You Folks are Brilliant

7 May, 2008

I think you folks are freaking brilliant.  Seriously.  I do.  Yes, I really do.

An important part of my job is making connections.  How do I make early twentieth century technology and labour practices relevant;  how do I connect with today’s average American?  The short answer is through analogies, stories, and examples from today (a roundhouse was a JiffeyLube for steam locomotives).

A few days ago (feeling quite lazy (it was a beautiful day)) I posted this (a long involved equation in which you input your telephone number and your telephone number comes back out the other end of the equation).  I thought is was cute and harmless (like a baby).  Unfortunately, cute and harmless babies become teenagers.  And teenagers are . . . wait.  Sorry.  Anyway, along comes PhillyChief.  He makes a connection which (in retrospect) is so obvious, I said “D’oh” and hit myself (gently) upside the head:

So is this some sort of analogy? All these steps are like religion, completely superfluous, a waste of time, and full of woo factor to amaze and mystify but really you could just cut to the chase like Ex described and get on with life.

He’s got a good point.  Rather than writing down your phone number, it leads you on this mystical journey to arrive at what you already know.  Damn!  Double-damn!  How could I have missed that?

In a way, that’s quite a bit like religion. 

Mr. Fundamentalist says, “I don’t like people who are different.  Gays are different.  I don’t like gays.”

Then, through the help of his minister/preacher/televangelist/priest, he reads through the Bible, gets saved through a process which is “completely superfluous, a waste of time, and full of woo factor to amaze” and discovers what he already knows:  “I don’t like gays.”

This same process (conclusion, go through a long involved process which gives the impression of thought and logic, find proof for your conclusion) is used to cut taxes for the rich, diny equal rights to women, beat children, decry abortion and other women’s health care, gay-bash, deny health care to your kids, support racism or slavery, or any other created ‘moral’ cause. 

Thank you, Philly.  I mean it.  I had never thought of the Bible as a useless algorithm used to arrive at what I already know.

You folks really are brilliant.



  1. And the added bonus of the algorithm via the bible, the creater of the universe agrees with YOU. Doesn’t get much better than that!

  2. Yeah, bullshit smells like bullshit and looks like bullshit once you swat away the cloud of pretty flies.

    Way to go Philly.

  3. That’s brilliant, and so very apt. Circularity is a recurring theme in religious reasoning…

    Presumably it’s also the case that people will tend to adopt only those elements of a religion which confirm what they already know, so Mr Fundamentalist will love Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 but choose to quietly gloss over 1 Sam 18:1-4, 2 Sam 1:26 or Matthew 7:1…

  4. 🙂

  5. I should add that I think analogy is a very powerful way to convey an idea to someone. Often you can simplify in order to get across a complex concept, sometimes it’s useful for overcoming another’s bias to part of the original issue, and sometimes it just works better to put something in a context that’s more familiar or entertaining to certain people.

    Analogy is something I employ often, and I really believe that the more you engage in analogy the better you are at seeing and making connections between things that aren’t necessarily that obvious. This encourages that special talent everyone tries to foster, intuitiveness and “thinking outside of the box”. I think it was a big mistake to remove analogy from the SATs.

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