Garbage In, Garbage Out: A Lesson from the Plague Year

A king once told his prime minister, who was also his good friend: “I see in the stars that everyone who eats from this year’s grain harvest is going to go mad. What do you think we should do?”

The prime minister suggested they should put aside a stock of good grain so they would not have to eat from the tainted grain.

“But it will be impossible to set aside enough good grain for everyone,” the king objected. “And if we put away a stock for just the two of us, we will be the only ones who will be sane. Everyone else will be mad, and they will look at us and think that we are the mad ones.

“No. We too will have to eat from this year’s grain. But we will both put a sign on our heads. I will look at your forehead, and you will look at mine. And when we see the sign, at least we will remember that we are mad.”

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