Chuck Klosterman’s 23 questions – Question 1

I’m going to answer all 23 of Chuck’s questions from the book Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs. This book was one of my favorite reads in a long time. It’s relevance isn’t as prominent in 2011 as it was in 2004 but as is, I read the book in 2011. He has 23 questions he poses to understand what type of a person you are. I assume he probably has answers he deems “acceptable” or at least a few ideas to consider when answering the question. I’m pretty much a neanderthal when I consider my opinions vs Chucks but I still think this should be entertaining. Plus it gives me 23 topics to write about, meaning 23 posts of not have to be create my own entries. Start with 1, I’ll try to do a couple a day.

Let us assume you met a rudimentary magician. Let us assume he can do five simple tricks – he can pull a rabbit out of his hat, he can make a coin disappear, he can turn the ace of spades into the Joker card, and two others in similar vein. These are his only tricks and he can’t learn any more; he can only do these five. HOWEVER, it turns out he’s doing these five tricks with real magic. It’s not an illusion; he can actually conjure the bunny out of the ether and he can move the coin through space. He’s legitimately magical, but extremely limited in scope and influence. Would this person be more impressive than Albert Einstein?

I’m fairly certain the specific ideas of Albert Einstein aren’t important but the understanding that he developed his expertise from math and science, concrete data, to prove his theories is what counts. Albert is impressive in the sense that he developed physics concepts that are groundbreaking for achieving events that are so far over my head I’m not going to even try to explain. The question being asked is whether a magician who is really magical more impressive then creating explainable theories like Einsteins?

My thought is that the magician is way more impressive. The magician is actually defying the laws of physics where as Einstein is just explaining them. I don’t know about anyone else but I 100% don’t believe in magical acts. Things don’t just happen for no reason because of some hocus pocus. If a magician was really popping rabbits out of nowhere, that would blow away anything Einstein could do. Other questions are can the magician explain what he’s doing or can he just do it because he can? Learning from this particular being would have more value to society then just popping out rabbits. The potential for this service of “magic” sounds like it doesn’t have many limits compared to the rules in Albert’s world.

On a side note, I think if we limit the magician to just the magic he has available, how impressive is this act really. Just because the magician is defying our current “laws of physics” doesn’t mean that there is any practicality to what he’s doing. If we wanted to over populate the world with rabbits we are all set but his schtick is going to get old and people will eventually not even be impressed by his amazing “magic.” The practicality to Einsteins theory of relativity and all the advancements because of it are much more impressive. The physics world is so far out of my league to really comment but I’m sure Einstein’s work is something not every Joe Blow is able to come up with.

So my answer to which is more impressive is the magician’s way of magic but Einstein’s work has much more practicality to it and in an overall sense is more impressive. Humans are an amazing race with the ability to adapt and if they can learn from the magic, you have your winner.