Randomness and information gaps


Brain things / Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

Well, it’s been a quiet day in Meadville, Pennsylvania and the roads are bad and my toes are warm because I am wearing my polka dot slippers.

Thanks for your input on OtherSpeak: frank and generous, engaged and kind. There is a saying, Go not to the elves for counsel, for they will answer both no and yes.[1] This comes to mind at a time like this, yes it does. And then there is The Boss, whose opinion is the trump card. But he owes me a small decision in my favor, as there have been many recent and large ones in his. In short, we will think on it until the New Year, and let you know if submissions open.

OtherSpeak may be extra fun and palatable and disruptive if I toss in this tidbit I thought of: I may happen to sneak in an anonymous post or two of my own, with a pseudonym. So you had better be paying attention here.

I have been editing manuscripts for others, namely my father – which is an exhilaration all its own, to mark his illustrious and beautiful work with red ink.

And I have been thinking wild things.

I have been thinking about my understanding of history, which is pretty much like this:

And I have been comparing it with my husband’s understanding of history, which is more like this:

By Abraham Ortelius – The Library of Congress, Public Domain https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6872417

One day I say to my son, who is old enough to enjoy this kind of thing, although he usually shuts me down soon: “What do you think we will look back on later in the world’s timeline and wonder how we could have missed so completely?” For example, before germs were discovered people thought that sickness was caused by bad air, or toxic substances in our own intestines. Now we look back and think, “How could they not have known to wash their hands and sterilize their medical instruments? It’s just common sense.” What will we look back on later and finally understand, seeing through our present-day explanations and filling in the gaps?

Take sleep, for example, which we do not really understand. Why do we need it? How do we fall into it? How do we climb out of it? What does it do?

What if in the future, we learn to consciously perform acts in our brains and bodies that accomplish the restorations of sleep, without sleeping? It’s not inconceivable. Think how we would look back and say, “Those poor people. For thousands of years, they wasted a third of their lives trying to rejuvenate themselves.”

That was the point where he shut me down. “Mom. We know a lot about sleep.” And he pulled up a YouTube explanation to prove it.

Which, as I shared with him, does not address my point: that in certain things we are surely, undoubtedly, regrettably ignorant – but only our great-grandchildren will know.

Then he got on his hoverboard to make emptying the dish drainer more fun, and I stirred the ground beef browning on the stove.

 


[1] J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Ring Sets Out”

What fields of ignorance do you think we are currently plowing? Or are you also mounting your hoverboard?

18 Replies to “Randomness and information gaps”

  1. ok – the time line? I took world history class with Ryan and I still like your timeline best. It is so much funnier. 🙂 And more condensed, you know?

  2. One area of deep plowing in the medical field is new awareness of the significant role of the gut microbiome in health and disease. The bacteria in our intestines play a significant role in absorption of nutrients, the function of our immune system and a lot more. Maybe the ancients were not so ignorant after all even though they were mistaken on some of the details.

  3. I’ve often pondered on these very things. It can be tempting to look at the world either in the ‘tremendum’ or in the miniscule – us being the center. But I think that we have to be careful to balance the two – even though the timeline of the miniscule in relation to you is very funny. Thank you for the ‘long-running script’ you dumped me into!

    1. Your timeline made me laugh out loud. As a family we love history and hope that when we get to heaven there will be some type of time portal to look into or maybe even experience history as it was. And to really understand what happened and why.

  4. I’m enjoying brief jaunts on my son’s hoverboard; although the yawning distance between his center of gravity and mine leaves me looking clutsy and outdated! Maybe when he’s grown he’ll look back and view the disparity with more clarity.

    1. This reminds me of when we were young and you used to say, “What if there’s extra-terrestrial beings out there that we don’t know about.” I, the ever practical and unimaginative one, poo pooed you every time remember? 😬😂

      1. Sorry, don’t know how my comment got sandwiched in here. I suppose technology is a field that I’m ignorantly trying to plow. 😂😂😂

  5. *klutzy * not sure how i butchered that beautiful word so badly. I love writing words with sharp angles and that has three of them!

    1. 🙂 I didn’t know how to spell it either. I could fix it for you, but then your second comment would be moot and I really like the “sharp angles” take, so I’m preserving all originals. 🙂

  6. LOVE your time line. I feel like you captured the big picture….which is more helpful than being fixated on small, irrelevant details.

    I am really laughing about the fact that I guess I fall into the category of “boring stuff” right before the advent of Shari.

  7. Chemotherapy. Why on earth harm people and kill their good cells to make them better? When we have discovered a better cure (we are already beginning it), chemotherapy will look like leeches.

  8. Handheld (and other) technology and the havoc it is causing in our bodies and brains. We already know some of the effects, but only history can reveal the whole scope of it.

  9. Enjoyed your conversation with your son…and how it ended. Because I have an almost 14 yr old and a 12 yr old and I like conversations with them. Ours usually do not involve history, though, because while your timeline made me laugh with recognition, I only enjoy history in stories. Not timelines or too many dates. So we usually talk about stuff I can handle more intelligently.

  10. 1. The effects of blue light emitting from our multitude of devices that we look at and a host of other effects that haven’t even been discovered yet. .
    2. The connection between emotional, physical & spiritual health. We are intricately designed and when one part of our health suffers, the rest are affected.
    Keep writing, Shari! I love to see how you think!

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