Ignorance is Bliss

So, one thing that I have always wondered, is why we know so little about how the things around us work.  We use televisions, cell phones, laptops, the internet, etc. every single day and most of us have no clue how any of these things work.  In psychology, they call this idea Recipe Knowledge, which simply means that we use things without knowing how they work.  So for one of my blogs, I decided that I would help to clarify the inner workings of one of these such devices and give recipe knowledge a little kick in the pants.


How everything works according to Recipe Knowledge.

How color televisions work:

The most important thing to understand about how color televisions work is how color mixes with lights.  Unlike on paper, color mixing using lighting is very different.  For example, when using stage lights, using a green light and a red light together, creates yellow light.  This is because our brain mixes the two colors, creating a new color.  This is the basic idea behind how color televisions work.  


Within the TV, electron beams light up phosphors of three different colors.  When you are up close to the television, the colors simply appear like tricolored dots.  As you step back, the colors begin to mix together and create the spectrum of colors that appear on our televisions.  The color is dependent on which of the three phosphors are lit, and at what brightness.  In order to create pictures, certain electron beams need to be activated at the precise time blend the colors in just the right way that the desired color appears when needed.
These electron beams are excited by the electricity running through the television and the activated magnetic fields within the television.  The satellite signal that we receive/the information contained on DVDs is the correct coding for these electron beams so that they light up the phosphors at the precise time. While this doesn't hold true for plasma screens which operate using a different mechanism, most televisions and computers use this technology to create video.  More information is available in the articles that I used here and here.

You probably use a television everyday, but do you know how it works?

So next time you use something and you have no clue how it works, take a few minutes and find out, heck, make it one of your blogs for the week.  

Only YOU can prevent Recipe Knowledge.



I found your post very interesting because I actually have no idea how anything works. I think this is because everything is so easy in today's society and we have no reason to really know. So I thought since you put how a TV works I thought you might be interested in how another common item everyone uses works, the cellphone. A cellphone is really nothing more than a radio. This article: http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/fall04/keith/Works.htm, goes into further detail on what a cell phone really is. Hope you enjoy the read!

I think this Recipe Knowledge idea is very similar to the idea that Andrew was talking about in class in response to "Why" prayer seemed to heal. Some examples of this are scientists just accepting ideas such as continental drift and the cure for scurvy without realizing how this happened because they knew it happened anyway. Those examples along with your blog post seem to suggest that our society doesn't necessarily care about why or how things work, only that they do work.

I definitely agree with you, a lot of people will simply take having things for granted through ignorance. If the majority of people don't know how their technology works think of the select few people that actually know how to build the technology we use on a daily basis. I'm seeing a "slippery slope" as a result of the ignorance factor. What do you think?

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