Why Fish Don’t Exist (Well, Not Quite, But Here’s an Alternative View) The title “Why Fish Don’t Exist”may make you wonder why fish don’t exist. We’ve all seen fish swimming in rivers, oceans, and even in our own aquariums, after all. However, Lulu Miller’s book “; Why Fish Don’t Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life”doesn’t address the actual lack of fish.

This book uses David Starr Jordan’s intriguing—and occasionally tragic—lifestory to delve into the fields of science and taxonomy. About 20 percent of all fish species are known to have been found and named by Jordan, a professional ichthyologist (fish scientist). In Miller’s work, the idea of “fish not existing” serves as a metaphor for the difficulties and ongoing change associated with scientific classification. The following are some ways that the seemingly ridiculous term illuminates the exciting field of scientific discovery:

The Changing Tree of Life: Historically, scientists have classified living organisms based solely on their physical attributes. For instance, fish were categorized according to their scales, fins, and gills. But thanks to developments in DNA analysis, a more intricate and linked picture of Earthly life is emerging for scientists. The boundaries between categories can become hazy, and species that we previously believed to be separate turn out to be more closely related than previously imagined. Thus, the conventional meaning of “fish” may need to be updated or perhaps rendered outdated as our understanding of lives evolve.

The Subjectivity of Classification: Classification is a fundamentally subjective process. What qualifies as a “fish”will vary depending on the standards we select. Can an air-breathing lungfish really be considered a fish? But what about jawless lampreys? These concerns become more complex as scientists learn more, underscoring the shortcomings of strict classification schemes. David Starr Jordan’s narrative, “The Loss of Innocence and the Beauty of Chaos,”perfectly captures the difficulties and victories of scientific research. A terrible earthquake interrupted his painstaking effort of identifying fish, destroying the whole collection. He was made to face the ephemerality of knowledge and the never-ending search for insight by this incident.

In a literal sense, the book”Why Fish Don’t Exist” does not refute the existence of fish. It explores the intriguing aspects of scientific discovery using this lighthearted idea. The following are some important lessons learned: 

Scientific knowledge is ever-evolving, making science a journey rather than a destination. Current paradigms are being challenged by new findings, and our current understanding of a subject may change in the future. Although this constant process can be difficult and nasty, it is also what propels scientific advancement.

Classification is Not an Absolute, Just a Tool: Although categorization aids in our understanding of the universe, it’s crucial to keep in mind that these systems are products of human creation. Natural phenomena rarely fit neatly into categories, and scientific classification is a work in progress.

Accept the Mystery: We still don’t know enough about the universe, which is a huge and complicated place. We might find beauty in the continuous process of research and discovery rather than being afraid of the unknown.



Therefore, the title “Why Fish Don’t Exist”serves as a reminder that scientific understanding is a dynamic process, even though fish are undoubtedly found in our rivers, lakes, and seas. It’s a tale about the incessant flow of information, the difficulties associated with classification, and the persistent human desire for discovery.

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