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 Trees in Forests

Status: Sugested 20000307

%t What happens when no one is looking
%n ?R?
%s If a tree fell down in a forest...
%a Alex Gough 
%d 19991224 20000307

It is held my many scientists that the universe operates according to the same set of rules whether or not anyone is breathing down the neck of reality. Many philosophers would dispute this, partially because they are uncomfortable with such a world view but mostly because they like to violently disagree with whatever anyone else believes [1] and feel that they can easily gain a publishing deal on the back of it.

This probing of the essence of reality is usually summed up with the question "If a tree falls down in a forest, and no one is around, does it still make a noise?". Of course this is a silly thing to enquire about as it entirely misses the point of the problem. The real issue at stake here is not to find out if the tree made a sound but why anyone should seek an answer to an impossible question.

This question is impossible to answer, not because it was posed by a politician seeking office, but because it can always be redefined after a satisfactory explanation so as to make it even harder to understand. This is another face to the philosophers' plot to earn more money while confusing more people.

Other groups have attempted to jump onto this bandwagon but their sucess has been limited by their attempts to clear up the problem when they would profit more by obscuring the issue then charging people for doing so.

Religions provide most people with a way out of the problem by giving at least one member of their pantheon the ability to see and hear everything. In many cases this God is also responsible for making the tree fall down in the first place thus saving him valuable time which can be better spent looking after peoples' souls, making patterns appear in tomatoes and planning devious punishments for atheists.

Mystics will use the art of Zen to solve the tree-noise problem. Instead of giving the inquirer an answer, they will confuse them further by asking an even deeper question or claiming that the tree will be re-incarnated as a water vole at the court of Genghis Kahn. Mystics should not be trusted though as they manage to be both often wrong and rarely right.

Rationalists will define their way around the conundrum. By using the tried and tested method of proof through blatant and repeated assertion they will simply assume that reality will act in the same way no matter where it is, who is watching or even what they are wearing at the time. They will then complete their proof by telling you this, and shouting very loudly should you disagree.

An environmentalist will then ask why the tree had to fall down in the first place, assume that it was the fault of a multi-national logging corporation, then stage a peaceful protest somewhere with an above average concentration of film crews and newspaper reporters.

[1] Some philosophers have even been known to disagree with themselves, an action which quickly leads to the nearest public house or drinks cabinet.

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