Alert!!! Life is Not Fair and It Doesn’t Make Sense!!! World Shocked! (Not An April Fools Post! This is Real!!)

Alert!!! Life is Not Fair and It Doesn’t Make Sense!!! World Shocked! (Not An April Fools Post! This is Real!!)

Shelley and Yogi in front of what’s supposed to be the Grand Canyon

Did I ever tell you about the time we went to the Grand Canyon for the first (and so far only) time and it wasn’t there? It was about five years ago and we drove there just after Thanksgiving. We decided to go all out and we purchased a helicopter tour because Shelley’s boss at the time (a 1%-er) told her it was an incredible way to experience it.

We got to our motel at night and the next morning we went to the edge of the Grand Canyon and it was completely filled with fog. This is a weather event called a total cloud inversion that happens once a decade or so (although, according to the article I cited, it happened again the following year). As a result, the Grand Canyon, which is 2000 square miles of breathtaking beauty, was large lake of clouds.

We spent the next two days going back and forth from the edge to the helicopter place. The tours were all canceled as the pattern persisted (but never more than 40 minutes ahead of time). At we drove out we heard that if we had walked down the stairs a few 100 feet, the cloud layer broke and the view below was incredible. We didn’t have time to do that when we heard that we should so we just left.

So unfair!*

We learn that things are supposed to be fair very early on. In preschool, usually, or even earlier if we have siblings. But life isn’t fair. It really isn’t.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t strive to treat people fairly ourselves and that laws shouldn’t strive to be fair. In fact I think we should. But fairness is a human concept. Lions, tigers, bears and other predators attack the weakest animal in a herd. The biggest and strongest in a flock or a pride or a pod will get the most food and the most sex. It ain’t fair because fairness wasn’t part of the design of survival of the fittest.

And by the way, life doesn’t make sense. I recently heard that Stack Overflow, an insanely useful development community that nearly everyone who makes anything technical relies on, is worth 70 million dollars. Meanwhile, Snapchat, which lets teens send altered selfies to each other, is worth 8 billion.

That doesn’t make sense.

I just told Shelley about this interesting article in Scientific American. Apparently, chimps and gorillas can laze around all day without developing any health problems. Humans evolved to walk all day and if we don’t move all day it’s bad for our health. Shelley asked me why, if we evolved to move, why would we evolve to have bad health effects if we don’t move.

That makes no sense.

Evolution doesn’t make sense. It’s not aiming for something. It’s random mutations that sometimes end up being useful.

And reality doesn’t make sense. What makes sense to us is based on the tools we evolved to perceive our environment. In other words, our senses make sense to us. But our senses have a human scale to them and the universe is mostly not human scale. The quantum realm is completely imperceptible to us and that’s why it doesn’t make any sense. The speed of light is unimaginably fast so it’s impossible to make sense of the fact that nothing can go faster. The age and size of the Earth and the Solar System and the Galaxy and the Universe is way crazy different from the scale we live at. We can’t really imagine 100 years let alone a million or a few billion.

Making sense of the world is what we specialize in as humans. It’s not surprising that we get frustrated when we can make sense of nonsense.

So the world isn’t fair and it doesn’t make sense.

The key is to understand that and not spend too much time getting angry with reality when it doesn’t make sense or isn’t fair. You’ll be less frustrated and maybe even happier.

*It was spectacularly beautiful and weird and totally worth it.

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