Science as curiosity-stopper

[…] But now suppose instead that I don’t go on television. I do not wish to share the power, nor the truth behind it. I want to keep my sorcery secret. And yet I also want to cast my spells whenever and wherever I please. I want to cast my brilliant flare of light so that I can read a book on the train—without anyone becoming curious. Is there a spell that stops curiosity?

Yes indeed! Whenever anyone asks “How did you do that?” I just say “Science!”

Ever since the author pointed this out (and to some extent, ever since I read Lockhart's Lament sometime prior to 2012-12-22), I like to look at things people regard as ordinary, and wonder about them. I still haven't understood light-bulbs, but they're a puzzle I'm working on, and the more I understand, the more I appreciate light-bulbs: Joy In the Merely Real.

There was an internet meme making the rounds around 2015: "magnets, how do they work?" Some people found it hilarious. In my interpretation, it's rare to be aware you don't know that much about ordinary things, and that's why it tickled these people. Humor is pointing out something unexpected.

I'm over here just saying "well, I haven't learned yet about magnets"… and while that's interesting, laughing about it would be like laughing at a chair being brown.

It isn't a reaction I could ever have. Engagement and fascination, yes, but laugh? Laugh at what?

The fact someone else knows the answer to the mystery doesn't make it any less of a magical mystery for you.

When people are given "teacher's passwords" that explain some scientific fact, they may even undervalue its surprisingness due to hindsight bias. The "I could have predicted that" effect: hindsight devalues science.

If they knew how little of their knowledge they could regenerate, perhaps they will feel more shocked (How to feel shocked enough?) and wonder "How can it be? This seems impossible!"

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Created (16 months ago)