I don’t have an electric car.
One day we probably all will, and pedestrians and bicyclists will die in even greater numbers because they can’t hear the vehicles coming their way, but I don’t.
Yet for some reason, I keep confusing the battery life in my cell phone with the amount of fuel in my gas tank. I “feel” like I’m driving on fumes when my phone says it’s at 3 percent, even though I know this is stupid and I know that I’m doing it.
But that’s the way the brain works, and often doesn’t work.
Neil deGrasse Tyson, the pop astrophysicist, has said that he doesn’t like the term “Optical Illusion.” Really, they’re just brain failures and we’re trying to make ourselves feel better by using any other name for our inability to measure the world around us.
I once talked with a woman — very bright, very libertarian – who said science had to be wrong about its findings of the extremely large and small because it doesn’t make sense to us that, for example, an electron’s position and velocity can’t be known, just one or the other. So that has to be wrong.
For people who can’t even tell two lines are the same size when other lines around them point different directions, it’s a bit arrogant.
Our minds don’t work, but they work well enough for us most of the time, even with the illusions it sometimes feeds us.
I can tell I’ve been doing office work too long because I can actually literally feel my computer’s clipboard.
When you cut or copy text (or an image), your computer saves it in a clipboard so that you can paste it (ctrl+v) somewhere else. But when I do it, I feel the words flow up in through my left arm and stay there until I paste it where it’s supposed to go. If I walk away from my desk and sit back down, I can’t always remember what it was that I put in the clipboard, but I still feel that there’s something there and know not to put anything else there to cover it up.
This is a little bit crazy, sure. It’s no more justified than my imaginary electric car. But it helps me do my job.
Tyson the astrophysicist has also said he’s worried that we’re just too stupid to figure out the universe around us. You can’t teach a dog division. You can’t teach a chimpanzee calculus. Genetically, our cranial hardware is not that much more developed than theirs, and the universe is not impressed by anything we’ve produced or figured out about it.
But we are.
Happiness isn’t any more real than a tingly feeling in my arm when I copy something, but it works for us. And I’m certainly happier to have a brain broken in that way than I would be not to.