Friday, January 04, 2008

Why we should pay more attention to D&D

Bear with me on this one, it's a convoluted line of reasoning, but hopefully illuminating. Or at least the sort of thing we could argue about over a fire.

I was reading highlights of this article out to a colleague (loudly over the partition as there are only the two of us in this section of the office). It's a round up of recent strange applied biological research, including the fluoro cats and why kangaroos don't fart methane. The article goes on to describe ways that this batch of science could "save our lives". Apart from the inherent problem I have with blaming cattle for greenhouse gases, rather than examining our lifestyle choices, the entire article just struck me as a wonderful example of how extreme our reliance on technology and science has become.

It was the final section that clinched this concern. Studies on the way that mucus enhances our ability to interpret smells has lead to the development of a polymer to assist electronic noses to develop better perfumes and chips. As my colleague pointed out, we have people starving, and an environment being degraded and we are developing a better smelling chip??

Which led to a recap of a discussion I had with a friend on the weekend about Hinduism and Buddhism. His take on it is that these religions were developed in a society that used psychology as their chief explanation for how humans and the world worked, not natural science and physics as we do today. Hence these religions, particularly Buddhism seek a psychological solution to the problems of the world.

This led to a discussion on why we would have a society that thought randomly feeding medicines to worms was a good idea. Or a society that seems to feel a technical solution is the only one, rather than looking at what we value and what's important. The question was, as a bit of a throwaway line, is there actually intelligent life on this planet?

My response: "it's a bit like D&D you can have a high level of intelligence, but without the wisdom there's a problem". So, there you go, we should pay more attention to role playing games, so we can understand that wisdom is as important as intelligence and perhaps we'd stop researching ways of phosphorescing animals. Or at least focus on social solutions and not just technical methods for reducing cow farts.

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