Buridan’s Ass

Posted by Lord Bearkeeper OBE DASc on
Category: Ramblings27 Comments

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Ihave always fancied having some really interesting illness. Not something that would blight my life beyond recovery, just something to talk about at parties. You know the way people talk about their piles in mixed company or their old war wound. Alas, I was too young to go to war – apparently not being born is a good enough excuse to beat being ‘called up’ into the armed forces – so that kind of ruins my chances of having a war wound. As for piles, I will admit to probably too much food going in one end but I have never had a problem with it coming out the other end. Chimpton on the other hand – her of the healthy diet – is always constipated or producing little rabbit pellets – maybe that’s a story for another day?

Anyway, back to my desire for an interesting illness.

Researching an unrelated topic using Wikipedia a short while ago, I came across Buridan’s Ass. Despite its name this is not a remedy for the aforementioned piles but a philosophical paradox. It refers to a hypothetical situation where a donkey who is equally hungry and thirsty is placed precisely midway between a stack of hay and a bucket of water. Since this paradox assumes the donkey will always go to whichever is closer, in this instance it will die from both hunger and thirst because it cannot make a rational decision over which to choose.

This paradox fascinated me because I can understand the logic behind it. I mean, how is the poor donkey going to make a decision if he is equally hungry and thirsty and also placed an equal distance from both the hay and water? Poor donkey. I wish I could find a way to help him but I am at a loss to suggest just what he should do.

And herein lies my problem.

I also suffer from not being able to make decisions. If it comes to decorating, I can never decide on a pattern for the wallpaper or a colour for the paint. In the end I usually just give-up out of sheer frustration at the vast selection and pick up the nearest tin or roll. This might explain why the Jammy Toast Centre has yellow paintwork and purple tie-dye walls (I joke!). A similar case in point is the Jammy Toast website here. I have swapped and changed the look, the feel and the theme over the years so many times because I always see another one I prefer. The grass is always greener on the other side.

Fortunately, after today’s research, I now know what this is. After reading about Buridan’s Ass it turns out there is also a condition referred to as Analysis Paralysis. It means you over-analyse a situation to the point where a final decision is never made. Some people who suffer from this kind of illness cannot make it to work some days because they cannot decide upon which tie to wear. My condition is less severe and only covers small personal decisions – this is called Casual Analysis Paralysis.

It can even occur when playing games where a player is so overwhelmed by the decision tree that they face that they take an inordinate amount of time to make a move. The undertone is often scornful, implying that the slowing of the game diminishes the enjoyment of other players. In chess this is referred to as Kotov Syndrome.

So good news all around then, I not only have an illness; I also have a syndrome.

Can’t wait to be invited to a party now so I can bore everyone to death with this information.

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About the Author

Lord Bearkeeper OBE DASc

A sad and lonely old man who used to have a life but it has now been taken over by his dedication to the cause of saving Renault Bears, running Jammy Toast and searching eBay, car boot sales, charity shops, lofts and even under beds for his beloved bears. He has even now taken in Flat Eric to save him from homelessness – his life is no longer his own!

27 Comments on “Buridan’s Ass”

    1. The truth is Matt, she can’t use technology. I have spent months trying to teach her how to reply to comments but she just doesn’t take any of it in. She just puts a comment anywhere she likes and I have to move it to where it belongs.

      As for my persona… don’t make me laugh as if there is anything you haven’t told the Toasters by now!!

  1. It’s Saturday and I haven’t know what to do with it. Things I wants against thinks I Needs against things I am obligated to do for other…. That’s Analysis Paralysis in action!

    1. You have stolen from Mr Soze. That you did not know you stole from him is the only reason you are still alive. He feels you owe him. You will repay your debt.

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