The Scarecrow Equation

2 minutes to read

We find our hero, strolling through the men’s room, happening upon Henry Kissinger’s pair of glasses abandoned in the toilet. Homer Simpson, with much excitement puts them on and immediately rattles off:

The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side.

From one of the stalls, Homer is corrected by an irate individual who shouts, “that’s a right triangle, ya idiot!” To which Homer defeat lets out an inflated and always timely “D’OH!”

It’s a reference to the Wizard of Oz, where the Scarecrow receives his diploma from the Wizard. The Wizard reassures the Scarecrow:

Why, anybody can have a brain. That’s a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the earth—or slinks through slimy seas has a brain! …from the rock-bound coast of Maine to the Sun…oh-oh, no——ah –Well, be that as it may. Back where I come from we have universities, seats of great learning—where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts—and with no more brains than you have…But! They have one thing you haven’t got! A diploma! Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Universitatus Committeeatum e plurbis unum, I hereby confer upon you the honorary degree of Th.D… that’s Dr. of Thinkology!

The Scarecrow recites with shock and joy:

The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side. Oh joy, rapture! I’ve got a brain!

Both of these characters are empowered by such confidence and daring, convinced they’re now intelligent. Now that they are in a set of circumstances, armed with a talisman to alter their character, they spout off whatever they think is intelligent no matter what it is. What it's interesting is not the fact Homer and the Scarecrow are clearly wrong but that neither is willing to admit they’re wrong.

We’ll call this the Scarecrow Equation.

Let’s direct this, that’s not the Pythagorean theorem. It sounds so close but it’s not. I encounter this is so many interesting ways, people default to it when feel threatened or have this perverse sense of bravado. It's a weird affliction to fight against and honestly we’re all exceptionally vulnerable to it. I think the only real way is to be open to being wrong.