Some situations are stimulating; some are depressing. And some are addictive. I am sure there are more, but these will have to do for now.
I am taking three MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) and I can clearly see the difference between them. Two of them are technical, which I expected to be interesting, but are not. One is about poetry, and it is very interesting. Poetry concentrates on telling it like it is – even if that means being like it is.
I was so disappointed by the other courses I have given some serious thought to why. I rushed off and bought a book written by one of the instructors Complex Adaptive Systems: An Introduction to Computational Models of Social Life. I found it frustrating because it concentrates on complicated things while ignoring the simple things that have always messed us up.
Modeling is great, and I still believe in it – but I want models that are creative – or fertile. I don’t want to be depressed.
I’m reminded of a theory I heard of back in the Sixties. It stated that there were two kinds of people – nourishing and toxic.
I now slice it differently – constructive and destructive. With the vast majority in the later camp. People immediately exclaim “How depressing!” They only want to hear nice things – things that will cheer them up.
I disagree entirely, I tried to ignore reality and live in a fantasy – but it bit my ass. I much prefer to see things the way they are. In the last analysis, it is also safer.
One last thing. Successful social trends may be bad, and just plain evil. If there is one thing we should have learned from history, it is this. Instead, we immediately join whatever trend is trending (to use contemporary jargon). And not only that, we make these choices unconsciously – and then defend these choices to the death. Which is why I maintain The End has already happened.
From the book mentioned above (page 141):
Far better an approximate answer to the right question, which is often vague, than the exact answer to the wrong question, which can always be precise.