Thursday, January 18, 2007

nearly true story

I wrote this silly story after having an imaginary conversation with a friend about an actual thing that happened that day. Enjoy.

"ARGGGGH!" she yelled in a barbaric demonstration of dominance. She lifted the thick candle and smashed its base down on the paper towel. When she stopped shuddering, Lisa lifted the candle and the paper towel. There is was. "How can something so small freak me out so badly?" she wondered.

She wadded up the paper towel and threw it into the trash can. She watched as it slowly unfolded to reveal the roach still twitching and thrashing about.

"Gross," Lisa thought as she prepared for the next kill. She had been trying to take a pain medication and spilled diet coke on the kitchen counter. As she was cleaning it up, she moved the cordless phone base, and out ran three really big roaches. Lisa was used to smashing the teeny tiny ones. "These must be their parents," she feared.

After two more successful smashings, Lisa called her friend to discuss the victory. "I guess they won't be trying that again. Running for their life? Please, child. Mama's gonna get you every time," she declared in her most smug way.

"They probably won't be trying that again. Roaches learn really quickly," said JD in his most professor way. "If they learn that a place will likely get them discovered, they will move. If they think climbing up the wall versus running across the counter will be safer, they will do that."

"Are you telling me that roaches are smarter than humans?" I asked.

"By no means. Why do you ask?" questioned JD.

"Well, I can do the same thing over and over again in an attempt to achieve a different result. It's like I don't learn from my mistakes. Most everyone I know is caught up in something that when they do it, they pay for it. Why is it that roaches can learn and apply that knowledge, and we can't?" I asked.

The other line was silent for a while. When he did finally answer, JD said "I don't think it's that we don't learn. We do. But we choose to ignore that knowledge because we'd rather keep doing things our own way. It's either pride or fear that keeps us doing the same things over and over again. Our pride tells us that our way will work out in the end, and our fear of the unknown keeps us stuck in our routines, even if they repeatedly fail."

"And since roaches don't possess the ability to reason, they won't choose to disregard their knowledge. I see," said Lisa. "So it's not that they are smarter. It's that they don't have free will."


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