Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Equanimity in the Face of a War with Goats

Some non-threatening goats I saw last year in Zhuhai, China (photo previously shared here)

A brief break from all things China ...

If I am ever misquoted by a newspaper, I might appreciate it more if it leads to a result similar to the recent misquoting of Richard Robinson, founder of the Brighton Science Festival in the UK (HT Tania Branigan). In its apology The Argus explains:
We would like to clarify that the quote “I have become increasingly convinced that we are heading for a disastrous confrontation and that the 21st century will be remembered for a terrible war between mankind and goats” was a reader question and not a response from Mr Robinson.

The next paragraph, “People often underestimate how dangerous a goat can be – I personally know six people who have become severely injured by goats, and the annual death toll racked up by goats is over 2,000,000”, is also a reader question and not a response from Mr Robinson.

The Argus is happy to correct this and would like to apologise for the error.
I'm glad they were happy to correct the article. I imagine some readers received quite a jolt from the original version. The apology is currently circulating online for obvious reasons. What is often missing, though, is Robinson's deadpan response, one that stayed true to his outlook on life, the universe and everything:
The reassurance provided by a purely objective, existentialist view of life is that one can view with equanimity the scenario in which we humans are displaced by almost any other animal on the planet, including goats. It is all one, in the grand chaotic riot of things.
See the full article here for more of Robinson's thoughts and his lighter (or darker?) response to the followup question.

And more here soon on other topics also part of the "grand chaotic riot of things".

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