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It's a metaphor for stupidity, but it actually makes sense.





ocalhoun
Which metaphor, you ask?

The one of a drunk looking for his lost keys under the streetlamp because he wouldn't be able to see them anywhere else.

Now, this is normally brought up to compare situations where people are stupidly only using information available, instead of looking for new information... But the action itself makes sense...

Let's suppose he lost his keys somewhere in a 100 square yard area, and that the streetlamp lights up a 20 square yard area.
Chances of him finding his keys in the light: 20%
Chances of him finding his keys in the dark area: 0%
His chances overall are still only 20%, but it makes sense to search under the light, since searching anywhere else would be a waste of time and effort.

...So looking only under the light may seem silly... Until you compare it to searching in the dark.
Ankhanu
It does make some sense... unless you consider searching with other senses, such as touch, or expanding the illuminated area, finding some form of reflector or more light sources. If the keys aren't in that 20% area, only looking there is folly.
mahirh
ocalhoun wrote:


...So looking only under the light may seem silly... Until you compare it to searching in the dark.

your post was confusing
you posted as if light doesnt scatter , moon is inexistent
1. keys are made of mostly metal (not those keyless entry stuff) , they reflect light , so they are easily spotted
2.even starlight is enough to spot a key
3. idioms are idiotic , they are just assumed , no scientists (but exceptions like the mythbusters) have ever tested them
4.if i was in the place of that guy , i would go to my local hardware store and rent a metal detector or i would borrow a torch
or maybe im not intelligent enough to understand what you are saying
Blaster
mahirh wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:


...So looking only under the light may seem silly... Until you compare it to searching in the dark.

your post was confusing
you posted as if light doesnt scatter , moon is inexistent
1. keys are made of mostly metal (not those keyless entry stuff) , they reflect light , so they are easily spotted
2.even starlight is enough to spot a key
3. idioms are idiotic , they are just assumed , no scientists (but exceptions like the mythbusters) have ever tested them
4.if i was in the place of that guy , i would go to my local hardware store and rent a metal detector or i would borrow a torch
or maybe im not intelligent enough to understand what you are saying


I disagree...

Sometimes there is a new moon with cloud cover. Therefore no other light source. Also the reflection of the keys would have to hit just right in order for that to be possible
Ghost900
Interesting post, I would agree that it is the best option given his circumstances. I am not entirely sure that falls under stupidity though, not quite sure what metaphor it fits into. I may just not think in very metaphoric ways.
Bondings
I see it differently:

Drunk looking for his car keys:
Chances of him causing a car accident after searching in the light: 20%
Chances of him causing a car accident after searching in the dark: 0%

So in my opinion, he should search for them only in the dark. Twisted Evil
LittleBlackKitten
I've found things I've lost at 3 am in the middle of a field covered in horse and cow pies while so drunk I swear the earth is trying to toss me about and I think there's seven of my husband, with no lights, new moon, no street lights, just starlight, and the campfire 100 feet away...

Laughing

0% you say? I say PSHAW! Laughing
standready
Bondings wrote:
I see it differently:

Drunk looking for his car keys:
Chances of him causing a car accident after searching in the light: 20%
Chances of him causing a car accident after searching in the dark: 0%

So in my opinion, he should search for them only in the dark. Twisted Evil

I like your way of thinking, Bondings.
Tell him to sleep it off in the gutter, then when daylight comes, he can search for the keys.
missdixy
Bondings wrote:
I see it differently:

Drunk looking for his car keys:
Chances of him causing a car accident after searching in the light: 20%
Chances of him causing a car accident after searching in the dark: 0%

So in my opinion, he should search for them only in the dark. Twisted Evil


Lol. This! Although I hate the use of 0%! I mean, there is still A change that he would kick them or something while searching in the dark no?? Hehe
deanhills
Well all I can say is that I would be MOST HAPPY if he did not find his keys, so that he won't be driving in his intoxicated state. Shocked

He may be lucky and find his keys, but most likely he has 0% chance of finding it as his sense of coordination and ability to find it may be completely impaired. Wonder what the dog regulations are in that area, and the chance of him grabbing something that is going to be pretty messy. But hopefully he will give up eventually, pass out and sleep it off.
mahirh
Blaster wrote:

I disagree...

Sometimes there is a new moon with cloud cover. Therefore no other light source. Also the reflection of the keys would have to hit just right in order for that to be possible

i disagree with you too......
moonlight could refect on the surface of other clouds nearby to it , and starlight is also considerable.Thereffore , there is atleast a 40% chance of finding the keys.Light could diffuse off the keys too
so , the keys wouldnt need to directly be aligned with the rays in order to be found.
Blaster
Anyone think maybe he is looking for his keys to get into his house?

