Human Extinction Dictionary (HED) Word of the Week: Myopic


adjective | mye-OH-pik

Derivation: Myopic derives from the Greek myōps, which comes from myein (meaning “to be closed”) and ōps (meaning “eye, face”).

Common Definition: Lacking in foresight or discernment : narrow in perspective and without concern for broader implications

Synonyms: unimaginative · uncreative · unadventurous · narrow-minded · lacking foresight · small-minded · short-term · narrow · insular · parochial · provincial

Commentary: Myopic narrowness results from an active or passive ignoring of multiple salient factors in a situation or action, thus blinding a person or group to its broader and more nuanced topographies.

‘Myopic’ is a relative term. A person, or group of people, may be myopic in one area of experience but not another. As might be expected, we tend to think of other groups and other people as being myopic, the religious and political right for example. But much of science is also myopic, and necessarily so, in that controlled experiments are ipso facto self-limiting.

“Demands for rigor and depth of scholarship obviously rank as some of the most important standards applying to . . . inquiry. The task of meeting these standards becomes more manageable as the field of inquiry narrows. Such a result can be legitimate but sometimes myopic and impoverishing.”

It takes more than science to ‘tease-out’ multiple salient factors in real-world situations. It requires an imaginative sifting and synthesis of relevant knowledge, data, and ideas, bringing together knowledge from many fields, seeing patterns and associations that may not be visible or altogether obvious to others who have access to the same information. Importantly, such imaginative syntheses may often be expressed in rich, but unusual, non-linear ways.