Mesofacts: slowly changing information

I have a new article in the Boston Globe Ideas section this weekend entitled Warning: Your reality is out of date. It’s about mesofacts, a term I coined to refer to facts that change on the order of a human lifetime, and which we are not well-designed to recognize as changing.

To help further awareness of this slowly changing knowledge, I have also created a companion website about mesofacts at

7 Responses to “Mesofacts: slowly changing information”

  1. Marc February 28, 2010 at 11:52 am Permalink

    I am a bit disappointed by Mesofacts, probably because it resembles Trivial Pursuit. And I write this not in an unfriendly manner. I thought you would be referring to cognition rather than stats gathering, for when you write “I coined to refer to facts that change on the order of a human lifetime, and which we are not well-designed to recognize as changing”, it could refer to a lot of things beyond mere stats & graphs. Although it remains important to be up to date if one needs to be so up to date about fact & figures, it is more relevant to think about the need of the plasticity of the brain not only in gathering infos but more importantly in terms of analysing them. What do you think? I mean, don’t you think there is more potential in seeing things in that sense as well?

  2. Bob Nilsson February 28, 2010 at 12:22 pm Permalink

    Unfortunately, the article propagates some meso-fiction. Although it has the makings of a convenient analogy, frogs will jump out of a pot of water long before the boiling point is reached; no matter how slowly you increase the temperature. See

  3. Samuel Arbesman February 28, 2010 at 7:07 pm Permalink

    @Marc: You are definitely correct that thinking about the plasticity of the brain is important. I was more interested in the nature of facts and statistics and how quickly they change, but thinking about how we perceive knowledge is also very important and definitely merits thinking about.

    @Bob: Thanks for this. It is unfortunate that frogs do not obey useful analogies.

  4. Stefan March 3, 2010 at 4:18 pm Permalink

    Seems somewhere you need a link and comment on the Shift Happens series of videos –

  5. Samuel Arbesman March 4, 2010 at 4:18 pm Permalink

    @Stefan This is great! Thanks for passing this along.

  6. Christopher Ammons March 4, 2010 at 7:08 pm Permalink

    Wow, definitely a blog I am going to follow and make comments on. Wonderful!

  7. Jon H March 4, 2010 at 10:18 pm Permalink

    The frog thing is only true if much of their brain has been removed.