Friday, 3 September 2010

The Worlds Longest Science Joke

OK, let's see how long I can string this out for...

A horse walks into a bar. The barman says "Why the long face?"

"Evolutionary selective pressures" says the horse.

"I beg your pardon?" says the barman, surprised.

"The evolution of the horse occurred in such a manner that a large elongated head was an advantage over members of it's species which lacked this feature" replies the horse, wisely.

"Oh" says the barman, bemused. "Do you always talk about yourself in the third person? Or is the term 'the horse' something like 'the royal we' that humans use?"

"Pardon?" Says the horse. Or, more accurately, the man standing behind the horse.

"Oh" says the barman again, relieved this time "It was you talking the whole time" he says to the man.

"Indeed. I'm a zoologist, and this is my horse" replies the zoologist man.

"That makes more sense" says the barman, "I didn't think horses could talk"

"Yet you were ready to concede you may be wrong based on the evidence of your own perceptions, well done. Are you a scientist at all?" asks the zoologist.

"No" replies the barman "but I grew up in the city, I've never actually seen a horse in real life, so I'd have to admit it's possible they could talk, but this ability is something which nobody has brought to my attention yet".

"Interesting theory" says the Zoologist "Plausible given your own experiences, but it's unlikely that the ability of a non-human animal to process and deliver coherent speech, an incredible discovery, would be something that people would not speak about to the extent where you would almost certainly be aware of it, living as we do in an industrialised nation with many means of communication available"

"Perhaps" acknowledges the barman "but you're assuming a position of the speech capabilities of horses being a new discovery, whereas it's possible that, given humankind's long association with horses and beasts of burden, it's a well known fact, to the point where it is assumed to be common knowledge, such as the ability of penguins to swim. An unusual behaviour for birds, but if I were to point it out to a stranger I would be laughed at."

"Good point, well made" replies the Zoologist.

"Well, you work in a pub long enough, you hear a lot of discussions with wild suppositions and twisted logic", the barman confesses.

"I can imagine" says the zoologist.

There is a big pause, during which no bears appear, as is the norm.

"Did you want a drink?" Asks the barman, eventually.

"Yes. A lager please" The barman pours the zoologist his pint and he sits down.

At this point, an Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman enter the bar.

"Hello, we're 3 friends" says the Englishman.

"Not from childhood though, as we are from differing geographical locations" says the Irishman.

"We're all scientists, so met later in life via conferences" says the Scotsman.

"That's... nice" replies the barman, vaguely alarmed. "Why did you feel the need to tell me that?" He asks.

"Given the situation, it's highly likely that we shall end up in a limited discussion with you at some point during the evening, but as we have never encountered you before it would be unlikely that you knew anything about us, so we decided it would be best to provide background information about us in order to aid understanding." says the Scotsman.

"Fine!" says the barman, confused but soldiering on. He turns to the Englishman.

"What would you like?" he asks.

"I would like to be awarded a grant for my research with no end point to it, for my current theories to be proven correct and to be published without question or incident, and for my rather curvaceous female lab assistant to stop wearing such low-cut tops as it's creating a very distracting working environment" he replies.

"I meant what would you want to drink!" shouts the barman, becoming frustrated.

"I had no way of knowing that was the case, so I thought it best to use a literal interpretation of your question" replies the Englishman.

"What else could I possibly mean?! This is a pub" replies the barman angrily.

"I know, but I am not from this area so the opportunity sampling of public houses I have is geographically limited, so I could not guarantee that publicans in this area would have the same intent when asking that question as they do in my home town. Now that you have informed me that it is, I shall adjust me finding accordingly."

" a sociologist" asks the barman?

"Yes" replies the Englishman. "How did you know?"

"Lucky guess" sighs the barman.

"Actually, given the response you made contained much information regarding social convention and the possible consequences of incorrect supposition, it was highly likely that you were qualified in some sociological capacity" said the Scotsman to the Englishman "As for drinks, I believe he will have a lager, as on previous occasions when we have engaged in mutual socialising that is what he has ordered, possibly switching to some vodka-mixer combination later in the evening. Although our total mutual socialising occasions are limited, thus giving my analysis low statistical power, I have no further information on which to base my decision".

"And you'd be a... statistician?" asks the barman, tentatively.

"Your hypothesis has a less than 5% chance of a type 2 error. I will also have a lager"

The barman begins pouring their drinks. While doing so, he warily turns to the Irishman.

"And what would you like?" He asks. "To DRINK!" he hurriedly adds, glancing at the psychologist.

