Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Is it more fun not to know?

I have a general education class this semester with students from many different types of majors. In a quip after class, one of the other students asked me to prove that magic doesn't exist, then made this statement (not necessarily word for word):

"Life is more fun when you don't know how everything works."

That statement seems strange to me. I understand that there is no way we can know how everything works, but I don't see how life can be more fun when we DON'T know how it works. Maybe someone more enlightened than I could explain that one...


  1. Well, I don't pretend to be more enlightened than you, but I think his/her point was sometimes the mysterious is what makes things fun. . . . . how the heck did Houdini get out of those ropes and locks? If I knew, it might not seem as amazing or mysterious, thus less entertaining.

    I, like you, do love to understand things that I know someone else can teach me or someone else knows, but sometimes there are things I almost don't want to understand. . . .like magic.

  2. I think most people must feel as Camilla has expressed in her comment above. For myself, I find this difficult to understand, and I certainly have never felt that way myself. Not knowing what something is or how it works (another word for this is ignorance) adds no more mystery to our lives than would throwing a blanket over something and wondering what's under it, or wearing blinders and wondering what it is that we can't see. The real universe, and in fact each discoverable part of the universe, holds so much more mystery than any mere human being could possibly imagine. Each discovery made always leads to several more mysteries that we never even suspected were there. What scientists do, simultaneously with adding to our understanding of how things work, is add to our store of mysteries; and that is nothing if not fun!