Chain reasoning

Via Ryan Tamares (who is, by the way, a librarian) on Facebook, this wonderful Dilbert cartoon:



Dilbert starts the chain: I read books because reading increases my knowledge, and (maxim alert!) knowledge is power — so reading books provides power. Then the dark spirit Dogbert strings it out: knowledge is power, power corrupts (another maxim), corruption is a crime, crime doesn’t pay (another maxim). If knowledge is power and power corrupts, then knowledge corrupts; if knowledge corrupts and corruption is a crime, then knowledge is a crime; if knowledge is a crime and crime doesn’t pay, then knowledge doesn’t pay. So reading doesn’t pay.

Then Dogbert maliciously plays on the interpretation of crime doesn’t pay, which literally means that there’s nothing (in particular, nothing monetary) to be gained from crime, but is used as a proverb to warn that if you commit a crime, you’ll probably be caught and punished. Dogbert chooses to go for the literal understanding, and puts the whole chain together to conclude that you won’t get any money by reading books, which means you’ll go broke (because you won’t have any income). And adds the side remark that librarians would like you to believe in the value of reading, but that’s just because (he suggests) they’re offering you a drug that will lead you to ruination.

Evil folk, librarians, with their addictive books. And booksellers, too.


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