The World Oyster Society

President's Messages

Because WOS is still a young society, we welcome diverse opinions in our developing stage. What I have been impressed with recently is that a member who has been a member since the society was established presented the criticism that “WOS is not like a normal academic society.” Certainly, if some have a stereotypic idea that this is what an academic society is, they might feel that the society has changed gradually into a different society for these 12 years. They harbor some concerns that it might have no prospects for future improvement if it continues on its course.

WOS, which accepts anyone who agrees with the purpose of its establishment irrespective of nationality, occupation, or qualification, might appear to be a rather motley club or circle of like-minded people. Nevertheless, it has among its members many researchers who have obtained excellent research results in their own fields of specialization. They also belong to some historical and traditional academic societies other than WOS and take leadership roles there. One must wonder why they belong to WOS and try to participate actively in IOS.

Conventional “academic societies,” as traditional organizations with professional specialists as their members, address objects and materials of studies and interests in a certain framework. For those reasons, they can sometimes miss some fresh fascinations which inhere in them. For example, one can imagine that a member might wonder about a research theme based on their experience and might propose a phenomenon that creates strong scientific interest. Then, many other members, who have had such special experience, might dismiss the proposal with a laugh, without listening to the proposer and instead saying that it has already been established as common sense or that the proposal is too crude. Such behaviors can be shown especially by those who lose sight of the basic tenets of science. We should all remember that it is in the field of the sea that buds of scientific inquiry exist. In the very event that only a single person among 1,000 members might happen to experience, a clue of a breakthrough might be hidden. If the other 999 members were to dismiss it with a laugh, they would be unqualified as a group of scientists.

Fortunately, valuable information that experts are less likely to experience because of their trained senses (a scientific bud) is available to WOS members, say through participation in IOS. This is the members’ privilege, which they would not have if they belonged only to conventional “academic societies” for professional specialists, to which they had belonged long before WOS was established.

The vision / mission of WOS cite the importance of “holistic appreciation” (seeing something holistically). I would like to be somewhat retrospective about why we started to emphasize it. When WOS was established two years after I retired Tohoku University, I was 66 years old. By then, over forty years had passed since I first started to dedicate myself to studying oysters. Fortunately, I was able to spend my life after retirement with my favorite subject, oysters, at the Oyster Research Institute. With such a life-stage event, suddenly, I wanted to look back upon my research achievements methodologically. What convinced me was that I had been repeating the following process: from the methodologically low stage in which I only described my own experiences, I advanced to a higher stage at which I consciously selected or classified and deductively analyzed them. Later I tried to move to a still higher stage at which I could seek the essence inductively, feeling sometimes frustrated or sometimes partly self-satisfied. In other words, I have enjoyed work of deduction and induction in my own way and on my own terms. Through that process, I might have obtained something of an ability to observe nature in a holistic way, as neither elementalistic nor reductionistic. Although I tried to fragment nature into smaller elements initially, before completing the task, I tended to go on to the relation between elements in the process.  This might result from such a fate for those who hope to touch as much as the order of nature through oysters and sea clams, while always considering contributions to fisheries.  That might be true because I keep it in mind that both academia and industries should undertake development hand in hand.

The current society surrounding us is confronting numerous difficulties: “global-scale warming,” “loss of life’s diversity,” “population increase and food,” and “rapid aging of the population.” All such difficulties should be resolved as global problems from global viewpoints. In other words, it is necessary to foster human resources able to respond to rapidly changing situations with the ability to think holistically. If they could see only their own field of specialization and have interests only there, they would be unable to tackle wider and general problems. Therefore, methods to educate future human resources at universities and in other venues will be examined further in the future. I believe it is great that the activities of WOS can contribute to it in some capacity.

Of course, even if I speak about the importance of “holistic appreciation” as founder, it goes without saying that all the members need not think the same way as I do. I only hope those who live with diverse thoughts in diverse ways love oysters.  What is important is that WOS will continue to provide common ground where different people in different positions are free to have profitable discussions to solve global food and environmental problems through oysters instead of merely remaining a club of people who love oysters as living creatures.

(October, 2019)

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