Mark Reads ‘The Science of Discworld’: Chapters 44 – 45

In the forty-fourth and forty-fifth chapters of The Science of Discworld, it’s time to talk about minds. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.


I think each of us has—at some point in time—had that deeply unsettling moment where someone gets us to think about thinking. I had my moment in elementary school, and given that I’m prone to anxiety in all things, it immediately sent me into a spiral that last for days. How could I have thoughts in my head? Who was making them? Was it a separate entity? WHY IS HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS SO TERRIFYING?

I expected the authors of this to address this more than they did, since it’s such fascinating topic. We as a species are aware of our own thought processes, and that’s so deeply weird. So how did we get to that point? What was consciousness and thought like long, long ago? I am glad, then, that this book didn’t do that thing where intelligence was used as a substitute for being smart, which is something LOTS of people do rather frequently. I love the distinction that intelligence is just “the ability of the brain to process information.” I was definitely raised to believe that intelligence was a weapon to be wielded against others, and lord, it was ugly. It didn’t help that I was one of those “gifted” children who was enrolled in G.A.T.E. (Gifted and Talented Education) until I was able to Honors and AP classes later on. Those kind of programs instill both a false sense of ego and ability in a person, and they also COMPLETELY RUIN YOUR SELF ESTEEM. Being “gifted” didn’t mean that you showed a preternatural ability for applying yourself within certain frameworks, that your mind was able to make connections others couldn’t. No, it was all about performance, and getting high test scores and grades were all that mattered. That meant that once you didn’t, it was emotionally devastating.

It certainly didn’t help all that much, and it’s why I started performing terribly by the time I got to college. When you see intelligence in such a poorly defined manner, you don’t actually prepare yourself for the possibility that there are things you’re terrible at. And it turns out for me, it was 8am Marine Biology, which I failed TWICE in college before I was finally able to get a B. This is coming from someone whose GPA in high school was well over 4.0 and who had gotten straight As with the exception of one class.

I still have tons of anxiety about doing well, but it’s nowhere near as bad as it was when I was growing. It’s one of the numerous reasons why I’m such a fan of how we are beginning to finally dismantle all the bullshit ableism around the concept of intelligence. Even though I am considered “intelligent” because of the way we view intelligence, IT DID NOT HELP ME TO BE TREATED THE WAY I WAS.


WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING, THIS IS NOT WHAT I EXPECTED AT ALL. Like, I was just as shocked as the wizards were by what they found on their little roundworld because what the fuck is happening. There’s another intelligence “sort of” like HEX? They built tubes up to a necklace that runs around the planet? (Space elevators!!!) And they did this to escape the ice and the asteroids and the vulcanism and HOW DID ALL OF THIS HAPPEN SO VERY QUICKLY? Was does MAET-NANS mean??? What the fuck, why was there a pyramid?


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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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