The Absurdity Principle

The moon is made of cheese.

The cow jumped over the moon.

Penguins taste just like chickens.

Most of us have heard the above before sometime in our lives (maybe not the last one, but it’s a novelty anyway). What is it that causes us to dismiss them as utterly ridiculous and unfound before we’ve even heard any evidence? Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the absurdity principle. While most would call it the absurdity rule, I call it a principle. The reason I call it a principle is because it differs slightly from philosophy to science.

In philosophy, it’s a bit more loose. Mostly revolving around grammar and how things are said. A statement can still be technically logical, but at the same time not be completely contradictory. I’ll site some examples used in wikipedia. (I know, but bear with me. The examples they use are standard to demonstrate this)

“I went to the pictures last Tuesday but I don’t believe it” can be true, are (logically) consistent, and are not (obviously) contradictions.

Whether anyone in their right mind would actually speak like that is anyone’s guess -not that I wouldn’t like to see it of course. However it’s about the principle of the thing.

Now I was reading an article earlier today in the Popular Science magazine. One of the scientist featured in it was talking about how the moon ~could~ be made of cheese. He was asking questions to himself about how it could be, and answering them with as much seriousness as one might come to expect from someone who is a master of the scientific method… When he began to talk about how the dense nature of the moon simply could mean that below the meters of dust there was dense “lunar cheese”… but his point was to demonstrate how our minds so quickly react to things that seem obvious, but are they? Of course when he did mention that he highly doubted a cow could obtain escape velocity without multiphase rockets and escape the atmosphere to fly over the moon. In that respect, I think we can all agree.

So the next time you hear something and your mind screams that it’s ridiculous, try to prove it. You might find it harder then you had thought.

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