Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Detectives.....

Once upon a time there was a group of twelve detectives who were called to a complicated crime scene. There were some different groups of witnesses to the crime, as well as some forensic evidence. There were also two suspects, one guilty and one innocent.

Two detectives immediately went and began trying to assemble the basic story of what happened from the different groups of witnesses.

One of the other ten said, "We can't go by eye-witness testimony at all. It's notoriously unreliable. We should not even talk with the witnesses, lest our forensic analysis be slanted by that. We're detectives. Let's just look at the facts!" Another murmured, "Detectives....yes, the detection of us!"

Another replied, "Yes, observation and facts. That's science. Science is good, so science has to have the answers." So one picked up a bit of dirt on the scene and studied it carefully. Then he tasted a little of it and said, "I do detect...that this tastes like.....dirt!"

Another detective scribbled down, "The dirt tastes like....dirt." One of the detectives peered over his shoulder as he wrote.

The writer looked up at him and said, "Why are you peering at me?"

"I'm not, I'm peering at what you are writing."

"Oh, I think we should call that peer review! I think I shall go report on what we detectives have detected here, especially now that you have peered at it."

So those two detectives left to go publish their findings.

The first two detectives came back to the others and one said, "I think we have the general story down and the facts here do not contradict it. In fact, they support it. Look at those footprints, they are the first suspect's size."

The other detectives replied, "What? You're not real detecting detectives, as we are. Just look at what we can detect!" One picked up a piece of grass and studied it carefully. Then he sniffed it and said, "This smells like....grass!" Another wrote that down as a detective peered over his shoulder.

Then the group looked at the footprints in the grass and dirt that the other two detectives had pointed them to. One said, "I detect....grass and dirt! That's all we real detectives have detected and written about. So that's all that real detecting detectives like us should be allowed to look for or see! You two aren't real detectives, like we are. Just look at the science of us!"

Fortunately, the crowd generally believed the two detectives who had made an effort to assemble the whole story. Those who pursued the truth and not the group driven by their vanity about being detectives. For if the detectives more interested in their own detections than the truth had been listened to, an innocent man would have been condemned and the guilty set free.

The two detectives who got to the truth never were called "real" detectives like the group, but they got to the truth and told the people about it.

That was all that mattered to them.

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