A superb evening spent at John Mitchinson’s QI Club in Oxford for the Christmas party of the British American Project.
The activities of Quite Interesting Ltd are organized around a central concept or set of attitudes – those of curiosity, discovery, and humor. As well as the club, the QI quiz show on BBC 2 has been a great success.
Here are some snippets from the QI philosophy which I find inspiring;
“They say the primal drives are food, sex, and shelter.
QI says there is a fourth: Curiosity.
We are hard-wired for curiosity: it is innate – a fierce need – and, unlike the other three drives, it is what makes us uniquely human. But pure curiosity, completely standard in children under seven and found in great artists, scientists, and explorers, is, for some reason, quickly suppressed, sublimated or shrunken in most people. We make do with crossword puzzles, gossip, football results, pub quizzes, and Jerry Springer.
Our first three drives get plenty of fuel. Celebrity chefs are front-page news. Eighty percent of internet traffic is to do with sex. More and more programs titled Celebrity something-or-other seem to keep appearing…
…People are living in a daze: swamped with information, starved of stimulation. They’re overworked, anxious, bored and confused. They don’t know what to do with their evenings. It takes all day to read a single Sunday paper, but no-one’s any the wiser afterward…
…People say the brain is like a computer, but it is not. It is nothing like a computer. There is no computer in the world today that knows or understands as much as any five year old child. Smarter than computers though we may be, what do we know, really, any of us? Sure we can build aeroplanes and toasters (well, you and I can’t, but we know a man who can). Some people can remember all the state capitals in the US or the name of Napoleon’s horse. But as to the knottier questions…
…The steam engine was invented in ancient Greece. The earth has at least seven moons, not one. George Washington’s teeth previously belonged to a hippopotamus. The information goes on and on, deeper and wider, stranger and stranger.
And this is the point of QI: it is worthwhile. It is ‘autotelic’ – worth doing for its own sake. And it echoes the venerable mission statement of Lord Reith’s BBC: to educate, inform and entertain.
No one need ever be bored again.”
Next time you are passing through Oxford, I recommend popping into QI for a coffee or a bite to eat, and that you check out their excellent events schedule.