Friday, July 15, 2011
It's Like Checkers, Only Slower
There is a fetish in modern life for mistaking the introduction of forced complexity into human affairs for fairness, or progress. Truly increasing utility almost always brings simplification, and vice-versa.
Richard Feynman was an interesting person. He was in some ways an abrasive fellow, yet he's almost always seen smiling and animated. Being smart in one particular way makes you impatient with others who are not -- or even worse, usually, others that are almost as smart but not quite. Being really smart at one thing confers no special insight into anything else; usually just the opposite. It's like a form of intellectual celebrity. Like making a billion dollars caterwauling rock songs, so you figure that you'd be a terrific geopolitician. You go looking for physics in metaphysics, for another example.
I don't think I've ever seen anyone that could explain fairly complex things to laymen using mundane examples any better than he did.