Why are we curious?


13 Responses to “Why are we curious?”

  1. Brainspore says:

    Isn’t that question recursive? And this one as well? OH SHIT I’M CAUGHT IN A LOOP.

  2. tomrigid says:

    I just hate when the whole post depends from a premise that I don’t accept. I wonder why that is?

  3. Nadreck says:

    There’s a theory espoused by one of the characters in Larry Niven’s “Ringworld” universe that relates curiosity to the sort of creature you’ve evolved from.  The carnivores go exploring for more things to eat and the herbivores investigate their surroundings to look out for carnivores and other bad things.  Both very goal oriented in the way that organisational behaviour is described above.  However the weirdo omnivore humans just randomly poke at things for fun.

  4. feetleet says:

    If we take evo-psych at face value and assume DNA acts with the unfeeling calculus of a virus, and exists only for its own replication, then what would ever make its vectors think twice about eating/sleeping/fucking, not necessarily in that order?

    Here’s a fun little screwball answer I like: masturbation vis-a-vis opposable thumbs.  

    If, at the end of the day, I’m only on this earth as a wingman for my genes, I contain some serious design flaws. Sure, sex is unspeakably, primally pleasurable, probably so that I’ll take a hint. But if there’s any overlap whatsoever between sexual maturity and sexual (and possibly holistic) self-actualization (masturbation) – that is, if sex isn’t the meaning of life (even if it is) – then who could blame us for looking elsewhere for answers?

    A horse can’t express its glans very effectively without a second horse. Hominids – and some apes – placed out of that life pursuit. It’s a correspondence course. Online study. I’m not trying to be ribald for its own sake. Riddle me masturbation.  

    • Fnordius says:

      Now that is a riddle I already have a theory about. It deals mainly with how evolution favours those species who reproduce, but don’t drive themselves crazy trying to mate all the time when the urge to mate isn’t good for sustaining the species. It results in a series of hacks.

      Hack #1: species have mating schedules. It works well for fish like trout, birds and others. They are programmed to mate when the time and place are right, but it requires hardwiring parts of the nervous system, and that means code has to be in the eggs.

      Hack #2: species have an “in heat” mode. This grants more flexibility, as the species can mate when the conditions permit. Males are now keyed to be sexually active when the female is available. The downside is that the male now only cares about females when he can fuck. The rest of the time he’s off doing his own thing.

      Hack#3: species has no “in heat” mode any more, so that the male hangs around in the hopes of getting a chance to fuck. This hack keeps him close enough to help with raising the offspring. The downside now is that the guy won’t stop bugging her about getting a chance to fuck.

      Hack #4: masturbation! A pressure valve release for the guys when there is no chance to fuck. Not as good but better than nothing. Species can better control its population, at least in theory.

  5. bcsizemo says:

    So people explore because we are curious…alright.
    Businesses aren’t curious because, well perhaps because it usually isn’t in the best interest of the company for making a profit?  Sure if your company is dealing with deep see diving or mountain climbing then you are going to be exploring those areas, but +95% of people don’t work for companies like that.

    Now a case can certainly be made about society not placing more emphasis on exploration/curiosity for the sake of enriching everyone’s lives, but I wouldn’t exactly expect a business to take on that responsibility (not unless there was a profit to be made).

    • Nadreck says:

      Well, true enough as long as we define “profit” as “extremely short-term, very narrowly defined gain with no clues as to even our medium term chances of survival”.  This is why almost all businesses vanish without a trace eventually.

      If you don’t have some sort of pure research or other “look up from the grindstone” department then you’re not here for a long time; just a good time.  The archetypal example is IBM, which has huge pure research facilities and requires staff to spend about 1/4 of their time in classes.  These are not luxuries that IBM can afford because they are big; they are why IBM is big and is pretty much the oldest computer company around.

      Or consider the difference between the film companies Kodak and Fujitsu.  The latter was curious about computers and other things digital: hence realising that they spelt the doom of the chemical camera.  So they branched out into other high-tech films that mess with light, cosmetics, and still make buckets of money.  Kodak, on the other hand, was not so curious and is therefore bankrupt.

      You don’t have to be high-tech for this to be true.  It applies equally to fruit and vegetable stands and long-haul trucking.

  6. CHilke says:

    It has been argued that humans are a neotonous primate; that is, retaining many juvenile characteristics that many species outgrow. One of these is exploration and curiosity. This could either be as a result of evolutionary measures or self-domestication: http://hipcrime.blogspot.com/2013/03/children-of-men.html 

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