Sunday, June 28, 2009

Chicken & Egg—Analysis

About a week ago, I posted an article entitled "Chicken & Egg", an experiment I conducted in the hope of demonstrating how differently men and women think. I posted a question and then invited my readers to submit the answers together with the explanations for their choices.

To be quite honest, I don't even know if it has ever been scientifically proven which came into existence first—chicken or egg. I was asked this question as a kid, and I have come across the same question—though numerous different versions of it—many, many times throughout my life. There are many, many arguments to support both these choices, but I haven't found any scientific authority that would settle the issue conclusively.

The way I see it, logically speaking, chicken came into existence before the egg. Maybe, from a single-cell organism, evolution took place over millions of years before that same organism grew wings, legs, feathers etc. Further evolution developed the ability to lay eggs to allow reproduction that way. This is of course just my wild guess, but I can't offer any evidence whatsoever.

Anyway, the question is so famous and it is strange that people would immediately look at any variation of the question as asking for the same thing. Well, my variation of the question is asking for a different thing!

My question once again:

Which one comes first, CHICKEN or EGG?

Before answering this question, I'd like to say that, generally, Malaysians are not sensitive to the grammatical aspect of the English language. I remember during the first hunt that I set, I came up with a treasure riddle relating to the pisang emas. Somewhere within the clue I asked specifically for just ONE pisang emas. Yet most of the teams, including the strong ones, brought in a bunch of bananas each! After allowing for a few hunts, I again came up with another riddle, this time asking specifically for ONE battery in the clue. Yet everyone brought in TWO batteries.

I was chatting with VK Chong, a strong master hunter during the recent Kiwanis Hunt to Johor. He said that the hunters can learn very fast; once they're tricked by a particular trick, they probably won't be tricked again the next time round. Perhaps he is right, but I'm not fully convinced. And to prove my point, I came up with this particular question here.

I did not ask which one came into existence first. Rather, I'm asking which one comes first. I reckoned that most Malaysians, even the master hunters, wouldn't see any difference in those few words. If they did, then they would have realised that I was merely asking them which one comes (present tense) first in this sentence?

Therefore, in the question:

Which one comes first, CHICKEN or EGG?

... it is the CHICKEN that comes first.

Now let us have a look at the submissions from my readers. As usual, let's check out the answers from the girls first:

"Chicken, because chicken lay[s] eggs."

A very simple approach where she obviously did not see that I was referring to the choices according to the order of appearance in the sentence.

"Should be chicken... otherwise where did eggs come from? Other animals can change to chickens and then can lay eggs. But how can animals change to eggs?"

I think instead of the word "change", "evolve" is preferable. But she has a good point! But on the other hand, if that's her argument, then I wonder if it's possible at all that other organisms evolved into eggs, and then those eggs hatched into chickens? Hmmm... it seems quite far fetched.

"my answer is EGG, because chicken must come from egg. if not dont tell me chicken just come from sky mei?"

Obviously a one-sided reasoning. A weak argument. If you can ask that kind of question, my friend, then don't tell me the egg can fall from the sky?

I don't know the above women. I just know that at least one of them is a Sabahan reader. I suspect the other two are Malaysians too, but I don't know which part(s) of Malaysia.

"Thinking as a woman, I'd say the egg came first: the chicken evolved gradually over time with each new version hatching from an egg laid by a predecessor of the chicken until eventually a chicken was hatched. Thinking as a man, I'd have to say the chicken came first because you wrote "Chicken & Egg" and it came first there! Hee! hee! hee!

So, if I have to make a choice between the two, I'll go with the first."

Too bad she still chose the egg in the end. I happen to know this woman—I mean know her as in knowing from the cyber world. I first met her in the online suduko combat. She's been a sparring partner for a while now. A sharp woman and this lately, she's been able to beat me in sudoku every now and then too! I must cut out the chatting the next time we fight! Anyway, perhaps she's a bit different from the other women because she's a Canadian who's been residing in the UK for some years now. So maybe a person whose first language is English is better able to see the grammatical significance in the question.

And now let's see what the men had to say. Unfortunately, I don't know any of them personally. But I have a feeling they're all Sabahans. I only recieved three submissions from the guys.

"No way to know for sure unless i hv time machine to the beginning of time. ha ha ha. but you din say which 1 came into this world 1st... you only ask which 1 comes 1st. so if like that, i can say the chicken first, because chicken comes 1st in sentence lo!"

Not in the best of English, and probably this fellow has suffered the tragedy of the effects of too many text messages over the cellphone; hence the several abbreviations. But otherwise, the simple and practical approach which is characteristic of a man.

"My answer is CHICKEN because in the question, the word CHICKEN comes first."

Exactly my point! A short and precise answer.

"Definitely chicken.

Just like a baby and a mother. How can a baby survive on its own. So god surely would have created the chicken first. Then the chicken can take care of the egg and the baby chicken."

The trigger-happy fellow who attempted to post his answer into this blog in spite of having been instructed not to do so! But some people are like that—they merely glance at things and will miss the details of what they're reading. And maybe that is also the reason why he arrived at his answer—a romantic approach of mother and baby chickens. However, there are many animals which do not take care of their eggs and young ones. They merely lay the eggs and abandon them immediately after. The survival of the young ones will then depend mostly on luck!

Well, folks, again not a sizeable sample to arrive at a conclusive deduction. But I'm sure you'd agree that it is obvious that men and women think differently. Unfortunately, the education system does not favour the men's way of thinking!

Thank you to those who participated in this experiment. This is just for the fun of it. Please don't lose sleep over this experiment.

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