A Simple Test

1 ) Take 1 (one) pencil.

2 ) Let go of pencil.

3 ) record results.

4 ) Repeat 1000 times.

5 ) Take 1 (one) pencil.

6 ) Pray to (one of many, many gods) for it to fly up and hit the ceiling.

7 ) Record result.

8 ) Repeat 1000 times.

9 ) Compare results.


Software developer by day, scale model builder and wargamer by night.

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12 comments on “A Simple Test
  1. Richard@Home says:

    Please use this space to record your results…

  2. suzi says:

    Thanks to you and these gods of yours I now have a great big pencil shaped hole in my ceiling 😉

  3. ibbo says:

    Yeap, 2000 results, pencil dropped to the floor (Actually I cheated and only did it twice, modus ponens is you friend). Only thing bothering me now is:

    Why gravity works the way it does?
    Why are the constants so finely balanced in the classical model?
    Why the flow of time is apparently so even as to make the events seem contiguous when there’s serious debate that time truly exists(Even tho quantum mechanics depends on an evenly ticking clock and classical mechanics hates the idea of such a clock)?
    Why x% of the people happy are to say it’s god, y% of the people to say it’s gravity, and the rest of us are scratching our heads wondering if naming something is really enough to understand it, and aren’t entirely sure what the actual difference between the x’s and y’s are.

  4. ibbo says:

    Damnit suzi.. now we have to do all the work to find out if the hole in your ceiling is is down to one of these pesky gods or just a random quantum event? Did the pencil actually fly upwards or just appear in the ceiling? Rich.. you need to re-design the experiment to account for random yet miraculous events? We wouldn’t want a false positive.

    Anyway, I reckon the church is way richer than the Neils Bhor institute, so I’d go with litigation against the church to get the hole repaired.

  5. Richard@Home says:

    “random quantum event”? Is there such a thing? O.o

    Is there such a thing as ‘random’ come to that?

    I realises some things are ‘sufficiently unknown as to be unpredictable’, but only down to lack of understanding.

    Speaking of testing, did you hear the JREF (James Randi Educational Foundation) are cancelling their million dollar challenge? 26 years and no-one has ever got past the preliminaries…

    You can’t sue the Church – it was the will of God, and as has been proven in court before: You can’t sue God – it’s impossible to deliver the subpoena >.<

  6. Richard@Home says:


    ‘sufficiently unknown as to be unpredictable’

    OR beyond our ability to measure them.

  7. Richard@Home says:

    And (not that you ever need a reason to quote Douglas Adams):

    “There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”


  8. suzi says:

    > “random quantum event”? Is there such a thing?

    That’s a pretty big question… don’t think we’ll get there by a priori discussion or even by googling. Maybe we could flip a coin to decide 😛

    Christianity at least has a get-out clause for the pencil experiment: having faith is A Good Thing and God isn’t going to deny you the opportunity to have faith by doing something so crass as to prove that He exists… that just wouldn’t be cricket.

    So the only thing we’ve proven so far is that whatever gods do exist take more notice of me than they do of ibbo .. and as for the repair bill for my celing, I figure Richard’s at fault for telling me to do the experiment in the first place 🙂

  9. suzi says:

    Excellent quote (I was writing while you were posting) … I’m definitely with the second school of thought.

  10. ibbo says:

    Well in terms of good quotes, you better both be careful you don’t get run over on the nearest zebra crossing. If you ask me the cosmological constant is about as close to a real life babel fish as we can get 😉

    > “random quantum event”? Is there such a thing?

    Think I’ll invoke modus tolens on that one 😉

    As for the rest.. I suddenly feel a whole load of sympathy for that Warren S McCulloch quote :).

  11. Richard@Home says:

    Dammit, that’s twice I’ve had to resort to google for latin translations! The CIA probably think I’m an 2nd century Italian cell of Al’qaeda by now :-S (Er, guys, I’m not… you can take away the bucket of water now)

    modus ponens: Proof by inferance (if x is true then y is true): Grass gets wet when it rains. It is raining, so the grass is wet.

    modus tolens: Proof by contradiction – the opposite of modus ponens (if y is true, then x is true: If it doesn’t rain, the grass is not wet. The grass is not wet therefore its not raining).

    Both have a fatal flaw for me: The grass may be covered (therefore it rains and the grass doesn’t get wet) and I can pee on the grass to make it wet (therefore the grass is wet and it isn’t raining)

    Logic, I love it! 😀

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