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The Census of the Fishes

Mr. A.,
decided to count all the fish in the sea,
because he was interested....
So he went to the New England Fisherman's Association and said,
"I am going to perform a census of the fishes."

"Don't do that;" said the Fishers, "the government will regulate what we
catch. We won't be able to catch the fish that we catch today."

Mr. A. decided that he would find a more friendly reception among
environmental groups. "Can you imagine," said Mr. A. to the
Environmentalists, "that in 1997 we still do not know the number and
composition of marine life? Wouldn't you like to know about
millions of fish,
billions of crustaceans,
trillions of krill,
and a quintillion of copapods?"

"No, we would not," said the Environmentalists. "As soon as you identify
the populations, the Fishers will exploit them."

Mr. A decided that there must be a premium on ignorance, so he went to the
Cold War scientists who were out of work, because the submarines no longer
flowed from Murmansk. He said, "You have been counting submarines for 50
years, how would you like to count fishes?"

"We are concerned with opacity." they said, "We can treat each fish like a
submarine with a distinctive shape and acoustic signature. With the end of
the Cold War, technologies developed for looking for submarines are now
available for other purposes, and at a reduced cost. We can attach a line
behind a boat. It will trail the boat in a sine wave counting all the
submarines, er, fishes you wish. We can count the shallow and deep all over
the world.

"For years we have been writing algorithms to push the fish into the
background and bring out the submarines. Now we can push the submarines in
the background and bring out the fish.

Mr. A. felt relieved and reassured.