When I’m preparing a meal I will often put a pan of water on to boil. This is not a difficult task but still remains one that opens up the possibility for severe disagreement between my wife and I. I will always opt for the low energy route and leave the lid of the pan off while the water comes to the boil; in my scientist’s head the extra heat required to heat up the lid as well as the pan and water, even if it is a small amount is just for the sake of it worth saving.
My wife, of course, disagrees vehemently and says no in no uncertain terms. The water will, obviously, come to the boil much more quickly if a lid is placed on the pan during the boiling process.
And there you have it, the reason that scientific knowledge is hard to get across on occasion. I have, as a science teacher, made a few (all right, I’ll admit it, lots of) attempts to explain that using some of the energy from the cooker to heat up the lid as well as the pan and ghe water will reduce the energy available to bring the water to the boil. As evidence that I’m wrong, however, my wife tells me what her mother does or refers to an article in one of those magazines published by our energy provider which clearly says put a lid on the pan while cooking, for example, soup or stew.
Touché one might think. However, it’s not as simple as that.
Firstly, I’m not silly enough to even contemplate the possibility of correcting my mother-in-law on how to do things in the kitchen. I have only one life. Secondly, the magazine article refers to an extended cooking period, I am always referring to the time required to bring the water to the boil. My wife doesn’t see the difference and, try as I might, she will never see the difference because seeing the difference is not useful knowledge for her. She has a knowledge of cooking that requires putting the lid on the pan. She learned it from her mother – who’s an excellent cook. She trusts her mother’s opinion more than the opinion or calculations of science. Here endeth the lesson.
This is the same argument that I made in a different way in my post, ‘Falling on your…’.
My wife’s folk knowledge trumps science unless the scientific explanation results in a clear advantage and also that someone that my wife trusts for an opinion on that matter holds the same opinion as the scientist. Knowledge transfer and acceptance works like that.
When my wife’s not looking I’ll leave the lid off the pan. Otherwise, it’s not worth getting burned about.