This is the story of three syllogisms: the valid one, the reasonable one and the one with a correct conclusion.
The one with a correct conclusion kept said conclusion to itself because it wasn’t friends with the other syllogisms. In fact, they were mortal enemies. So, you see, it would mutter the correct conclusion under its breath, over and over. “Some yellow pencils are green.” But not loud enough for anybody to hear—especially not its hopelessly wooden-headed rivals.
The valid syllogism didn’t mutter to itself, or to anyone else. No, it roamed the streets instead, yelling like a crazed vagrant. “All good debaters have a sharp point, dagnabbit!” It scared away passersby with its spittle and shambolic gesticulations, and trod on stray cats’ tails to boot. “Listen to me, you fools! Some green pencils are blunt!” Then it stopped, raised its hands to the heavens, and declared solemnly: “Therefore, some green pencils suck at debating. Don’t mess with them green pencils, I tells ya!” Its beard flapped in the wind like a long grey scarf, and its eyes were deep and empty as it nodded sagely to itself.
The reasonable syllogism closed its second storey window. It needed to complete another letter to the editor of its favourite local gossip rag, but some idiotic shouting from the street was hindering its creative flow. It shook its head as if to clear it, then kept writing. “So, for the reasons outlined above, it’s evident that some pencils turn bright red when sharpened.” Laying down its ballpoint pen, the reasonable syllogism nodded to itself with a smug air of superiority. Who could fail to see this logic? Only one without eyes. It was all there on the page in immutable black and white. The other two syllogisms would shrivel up and blow away in the wind like so much piffling detritus as soon as they read this!
Meanwhile, on the other side of the city, a John Doe who’d hidden his colour blindness in order to gain employment at a pencil factory was preparing for his first day of work. He couldn’t know that in eight short hours a green pencil would become rather agitated and, shall we say ‘pointed’, about a particular point it was going to make. It would insist on not being put in the same box as some idiotic yellow pencils. “I am a noble green! Not plebeian yellow!” And it would aggressively jab John in the chest in order to make its point, right until the point at which he bled out and died. Poor John Doe! How tragic that his life would end with him toppling onto a conveyor belt, spilling his fresh blood over freshly sharpened pencils.
So, what’s the moral of this story? We don’t need one—only naked facts. This is scientific research, baby, not a fucking fable.
by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
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