"Pint of Guinness" says the Irishman.

"Really? Simple as that?" asks the barman, suspiciously.

"Yes. I'm a lab technician. This being a joke though, I thought I'd make being Irish my most comically exaggerated feature" replies the clichéd Irishman.

They take their drinks and sit next to the Zoologist, whom it become clear they are acquainted with.

"You guys take a hell of a long time and preamble to make a single point" observes the barman.

"Like we said, we're scientists" replies the statistician.

Two Jews then walk into the bar. At this point, the horse defecates loudly onto the floor of the bar. The two Jews, disgusted, leaves. However, as it is currently Saturday daytime (Shabbat) and they were planning to enter a drinking establishment, it is unlikely they were committed or orthodox Jews, so their reason for their disgust was unlikely to be religious and more basic human revulsion.

"And get that horse out of here!" Shouts the barman, "No horses in my pub!"

"That statement contradicts all available evidence" says the Statistician.

"Indeed, both the presence of the horse and the lack of any public notices forbidding horses on the premises undermine your statement" says the Sociologist.

"But Horses aren't allowed in pubs! Everyone knows that" insists the barman.

"It's never been explicitly stated" says the zoologist.

"Indeed, all of us here entered the premises to discover a horse so assumed this was a common occurrence here. But when it does something that you disagree with, you try to impose arbitrary rules on the situation to fit your own specific world view. You're not a Christian, are you?" asks the the Sociologist.

"To be sure, to be sure" says the clichéd Irishman, drawing a shamrock in the foam on his Guiness.

"Either it goes or you do!" shouts the barman.

The Zoologist, sighing, gets up and leads the horse out of the bar.

While he is outdoors, two more men enter the pub.

"Hello! We're scientists" says the statistician.

"Oh good. Me too!" says one of the men. "I'm a chiropractor"

"That's not a Science" the statistician points out.

"I'LL SUE YOU!" Screams the chiropractor, and runs out of the pub, weeping and calling his lawyer.

The second man glares at the assembled scientists threateningly, and goes to the bar.

"Typical scientists, spending their ill-earned big pharma kickbacks for suppressing the natural therapies of nature" he says tot he barman.

The barman, completely unaware of what the man means, nods politely.

"I'm not like them. I'm a homeopath".

Unwilling to lose more custom, the barman nods again.

"I'd like an espresso, a coke and 10 pints of water please" the homeopath says.

"What do you want with that" asks the sociologist, who has overheard

"Because, despite what you fascists keep saying, diluting things makes them stronger" hisses the homeopath.

"Yeah, we get that, why the caffeine?" asks the technician, who has grown bored of being an Irish stereotype.

"Because like treats like! You treat the symptoms with things that cause them, obviously! And I'm trying to cure being sober!" barks the homeopath.

"Oh, I get it" replies the technician.

"Of course, sobriety isn't caused by caffeine, that's what causes insomnia and low level hyperactivity" says the statistician.

"Yeah, sobriety is the normal state of being for a human body. To cure that, you should dilute some water and take that." says the technician.

"Good luck with that" says the barman, now resigned to the situation.

"Of course, you could take into account the effects of drunkenness and try and treat the things that work against it?" says the statistician. "Drink makes me hungry, so you could maybe treat the symptoms of lack of hunger? Try diluting a kebab!"

"Yeah, and dilute some viagra as well!" says the sociologist. The technician, barman and statistician turn to stare at him.

"What?" says the sociologist. "Doesn't everyone get that?"

"You'd know" says the technician.

"Well, statistically speaking..." says the statistician.

"STOP RUINING MY NIGHT WITH YOUR LOGIC AND REASON" Screams the homeopath, typically. He then retreats to the corner of the room, and in order to exact a disproportionate revenge, spends the rest of the evening trying to suffocate the scientists by attempting to dilute a lack of oxygen.

At this point, the Zoologist returns to the bar. With the Horse.

"Oi!" shouts the barman. "I told you we don't allow horses in here"

"You did" says the zoologist. "I'm just repeating the experiment in order to verify the findings".

The horse then defecates again.

The barman just slumps to the floor, and vows to go on holiday the next time the QED conference is in town.

email: Humourology (at)

Twitter: @garwboy


MatíasG said...

TOO SHORT you lazy piece of science freak! =D

MatíasG said...

Btw, I'll translate it into Spanish for my blog ;D

Anonymous said...

brilliant! probably.

Skeptic Flyer said...

Well done.

Liam Bradey said...

Worlds Shortest Science Joke: Homeopathy!

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