AARON is standing next to a sidewalk, walking backwards while looking at a street sign. While he does this, he IMAGINES:


AARON is standing next to a sidewalk, walking backwards while looking at a street sign. As he does this, a CUTE GIRL walks by. GIRL: Whatcha doing?

AARON: Eye exercises.

GIRL: Eye exercises?

AARON: Yeah, I do eye exercises so I don’t have to wear glasses.

GIRL: I thought needing to wear glasses was something you were born with.

AARON: That’s a common misconception. It’s true, some people are born with weaker eyes than others, just as some people are born with weaker legs than others. But if a baby doesn’t start walking when he’s supposed to, we don’t immediately put him in a wheelchair! We let him practice and exercise until his legs get stronger. Eyes work the same way, the only difference is that most people take the wheelchair route instead of exercising.

GIRL: Well, most people probably don’t know about the exercises. But I still don’t understand. When you exercise your legs, you’re making your muscles stronger. But how can exercising change your eyes?

AARON: Your eyes have muscles too. For example, one muscle controls the lens that allows to change focus between things that are near and far. I’m nearsighted, which means that muscle has gotten weak from looking at too many things up close, like books and computer screens. So I do exercises to strengthen it.

GIRL: So how come eye doctors don’t usually tell people about these exercises?

AARON: Sometimes it’s because they just don’t know about them. Sciences are resistant to fundamental changes in theories. When people see results that support a new theory (and not the way they think about things) they tend to assume the results are wrong and throw them out. But also pushing glasses helps make them money: you have to spend a lot on regularly seeing an eye doctor and then spend more on getting the right set of glasses determined, made, and purchased. If all you needed to do was eye exercises, you could just spend a couple dollars on a book that explained them!

GIRL: Wow, it’s amazing how scientific inertia and entrenched self-interests combine to hurt such a large percentage of the population. Thanks for explaining it to me.

As the dream sequence FADES AWAY, a CUTE GIRL walks by.

GIRL: Whatcha doing?

AARON: Composing a weblog entry.

posted November 26, 2003 01:20 PM (Personal) #


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Aaron Swartz (me@aaronsw.com)