Wait, That Doesn't Make Sense -- Another "Why" Post

>> Friday, February 26, 2010

If you have been reading this blog for a little while, you probably have realized that I consider myself somewhat of a logical person. I like to think that most things in this world make sense. Maybe I'm misguided, but I get comfort thinking this, so don't go spoiling my illusions.

I guess, when we get down to the bottom of the issue, I don't really care if I agree with someone's logic. I really just want to know they have some and they are using it. Take surgery, for example. If I'm having trouble with my knee, I want to know the surgeon is going to operate logically, to fix things that are related to my knee and would be likely to make me better, as opposed to ... say ... throwing a dart at the wall and saying, "Let's take out her spleen and see if that helps anything."

Basically, I really think (or want to think) that where things don't make sense, either we don't yet know enough, or we are mistaken about some fact. I guess I just said the same thing twice, didn't I? Oh well. It sounded good.

This basic idea of "things should make sense" is what gave rise to today's grouping of "Why" questions. I hope you enjoy them.

1. Let's talk about mankind's trait called a "temper". I assume that the energy and hormones from the "fight or flight" response is largely the culprit for why we retained the ability to get angry. I'm sure at one time, anger was a survival trait. What I can't understand is why we still have the temper tantrum. What ancient benefit was EVER derived from the raving lunacy of a Toddler? I have to think there must be some tremendous benefit gained, because all Toddlers go through several phases of tantrums before they are adults (and some after). And yet, they survive. Their parents allow them to grow up and don't leave them behind on the plains to be eaten by wild cats. Why?

2. Why do people believe that if you cut hair, it grows faster? Where is the intuitive sense that if you cut something dead off the bottom, the live part at the top will do something better, faster, and stronger? Now, granted, if I cut off the super-long tendrils from my potted plants, they begin to sprout more stems from the roots, and more leaves closer to the base, but hair doesn't do that, so it isn't a really good analogy. I don't think anyone is envisioning hair getting wider and thicker when you cut it. Nooo.

3. Okay, here is one. Let's talk about dreams. I have heard (as I am sure you have) that "people don't dream in color". Apparently, some people think, we dream in black and white, and color is added later when we recall the dream after we wake up. On the other hand, a quick Google search will tell you that some people believe that we dream in color, but our dreams are "washed out" to black and white after we wake up. My question is this-- why do we think we can figure this out? If I dream in black and white, but I remember it in color, HOW WILL YOU EVER KNOW? If I dream in color, but I remember it in black and white, HOW WILL YOU EVER PROVE IT? Unless and until we invent a mind-reading device that can see our dreams as we have them, no one can answer this question without resorting to what we remember dreaming. So, why on earth does anyone think we dream one way and remember it another? What gave them that idea in the first place, and why does it persist?

And besides, if we have a mind reading device that works that well, I can think of few parents of pets and small children (yes they are different things) that probably need the device first. Heck, I'll bet there are a few husbands and wives that want it too....

4. From time to time over the years, I have hurt my elbow. Of course, I have hurt my knees, and I have broken toes and fingers, and I have had all manner of illnesses, just like anyone. Inevitably, though, when I hurt my elbow, some otherwise logical person comes up to me and says, "Be sure you don't let your elbow get wet. You will make it worse."

Huh? I have bursitis, or tendonitis, or a torn something or other, but letting my elbow get wet will make it worse? How does that work? What about the tendonitis in my knee? Is that subject to water? How about my broken appendages? (Assuming they aren't in a cast, that is.) No. No, apparently this water-phenomenon is limited to my elbow. Okaaaaayyyyyy....

5. What's the deal with bridges? (Wow, that sounded very Seinfeld-esque, didn't it?) Why does traffic slow down on bridges? Why does an otherwise rational human being approach a bridge in his or her automobile, and step on the breaks until reaching the other side?

I have heard suggestions that people are typically afraid of bridges, so they hit the brakes.

Well, I'm sorry, but explanation doesn't make sense to me. If someone is afraid of something, I think the natural reaction is to move away from it as quickly as possible. I mean, if I'm walking across the Serengetti, and I happen to run into a large cat, I don't approach it with caution and walk slowly by it. No, I take one look and start moving my feet as fast as possible. This reaction may be the absolute wrong thing to do, but nonetheless, I suspect it is what most people would do unless they are wild cat experts and have some other marvelous idea ... like not to walk out on the Serengetti in the first place maybe.

Either way, if you (not you, specifically, just the general "you") are afraid of driving on a bridge, and you nonetheless take the road that has a bridge, I would think you would be more likely to hit the gas to get it over with rather than spend more time actually ON the bridge you are afraid of, inching along, maximizing the time that you could end up dead should the bridge decide to fall into the ravine/river/estuary.

Eh, maybe it's just me.


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