The Human Perceptions Of Biological Systems

964 Words Sep 19th, 2016 4 Pages
The ocean in its vast mystique contains millions of species and covers most of our planet. Unfortunately, many people do not truly grasp the gravity of the depletion of biodiversity that has occurred over the years. This is due to shifting baseline syndrome and its prevalence in today’s society. What is shifting baseline syndrome, how does the exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History teach visitors the concept of “shifting baselines” and “shifting baseline syndrome” as it relates to conservation, and how does the museum as a whole communicate a conservationist message and promote conservationist values?
Shifting baselines syndrome “is a cautionary tale referring to changing human perceptions of biological systems due to loss of experience about past conditions” (Papworth). There are two forms of shifting baselines: there is “generational amnesia” where the younger generation is unaware of what happened in previous generations and the other is “personal amnesia” where the person forgets or remembers incorrectly what has happened to them. Jon Mooallem defines shifting baselines, as well as the different types, in his book, Wild Ones, by writing, “The phenomenon that Powell stumbled onto has a name: shifting baselines syndrome... Every generation of scientist accepts the oceans as it inherits them... when the next generation of scientists start their careers, they don 't see the oceans as depleted; that depleted condition becomes their baseline, against which they…
Open Document