The Love Church
Department of Environmental Sciences
REPORT: "Whenever we study something,
we change it" --
Worldwide - interfaith and welcoming
Important ramifications to be
considered when pursuing scientific
--Department of Environmental
- There are so many mysteries in nature...
- There is so much that science needs to
study and understand....
- Yet, whenever we look closely and
grasp for understanding, we change the
object of our observations
"Our" Great White Egret, Gracie, Illustrates our thesis
When we purchased what has since become our research gardens, the previous caretaker told
our administration that a Great White Egret had developed a "habit" of stopping by each day.
"Stopping by"? Just happening to drop in Great White Egrets are wild, solitary, wading birds...invenerate fish eaters. They stand patiently
everyday?" our director asked suspiciously. These
elegant wading birds stand four feet tall and sport
a wingspan of five to nearly seven feet. Once, their
populations numbered in the millions but, a
hundred years ago, nearly all of them were
slaughtered to provide feathers for women's hats.
While they can be seen somewhat regularly today,
primarily in southern states, they remain a species
of special concern in our target project area of the
northern Florida Everglades.
in knee to hip-deep water, occasionally stirring up the bottom to disturb fish. Once the fish stir,
the Egrets make lightning fast precision stab, impaling the target fish in milliseconds.
The former caretaker of what is now our research garden admitted to our incoming team that,
until three years ago, he fed this traditionally wild bird little canned sausages and that is why
she would drop in each day!
Three years later, she is still at -- or inside -- our office door every day. She has been named
Gracie because she graces our day when she makes her appearance.
Our species recovery specialists
wanted a closer look and, although
warned not to actually feed her,
they opted to leave some food used
to live trap deadly Bufo Toads within
easy reach of our morning visitor.
They wanted to study her species
at close range, without changing her
It should have been no surprise that
Gracie comfortably strode through
the open door to our offices, walking
over to say "good morning" to Saint
Francis of Assisi (Patron Saint of
Wild Animals!) and then continued on, strolling completely uninvited into the office area,
wandering about and examining desktops for any thing to eat that would give her a break from
her accustomed diet of fish.
Studying Gracie did change her.
It is not unheard of for Great White Egrets to panhandle. Robin D. Bjork of National Audubon
Research Team in the Florida Keys reported as early as 1983 that Great White Egrets roosting
in the Florida Ten Thousand Islands and the Keys frequently flew to populated area to
supplement their fish diets with hand-outs from humans. Of note, Bjork found that there was
an identifiable 10% in reproductive success among the human-fed birds. "Between 71%
to 84% of these nests produced at least one young in the eastern bay compared to
63% in other areas of the bay."
EXAMPLE: When this little guy was studied, he
ended up in a Geico commercial!!! Well,
this humorous illustration points out how our
closeup examination of something changes
its future forever.
How the search for rare
lichens helped to imperil their
Amidst reports of a rare form of high
altitude lichen growing on the stony,
weather-beaten faces of several
mountains, researcher Allen Sposs set
out to study the phenomenon.
Climbing with sterile specimen boxes
and camera, Allen's "expedition"
changed the nature of his study object
in three ways:
- Footprints and attachments for
climbing spikes damaged the
rock face where the lichens grow
- In attempting to collect
specimens, a small clump of this
slow-growing alpine lichen was
inadvertently knocked loose and
Allen could do nothing but watch
as it was picked up in the strong
as it was picked up by the strong air currents and carried off.
- And, finally, the species was impacted by the actual gathering of the study specimens
Studying a client with emotional When providing psychotherapy to a depressed person,
issues changes those issues
one hopes for positive changes. However, when studying depressed persons in order to glean
scientific clues as to the genesis of the disorder (and possible new treatments), you are not
supposed to bring about change. But, it is the object of this thesis to demonstrate that the
mere act of studying a subject will change his or her affect. In research performed in our
Department of Social Work and Counselling in 2011, we routinely observed depressed persons
demonstrating no emotional affect during the initial sessions. However, as time progressed,
the majority of the subject began to smile more, dress in such a manner that connoted self-
esteem, and some even laughed and cracked jokes. These observed behavioral
observations, it must be emphasized, occurred with out the benefit of any therapy
whatsoever. The changes occurred, seemingly spontaneously, with no notable influence
from the researchers, who merely watched from behind a one-way mirrored window.
This was repeated as the study subjects visited over a period of seven sessions and,
sitting alone in a room, related the happenings of their past week into a recorder sitting
on a small table placed in front of the participants.
Further study is clearly indicated. A working theory is that the depressed subject were
changed by no greater input than the mere fact that they were being studied by our team. This
may have precipitated an increase in a sense of self-worth, being desired for some important
or higher purpose, and also, perhaps, by giving the participants "something significant" to look
Nevertheless, the participants in this small pilot study certainly appeared to be "changed" in a
directly observable way merely by their being studied.
How the behavior of a group of "average" people was altered
merely by being studied
In this pilot study, eleven volunteers agreed to come and sit alone in a room for ten minutes for
three consecutive days. That is all that was
required of them. (They were alone during this
experiment so as to not have social pressure or
desire for compliance/acceptance skew the
The subjects were ushered into a room that was
furnished with two chairs and two bulletin boards,
each containing several photographs. The pictures
on the right all represented joyful experiences
whereas the photographs on the left-most bulletin
board portrayed unpleasant or dark images.
During the first visit, the subjects were intentionally
seated in front of the unpleasant pictures.
During the subsequent two visits, the participants
were ushered into the same room containing the
same photographs, only this time they were
permitted to seat themselves.
During the visit on Day 2, four sat in front of the
"dark images" as they had the first time but,
interestingly, all four got up and repositioned
themselves in front of the bulletin board that
displayed the "happier" pictures.
During Day 3, the concluding day of the study, again the subjects were walked to the door of
the testing room and permitted to seat themselves as they wished. During this last visit to the
testing room, all eleven automatically sat themselves in the chair facing the pleasing pictures,
completely shunning the unpleasant ones.
There was no interaction whatsoever with our staff throughout the study. Yet, again, the very
process of being studied resulted in changes among 100% of the test subjects.
When tourists engage in whale watching
activities, their mere presence
precipitates changes in whale behavior.
English researchers at University of
Durham in England studied three pods
(groups) of killer whales in the waters off
the coast of Washington state. They
discovered that the whales lengthened
their calls whenever tourist boats were
nearby. The calls are extended by
approximately 15%, according to the scientific team. In previous studies, it was discovered that
humpback whales altered their communicating calls. What's more, nearby seabirds' songs
were recorded as having been sung at a higher pitch when the boats were near.
Again, no one swam with the whales; no one attempted to touch them; they were offered no
food. It appears as if the mere act of being observed (studies) caused the subjects to be
You may assist in the next phase of our Department of
Environmental Sciences studies
The various pilot studies reviewed above require additional
research. When you enroll in Saint James College Seminary's
Department of Environmental Sciences, you will have the
option to continue this line of investigation.
Or, perhaps, you would prefer to initiate a similar study in a
different context. For example, we discovered that a group of
monastery monks "prayed more fervently than usual" when
they knew that guest researchers were observing them.
simply "studied" --
interacted -- with
non-believers and did
nothing more? Would
the non-believers be
"changed" merely by
having been exposed to
love? Please read this