Three instructive anecdotes. May be ignored by BBAs, noted by MBAs, and memorized by PhD students.

Instructive Anecdote Number One
A policeman, walking down a street one night, notices a man on his hands and knees under a street light. "What are you doing?", he asks. The man replies, "I am looking for my keys." "Did you lose them here?" the policeman asks. "No," says the man, "I lost them down there, but there is more light here."

Instructive Anecdote Number Two
The wise old man of the village was asked how to kill a flea. "Simple," he replied. "You pick up the flea between thumb and forefinger and gently squeeze its jaws. When the flea opens its mouth, you insert a sharp pointed stick and give it a turn. The flea is killed instantly." "But ," protested the inquirer, "would it not be easier to simply squash the flea?" "That," replied the old man, "is another alternative."

Instructive Anecdote Number Three
In the days before the Iron Curtain collapsed, washrooms in this communist country were imposing buildings. They had a classic facade and a large bronze-studded oak entrance door. You opened the door, and found yourself in a long corridor with a polished marble floor. There were chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and paintings on the walls. At the end of the corridor were two large, bronze-studded doors. The first was marked "Men" and the second "Women." You opened the appropriate door, and found yourself in another long corridor, with polished marble floors, chandeliers and paintings. At the end of this corridor were two doors: one marked "Under 25" and the other "Over 25." You opened the "Over 25" door and saw yet another long corridor with marble polished floors etc. At the end of this corridor were two large oak doors. The first was marked "Members of the Party" and the second "Not Members of the Party." You opened the door marked "Not Members of the Party," and found yourself back on the street.


 The heraldic legend in York University's crest reads "Tentanda via," "the way must be tried." This suggestion was motivated by a contract giving a soft drinks manufacturer exclusive rights on campus.
Albert  "Doc's eyes again shifted toward heaven.

"`Marvin,' he asked, `now why all of a sudden do you believe Albert when you've been pestering me to death?'

"`Because Albert is never wrong.'

"The three men lapsed into silence, much to Doc's relief. Actually, he thought, Marvin was right. That Albert was uncanny. The smartest young bastard he'd ever met. And educated. God, was he educated! Yet so quiet, so modest. The contrast between him and his old man was incredible. When Joe first introduced him to the boys in Vegas as his son, Albert, everybody had just stared in disbelief: those thick glasses, the pale thin face, the delicate hands, and on top of everything he had blushed like a schoolgirl. So everybody had just ignored him. I mean, what could you do with something like that in Vegas? Then the boss had given him that office, and put him to work calculating odds. The results soon became legend. The kid was a teenage Nick the Greek! Well, not exactly teenage, since Albert was, after all, twenty-six. But he looked sixteen. But no matter. If he quoted two to one odds that the St. Louis Cardinals would take the world series in 1987 in six games, you could order your tickets the next day from Busch Stadium, and will them to your eight-year-old son, in the sure knowledge that a decade hence he would be enjoying hot-dogs and beer under an October Missouri sun. If Albert gave you even money that it would rain twice doing the last weekend in August in San Diego, only a fool would go to Southern California at that time without an umbrella. How did he do it?

"Doc had been dumb enough to ask one time. As Albert had then elucidated, while studying economics under Paul Samuelson at M. I. T. when he was sixteen, he had become fascinated with the probability theories of two foreigners called John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern. Then he had branched out into something he called `random walk hypotheses' after he'd moved on to graduate studies under Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago, where he had specialized in monetary analysis. Albert explained that by synthesizing these two analytical approaches, he had developed a technique which was universally applicable where situations resembling games of chance were involved, like horse races, stock markets, commodities, football games, elections---the works. Well, that was the last time that Doc had ever put any more dumb questions to Albert. I mean, who the hell could make head or tails of such answers? And Doc was not one to unnecessarily demonstrate lack of [knowledge]. After all, he had built up a reputation which had to be maintained."

(Paul E. Erdman, The Silver Bears, Pocket Books, 1975, pp. 12-13.)


Home page