Also if there is a new moon it is very dark. If it is really cloudy again it is really dark therefore little to no light. The little there may be won't cause enough to bounce off the keys enough so that it is i noticeable.
ocalhoun
Bondings wrote:
I see it differently:

Drunk looking for his car keys:
Chances of him causing a car accident after searching in the light: 20%
Chances of him causing a car accident after searching in the dark: 0%

So in my opinion, he should search for them only in the dark. Twisted Evil


Well, he could be looking for house keys, not car keys. ^.^
Blaster
ocalhoun wrote:
Bondings wrote:
I see it differently:

Drunk looking for his car keys:
Chances of him causing a car accident after searching in the light: 20%
Chances of him causing a car accident after searching in the dark: 0%

So in my opinion, he should search for them only in the dark. Twisted Evil


Well, he could be looking for house keys, not car keys. ^.^


Yea I said that above also...
Bondings
Blaster wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:
Well, he could be looking for house keys, not car keys. ^.^


Yea I said that above also...

Why did I hear him scream "Where are my car keys? Stupid streetlight, give me my car keys?", then?
mahirh
wait a second of a minute , if it was his house keys and if he lives in a area that has only this little streetlights , he must have a torch or at least a mobile with an LED flash
Blaster
Bondings wrote:
Blaster wrote:
ocalhoun wrote:
Well, he could be looking for house keys, not car keys. ^.^


Yea I said that above also...

Why did I hear him scream "Where are my car keys? Stupid streetlight, give me my car keys?", then?

I didn''t hear anyone say anything

If his house is locked and its late at night he might not have a flash light or something similar. He also might not have an up to date cell phone like that.
deanhills
Why would he be looking for his house keys? Surely he could just go to his house, knock on the door and may then be allowed in? Sort of does not make sense that it could be his house keys. Or does it?
Blaster
deanhills wrote:
Why would he be looking for his house keys? Surely he could just go to his house, knock on the door and may then be allowed in? Sort of does not make sense that it could be his house keys. Or does it?


What if he lives alone? Or he is out with the people he lives with and has the only key? There is a bunch of what ifs with this thats the problem.
mahirh
Blaster wrote:


What if he lives alone? Or he is out with the people he lives with and has the only key? There is a bunch of what ifs with this thats the problem.

thats stupid , if he is out with his fellow mates , he could asked the less drunk mates , wait a second of a minute , if he is drunk , how did he walk to his house , if he was drunk from his house , his mates would not allow him to get out as they know the consequences, and if he has the only key and he has many mates , there is no door for which you are supplied only one key and i have never seen a house with only 1 door and if he has mates , he would not look for the key as atleast one of them will be inside the house
deanhills
Blaster wrote:
deanhills wrote:
Why would he be looking for his house keys? Surely he could just go to his house, knock on the door and may then be allowed in? Sort of does not make sense that it could be his house keys. Or does it?


What if he lives alone? Or he is out with the people he lives with and has the only key? There is a bunch of what ifs with this thats the problem.
Good point Blaster, we most certainly need more information before we can proceed further with this investigation? Laughing
Ankhanu
deanhills wrote:
... we most certainly need more information before we can proceed further with this investigation? Laughing


Or maybe we need to stop nitpicking about the minutia that are irrelevant to idea behind the topic.
Boil it down to what the message is, all the relevant information is there.
Bikerman
Theory of searches:
when searching for someone, rather than something, is it more efficient to actually stay put if we presume the other person is also searching for you?
deanhills
Ankhanu wrote:
Or maybe we need to stop nitpicking about the minutia that are irrelevant to idea behind the topic.
Boil it down to what the message is, all the relevant information is there.
Well as far as I can see there are a number of facts missing:
1. What keys was he looking for?
2. Why did he need those keys and were there other no-key ways he could have solved his problem?
3. Where was the lamp situated? Across from the pub, or his house, or near his car?
4. Why was he unable to find his keys anywhere else, was it because he was drunk or because they were not anywhere else except under the lamp?
5. How drunk was he? Was he totally incapacitated or just mildly so?
6. Was he alone, or was there someone who could help him search for the keys?
7. Etc.
Ankhanu
deanhills wrote:
Ankhanu wrote:
Or maybe we need to stop nitpicking about the minutia that are irrelevant to idea behind the topic.
Boil it down to what the message is, all the relevant information is there.
Well as far as I can see there are a number of facts missing:
1. What keys was he looking for?
2. Why did he need those keys and were there other no-key ways he could have solved his problem?
3. Where was the lamp situated? Across from the pub, or his house, or near his car?
4. Why was he unable to find his keys anywhere else, was it because he was drunk or because they were not anywhere else except under the lamp?
5. How drunk was he? Was he totally incapacitated or just mildly so?
6. Was he alone, or was there someone who could help him search for the keys?
7. Etc.


Of these, only #4 and the latter quarter of #2 have any sort of relevance to the metaphor. Everything else is obfuscates the point.

