Falling trees

Yesterday’s Bizarro puts a fresh twist on an old philosophical puzzle:

Previously on this blog, a Zippy (posted 10/15/12) on a related theme, with the punning punch line:

If a red-breasted nuthatch sings in a forest & there’s no one there to google it, did it post a tweet?

So what does it refer to in the top panel? In the old conundrum, it refers to the falling of the tree. But in the bottom panel, it refers to the tree itself, which turns out to have the power of speech; it can certainly make a sound (of its own volition).

We’re invited to disregard the fact that the beavers have the ability to speak and understand speech, so there was certainly someone there to hear it if a tree falls — so long as a beaver counts as someone.

The Zippy posting has some discussion of the conundrum, with a link to the Wikipedia page on the history, which traces it back to 1883 and possibly to Bishop Berkeley in 1710.

(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Don Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page.)

One Response to “Falling trees”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    I’m amused by the juxtaposition of this post and its predecessor, because GEICO also had a series of ads not long ago whose pattern was “Huh. 15 minutes can save you 15% or more on car insurance” — “Everyone knows that.” — “Oh, yeah? Well, did you know…” where the rest is the answer to some cliché question, one of which was “…that when a tree falls in a forest with no one around, it really does make a sound?”, illustrated by a animation of a tree falling and exclaiming in dismay as it does so.

    Of course, the problem with being a baseball fan is that I see all of these ads dozens if not hundreds of times, and after the first couple they’re not funny any more.

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