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When you don't have anything witty to say...

2008-10-10 12:52:49.177081+00 by Dan Lyke 7 comments

Let someone else say it:

We didn't even get to the continued fractions!

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comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2008-10-10 15:08:43.217091+00 by: m

This mornings Abstruse Goose http://abstrusegoose.com/65 is amusing, but also has an interesting link the BBC documentary "Dangerous Knowledge". I don't care for the implications that the mental disease of the four individuals biographed was caused by their "breaking the bounds of concept" and investigating knowledge that is beyond man.

I had time to watch part I which covered vignettes on Cantor and Boltzmann. Unless you are familiar with their personal lives, it is probably worth the screening. I haven't viewed part II yet, but will.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-10-10 15:19:09.86039+00 by: Dan Lyke

I think I'm going to have to sit down and watch these for real. I just started the first one playing in the background, it's talking about Cantor, and I can't help thinking that Lovecraft was right: Madness comes from understanding the world, sanity requires carefully burying the true nature of the universe deep in the subconscious.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-10-10 17:51:49.248414+00 by: Dan Lyke [edit history]

So did anyone else type in "ln(2 * pi)" to Google?

Or, on the second to last panel, flash on "what's the square root of 69?"

#Comment Re: made: 2008-10-10 19:34:18.218741+00 by: Diane Reese

xkcd is always even better with the alt-text: "We didn't even get to the continued fractions!"

#Comment Re: made: 2008-10-10 20:20:39.436218+00 by: Dan Lyke

Thanks, Diane, I'd actually copied that into the alt text of the image tag I used to embed it here, but for some reason my browser isn't showing it on image hover.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-10-11 14:35:54.866702+00 by: m

Dan, I watched the second half. Again, it was interesting, though less so than first part. I found it rather limited in its view of seeing knowledge as "dangerous." The repeated explicit and implicit statements that "their work made them ill" continued the somewhat anti-intellectual tone of the piece.

There has long been a hypothesis that extant depressive illness can be a driver and a spur towards creative work. That the work serves as an anodyne for the painful symptoms of this group of diseases. This argument is shored up by anectdotal evidence that while psychopharmacuticals may relieve the symptoms of depression in some, a loss of creativity is an unwelcome sequel.

The series was worth watching, but I suggest that "Dangerous Knowledge" confuses occasional presence, not even correlation, with causation.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-10-11 22:53:40.482346+00 by: Dan Lyke

Thanks, then I won't bother watching the next one. It seems to me in the first one that the "their work made them ill" theme was presented strongly when it was clear that it wasn't their work that made them ill, it was attempting to reconcile their findings with the beliefs of the culture. If one can't accept that the culture is messed up and most people are wrong then, yes, the inevitable result of intelligence is insanity.