Three logicians walk into a bar. The bartender asks “Do you all want drinks?”
The first logician pauses and says “I don’t know.”
The second, following this, similarly professes his ignorance.
Finally, the third logician says “Yes, we do.”
Following this, the three order their drinks. The first orders a Captain DeMorgan, and when the bartender asks if he wants it on the rocks or straight, replies “Yes.” The second requests a shandygaff which the barkeep deftly mixes by pouring back and forth between two differently-sized cups, and the third chooses a fuzzy navel and spends the rest of the evening trying to defuzzify it with adaptive integration.
They then head over to the corner to rack up a game of Boole, while the bartender wipes down the counter with a multicolored handkerchief, goes about turning all the glasses upside-down on a lazy susan.
As the first logician lines up the Q ball, the jukebox wraps up playing Nicki Minaj’s “Ana Con” and starts in on Perry Como singing “Iff.”
More patrons drift into the bar as the evening winds on: knights and knaves, a masked man, the town barber (who is himself scruffy and unshaven), a party of missionaries and cannibals accompanied by their jealous wives, two prisoners, a wolf, a goat, a cabbage, and a number of people wearing variously colored hats. The last group to come in is a big group of people that includes all of the groups of people that don’t contain that group.
Things quiet down a little when one rowdy group leaves for the next stop on a citywide pub crawl stopping at every bar on both banks of the river but never crossing the same bridge twice. Their table is taken by a diverse looking party that sends up one representative to order all of their drinks in the most efficient pattern. The representative is an Englishman with a pet zebra smoking Old Gold cigarettes (a brief but amusing misunderstanding ensues when he asks “Do you serve snails?”).
The closing strains “Iff” fade out, to be replaced by “What Will Be Will Be,” and the bartender shuts the jukebox off, muttering “Tautology!” The three logicians finish their game of Boole and start looking at some of the board games under the table. The chessboard is missing two squares, and the knights have been replaced with knaves from a deck of cards. The second ventures into the back room to see if there’s any gambling tonight, and returns shortly, reporting that everyone there is playing Russian roulette on a revolver with infinitely many chambers. In fact, the room is empty, but he doesn’t want to get roped into a game of poker.
The tapster cautions him. “Careful. I see someone get hurt in here every day.”
“Well, I sure wouldn’t want to be him.”
“Do you want another round?”
“I do and I don’t.”
“Heck, then I guess anything’s possible.”
The third logician asks the second if he knows what time it is. He replies, “Certainly.” Having spent a pleasurable duration, they get up to leave.
Suddenly, René Descartes walks in, sullen and hungover, and spits on the floor. The outlaw’s mug is plastered on half a dozen wanted posters in this saloon alone, offering a bounty on Descartes:
Dead xor alive. Cash reward: choice of two envelopes. Present coördinates unknown
His revolver is at his side (he is known as a viscious duelist), and the player piano stops as he moseys through the swinging doors. As he shuffles up to the bar, the bartnder asks, “Want a drink?”
Descartes replies, “I think not.”
…and then he stays right where he is, because an inverse in not entailed and denying the antecedent is a logical fallacy.■
Daniel Galef is fresh out of McGill University, where he wrote satire for the Bull & Bear, the McGill Daily, and the McGill Tribune, and was Editor-in-Chief of the university humor magazine, the Plumber’s Faucet. Off campus, he published humor in Kugelmass, the American Bystander, Defenestration Magazine, NationalLampoon.com, Clever Magazine, and the Weekly Humorist.