A Tragicomical, Unsophisticated Blog about the Weird, the Absurd, and the Banal

Sunday, March 10, 2013


There is an article that I revisit every so often because it amuses and inspires me. Well, it's not really an article, exactly. Every year, the Edge magazine asks a few hundred scientists, artists, and thinkers to respond to the question "What is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation?" and last year there were 194 answers.

My favorite is from Prof. Tania Lombrozo of the University of California, whose brilliant response "Realism and Other Metaphysical Half-Truths" basically says that there are particular assumptions we have to make every day for our world to function, like Realism, Other-Minds, and Causation.

So, I thought I'd step back and evaluate my own deeply held and indefensible assumptions. To wit:

1.) ... Realism, Other-Minds, and Causation. Okay, not very original, but they are a few concepts that I find infinitely fascinating, particularly the latter two. You take for granted that you are not the only mind in the universe and that there is an external world, but there's no really good way of proving that solipsism is false much less ridiculous, but you do anyway. Why? Moving on.

2.) Linear continuity. Tomorrow will come. What I do now will have some effect on whatever happens next. Sort of causation, but a little more mundane. Whether I want to or not, I'm hurtling into the future and the past becomes richer and deeper while the there's a little less of what comes after. Eventually, I'll have to reckon with my procrastinations.

3.) Daily karma. No matter how many times I've seen the contrary proven, I can't shake this belief that suffering and hard work will ultimately pay off, even if the ultimate reward is completely unrelated to the work and suffering etc. Sort of against the idea of causation in a strictly logical sense, but works the same way, I think. Or maybe I believe in magic and just call it something else.

4.) Garlic and cloves can make anything tasty. Enough said.

5.) Eventually, I'll buy a house and have kids. So far, I have no idea how that will be accomplished, but I'll get there.

6.) The day I don't triple check to make sure I locked my car, apartment, office, etc. is the day I will find myself the victim of avoidable misfortune.

7.) If I don't record the date above everything I write in my notebooks, all semblance of order will crumble and something awful will happen.

8.) There's someone listening to my thoughts. I don't really pray, but I will make requests and try to bargain with some sort of divine appellate court. For an agnostic, it's very odd. So, I think as if I am composing a letter to someone.

9.) My car will start tomorrow. Hopefully.

10.) Eating spinach will miraculously improve my health.

11.) Probability is not as powerful as fairness. If I've flipped a coin ninety-nine times and it always ends up heads -and knowing that it is not weighted - I'm  certain the chances are better than 50% that it will fall tails next. It's just fair.

It's a Sunday afternoon and I've spent most of my time reading, playing video games, and cooking with Anna.  I have one less hour than normal because some bastard invented daylight savings. If I had my way, we'd fall an hour back every weekend.

This post is a day late. I am going to go cut more vegetables.

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