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Pigment of Your Imagination

June 23, 2011

Monday morning you arrive at your office to find the walls are now blue. Friday they were yellow. Something clearly has happened, but what?

Your first thought is that Zeke the handyman painted your office over the weekend. This initial assumption is bolstered by a note on your desk, which reads, “I painted your desk over the weekend. Zeke.”

This explanation suffices for you throughout the day, but on rising the next morning, you are struck with the awareness that it is not very scientifical. Science, you tell yourself only admits for effects from natural causes without recourse to some intelligent agent acting deliberately. This is the twenty-first century, by gum, you remind yourself–no handyman of the gaps for you.

So you think and you think. You’re a thinking person. And by thinking you arrive at an alternate explanation. A can of paint must’ve exploded spontaneously and covered your walls with paint. A little inner voice tells you its not the most likely of scenarios to actually happen. But, unless you slip back into prescientific modes of thinking (which is not really thinking at all) it is otherwise the most probable explanation. Not bleedin’ likely, just highly probable.

How could such a thing happen? With the AC off over the weekend the temperature would have risen in the building. And if there were a can of blue paint in your office (“Where did it come from?” “STOP IT! Be scientific!”) As I was saying, if there was a can of blue paint in your office, and the temperature got high enough, it would just BOIL OVER–and splatter over the walls. A clear case of ebullition!

You walk around with a smile all day congratulating yourself on being logical, rational, and modern. Science, after all, gives us the best answers in life.

Only you wake up the next day and something is bothering you. It’s Zeke. He looked kind of hurt when you explained that the painting was done by sheer accident. Besides, it’s not like him to out and out lie about his being the one who painted your office. Briefly you consider abandoning science and going back to your original, naive, unthinking assumptions.

So you think and you think. And you think some more. Maybe there’s a solution.

Then it hits you!! Of course. Zeke did it all right, but the way he did it was by exploding the can (Mr. Bean style). He put the can in the room (that explains where it came from). He turned off the AC, maybe even turned up the heat, until the can just blue…sorry…blew.

That little voice comes back trying to tell you that what you’re doing is assuming Zeke was there and wasn’t there at the same time, which might be a logical fallacy.

Fortunately science vincit omnia and you sit back and contratulate yourself that you have finally arrived at the one conclusion that satisfies everyone–Zekistic ebullition.

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