Why did the Chicken Cross the Road?


‘To get to the other side’ is a bit too simplistic. So, to remedy that, here are a number of interesting and more original replies to this famous – and surprisingly old – anti-humour riddle joke:

‘There are ‘quips and quillets’ which seem actual conundrums, but yet are none. Of such is this: ‘Why does a chicken cross the street?’ – The Knickerbocker, or The New York Monthly, March 1847, p. 283

Douglas Adams: 42.

Aristotle: To actualize its potential. It is the nature of chickens to cross roads.

Buddha: If you ask this question, you deny your own chicken-nature.

Julius Caesar: To come, to see, to conquer.

Howard Cosell: It may very well have been one of the most astonishing events to grace the annals of history. An historic, unprecedented avian biped with the temerity to attempt such an Herculean achievement formerly relegated to Homo sapien pedestrians is truly a remarkable occurrence.

Salvador Dali: A melting fish.

Charles Darwin: It was the logical next step after coming down from the trees. After all, chickens, over great periods of time, have been naturally selected in such a way that they are now genetically disposed to cross roads.

Jacques Derrida: What is the difference? The chicken was merely deferring from one side of the road to other. And how do we get the idea of the chicken in the first place? Does it exist outside of language? Also, any number of contending discourses may be discovered within the act of the chicken crossing the road, and each interpretation is equally valid as the authorial intent can never be discerned, because structuralism is dead.

Rene Descartes: It had sufficient reason to believe it was dreaming anyway.

Bob Dylan: How many roads must one chicken cross?

Albert Einstein: Whether the chicken crossed the road or the road crossed the chicken depends upon your frame of reference.

Ralph Waldo Emerson: It didn’t cross the road; it transcended it.

Epicurus: For pleasure.

Michel Foucault: It did so because the discourse of crossing the road left it no choice – the police state was oppressing it.

Sigmund Freud: The chicken was obviously female and obviously interpreted the pole on which the crosswalk sign was mounted as a phallic symbol of which she was envious, selbstverständlich. However, the fact that you are at all concerned about why the chicken crossed the road reveals your underlying sexual insecurity.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: The eternal hen-principle made it do it.

Stephen Jay Gould: It is possible that there is a sociobiological explanation for it, but we have been deluged in recent years with sociobiological stories despite the fact that we have little direct evidence about the genetics of behaviour, and we do not know how to obtain it for the specific behaviours that figure most prominently in sociobiological speculation.

Ernest Hemingway: To die. In the rain.

Heraclitus: A chicken cannot cross the same road twice.

Adolf Hitler: It needed Lebensraum.

David Hume: Out of custom and habit.

Doug Hofstadter: To seek explication of the correspondence between appearance and essence through the mapping of the external road-object onto the internal road-concept.

James Joyce: To forge in the smithy of its soul the uncreated conscience of its race.

Carl Jung: The confluence of events in the cultural gestalt necessitated that individual chickens cross roads at this historical juncture, and therefore synchronicitously brought such occurrences into being.

Immanuel Kant: Because it would have this be a universal law.

Martin Luther King: It had a dream.

Gottfried von Leibniz: In this best possible world, the road was made for it to cross.

Machiavelli: So that its subjects will view it with admiration, as a chicken which has the daring and courage to boldly cross the road, but also with fear, for whom among them has the strength to contend with such a paragon of avian virtue? In such a manner is the princely chicken’s dominion maintained. In any case, the end of crossing the road justifies whatever motive there was.

Karl Marx: To escape the bourgeois middle-class struggle. It was a historical inevitability.

Sir Isaac Newton: Chickens at rest tend to stay at rest. Chickens in motion tend to cross the road.

Moses: And the LORD spake unto the chicken, “Thou shalt cross the road.” And the chicken crossed the road.

Pyrrho the Skeptic: What road?

Jean-Paul Sartre: In order to act in good faith and be true to itself, the chicken found it necessary to cross the road.

B.F. Skinner: Because the external influences which had pervaded its sensorium from birth had caused it to develop in such a fashion that it would tend to cross roads, even while believing these actions to be of its own free will.

J.R.R. Tolkien: The chicken, sunlight coruscating off its radiant yellow- white coat of feathers, approached the dark, sullen asphalt road and scrutinized it intently with its obsidian-black eyes. Every detail of the thoroughfare leapt into blinding focus: the rough texture of the surface, over which countless tires had worked their relentless tread through the ages; the innumerable fragments of stone embedded within the lugubrious mass, perhaps quarried from the great pits where the Sons of Man laboured not far from here; the dull black asphalt itself, exuding those waves of heat which distort the sight and bring weakness to the body; the other attributes of the great highway too numerous to give name. And then it crossed it.

Mark Twain: The news of its crossing has been greatly exaggerated.

Kurt Vonnegut: There is no “why”, there only “is”. So it goes.

Ludwig Wittgenstein: The possibility of “crossing” was encoded into the objects “chicken” and “road”, and circumstances came into being which caused the actualization of this potential occurrence.

Zeno of Elea: To prove it could never reach the other side.

5


In order to celebrate Knowledge Guild’s 5th anniversary we are going to take a closer look at the number 5. Do not worry, it is not as dull as it sounds.

