Three Wise Fools
- Thursday, May 24, 2007
There were once three men who considered that they were very wise. They lived in a country that had only just been introduced to electricity.
One dark night, the men were invited by Edison Electric to see a demonstration of electrical power, because it was well-known that the three of them were skeptics when it came to electricity being a reality. The reason they denied its existence was because they didn't believe in anything that could not be seen. These men were rationalists, and electricity was said to be invisible1. They refused to believe in something that couldn't be scientifically demonstrated.
When they entered the dimly lit demonstration room, they were cordially met by a representative from Edison Electric. As they looked around, they saw that a large lamp sat on a table in the middle of the room. Also on the table were a candle and a leather-bound book called The Owner's Manual. It was published by the electric company.
The representative welcomed them and excitedly explained that the lamp had the power to light up an entire large room, with the simple flick of a switch.
He said, "Gentleman, electricity is a modern marvel. To see it demonstrated, simply flick the switch on the lamp. You will be amazed. It will light up the entire room. The manual on the table is to give further instruction to you, if you decide to purchase the lamp." He then left the room to speak with other interested clients.
All the men needed to do to see the miracle of electricity, was to flick the switch on the lamp.
Instead, they sat down at the table, and one of them opened The Owner's Manual and began to cynically look at its pages. It began with a short biographical sketch of the famous inventor, Thomas Edison.
The chapters were made up as follows:
A diagram of the position of the switch on the lamp
- Background information on how electricity was discovered
- Hydroelectric power, pictures of huge dams, and how they produce electricity
- Diagrams of copper wiring and magnets, explaining how they are able to turn raw energy from moving water into invisible electricity
- How electrical wiring carries the generated power to our homes
- Electrical sockets, power cords, and other accessories.
As the man continued to flick through its pages, it was as though the lamp that sat on the table in front of them didn't exist. Then they began to talk. The conversation went like this:
"I don't believe that there is any such thing as 'electricity.' I've never seen it. It's supposed to be invisible and yet produce light. How ridiculous! Where's the evidence? If I can't see it, it doesn't exist."
"I totally agree," said the man holding the book. "It says here on page 17 that Edison was considered to be a genius. I don't think so. I've studied his life and he had so many failures, it was ridiculous. He didn't even 'invent' the light bulb. He only invented the first commercially practical incandescent light.
"Who published this book anyway? I doubt if they know anything about Thomas Edison. I notice here that it says that his wife's name was 'Mary Stilwell.' That's just not true. I'm and educated man. I did a thesis on the man's life once, and I know that his wife's name was definitely 'Mina.'"2
"Interesting... I read somewhere that he used this so-called 'electricity' to kill animals3. Is that true?"
The man holding the book said, "It's true. There has been a great deal of evil done in the name of this so-called 'electricity.' That's why I don't want to have anything to do with it.
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