I’m in love with Schrödinger’s cat

While this is taken from the philosophy of G.W. Leibniz, it represents a kind of late-medieval/early-modern periodic table, with the four elements at the cardinal directions, and the four states between, along with their relations.

What’s interesting is that we still believe in binary relations (attract or repel) and four fundamental states of matter; we just call them liquid, solid, gas, and plasma rather than wet, cold, hot, and dry.

I only bring it up because we tend to look at this kind of stuff as quaint and so obviously wrong. And it is, if by wrong we mean anything other than 100% correct. But then what we believe is certainly not 100% correct either, which suggests that folks in 350 years will be snickering at your ideas as well, you hopelessly deluded cretin.

This diagram is, in a figurative sense, roughly half wrong — which makes it roughly half right. The confusion comes not from the context but from the appearance. The signs and signifiers in this graph are foreign to us. It even uses a dead language (Latin). And in fact, I suspect your brain didn’t even parse it as a graph. But it would have been immediately interpretable by any academic of the day.

On the other hand, a “scientific-looking” meme, dressed up in the right way, will instantly fool lots of people because it employs contemporary genre cues effectively, and your brain judges by cues before content. It’s only when an artful incongruity triggers a pause (rather than an immediate rejection) that your brain emerges from sleep mode and mines appearances for genuine meaning. The rest of your life, you’re just on cruise.

2601_symbol_kombinatorik

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