The Universe Is Stingy And Lazy

I woke up during the most boring presentation about math ever — BBC’s The Code, second episode — just in time to have my head exploded by the quote I presented above.

I knew the Universe was stingy. It does not provide pervasive bounty. Effort must be used to make it yield.

But lazy?

I had to stop to think about that, especially when it was paired with the word efficient.

We associate efficiency with effort in such a way that laziness is absolutely not part of the equation.

For example, corporations use the excuse of “efficiency” to fire vast numbers of employees. The ones remaining find their workloads greatly increased. They hardly feel “lazy” suddenly doing two to three times the amount of labor. Nor does it feel “efficient” to them.

You can see right there that something is wrong with that equation.

On the other hand, doing the right thing always seems efficient.

For example, if I do a daily cleaning of the place I live in, I’m not saddled the next day with an increased amount of effort to put in to maintain its state. X labor keeps a stable state of Y clean.

But if I’m “lazy” and don’t clean for several days, attending to it feels overwhelming. Suddenly I must do X times Z to get back to Y.

Another aspect of human laziness leads to monopolies. It’s efficient to stay with a service rather than change. Satisfied customers also bring more in, leading to a majority of the market going to one firm. In this case, laziness undercuts the variety that Nature favors. So the laziness of the Universe when indulged in by human beings actually undercuts one of its goals.

I need to think about all this and see where it fits in with my assertion that the Universe is made of No.


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4 responses to “The Universe Is Stingy And Lazy

  1. Eric

    David Allen (writer of Getting Things Done) said his productivity system ended up the way it did because he’s the laziest guy he knows. His system is all about efficiency and reducing extra effort to a minimum. Which, if you’re lazy, is an ultimate goal. So, I’d expect lazy = efficient, assuming you’re still doing what you need to do.

    • mikecane

      Ironic you bring up GTD. Some of the people I’ve encountered who use it are busier trying to do their GTD lists than actually getting things done!

      • Ric Day

        Mike, I have to agree with you about GTD. Proponents seem to get so wrapped up in ever longer lists, that they eventually are doing the lists and not the tasks.

        I found that making a list of the five things I needed to do, listed in order, was all I needed for the week ahead.

      • I’m also reminded of the advice never to tell people what you intend to do because your mind envisions it as already accomplished and then you never do it!

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