Skeptico: Five apples
This is brilliant. The whole site is worth a read.
This is what my life is like. I have four apples. At least I’m pretty sure there are only four, I only bought four, I can only see four and there is no reason to suppose I have any more. There could be five I suppose, but I see no reason to think so. The trouble is, everyone else thinks there are five. I ask people for evidence that there are five apples. I ask them what reason they have to suppose there are five, or to show me how they counted five, and these are the replies I get:
1. What do you mean, “count the apples”?
2. Have you studied agriculture? If not, how do you know there aren’t five apples?
3. The majority of people in the world know there are five apples. Are you saying they are all wrong?
4. It’s closed-minded to think there aren’t five apples.
5. There is plenty of evidence to prove that there are five apples, go and look for it, I’m not counting them for you.
6. Apples can’t be “counted” by science, so there are five apples.
7. Can you prove there isn’t a fifth apple somewhere?
8. Scientists counted only three apples in the past and now they admit there are four, so there are five now.
9. The ancient Chinese knew there were five apples; modern science still has not yet caught up.
10. They laughed at Galileo when he said there were five bananas, and he was right, so there are five apples.
11. Science can’t yet see all the apples. You can’t see radio waves, but they existed before we developed ways to measure them, so why can’t there be a fifth invisible apple now that we just haven’t developed the technology to see?
12. Quantum mechanics proves there are five apples.
13. I just know the fifth apple is there.
14. It’s a government conspiracy to cover up the existence of the fifth apple.
15. You’re not keeping up with the latest research. It has now been proven that there are five apples (although I can’t actually remember where this research is written up).
Here’s the thing: I actually have four apples and an orange. These people are so busy making up stories about a fifth apple, they’ll never realize the orange even exists.