[Letter December 16, 1952]
I have been hobnobbing with the Navahos again: they have a remarkable insight into many things and that without the slightest trace of mysticism. One old Navajo gave me a very enlightening discourse on how they predict the weather, confirming the theory of the thing by a meticulously accurate prediction of the weather for the coming month – it came exactly as he prescribed. The secret of the thing is simply the first rule of the old Babylonian science: nothing occurs in a vacuum but all that happens is influenced by everything else – there is not just one clue to the weather, there are thousands, and when a general agreement becomes evident among only a dozen or so of these, e.g. the shape and height of the moon at rising, the state of the feathers on certain birds, the feel of some polished metal, the smell of the wind, etc. one can be absolutely certain of the predominant state of things as preconditioning certain states to follow. It never has failed, say the Indians, but the crazy white man with a battery of instruments and a bundle of charts makes very bad predictions (about 30% correct for Salt Lake Weather) because he is analytic instead of synthetic in his approach – he thinks it better to get a graduated reading of one single phenomenon than to respond to anything as vague as a general feeling for the whole situation. The wiser Indians are convinced that our science is shallow because of the shallow nature of our talk and our behavior: how can such people ever know what is really behind things? they ask. You may answer that.