Sunday, 16 January 2011

How vs Why

As I sit here and contemplate the universe... Well I don't do it all the time, though it is always fun to rationalise the world and I don't suppose I have gotten to the Universe yet. They tell me its big?

Right, subject mater: Ever wonder how a thoroughly educated individual can be utterly and unabashedly stupid?
Well, my thoughts on it boiled down to the following. Like the universe, the world is big and like the universe, the world is populated by many congealed masses. As one of those congealed masses in this world, strewn out amongst , it is very easy to feel small.
Faced with the enormity of the world like this an individual (I know I do this) will break down the infinite variables and possibilities into manageable chunks, and they will do this in such a way as to make it as easy as possible. The less time it takes them to get what they want out of one chunk, is more time they can spend on other chunks.
None of what I have said so far is bad, or even a hairs breadth from a sane way to deal with it all. The problem I have, comes from what a person does to break it all down.

Here I talk about the difference from seeing cause and affect, and knowing what relates the two.

An example! To add context to my blabbering... A simple one is using a TV remote. Most people understand that if you press buttons on the remote, the TV reacts. However not many people understand why it works.
Obviously in this situation the difference between understanding these two is not so profound. The off button makes Trisha go away or the off button transmits and infrared signal to the TV receiver which cuts the power.

Another! I see this still, and I have seen it a lot. College students are faced with many questions. About what they want to do with their life, whats the next step for them, what's the meaning of life... etc. And in the face of so many questions it is difficult to give any of them the time they deserve. So one important question they ask is 'How do I get a good job?' They know that they want to do something with their lives but they don't know what. However, when they look at the world around them, they see that educated people, with degrees, masters, PHDs all seem to have the good jobs and more answers than questions. So there you have the answer, if you want a good job, you need to go to University. That is the inevitable 'How' the darkside. The shortcut that can lead to so many problems. It is such an easy route that I do not blame anyone for going down it, it is just a shame that it is so dangerous. Again, I should add, that not all people come to this conclusion.

Faced with the quick answer to 'How,' what reason is there to ask 'Why?' Especially when answering a why question is so much harder and takes so much more time
So they go to Uni, come out with a degree (mostly) and then face the world, expecting a job, expecting to be experts, expecting answers. Funnily enough, none will come that easy. Going to Uni has posed more questions for them, to which they have asked how to get around them rather than why.
How do they get a good grade? Tick the boxes for what gives you points towards grade.
Why do they do this? Because it is far easier than truly understanding the depths of the field they are learning.

I think that it is so important to always try to understand why. Not only because actually understanding the way one thing works will enable you to understand another more fully but also because it will give you so much more.

I'm sure there are many examples people can think of where either they, or people around them have settled for how over why.

Yours, still asking why,

Victor Blemish