Saturday 28 November 2009

Illogical logic.

Logic it seems isn’t always what it is perceived to be and no matter how much you try to understand the other person’s logic you might end up failing. This could be either because of your inability to understand, or because the other person’s logic is faulty – as Father Ignatius can testify.

He was walking round town the other day and happened to enter a bookshop advertising “Reduced Prices throughout the Store !!!”.

He made his way to the “Religion” shelf to see what was on offer and eventually found a book about Jesus which he wished to purchase. It had a big red label on it saying: Reduced price - £9.99.

He thought of buying two copies, one for him and another for a parishioner who would benefit from reading it. He looked around on the shelf and found another identical book; but without the red label.

When he reached the cashier to pay for both items purchased she said: “£29.99 please.”

“Why?” said the priest, rather puzzled.

“This book is priced £20.00 and this one is £9.99” replied the robotic assistant.

“But they’re identical, and they’re reduced in price aren’t they?” enquired Father Ignatius.

“Only the one with the red label is on offer for £9.99; the other book is charged at the full price of £20.00” replied the cashier monotonously.

At this moment the manager happened to be passing by and overheard the conversation.

“May I help you Sir … Reverend … Father …” he mumbled when he noticed the priest’s white collar.

“Let me explain,” continued the manager, “every morning we go to check our stock of books and stick red labels on some of them. Those with the labels are reduced in price; whilst others are not.”

“I understand,” reasoned Father Ignatius, “but both these books are identical. Surely they should be priced the same?”

“Not so,” insisted the manager who obviously knew best. He was, after all, in charge of the shop, “not so at all … this book with the label we’ll sell at £9.99 whereas the other one we’ll sell at the full price of £20.00; regardless whether they are identical or not.”

Father Ignatius is a tenacious character when he feels it needs it; and he certainly likes a challenge of wits. So he tried one more time to make the man see sense:

“Tell me … it is possible, is it not, that when you stick these labels in the morning, that you stick the red labels on two identical books?”

“Oh yes … it happens frequently …”

“And when it happens, then you’d sell two copies of the same book at the reduced price?” said the priest sensing a minor but very important victory.

“Oh yes … in that case we would sell two or more copies of the same book at the reduced price, provided they had the red labels on them.”

Father Ignatius smiled broadly. “Game, set and match!” he thought to himself.

“But on this occasion unfortunately we stuck a label on only one book. So you’ll have to buy this one for £9.99 and this one for the full price of £20.00.”

The priest’s smile soon faded when the manager continued:

“May I suggest you buy the book with the label today, and come back tomorrow? It is possible that there will be another identical book with a label on it then. Although I can’t guarantee it … but if you come back every other day or so then perhaps you’ll find another copy of the book reduced in price then !!!”

Father Ignatius gave up. There’s no point in engaging in a battle of wits with an unarmed person.

He now had to make a quick decision and had three choices:

To leave the shop and not buy the books.

To buy both books for the asking price of £29.99 and effectively, tacitly, agree with the manager’s faulty logic.

To buy the cheaper of the two books and leave it at that. Which is what he did.

“It’s a shame” he thought to himself,” as he left the shop. I would have liked to give a copy of this book to Mark. He’s always a helpful parishioner when we need him … perhaps he can borrow my copy when I’ve read it …”

It seems that the angels may well have overheard his thoughts because a little further down the road he came across another bookshop.

“I wonder …” said Father Ignatius.

And sure enough, he found there an identical book selling even cheaper at £8.99. A saving of £1; which he put in the collection box at St Vincent Church.


  1. I do so enjoy reading your posts. I think it is amazing sometimes that even when you try to explain to someone the simplest (to you) axiom, they simply cannot or will not get it. This story is a perfect example!!! Thank you! Have a grand day! Cathy

  2. Helllo Cathy,

    Thanx for your kind comments.

    This story actually happened to me a couple of years ago when I tried to buy two copies of a DVD about Jesus. The manager insisted on selling them at different prices. I bought just the one cheapest copy. I was then fortunate to find the same DVD on the Internet even cheaper - including free packing and postage!

    God bless you.

  3. Just finished your book..... I enjoyed it very much and will be sharing my thoughts with others. Great job! I am now ready for the next one.

  4. Hi Deacon Pat,

    Thank you for letting me know what you thought of my book. I'm really glad you enjoyed it. I have no plans at the moment for writing another. Besides, sadly, Christian books don't sell very well these days - not much of a market for them, or so I'm told.

    May I also thank you publicly for featuring my book on your Blog. That's very kind of you. Readers here may wish to check out your great Blog by clicking on your name above, or by copy pasting this URL:

    Thanx again and God bless you.

  5. I should have added that today's Blog by Deacon Pat features a Catholic priest serving with the troops in Afghanistan.

    Well worth checking it out.

  6. Poor Fr. Ignatius! I would have left the store without any purchase out of sheer frustration!

  7. Hi Anne,

    As I said to Cathy above, this incident really happened to me, and I really needed that DVD. So I bought the cheaper one and found another copy on the Internet.

    Nice to see you visiting again.

    God bless.

  8. Very pleased to see that Fr Ignatius stuck to his guns and just bought the reduced book in the end.

    I don't expect he'd bother to shop there again but not much point in trying to explain that bit of logic to the shopkeeper either, I guess. :)

  9. Hello Miss Ellen E,

    You're right; I've not bothered to go to that shop again. It seems to me that some organisations see their rules and regulations as being more important than the customers.

    Great to see you visiting here.

    God bless.



God bless you.