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Post 1


Interesting. I am fascinated by your ability to debunk the beliefs of others. With that in mind, I offer you a challenge. At the end of this message, I will make a statement. If you are able to convince me that this statement is not true, then you respect and admiration. If not, you will live out the rest of your life in shame and agony, forever devastated by the loss of your one true talent. Ready? Here goes:

I believe that you will be able to convince me that this statement is not true.

Good Luck.

-Arthbard Vootenoy

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Post 2

Thomas the Nearly Sane

Dear Arthbard,

There seems to be a misunderstanding at work. My mission in life is to shake beliefs, not strictly to prove or disprove.

That said, I need only concede to succeed. If I acknowledge an inability to convince you (and I do) then you should, in fairness, abandon the belief. In other words, I cannot convince you the statement is untrue and you, logically, should be big enough about it to retreat from your belief based on this evidence of my failure. The truth or falsity of the statement itself has nothing to do with your belief in it.

True? False? Doesn't matter. I say I'm unable to convince you it's not true, and if I did convince you I'd only be making more work for myself, as you'd then have a new belief that I would NOT be able to convince you. I say I can't convince you, but we've only just met, and you've no basis for taking my word for anything. It follows that you should cease believing I can succeed, without substituting the equally dubious contrary belief. Working out the truth or falsity of the underlying statement - irrespective of your belief - is left to you… and the hard-working, dues-paying members of the Philosophers' Union.

Do you doubt I've met the challenge? Then I've succeeded. If you're left with the simultaneous conclusion that I have therefore failed, I'm quite happy with the outcome.

As to the alternative results you propose: your respect and admiration would be dependent on your BELIEF in my success - no thanks, I wouldn't want them on those terms. Shame and agony? Devastation? Haven't noticed any yet. They would require my belief that I have failed, and I'm fresh out.

Give my best to Möbius if you happen to see him. His band still rocks.


(or someone pretending to be Thomas - who can be sure?)

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Post 3


Impressive. You've either succeeded or confused me enough that I might as well say you have (then again, I'm always confused). On the other hand, you may have failed to succeed, and in doing so succeeded, thereby meaning that you've failed. However if you've failed, then my statement is, in fact, untrue, and...[this part of message lost during transmission]...and in conclusion, this all seems to point to the fact that grasshoppers are red, and not green, as is the common belief.

I hope that answers the question of whether or not you've succeeded.

By the way, Möbius says "helloollehhello..." There's something weird about that guy.

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Post 4

Thomas the Nearly Sane

Yes, yes… now you're getting it! You've provided AN answer to the question of whether or not I've succeeded, without claiming it's THE answer!

Better yet, we're addressing the actual color of grasshoppers, irrespective of the "common belief" smiley - yuk regarding their pigmentation!

I've succeeded (or failed) beyond my wildest expectations - and my expectations are often wild enough to warrant "featured exhibit" status in many major zoological gardens. I'm tempted to ride off into the sunset.

Still, as long as there are political parties, evangelists and graduate teaching assistants there'll be need for what I do.

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Post 5


Before you go riding off into the sunset, you should first ask yourself whether you're actually riding into the sunset or riding into the sunrise of some other part of the world. Even if it can be assumed that you are riding into A sunset, can you really say that you are riding into THE sunset. After all, there are many different planets with many different suns, all of which rise and set in their own way. Of course, we must, then, consider that these suns do not actually rise and set, so much as their respective planets rotate, allowing the sunlight to reach each part of the planets at different times.

Of course, the common belief is that none of this matters, and should therefore be ignored.

Besides, it would be very hot

Post 6

Thomas the Nearly Sane

As it is the common belief that none of this matters I am constrained to argue its importance. I am aided considerably in this by your thorough analysis of the concept of "sunset," which alone demonstrates that a well-adjusted allowance for physical reality is in fact useful to understand both relativity of perception and the practical limits of the self-centered world view.

Further evidence that all this matters is that it was a worthy subject for consideration by the Firesign Theater, a group of great (albeit defiantly random) clear thinkers, to-wit:

"The sun's going down!"

"No, no, you're confused; the horizon's moving up!"

(followed by the suggestion of a physical exercise to help the mistaken observer see more objectively —)

"I know - let's stand him on his head!"

Lest any doubt remain, consider the difficulties of riding off INTO the sunset, however it may be characterized or perceived: a considerable sustained westward speed would be required to avoid falling far short of the goal, yet an excess of westerly speed would turn the sunset subjectively into a sunrise. The middle course (or rate) would, relatively, both stop the sun in mid-set and leave the rider ever constant in distance from the object of the journey (hence not "into.") Surely such impediments to the proposed action "matter," at least to anyone contemplating the attempt.

My brain hurts, and so to bed.

Besides, it would be very hot

Post 7


True, but then, I suppose that "riding in the direction of the horizon which appears to be moving towards the star nearest to this planet" isn't quite the nice, compact statement that "riding into the sunset" is. But then, since "riding into the sunset" has become a bit of a cliche, modifying the statement as suggested may actually pump more life into it, making it sound new and fresh. Of course, I must now ask the question, "Just what is 'fresh,' anyway?" Is the milk in my refrigerator "fresh?" Are the hot dogs at the local convenience store "fresh?" Is Will Smith "fresh?" Or is "fresh" just another perception with little or no basis in reality?

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