Sunday, May 25, 2008

Mark Twain On Consensus

“Thirty-five years ago I was an expert precious-metal quartz-miner. There was an outcrop in my neighborhood that assayed $600 a ton—gold. But every fleck of gold in it was shut up tight and fast in an intractable and impersuadable base-metal shell. Acting as a Consensus, I delivered the finality verdict that no human ingenuity would ever be able to set free two dollars’ worth of gold out of a ton of that rock. The fact is, I did not foresee the cyanide process… These sorrows have made me suspicious of Consensuses… I sheer warily off and get behind something, saying to myself, ‘It looks innocent and all right, but no matter, ten to one there’s a cyanide process under that thing somewhere.’”

-Mark Twain, “Dr. Loeb’s Incredible Discovery” (1910)

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