Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Fair Witnesses

A wonderful quote about the nature of knowing from Stranger in a Strange Land:
"You know how Fair Witnesses behave."

"Well... no, I don’t. I’ve never had any dealings with Fair Witnesses."

"So? Perhaps you weren’t aware of it. Anne!"

Anne was seated on the springboard; she turned her head. Jubal called out, "That new house on the far hilltop–can you see what color they’ve painted it?"

Anne looked in the direction in which Jubal was pointing and answered, "It’s white on this side." She did not inquire why Jubal had asked nor make any comment.

Jubal went on to Jill in normal tones. "You see? Anne is so thoroughly indoctrinated that it doesn’t even occur to her to infer that the other side is probably white too. All the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t force her to commit herself as to the far side... unless she herself went around to the other side and looked–and even then she wouldn’t assume that it stayed whatever color it might be after she left... because they might repaint it as soon as she turned her back."
 Oh, to be a Fair Witness!

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