For the point of the metaphor the person could be looking for anything, what they're looking for is immaterial.
The location of the lamp is also immaterial.
The metaphor suggests that the person is searching alone, though it is not implicitly stated... nor would it really change anything if there were more people, as the core concept would apply to the others as well.
#5 has some relevance, I suppose, as it deals with capacity and awareness, but I would put forth that drunkeness is also not an important factor for the metaphor.

The metaphor is concerned with dealing with present knowledge and present levels of enlightenment, contrasted against the greater unknown whole. The lamp represents what we know and current techniques, while the darkness represents areas of knowledge we have not unraveled or discovered yet. The keys represent a question, an unknown, but important curiosity.
The question is whether it is prudent to seek out new knowledges, new techniques, novel ideas in order to find the answers to our questions/curiosities, or whether it it prudent to stick within contemporary methods/knowledges. Both paths have their dangers and possible routes to success, it really depends where the answer to the question/curiosity lay; which we generally can't know ahead of time.
It may be that the answer lay in the small patch of illumination, or it may lay out in the great unknown... If we search within our area of knowledge only, the search is relatively quick and easy... if we venture forth into the unknown, we often travel blind with no way of knowing if we're going in the right direction; we may pass the answer withing millimeters and not see it.

Hence, all that other junk is just that... junk. It has no bearing on the relevance of the metaphor, nor can it answer the question at its heart. In many ways, it's like a word problem in math; you have to read the problem and extract the relevant information from it to answer the question while discarding the rest.
Blaster
deanhills wrote:
Ankhanu wrote:
Or maybe we need to stop nitpicking about the minutia that are irrelevant to idea behind the topic.
Boil it down to what the message is, all the relevant information is there.
Well as far as I can see there are a number of facts missing:
1. What keys was he looking for?
2. Why did he need those keys and were there other no-key ways he could have solved his problem?
3. Where was the lamp situated? Across from the pub, or his house, or near his car?
4. Why was he unable to find his keys anywhere else, was it because he was drunk or because they were not anywhere else except under the lamp?
5. How drunk was he? Was he totally incapacitated or just mildly so?
6. Was he alone, or was there someone who could help him search for the keys?
7. Etc.


Thats what im getting at... There are far too many unknowns to just dismiss this as hard or easy.
deanhills
Ankhanu wrote:
The metaphor is concerned with dealing with present knowledge and present levels of enlightenment, contrasted against the greater unknown whole. The lamp represents what we know and current techniques, while the darkness represents areas of knowledge we have not unraveled or discovered yet. The keys represent a question, an unknown, but important curiosity.
The question is whether it is prudent to seek out new knowledges, new techniques, novel ideas in order to find the answers to our questions/curiosities, or whether it it prudent to stick within contemporary methods/knowledges. Both paths have their dangers and possible routes to success, it really depends where the answer to the question/curiosity lay; which we generally can't know ahead of time.
It may be that the answer lay in the small patch of illumination, or it may lay out in the great unknown... If we search within our area of knowledge only, the search is relatively quick and easy... if we venture forth into the unknown, we often travel blind with no way of knowing if we're going in the right direction; we may pass the answer withing millimeters and not see it.

Hence, all that other junk is just that... junk. It has no bearing on the relevance of the metaphor, nor can it answer the question at its heart. In many ways, it's like a word problem in math; you have to read the problem and extract the relevant information from it to answer the question while discarding the rest.
OK, finally got it Ankhanu and thanks for the excellent explanation. Think what got me off track was the reference to the person being drunk. Are all people who search for knowledge and enlightenment usually drunk, or is it the search that makes them drunk? Smile
Ankhanu
deanhills wrote:
Are all people who search for knowledge and enlightenment usually drunk, or is it the search that makes them drunk? Smile


If I know my university professors and various other philosophers... they're often drunk Wink
ocalhoun
Bikerman wrote:
Theory of searches:
when searching for someone, rather than something, is it more efficient to actually stay put if we presume the other person is also searching for you?

The one that is better at searching should be mobile, the other one staying put.

(Better in being either more mobile, able to observe better, or both.)

i.e. A man on foot and a man on horseback looking for each other; the man on foot should probably stay still and try to be visible as the man on horseback looks for him.
--This is ignoring a large number of possible complicating factors, since it is just a general principle. Any definitive answer would need to be on a case-by-case basis.
Bikerman
I was being semi-facetious. In particular I was referencing Bob Sheckley and his book Mindswap.
If you like science fiction with an absurdest slant then you will love it.

In the book Sheckley explains the theory of searches in some depth. it starts from the premise that if you are looking for someone they, whether consciously or not, are also looking for you. It ends up with the conclusion that the best way to search for someone is to stay exactly where you are, since all points in the search-universe (ie all the space-time coords which could logically be occupied) are equally indeterminate.
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