Saturday, 21 June 2008

Why oh why?

I'm wrestling with the neurobiology stuff within the Climate Change book. I've never quite been satisfied with the model that was in the skeletal draft, and pursuing a more detailed and robust understanding has led me to a bit of a philosophical biggie.

So, if you'll indulge me for just a moment, I'll romp about in some neurobiology, a bit of morality, a dash of sociology and some logic and philosophy, and hopefully we'll get to something that makes some sense, or something that clearly makes no sense and can be abandoned.


It all got a bit long so I've put it in another post back-dated so it doesn't take over the front page. Click here to read it. I'm afraid it's about 1500 words ... but any feedback is seriously appreciated!


But Why? said...

To answer your original question:

Because. Just because.

Political Umpire said...

Much of it is rather above my head I'm afraid, being a bear of very little brain, but I did have two observations:

1. Why Aston Martin? Well as you say, beautiful engineering. Would you have called him an idiot if he drove a Prius? Presumably not, but as the genuine idiot Clarkson says, the Prius uses nickel in its batteries mined in Canada and processed in China before being installed in Japan and then the whole thing shipped to Britain; at least the Aston is mostly British made. And I still maintain that technology alone will prolong the planet and enable us to escape when its time comes; high tech innovations often come from high end goods (eg most motoring advances are seen at the luxury end long before they become cheap enough for mass production, and often innovations are derived from F1).

But are we idiots for having an economy (not just transport system, but everything from household energy to food etc) based on oil? Yes.

2. I love the question about gravity. Most of the time people willfully misunderstand the question. Your greater eloquence will be of assistance in that situation, if I can remember the way in which you put it.

Phew. I will go back to posting pictures of pretty girls.

Stray said...

Hey Dr But Why? - do you mind if I use you as an example in the book?

Hello Pumpy - I should confess that my prejudice is against conspicuous consumption and lack of practicality. I mean - where do you fit your dog, camping gear and flat-pack furniture?

Of course, the owning of an Aston Martin would add nothing to my own life in terms of status, attracting a partner etc. In discussing it with Ms M we realised that status in our village is won through having a big sensible vehicle that can still make it in and out when the road is deep underwater. (Ours has a small engine, just big wheels). Instead of name-dropping designer brands and celebrities I've been slipping in the sheep breeds as I've learned to recognise them, referring casually to leicesters, swaledales, ryelands and suffolks as I chat to the farmers.

I may have left the city but I've realised I'm still playing the game, it's just that the rules have changed.

But Why? said...

Eeek. Now I'm nervous - sounds like it'll serve me right for making glib comments...

Example of what? The struggle of life against equilibrium? The insanity of your average erger? The ability of human spirit to flourish in the most unlikely of places (even West London)?

Stray said...

:) Don't fret Dr But Why? - just as an example of how instinctive the need to search for meaning is ... so much so that a small child in Sheffield ended up being nicknamed after their favourite word.

But Why? said...


I'm not convinved it was a search for meaning, I think it was more a search for the order behind the phenomena, or for the predictive ability, and reduction in uncertainty. Hence the question in the Religious Studies class "Why does there have to be a meaning?" Perhaps I was just an argumentative brat?

Mind you, it would have been good to try rationalising this twenty years ago instead of after university scientific training....