Magazine article Science News


Magazine article Science News


Article excerpt

Better early than never

I have two comments to add to the fine article about making decisions based upon less-than-total knowledge, "Simple minds, smart choices" (SN: 5/29/99, p. 348). It quite aptly starts off citing former big leaguer and current baseball analyst Tim McCarver on the need to go with one's first instinct. I wish to add McCarver's famous dictum: "Think long, think wrong."

The second comment I would like to cite is an old military adage about making choices under pressure and time constraints: "A good plan now is better than a perfect plan later."

Harold Gotthelf Jersey City, N.J.

Smart little buggers

"The search for animal inventors" (SN: 6/5/99, p. 364) opened my eyes. I started paying attention to nature and found that a common (brown) sparrow has adapted to benefit from us. In a parking lot, I saw a sparrow search the fronts of cars for morsels. It ignored the back end of cars. Then today at home, I saw the same type of bird land on a neighbor's porch railing under a roof. It fluttered up to where the light is and plucked a bug off the wall. The light is only on during the night when the birds are sleeping.

Scott Meyers Roanoke, Va.

Among animal inventors, there are the English blue tits who learned to peck open milk bottles and skim off the cream and the Japanese monkeys who learned to wash the sand off the sweet potato slices researchers left on the beach. Then, there were the Welsh sheep who learned to cross cattle grids by rolling over them on their backs. …

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