Tuesday, January 20, 2015

More of Life's Paradoxes

Long-time readers here know that I'm especially fond of paradoxes, so was naturally drawn to a post from blogger Tony Mann where he employs some logic from Martin Gardner and Curry's paradox to demonstrate his knack for predicting sport outcomes, and beating "the pundits" :-):

Meanwhile, NPR has another new hour-long science-oriented show called "Invisibilia" -- the first two episodes that I've heard have been fantastic. Check your local station to see if it's available in your area, or you can pick it up off the Web here:

Anyway, the latest episode on "fear" included a segment that ended with an odd little paradox of its own.  Turns out there is a very rare amygdala-destroying genetic disorder known as "Urbach-Wiethe disease" which eliminates the human experience of fear -- literally, individuals feel NO FEAR because they lack the biological requisites for its sensation. The end result of this bizarre condition is fascinating: it means that such a sufferer has many MORE "bad" experiences in their life, because they lack the necessary fear to avoid such experiences. On-the-other-hand, a normal person, with proper fear response, avoids a lot more of life's dangers, BUT experiences MUCH MORE fear/stress, and essentially unhappiness, via the fewer instances that they do experience... i.e., the individual who suffers more often (or has more bad things happen to them) is happier than the individual who suffers less often, because of how the suffering is experienced. Anyway, no math, just interesting, and counterintuitive. And paradoxes are part of life, not just logic textbooks.

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