Sour Grapes and Sweet Lemons

Illustration by Aofie-Fionn

Illustration by Aofie-Fionn

A famished fox saw some clusters of ripe black grapes hanging from a trellised vine. She resorted to all her tricks to get at them, but wearied herself in vain, for she could not reach them. At last she turned away, hiding her disappointment and saying: “The Grapes are sour, and not ripe as I thought.”

—Aesop, traditional fable, The Fox and the Grapes


The fox in this fable is very motivated to get her hands on some deliciously looking grapes. Unfortunately, she cannot reach them… In the end she turns her back to the grapes and comforts herself by thinking that they are not so ripe or desirable anyway.

Like the fox in the fable, if motivated, people bring judgments of desirability in line with judgments of likelihood. (How likely is it that a desired object is obtainable? How big is the chance of getting something and hence, how much do I want it?) A great article on this phenomenon is “Sour Grapes, Sweet Lemons, and the Anticipatory Rationalization of the Status Quo”.

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To be interpreted… Certain payments and activities in Virunga…

The New York TimesVery unfortunate, but maybe nothing new: Global Witness presents latest evidence that UK oil company SOCO has been involved in corrupt activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in and around Virunga National Park. Please see the following New York Times article (dd. 9 June 2015):


Whether it is about bribery or “facility payments” (these concepts and the “differences” between them are intriguing; shady and grey), it was – is – and remains a tricky situation in this magnificent, unique region of the world. Sad but true. It shouldn’t be like this. And it doesn’t need to be like this. There are multiple opportunities for sustainable development here…!

Limited minds… and (corporate) responsibilities?

Upon reflection, we can acknowledge that our human mind is rather limited:

We overestimate what we do know and we underestimate what we don’t know.


We humans take a lot at face value. We suffer from “black swan blindness” (as we mostly see white swans, we tend to think they are all white and we tend to forget about the black ones). We can even ignore “stampeding black elephants” if we want?! In other words, we can ignore very obvious facts that are in the face (please see the previous blog post dd. 25 November 2014).

Interesting questions that follow out of these facts are: How do we deal with reality? How do we (want to) see things? How much are we aware of our limitations? And how do we manage these limitations?


M.C. Escher

M.C. Escher Museum


In my prints I try to show that we live in a beautiful and orderly world, not in formless chaos, (…). I cannot resist fooling around with our established certainties. It gives me great pleasure, for example, to deliberately mix together objects with two and three dimensions, surface and spatial relationships, and to make fun of gravity.” – M.C. Escher



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National Geographic Junior

For my Dutch speaking friends:


the November 2014 edition of the Dutch National Geographic Junior magazine is out now!


With a great “Dare to explore” story on Yaya’s (ranger/guide in Bukima) and Anita’s (as reporter) visit to Virunga’s mountain gorillas.



NGJ NOV2014 front page

NGJ NOV2014 front page

Magnificent Virunga

Recently I gave several talks on Virunga National Park (some as an introduction to private screenings of the “Virunga” documentary) and I thought that a compilation of these texts could be interesting for the blog as well:


“Virunga” is a kind of “magic”, especially for the people who have been there or who know somewhat more about the place. Virunga grabs you, holds you. It is overwhelming. The natural beauty is just stunning. Everything is above any imagination in Virunga. That is true for the very best as, unfortunately, also for the very worst you can imagine. This wonderful region “East Congo” has been a troubled place since long.

Mountains of the Moon

Mountains of the Moon (photo by CTW)


This is a picture of the North of the Virunga National Park. Such mountains with glaciers and snow were probably not the first images you expected when thinking about this Park in Central Africa.

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