Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Douglas Adams on Why Things Are the Way They Are

I'm sure that many of the people who chance upon this blog are familiar with Douglas Adams' Puddle Analogy:
Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, "This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!" This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.
I don't think that his parable about the television is quite as well known:
A man didn’t understand how televisions work, and was convinced that there must be lots of little men inside the box, manipulating images at high speed. An engineer explained to him about high frequency modulations of the electromagnetic spectrum, about transmitters and receivers, about amplifiers and cathode ray tubes, about scan lines moving across and down a phosphorescent screen. The man listened to the engineer with careful attention, nodding his head at every step of the argument. At the end, he pronounced himself satisfied. He really did now understand how televisions work. Then he said “But I expect there are just a few little men in there, aren’t there?”

1 comment:

  1. Nailed it, I've read the first but not the second quote. It's a good one!