Propagating the ol’ meme

From , although suitably modified since if he did it, why shouldn’t I?

I want you, dear reader, whoever you are, to ask me exactly three questions about everything. I will probably even provide you with a truthful answer. Then copy and paste this to your own journal.

The difficulty of asking a finite number of questions about everything is left as an exercise for the reader. Which is a fancy way of saying, “I dunno if it can be done, either, so I’ll let somebody else worry about it.”

Published in: on April 15, 2004 at 00:09  Comments (25)  


  1. *glare*

  2. Also:
    1) Does science explain everything?
    2) Does religion explain everything?
    3) If “no” to 1 and/or 2, what does explain everything?

  3. 1) No. It only explains phenomena about which falsifiable predictions can be made.
    2) No. It only (meaningfully) discusses phenomena about which falsifiable predictions can’t be made.
    3) Nothing, meaningfully. Science and religion could each explain subsets of their respective domains, but there’s too much of “everything” to be explicable. (By which I mean, any explanation would be sufficiently complicated as to be incomprehensible, and therefore not much of an explanation – both in the general metaphorical sense, and the rather specific Godel’s First Theorem sense. Even assuming a simple underlying principle, the complexity inherent in understanding the composite everything is so great that simple knowledge of the principle is still only a very tiny part of the problem as a whole, in the same way that atomic physics doesn’t tell you much of value about the turbulent flow of water.)
    But you can learn interesting things about the subsets, at least. 🙂

  4. Hey, it used to work on my students. 🙂

  5. Regarding 3) Nothing: Not even Kabbalah? 🙂

  6. My three (well, 2.5)
    1) Why is there love?
    2) Why is there hate?
    3) Why Carrot Top?

  7. errrr…um…
    What are your dreams?
    Why do think emotional pain happens?
    What is your theory of why this world exsists?

  8. Hmmph.
    Why should I ask you three questions? And what’re you gonna do if I don’t ask questions, hmm? What’s the point of all these meme-things, anyway?

  9. 1) What is your name?
    2) What is your favourite colour?
    3) What is the wing speed of an unladen European swallow?

  10. Why?
    If 42 is the answer, what is the question?
    Do you really want to ask me three questions?

  11. 1. When in faeryland, what do you eat?
    2. Why does the west wind blow?
    3. Would you give me your name?

  12. Huh?

  13. I never metaquestion I…
    1. What are the answers to the questions that you wanted to be asked but haven’t?
    2. If there were some way of asking about everything in a finite number of question, what would your answers to that set of questions be?
    3. Are you happy?

  14. What else would you do? Do you think I should do something? Don’t they help to pass the time?

  15. 1. Yonatan Zunger
    2. Babylon… no… aaargh!

  16. 1. 42.
    2. Why?
    3. Sure.

  17. 1. Food which I have brought myself, or on a long journey, that acquired by fair trade or the common practice of the land. And nothing at a court affair.
    2. To keep a steady but gentle flow of dreams moving from the slumbering world to the waking, of course.
    3. My name is kept in a well-hidden place, inscribed on a stone stele in an ancient alphabet, hidden in a duck’s egg, hidden in a box, hidden in a sun, hidden absolutely nowhere, since I have the sense not to write down my name.

  18. Wha?

  19. Re: I never metaquestion I…
    1. An underlying symmetry principle implying a class of equations, all of whose solutions may simultaneously be activated but which contains at least one attractive basin of solutions, of nonzero measure in the space of all solutions, which converges to behavior which locally resembles the physical universe on scales equal to the largest which we can measure; a code by which the demands of personal morality and inner peace can be accomplished, without disconnection from the world or disinvolvement in its improvement; the nature of the divine mind, and the relationship thereto of consciousness and of the physical universe.
    (Hey, I didn’t say I knew what the answers actually were)
    2. Mu.
    3. Funny, I’ve been asked this before. I have my health; I have my friends; I have work which is meaningful and important; I have my studies; I have enough to eat and a roof over my head. [Knock on wood]

  20. I have yet to be convinced that kabbalah can explain anything. Although it gives wonderful metaphors for more serious things.

  21. Re: My three (well, 2.5)
    Empathy, loneliness, jealousy, fear, and unspeakable rituals performed in dark cellars.
    The division points between the solutions are left as an exercise for the reader.

  22. Re: errrr…um…
    Briefly – to the second and third both, there isn’t a particular reason. The world exists; it’s here for us to deal with it. Good things happen, and bad things happen, and they don’t happen because of a giant finger coming down and saying “Bad human! Zort!,” but because of perceivable and understandable reasons within the world. The best we can do is to learn to live our lives with both the good and the bad things, strengthening ourselves however we can in order to live with the bad, lighten its load upon the world, and create as much lasting good as possible.
    Which I suppose answers the first one as well. 🙂

  23. Metaphors do a great deal to help me understand things — although I’m not sure that’s the same thing as explaining.

  24. Re: I never metaquestion I…
    I figure that a meta-answer is a perfectly good response to a meta-question. 🙂
    And I admit I’m still curious about answer #3! I’ve many times thought along the lines of, “I have foo, I have bar, I have baz… but they still don’t necessarily mean I’m happy! Why?” (A partial resolution was from realizing that I had framed the question/answer to myself in terms of what I was “supposed” to want.)

  25. Re: I never metaquestion I…
    I meant that list in a positive sense. The unsaid line around it was, “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor, and while rich may be better, poor is still liveable. I’ve had things and lost them. But in all, I have my health, and my friends, and my work [in the sense of things of significance like art, science and philosophy, not in the sense of simple employment – although that’s always good too], and those are the things which are really important to me. The rest, in essence, is details.”
    I guess that what’s important in answering a question like that is to pare down the list of things to check for to the things which are really important and not quite as easily affected by outside circumstance.
    The “knock on wood” is just old habit. 🙂
    So let me ask a counter-question: when you have foo, bar and baz and are unhappy, what are foo, bar and baz, and what did you omit from that list?

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: