Sunday, January 26, 2014

186. Myths

I found C.W. in my favorite chair surrounded by piles of paper. He was in his “college professor” form, complete with corduroy pants, sweater, and bow tie. He was frantically scribbling notes.

“What’s up, Galactic Wonder?” I said.

“Shut up. I’m busy.”

“My,” I said. “Aren’t we being a good example of interstellar love today?”

“Sorry,” he said. “I have a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome.”

“Hmmm.” I said. “Sounds like you have a problem.”

“Why do you repeat what I say so often?” He wrote furiously and then looked up.

I said, “So what’s your problem?”

“I’m in trouble with the Elders.”

“The Falloonian Elders?”

“Who else?”

“So,” I said. “Did they find out about your experiments with the ‘wacky weed’ and your secret stash of Twinkies?” (Sweets make him as silly as martinis make me).

“No,” he said. “They have accused me of confusing facts with allegories.”

“They found out that I really can’t walk on water?”

He sighed. “It all started with this,” he said. He rummaged in the stack of papers and retrieved a newspaper clipping. He held it before me and I read that 60 percent of Americans believe the Biblical account of Noah’s Ark and the universal flood is literally true.


“They say I must learn that, with your species, statistics like this are meant as allegories.”


“Yes, their purpose is to present universal lessons, in this case the tendency of your species to prove points with mythical statistics.”

“And the point here is?”

“They think it has something to do with your love of the printed word and its almost magical effect on your sense of homeostasis.”

“So the statistics are not meant to illustrate actual occurrences?”

“Give me an interrupt,” he said.

“Uh, you mean ‘give me a ‘break,’” I said.

“There you go again.”

“So you don’t really think anyone believes that two of every species of life on the planet, with the necessary food and water for more than a month’s captivity, fit on a wooden vessel 400 feet long?”

“Don’t you have something to do?” he said.

“Oh,” I said, “my job today is to have fun and I’m doing it.”

He groaned. “Well, at least help me.” He thrust a pile of papers into my hands. “Find me something that I can use in my report to show them that they may be correct in assuming you, that is your species, uses statistical references in a purely allegorical sense.”

It seems to me that you view statistics as a
 bunch of monkeys in a tree. Get them down and
treat them right, they'll do anything you want. - C.W.
“Doesn’t that go against your position?”

“One never wants to urinate the Falloonian Elders off.”

“Quite right,” I said as I began rummage. It only took a second. “Here’s something. You know of course that there are more than 350,000 separate species of beetles on earth.”

He grabbed if from my hand and read. His entire face brightened. “Thanks,” he said. And then he began to copy the following.

There is a story, possibly apocryphal, of the distinguished British biologist, J.B.S. Haldane, who found himself in the company of a group of theologians. On being asked what one could conclude as to the nature of the Creator from a study of his creation, Haldane is said to have answered, “An inordinate fondness for beetles.”

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