Itsy & The Infinite Web 08: Fools & Jerks At Work
The divisive giraffe opened yet another door and ushered the others into a long narrow room where lab-coated analysts were studying subjects behind glass. The door shut behind them and again there was silence. A sign next to the door said STERILIZE EVERYTHING! with a happy mask over a guarded face.
“We divided our analysts into two focus groups,” said the giraffe overlooking the teams, “Fool Group and Jerk Group.”
“Are they working on two problems, or one problem two ways?” asked Prudence.
“We have yet to work that out,” admitted the division head. “Both groups quickly reached the unquestionable consensus that our system and studies are objective and unbiased. Other than that, we’ve agreed to nothing whatsoever. Our final results, much like our lab materials, are continuously lost and possibly stolen. We were unable to distinguish fools and jerks from ordinary folks, but we did manage to capture, isolate and employ a few incurable fools and insufferable jerks. All of this is still quite theoretical, as we can’t know any are incurable or insufferable until we can cure or suffer some sufficiently.”
The division head led them forward between the teams. “We use two way mirrors, which are actually one way, with the name not reflecting back on the mirror. We examine the subjects without their knowledge or consent. That way they examine their own behavior, but not ours.”
“And why is there a mirror the full length of the ceiling?” asked Itsy.
“That is so we can examine our own behavior for maximum objectivity.” The division head turned to the first analyst. “At what point will we obtain complete objectivity?”
The camel looked up from her tablet. “Well, this was thoroughly analyzed by Peter, Paul and Mary, and they came to the conclusion that it’s somewhere in the wind, in solidarity with several previous studies and ancient understandings.”
“However,” interrupted an opposite hippo, “attempts to isolate this wind and extract its answer have so far been worthless.”
“Well, isolate and extract harder, darn it!” The division head raised his hoof for emphasis. “We’ve put work, time and distance into this, and it can’t go to knots.”
The two analysts nodded and turned back to their tablets.
On the left, the camel was observing a room of trees and fools, some blindfolded. As they watched, two and then three walked directly into trees, the first two because they were blindfolded and the second three because they were watching the first two. The analyst wrote two, three and five on her tablet.
“What are you attempting with this experiment?” asked Prudence.
“We are interested in the extent fools walk into trees without additional encouragement or assistance,” said the giraffe. “The blindfolded are the control group.”
The hippo was closely monitoring a weasel gasping for breath atop a pile of mangled animals, some still moving slightly. “We have a winner!” declared the division head happily, who turned to the hippo and added, “Add more jerks.”
The hippo pushed a button, and in sauntered several to the horror of the last weasel standing. The hippo wrote, “Still standing, for now.”
“What sort of tablets are those?” asked Itsy. “I’ve never seen a surface like that.”
“They are liquid stone, newly engineered,” the division head said with pride. “We dig until we hit bedrock, carefully set the results in stone, then we dig deeper, find new surprises, and everything is updated, rewritten in stone continuously.”
“So what does writing things down in stone do?” asked Itsy.
“It does everything,” said the head, “and then redoes it.”
They made their way to the next analyst over, a chicken listening to an antelope kicked repeatedly in the rear by a boot. The antelope stood on an X next to a sign that said PLEASE STAND HERE. Itsy peered over the analyst’s shoulder, and saw Ow! Hey! What is the meaning of this? What did I ever do to you? and Why me of all people? in fine, precise print.
“What does this accomplish?” asked Prudence, confused.
“It shows how far each fool will go, or not, to do as they’re told.” said the chicken without looking up.
“Sometimes,” Prudence cautioned, “it is wise to do as we’re told.”
“Let’s change the subject!” suggested the division head. The analyst pushed a button, the subject was sucked down into the floor and another antelope was lowered into place.
Another analyst, a rattlesnake, rattled to catch the giraffe’s attention. “I thought you would want to see this, sir! These jerks have spontaneously formed a committee! Judging from how they’ve encircled themselves, their intent is to cause more problems than they solve to ensure the circle’s continued existence.”
“Monitor their… progress,” said the head, and he strode to the end of the room, where several analysts were arguing. “I’d like a full report of Fool Group’s findings.
“As you know,” said the closest crocodile, “Gooding, Silvester and Simmons argued that everybody is or at least plays the fool sometimes, without exception to the rule, within acceptable limits, standard deviations and uncommon perversions. We’ve reexamined the problem, their methods, done our own analysis, and I’m sorry to say that a good portion of people are fools, and a good portion of that good portion are serious fools.”
“However,” an alligator interrupted, “a horrible portion of people are also jerks, and a terrible portion of that portion are serious jerks. Many jerks are surprisingly undetectable, while others aren’t trying hard to hide, such as those in politics.”
The division head turned. “What did Jerk Group find?”
“We made the greatest discoveries ever,” said a leopard, “but you have to fight us for them!”
The division head sighed. “Do we have to do this every time? We need results!”
“And you’ll get ‘em, alright…” she warned, flexing her claws, “right in the kisser!”
“Right in the kisser!” echoed Joy, replicating the leopard’s response.
“OK, then!” proclaimed the division head, opening yet another door and leading them out and away from the analysts. “We could spend any length of time you have studying these studies and those who study these studies, but I’m sure you would rather be on your way. Hopefully you now have some idea of what we do here. A number of the analysts find the others quite disagreeable, but the others continue to find themselves entirely agreeable. I’m sure that you have many other things to see here at Establishment Labs, though I myself have only seen what I’ve shown you.” He pushed a button for an elevator, which also slid open. “This will take you up a level, where none of us have ever been.”