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July 30, 2006

Another Theory Proved

Tom McLaughlin

Humor by Tom McLaughlin

I like to surround myself with smart people. Well, not smart but rather the brilliant types. I have two friends who can and have lined up 30 or more people at chess and beaten every one of them at the same time.

I marvel as they walk around the room and seemingly glance at each board for a nano second, make a move and then go on to the next board.

We often sit on the beach together and they get into conversations where I understand about the first 30 seconds; they then go into a spacecraft of theories and postulates that leave me wondering if I am mentally deficient.

My job, in all of this, is to stop the exchange when a particularly beautiful girl approaches. I tap one on the leg, the discussion stops as they look appreciatively as she passes by and then resumes at the point they left off.

I sometimes have called attention to a poor soul who should never, ever have been in a bikini. They look up, eye me quizzically and continue on about string theory with something like "When I was talking to Stephen Hawkings," - and one of them had.

Finally, when the topic has been exhausted, they turn to more mundane things. When it comes to social issues, they believe that those who studied sociology are nothing more than uncoordinated physical education majors.

Human behavior, according to them, remains a mystery to be solved only when the intricacies of the entire DNA chemical pathways have been unraveled. They accept this viewpoint when they try to understand the actions of their wives and, sometimes, me.

Most human actions, they conclude, can be explained by corollaries of the Greater Fool Theory. In economics, this theory states that if one makes questionable investments, there will always be a greater fool who will purchase the stocks at higher price, thus ensuring a profit.

Local unfathomable examples include those who rent a small closet size boardwalk fronted space for $110,000 in advance - to sell sunglasses at $3 apiece. The owners only allow a lease for six months because they winter in the south of France.

When September occurs and warrants have been issued for non-payment for eyewear, the store is abandoned. Next year someone will rent for $115,000; thus ensuring a greater fool.

There are many other examples. They include those who immediately remarry after a brutal divorce; people who swim a few minutes after a person has been killed by a lightening strike; and those who vote Republican. I am sure you can think of many other examples.

My friends have been close for over 30 years and often rely on me for happenings in the non-science world. They have contributed much in their field and have been published in prestigious, yet obscure journals. Their research has benefited mankind although I know that was not their intention whereas I write for this web site.

However, we both agree and understand The Greater Fool Theory as we watch the girls on the beach.

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