The Scotty Who Knew Too Much

It always bugs me when some people out there claim to have all the answers to everything and anything. I’ve had pathetic online conversations due to this: chatting with someone and then they stumble upon a term or concept they are unfamiliar with. Then, instead of asking for more information or admitting their lack of knowledge on the specific subject matter, what do they do? They pretend to know it all. Or they think they know it all. Some of them will simply ask Google for a quick answer that’ll help them camouflage their ignorance. Of course, Google will churn out a multitude of results, including Wikipedia articles. Don’t get me wrong, the knowledge provided by these sources can be great in both quality and quantity. But for a quick answer, they just won’t do; so, the googler in this conversation will quickly skim through an article or two, think s/he has understood what it is, and with his/her newly-acquired, half-baked, half-assed “knowledge” will pretend to be knowledgeable when s/he, in fact, is not.

This attitude would be amusing if it wasn’t so annoying and if the people resorting to this did not treat the people they talk to in such a condescending manner. Sometimes, however, they get their comeuppance, because pretending to know everything can often get you in serious trouble, as James Thurber so aptly demonstrates in “The Scotty Who Knew Too Much”, which you can find in his book “Fables For Our Time and Famous Poems Illustrated”. So, without further ado, I give you…

The Scotty Who Knew Too Much James Thurber

Several summers ago there was a Scottie who went to the country for a visit. He decided that all the farm dogs were cowards because they were afraid of a certain animal that had a white stripe down its back.
“You are a pussycat and I can lick you,” the Scottie said to the farm dog who lived in the house where the Scottie was visiting. “I can lick the animal with the white stripe too. Show him to me.”
“Don’t you want to ask any questions about him?” said the farm dog.
“Nah,” said the Scottie. “You ask the questions.”
So the farm dog took the Scottie into the woods and showed him the white-striped animal, and the Scottie closed in on him, growling and slashing. It was all over in a moment, and the Scottie lay on his back.
When he came to, the farm dog said, “What happened?”
“He threw vitriol,” said the Scottie, “but he never laid a glove on me.”
A few days later the farm dog told the Scottie there was another animal all the farm dogs were afraid of.
“Lead me to him,” said the Scottie. “I can lick anything that doesn’t wear horseshoes.”
“Don’t you want to ask any questions about him?” said the farm dog.
“Nah,” said the Scottie. “Just show me where he hangs out.”  So the farm dog led him to a place in the woods and pointed out the little animal when he came along.
“The clown,” said the Scottie. “A pushover.”  And he closed in, leading with his left and exhibiting some mighty fancy footwork. In less than a second, the Scottie was flat on his back, and when he woke up the farm dog was pulling quills out of him.
“What happened?” said the farm dog.
“He pulled a knife on me,” said the Scottie. “But at least I’ve learned how you fight up here in the country, and now I’m going to beat you up.”
So he closed in on the farm dog, holding his nose with one front paw to ward off the vitriol and covering his eyes with the other front paw to keep out the knives. The Scottie couldn’t see his opponent, and he couldn’t smell his opponent, and he was so badly beaten that he had to be taken back to the city and put in a nursing home.

Moral: It is better to ask some of the questions than to know all the answers.




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