217: Curiosity Kills…..

Caruso canNOT resist

Caruso canNOT resist

Everyone has probably heard the old axiom about curiosity killing the cat, meaning that your urge to discover gets you into trouble you can’t get out of. Cats are not the only ones who have trouble with that: I found a Web site that listed inventors who were killed by their own inventions. Google it – there are several Web sites that list them.

I am not sure that anecdotal evidence means that we should not be curious and/or inventive, however….think of all the advances we would not have had somebody not been driven by the urge to know, discover and create. It’s only problematic when it causes consequences that were both unintended and unexpected. I read somebody’s research paper once that said there are four outcomes to every situation: expected and unexpected, and intended and unintended. Most of the things that we humans do have the usually desired outcome: expected and intended. When I turn on the light switch, I expect the light to come on, and that is the outcome I intended to occur when I flipped the switch. Unexpected things include such effects as getting shocked by the electricity, or setting the house on fire because there is an electrical short that sparks inside the wall. Those outcomes are unexpected and unintended.

The same thing happens when people enact laws. Their expected and intended outcome may not occur because of various interpretations others put on their words. It did not occur to the original lawmakers that anyone in their right mind would interpret their words in any way other than what they had expected and intended, so they did not include language that prohibits outcomes that they did not expect, and did not intend. For example, the original founders of federal aid to poor people did not intend that aid to become generational, and prompt those poor to procreate proliferously in order to earn a few more free dollars per month, because at the time the program was adopted, people were actually ASHAMED to get charity, and worked diligently to support themselves instead. That is no longer the case, and there are a lot of modern people who literally work the system to bilk as much free money as they can.

I teach school, and I know for a fact that this is human nature. For over twenty years, I have watched SOME students (not all) work like dogs trying to avoid doing the right thing. Instead of exercising their curiosity and inventiveness in positive ways, they look for any possible way to cheat and take shortcuts. They will work slavishly cheating, when to do it properly in the first place would have required considerably less effort, trouble and expense (time and money). I am sure you have seen that, too. There will always be people like that – they are satisfied with being less than they could be. Giving them help is a waste of resources, until they discover for themselves some motivation to do and be better. As long as there is a minimal free ride, they are content. They might be VERY vocal in their complaints, but they make no move to be better in spite of running their mouths. This is a very sad fact, compounded by very poor choices in life – whatever the reasons behind those poor choices.

Frankly, I am not interested in their problems – I have enough of my own. I live with seven cats, whose curiosity keeps me pretty busy rescuing THEM.

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