  • The number of people killed by sharks since records began is equal to just five per cent of the number of toilet-related injuries in the USA in 1996.
  • In the 18th century, 75% of all children died before they were five years old. 90% of children born in workhouses died before they were five years old.
  • As a trick, the writer Arthur Conan Doyle once sent a letter to five friends that read, “We are discovered. Flee immediately.” One of his friends disappeared and Doyle never saw him again.
  • An enzyme found in pineapples called “Bromelain” destroys fingerprints. It was used as a plotline in an episode of Hawaii Five-O. This enzyme can also get rid of mouth ulcers.
  • Chelmsford was capital of England for five days in 1381 during the Peasants Revolt.
  • The Punjabi for the number “5” is “4”.
  • The most dangerous sport for American women is cheerleading. In 2002, 22,900 children between five and eighteen years of age went to hospital for cheerleading related injuries.
  • Charles Darwin is one of only five people who are not royal to be buried in Westminster Abbey.
  • Smoking takes five years off your health expectancy on average. However, as a man, removing your testicles adds thirteen years onto it.
  • The Hebrew for the number “5” is pronounced “Hey”.
  • The average height of an Eskimo is 5’4″ and the average life expectancy is 39. If you put five Eskimos in car, every Eskimo in the world could fit into the Los Angeles International Airport car park.
  • The best thing to do with an old Christmas tree is to contact your local zoo and see if they want to give it to their animals for food. In Germany people often feed Christmas trees to elephants, which can eat five of them for lunch. In Dresden Zoo they also give Christmas trees to giraffes, rhinos, camels, deer and sheep.
  • In Alexandre Dumas’ novel La Dem Aux Camelias, the main heroine, Marguerite Gautier, wears a white camellia for 25 days of month when she is available for sex, and a red one for five days when she is not available because she is having her period. The novel caused scandal in 19th century France when it was published and the flowers popularity grew.
  • The five appendages on most starfish exhibit pentamerism.
  • Only five people died in the Great Fire of London.
  • India has no speed limits and every car in the country within five years will be involved in a fatal road accident. The UK has the largest number of car thefts in the world.
  • Five pound notes are made out of a mixture of cotton and linen. Wooden paper is too fragile.
  • There are only five places in America which have an apostrophe in them which are Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts; Ike’s Point, New Jersey; John E’s Pond, Rhode Island; Carlos Elmer’s Joshua View, Arizona; and Clark’s Mountain, Oregon.
  • In the British Army, you can tell which branch of the Brigade of Guards a soldier is in by the gaps between the buttons. If they are evenly spaced, they are in the Grenadiers Guards. Pairs mean they are Coldstream Guards, threes are Scottish Guards, fours are Irish Guards, and fives are Welsh Guards.
  • The ideal way to kiss a Frenchman depends on what region of France you are in. Two kisses are normal in central and southern France and four in northern France. However, in Corsica it can be as many as five kisses. In Belgium and the Netherlands, three kisses is the usual amount.
  • Anchovies are now mainly used for feed salmon in fish farms. For every salmon, five kilograms of anchovies are killed. Therefore, salmon farming is not really sustainable.
  • Each country in the world has their own idea of how many portions of fruit and veg you should eat every day. The reason it is five in Britain is because doctors are of the belief that you cannot persuade the public to eat more than that. In Japan they recommend eating nine portions of fruit and veg, in Denmark it is six, in France it is ten.
  • A Fitzroy is a bastard child of a royal. Charles II had five Fitzroys from his mistress Barbara Palmer.

See other: Anniversaries

What If Christianity Had Defeated Reason?


What if the Christian organised religion had successfully blocked all scientific progress and philosophical development of reason for the past 2000 years?

  • We would probably still think the earth was located at the centre of the solar system (this school of thought is known as geocentrism, as opposed to heliocentrism), despite what brilliant astronomers like Copernicus and Galileo have argued.
  • We would still think that the sun revolved around the earth. (Having said that, in 2012, 18% of Americans still believed the sun revolves around the earth.)
  • Mankind would probably not have tolerated any kind of modern democracy, since theocratic politics do not tolerate opposing views, let alone critical or secular ones. After all, there is a strong argument to be made that organised religion does not tolerate dissent.
  • Secularists, radical and experimental scientists, thinkers and philosophers – dissenters of any kind for that matter – would still be silenced. That is, regularly burned at the stake.
  • Homosexuals, bisexuals and people with multiple casual sexual partners would probably be in the same amount of danger as people of a similar nature are nowadays in central Africa – perhaps even more danger.
  • Women would still be banned from most of public life; in the same way history has shown us for the past centuries.
  • We would still think human beings are a special divinely created exception in biology. Facts about evolution and genetics would be unknown.
  • And since mankind would be considered to be above nature, animals would probably be exploited even more than today.
  • Since evidence based sciences would have a tough time, evidence based medicine would probably not exist in the form we know today, we would still use quacks, faith healers and prayer to combat diseases instead of vaccinations and other medications.
  • Nations that would identify themselves as devoutly Christian would probably still be fighting religious wars against the other faithful.
  • Many of the works of noteworthy intellectual figures would never have been published (perhaps because they were placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum or similar black list). Notable thinkers on this list include: Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Voltaire, Denis Diderot, Victor Hugo, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, André Gide, Emanuel Swedenborg, Immanuel Kant, David Hume, René Descartes, Francis Bacon, Thomas Browne, John Milton, John Locke, Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Blaise Pascal and Hugo Grotius. (Interestingly, Charles Darwin’s works were never included.)

‘Yes. To you, Baldrick, the Renaissance was just something that happened to other people, wasn’t it? […] No that’s what I think, that’s what I think, what do you think? Try to have a thought of your own, Baldrick. Thinking is so important. What do you think?’

– Joseph M. 1998. Blackadder The Whole Damn Dynasty London, Great Britain: Penguin Books (1999) p. 137-138