Why Totally Useless Information Is VERY Useful
By Shlomo Maital
I’m reading Don Vorhees’ 2012 book, The Book of Totally Useless Information. In it, he explains the ‘not-so-important’ questions in life, offering over 200 explanations. Such as: why Scottish Highlanders wear kilts, why there are 7 days in a week, why the British drive on the left, why a left-handed pitcher is known as a ‘southpaw’, why pregnant women crave pickles, why keyboards are arranged as QWERTY, why are teddy bears so named, and was Dr. Seuss really a ‘doctor’?
It’s all really interesting. And it belies what the Roman philosopher Seneca said 2000 years ago: What is the point of having countless books whose titles the reader could never read in a lifetime? We do not have information overload, or useless information, or superfluous information – we LACK useful relevant answers to key questions.
Innovative people, creative people, are infinitely curious. There is no such thing, for them, as useless information. Because, you never know what ‘useless’ piece of information will suddenly prove highly useful, in a totally unexpected context. So, remain curious, and learn all the ‘useless’ things you can.
And, if you’re curious – here are some of the answers: Scotsmen (never women) wear kilts, because they are practical, warm, and highly versatile. There are 7 days in a week, because that’s what the Babylonians decided. The British drive on the left, because the buggy driver sat on the right and used his whip – driving on the right endangered pedestrians, who might be accidentally whipped. Pregnant women crave pickles because they contain salt, and because pregnant women need more salt, for their embryo (who swims in a salt bath). Dr. Seuss never was a doctor. And QWERTY? So arranged, so that typists had to type slowly, so that typewriter keys would not jam, …