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Are Clouds a Social Construct? The Natural History Museum Investigates

In BRA/Race Hustlin' on July 27, 2011 at 5:46 pm

More on Clouds: Are They So Different is on view at the Natural History Museum

First, some background for you ignorant, hate-filled, redneck simpletons:

“Supervaluationism also provides a relatively popular way to solve Unger’s ‘Problem of the Many’. Suppose you look up on a reasonably clear day and report that there is one cloud in the sky. The cloud you are referring to does not have sharp boundaries – there will be droplets of which it is unclear whether or not they are part of the cloud. The problem is that there seem to be too many things in the sky on that apparently one-clouded day, that each looks to be perfect candidates for being clouds (they have the right composition etc.). For, you could compose candidate clouds over and over again by including different sub-sets of those penumbral droplets. The supervaluationist response can recognize all these objects as candidate clouds, leaving it indeterminate which is to count as the cloud.”
Vagueness: Supervaluationism, Rosanna Keefe, University of Sheffield, © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd

Ok, that’s probably over your empty, racist heads, so let’s have the brilliant blokes over at the taxpayer-subsidized (70%!) Smithsonian institute break this sh*t down for you, you homophobic inbred hate-mongering extremists.


Clouds and cloudism are complex subjects, but the Natural History Museum takes them on with energy and zeal in a new exhibition, Clouds: Are They So Different? The show is the first national exhibition to spell out the construct of “clouds” and all that it encompasses from a meteorological, cultural and historical point of view.

Meteorology acknowledges the fact that water vapor is different and seeks to examine the historical consequences of the idea of “clouds.” Visitors can participate in a number of activities and view different materials that help show the impact of clouds and explain the history of clouds as a meteorological concept. The exhibit is staffed with volunteers trained to encourage dialog and reflection. One of the volunteers, Katydid Harping, explained some of the more complex ideas behind the exhibit.

Harping, who is completing an undergraduate degree in American Studies at George Washington University, underwent up to 30 hours of indoctrination training to staff the exhibit, learning about the content of the show, strategies for engaging visitors and addressing various cloud-related issues.

Clouds: Are They So Different? tackles the issue of clouds and cloudism, which can be tricky subjects sometimes. What have been your experiences with clouds thus far in the exhibit?

There have been some guests that felt objection to certain parts of the exhibit, particularly in the science content, but overall I would say that the reception from the public has been enormously positive. I have talked to many families in the exhibit who have faced, in their lives, many of the issues the content covers, and who have been happy to see such issues addressed in such a prominent forum. And they too have added a great deal to the exhibition. Through their willingness to engage with facilitators and museums guests their own diverse and unique stories have greatly enhanced what Clouds is trying to do.

Clouds and cloudism are important issues in society but are often overlooked, why address them?

Problems never get solved by ignoring them; great social change is never the product of complacency. By bringing the issues that come along with clouds to the forefront, we are providing an opportunity for people to better understand not only the history and sociology of clouds, but each other. I truly believe that it is that understanding that is fundamental to human progress in terms of weather relations.

The exhibit seeks to show that clouds are not rooted in physics. Why is this an important piece of propaganda “fact” for people to know and understand?

By discussing the physics—or lack thereof—of clouds, we eliminate the argument that there is something fundamentally, on a molecular level, different about clouds. We are then left to explore what those other social and historical factors are that led to the development of clouds as we know them today.

There have been atmospheric conditions of all water vapor configurations during the exhibition. Does that emphasize the point of the exhibit at all?

While the exhibition is designed to enrich even the most homogenous of water vapor configurations, the diversity above the exhibit was excellent, and in many ways it does highlight the undercurrent that runs under everything in the exhibit, which is that clouds are still a very present and very important thing in this country.

If there was one thing that every exhibit visitor should take away, what would that be?

That clouds are not inherent in the laws of physics, but rather a social construct developed over time, which continues to be a strong and ever present force in our country and in our lives.

Clouds: Are They So Different? will run until January 2, 2012. Volunteers are in the exhibit most days engaging visitors, answering questions and encouraging thoughtful conversation about the question of why water vapor configurations are different, as well as helping visitors explore the exhibit.

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Is Race a Social Construct? The Natural History Museum Investigates