Daily, snackable writings and podcasts to spur changes in thinking.
Building a blueprint for a better brain by tinkering with the code.
The first illustrated book from Tinkered Thinking will soon be available.Subscribe below to get a notification.
April 24th, 2019
An infinite dead-end is a particularly insidious conceptual pothole that we often hit. Hours, if not days and years can be wasted trying to find something in an infinite dead-end. Perhaps the most ubiquitous example of this particular hazard is the question:
What is the meaning of life?
Possible answers to this question can ricochet in all sorts of directions and hugely elaborate frameworks have been constructed in an effort to gain some ground on this question, but to do so is somewhat like trying to stand on a black hole. Though a black hole is incredibly massive… in the same way a planet is massive, one cannot in essence stand on a black hole or build anything on it.
So to with the above question. There are infinite ways to answer this question, and yet none of these answers really make any concrete headway in the direction of solving this paradoxical question.
The best way to deal with such a question is to simply stop wasting time with such a question and concern one’s self with better questions.
Like chasing the horizon, such Infinite Dead-Ends seem to have some sort of endpoint, some sort of observable closure in the distance. As with the question: what is the meaning of life? The nefarious aspect of it’s nature is embedded in the assumption that questions have answers. However, some do not. And questions as a concept do not come complete with a good manual regarding their nature.
Infinite Dead-Ends exist in all sorts of forms. For example, we may be fiddling with some gadget that we are trying to use. Though it might appear to work for our purposes, at the end of the day it may simply just not work. We can think of a physical puzzle, like those that are fashioned from bent steel and links where the object is to separate parts - imagine for a moment a gag version of such a puzzle that intentionally has no solution, but the purpose is to prey on our desire to try and solve something.
Social Media feeds are a type of Infinite Dead-End, as are the toxic games that such inventions are based off of, namely,
These gambling games are tailored to play with human emotion in a way that keeps a person playing. The pattern of winning and losing is calibrated so that a person always feels as though they are on the verge of winning big, and this verge is pushed forward in time infinitely, all the while a person is steadily losing their money for the feeling of ‘almost’.
Curiosity by default points us down all sorts of paths without much of a clue about where such paths lead.
Sometimes, these paths are productive rabbit holes where a slight obsessiveness can be a good thing, allowing a mind to explore the ins and outs of a topic and gain a strong understanding.
Other times, what looks like an interesting rabbit hole is actually an Infinite Dead-End that will cost us precious time, along with any other resources we might be spending while chasing the next step in the experience, as is the case with the slot machine player who loses both time and money.
The best way to test whether or not a current object of concentration is a productive rabbit hole or if it’s an Infinite Dead-End is to pause and observe the size of progress that is being made. If the steps of progress are haphazardly sized… for example we have a breakthroughs that feels like big leaps forward along with small baby steps of progress and all manner of in between all mixed together, than this is a good thing.
If, however, the size of our steps in progress seem to be getting smaller and smaller, and the results of our effort seems to have diminishing returns, chances are good we are chasing an Infinite Dead-End.
donating = loving
If you appreciate the work of Tinkered Thinking, please consider lending support. This platform can only continue and flourish with the support of readers and listeners like you.
Appreciation can be more than a feeling. Toss something in the jar if you find your thinking delightfully tinkered.