys, and he waves in the distance: over there. Perplexed, the friend then asks why the mullah is searching in this spot.

That’s where the light is, replied the mullah.

Turns out the same story is told in many cultures with different iterations but always the same rationale: we search for answers where there is light.

I’ve been spending my sabbatical catching up on the pile of reading that beckons. In the very first paper I retrieve I read a story about looking for answers where the light is cast.

The scholar is advising, in a playful way, to be open to theoretical viewpoints outside the light’s perimeter.

But how do you know what you don’t know?

Funny how we base our judgments on the light—the information—at hand. In fact, there’s a whole suitcase of knowledge beyond our immediate reach.

We just have to look.


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in framing, Native Science, science, science communication and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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