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Flash Fiction Contest Winner #16 – “All Ravens are Black”
Please note: Flash fiction stories are submitted by members of our Discord server. Many contain adult themes and may be objectionable to some readers.
“All Ravens are Black”
“All ravens are black,” croaked the toad, authoritatively. Furrowing his long bushy brows, the fox carefully pondered that statement.
“But…” began the fox, pausing to think a bit more. “How do you know? How could you possibly know whether all ravens are black? Perhaps,” he paused once again, contemplating further. “Perhaps a raven exists, which is some other colour? Pink? Blue? Green? White? How could you know without collecting every single raven and observing that he is black?”
The toad croaked again. “If something is a raven, then it is black. The evidence is all around you.” This only served to further confuse the already befuddled fox. Blinking and thinking, he peered about at the swampy forest around them. There was no great revelation.
“I don’t understand. There isn’t even one raven here; Much less, all the ravens in the world.”
The toad snapped his long tongue, snatching a juicy fly from the air. After smacking his lips, he continued, “Look at this leaf. Evidence.” He lazily gestured to a cattail growing nearby.
“That’s not a raven,” protested the fox, after briefly wondering whether a cattail actually counted as a leaf. He supposed that it must, given that parts of it were green and leafy.
The toad’s response was simple. “Yes.” After several long minutes of confused staring, the toad slowly began to clarify. “It is not a raven. It is a leaf. Which is what I said. I did not say ‘look at this raven.’ I said ‘look at this leaf.'” Again, more long moments of silence. “If it were a raven, it would have proved me wrong. It is not a raven, however, and so it is evidence. Evidence that all ravens are black.”
The fox blinked several times. “What.”
“It is a natural experiment,” croaked the toad. “You have looked out into the world and found a thing. That thing taught you a thing.”
Sighing, the fox rolled about in a dry patch of grass near to where the toad was resting. Stopping once he was upside-down, the fox questioned his lecturer. “But what does this have to do with ravens? Leaves are not ravens. Maybe if you had pointed out a black raven, I would agree that it was some evidence that all ravens are black, but that’s not a raven. You’re not making any sense.”
The toad hopped about for a second, then settled back down. “It is just as good.”
“No it isn’t! You have to look at ravens to have evidence about ravens!”
The toad shifted his weight to and fro, then yanked another fly from the air. “Imagine if we had collected up everything which is not black. Then we found that they are all not ravens. That would certainly prove that all ravens are black, because nothing which is not black is also a raven. All ravens are black.”
The fox scowled as the pieces fell into place. “I don’t like that. That makes me feel icky!”
“I like feeling icky,” replied the toad, before nodding off to sleep.