Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Intelligent Planting

One day, two friends, Jim and Mike, were out hiking through the wilderness. They came upon a beautiful patch of wildflowers, and while admiring it, they struck up the following conversation:

Jim: Amazing, isn't it?
Mike: Yeah. That Pete sure is something.
Jim: Pete? Who's Pete?
Mike: He's the guy who planted all of these flowers. You didn't think they'd be arranged so beautifully on their own, did you?
Jim: Well, actually, I did. Flowers evolved to be beautiful; it's part of how they attract bees to pollinate them or something. We can ask my friend Rick when we get back to town if you want the whole story; he's a botanist, so he should know. It's not too surprising they'd be beautiful.
Mike: Meh. I don't buy it. Even with that, the way they're arranged is too pretty.
Jim: I don't know, it seems pretty random to me. The human mind is good at picking out patterns, though, so the few that form randomly stand out to us and make us think it's beautiful.
Mike: Trust me. I know design when I see it, and that patch has too many nice patterns in it to be random. Someone must have purposefully planted them that way.
Jim: And that someone is Pete?
Mike: Exactly.
Jim: ... I think I'm missing a step here. I can see how your logic and way of thinking would lead you to believe someone must have planted those flowers – even if I don't agree with it – but how does that extend to it being a specific person? Do you know Pete or something?
Mike: Well, no.
Jim: Do you know anyone who's seen him? Or, maybe any newspaper articles about him planting wildflowers in this area?
Mike: Not exactly, no.
Jim: Then why do jump from “someone” to “Pete”?
Mike: Well, you see, when I was a kid, my mother read this book to me, all about Pete and his work. I've grown up believing in Pete ever since, and I make an effort to spread the word about him when I can. His work shouldn't go uncredited.
Jim: Okay, I guess that's better than nothing. I'd like to see this book sometime, though. See what all the fuss is about.
Mike: Oh, well you're in luck. I always bring a copy of it along when I go hiking.
(Mike searches through his bag, picks out a book, and hands it to Jim. Jim starts reading through it.)
Jim: Huh. Well I can see where you got some of your ideas from, but this just isn't too convincing to me.
Mike: Why not?
Jim: Well, for one thing, it isn't very consistent. For one thing, his last name changes spelling over the course of the book. It starts off as “Gardener” – a name whose appropriateness makes me suspect this started off as a simply children's book, but I digress – but in the last chapter it becomes “Gardner.”
Mike: Oh, well that's just a typo.
Jim: All seven times?
Mike: Okay, maybe not. I think different chapters might have been written by different people, so that would explain it.
Jim: Ah, I can see that. Especially if this just started as a children's story which got misinterpreted.
Mike: Hey! Don't disrespect my beliefs like that!
Jim: Sorry, but as your friend, I feel it's my obligation to tell you that what you're saying isn't that convincing.
Mike: What do you mean? Isn't the design of these flowers along with this book proof enough for you?
Jim: Well, for all I know, this book could have simply been intended as fiction. The design of these flowers – which I still don't agree to, mind you – is the only real evidence you've presented. Besides, I've heard of a few different stories about this type of thing. I think I recall one similar book, except it was a guy named Phil, not Pete.
Mike: Yeah, we get into fights with the Phil-believers all the time about this.
Jim: That's just the point. From your flimsy evidence, all you can argue for as that someone must have planted the flowers. There's no reason I should prefer Pete over Phil or maybe Bruce, Doug, or Pat!
Mike: That's where this book comes in. We've got evidence that there has to be someone planting these flowers, and we've got a story about Pete doing just that. Isn't that enough to believe in Pete?
Jim: Not really. I mean, a book like that isn't very good evidence. It's cobbled together by multiple authors, contradicts itself in many places, and doesn't even provide any way to verify any of it. And I'll remind you that I still think the layout of these flowers is simply random.
Mike: Well you see, that's where faith comes in. I mean, logically, it might not seem to all fit together. But you have to trust in Pete, and know that he really does exist, and somehow this all makes sense.
Jim: You say that as if blind trust is a virtue.
Mike: Pete says it is.
Jim: But you can't know that Pete's right unless you already accept that he exists.
Mike: Which I do, because of my faith.
Jim: You ever get the feeling we're arguing in circles?
Mike: Pete says the circle is perfect, and therefore circular logic is also a thing of beauty.
Jim: I don't think I want to be friends with you anymore.


Techskeptic said...

Perfect. Reminds me of UDs post of "Name the Indian". Except this one makes sense.

Quixie said...

Praise Pete!

I loved the last line.

I have these kinds of exchanges at least a couple of times a year.



JanieBelle said...

Nailed it, Infophile.

Except you forgot the bloodbaths.


N.B. said...


jba said...

thanks. I actually just laughed out loud and now my coworkers are looking at me funny. well... funnier than normal. heh. great stuff.

Mark said...

Hahah nice one. Careful though, you might just have seeded a new religion - Peteism