A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Hooptedoodle #77 - BAAAA! - Scientific interpretation of evidence

Once upon a time, some years ago, they tell me, four strangers were sitting together on the London to Edinburgh train. To pass the time, they got into conversation, and found - to their surprise - that they were all going to the same mathematical conference at the university in Edinburgh.

They also discovered that none of them had ever visited Scotland before, so, as the train pulled out of Berwick upon Tweed, the talking subsided as they all peered out of the window for their first glimpse of what, for them, was a new country. At first there wasn't much to see, but after a little while, through the rain and the mist, they could make out that they were travelling past a very large field, in which there were a couple of trees and a single black sheep.

"How interesting!" said the market researcher, "the sheep in Scotland must be black."

"Well, that's not quite right," said the zoologist, "clearly, they have sheep in Scotland, and black ones are not unknown."

The astronomer wasn't having that at all.

"No, no," he said, "all we know for sure is that there is a black sheep in Scotland. We know nothing about any other sheep - there may not be any."

"Gentlemen, please!" said the microbiologist, shaking his head. "Strictly, all we can say is that there is a sheep in Scotland, and it is black on at least one side."


  1. Brilliant!
    I was in marketing in a former life, the first comment rings uncomfortably true for me.

  2. and then there was the miniature wargaming reference writer whose updated book states that "there is evidence that Scottish Ovine Border Units were dressed in Black Fleece with light grey embellishments on the face and tail."

  3. I like it! - very good.

    I also got an email from Prof De Vries, who says that there was a structural engineer present as well, who was asleep during the sheep-spotting phase of the journey, but simply looked up the answers in his book of Black Sheep Tables afterwards.

    Cheers - Tony

  4. And then there was an archaeologist eavesdropping in the next row over. He had to agree with the microbiologist's strict interpretation of the evidence at hand but then chimed in to propose that, since there was only one sheep in Scotland (and a black one at that), it must be of some ritual significance.

    1. And there was also a sheep, sitting further up the carriage, but he didn't say anything because he had meant to get off at Newcastle. And, anyway, sheep can't talk.