The ability to effectively communicate a complex idea is one of the many things that separate man from the lesser animals. Animals do communicate to a degree, like a dog that raises his hackles to make himself appear larger than he is to a potential foe, but complex communication is beyond their capacity.
Effective communication is something that fascinates me. It is what I try to do every week with this column. I aim to take an idea that I have in my sometimes feeble mind and communicate it logically to all who read this column. I try to communicate the thoughts that are in my mind, or at least some of them.
I've tried to communicate controversial ideas (to some) like why conventionally grown food is just as wholesome as organic food, why the philosophy of animal rights is flawed and why genetically modified foods are indeed a benefit to society and not the evil that some hysterical people paint them to be. When I communicate controversial ideas, it often makes people mad. If that is the case, one could argue that I failed since my goal is to communicate an idea, not an insult. Occasionally, some of the people whom I make mad will even communicate with me.
Some say that President Obama hasn't communicated very well with the American people about the economy. I think his communication skills are just fine; it's his economic policies that stink. It seems that I've just communicated my political leanings.
Communication in a weekly column, while important and fun, is not nearly as critical as some of my communication. I communicate with clients, mostly farmers, about problems they may have with an animal or maybe even an entire herd. Good communication can be the difference between a successful treatment and a failure. While failure doesn't happen often, it can be costly when it does.
Routinely, I have to communicate a complex disease process to a client in order to help him or her understand what's wrong with a cow or herd. In veterinary school, we had to learn scientific names for everything from anatomy to disease processes. It seems like a pain in the neck to the young veterinary student, but there's actually a very good reason for it.