“How Do You Tell a Witch?”: Today’s Lesson in Logic from Monty Python

Well, all the punditry (radio, web, news programs) is really getting to me today. Not the pugilistic atmosphere itself, mind you. After all, politics is a full-body contact sport. But the endless illogical bloviations and outright falsehoods. That’s right, even though all the world believed Saddam had WMDs, since Bush acted on what everyone else believed, he lied–er, I mean, intentionally misled the world, who, now say they never believed Iraq had WMDs. I would flunk any freshmen in my logic class who tried that stunt. Oh, and don’t forget: we can trust the U.N.’s assessment on Iraqi WMDs, since just about the entire anti-Bush Eurocrat crowd was on the bogus Oil-for-Food take. (Was that what Kedwards meant by global test?) Logic!

So, in moments like these, I turn to Monty Python to soothe my troubled mind. Today, I consoled myself with the logic lession contained in “How Do You Tell a Witch” (scroll down to scene five):

MONKS: [chanting] Pie Iesu domine, dona eis requiem.
[bonk]
Pie Iesu domine,…
[bonk]
…dona eis requiem.
[bonk]
Pie Iesu domine,…
[bonk]
…dona eis requiem.
CROWD: A witch! A witch! [bonk] A witch! A witch!
MONKS: [chanting] Pie Iesu domine…
CROWD: A witch! A witch! A witch! A witch! We’ve found a witch! A witch! A witch! A witch! A witch! We’ve got a witch! A witch! A witch! Burn her! Burn her! Burn her! We’ve found a witch! We’ve found a witch! A witch! A witch! A witch!
VILLAGER #1: We have found a witch. May we burn her?
CROWD: Burn her! Burn! Burn her! Burn her!
BEDEVERE: How do you know she is a witch?
VILLAGER #2: She looks like one.

CROWD: Right! Yeah! Yeah!
BEDEVERE: Bring her forward.
WITCH: I’m not a witch. I’m not a witch.
BEDEVERE: Uh, but you are dressed as one.
WITCH: They dressed me up like this.
CROWD: Augh, we didn’t! We didn’t…
WITCH: And this isn’t my nose. It’s a false one.
BEDEVERE: Well?
VILLAGER #1: Well, we did do the nose.
BEDEVERE: The nose?
VILLAGER #1: And the hat, but she is a witch!
VILLAGER #2: Yeah!
CROWD: We burn her! Right! Yeaaah! Yeaah!
BEDEVERE: Did you dress her up like this?
VILLAGER #1: No!
VILLAGER #2 and 3: No. No.
VILLAGER #2: No.
VILLAGER #1: No.
VILLAGERS #2 and #3: No.
VILLAGER #1: Yes.
VILLAGER #2: Yes.
VILLAGER #1: Yes. Yeah, a bit.
VILLAGER #3: A bit.
VILLAGERS #1 and #2: A bit.
VILLAGER #3: A bit.
VILLAGER #1: She has got a wart.
RANDOM: [cough]
BEDEVERE: What makes you think she is a witch?
VILLAGER #3: Well, she turned me into a newt.
BEDEVERE: A newt?
VILLAGER #3: I got better.
VILLAGER #2: Burn her anyway!
VILLAGER #1: Burn!
CROWD: Burn her! Burn! Burn her!…
BEDEVERE: Quiet! Quiet! Quiet! Quiet! There are ways of telling whether she is a witch.
VILLAGER #1: Are there?
VILLAGER #2: Ah?
VILLAGER #1: What are they?
CROWD: Tell us! Tell us!…
BEDEVERE: Tell me, what do you do with witches?
VILLAGER #2: Burn!
VILLAGER #1: Burn!
CROWD: Burn! Burn them up! Burn!…
BEDEVERE: And what do you burn apart from witches?
VILLAGER #1: More witches!
VILLAGER #3: Shh!
VILLAGER #2: Wood!
BEDEVERE: So, why do witches burn? [pause]
VILLAGER #3: B–… ’cause they’re made of… wood?
BEDEVERE: Good! Heh heh.
CROWD: Oh yeah. Oh.
BEDEVERE: So, how do we tell whether she is made of wood?
VILLAGER #1: Build a bridge out of her.
BEDEVERE: Ah, but can you not also make bridges out of stone?
VILLAGER #1: Oh, yeah.
RANDOM: Oh, yeah. True. Uhh…
BEDEVERE: Does wood sink in water?
VILLAGER #1: No. No.
VILLAGER #2: No, it floats! It floats!
VILLAGER #1: Throw her into the pond!
CROWD: The pond! Throw her into the pond!
BEDEVERE: What also floats in water?
VILLAGER #1: Bread!
VILLAGER #2: Apples!
VILLAGER #3: Uh, very small rocks!
VILLAGER #1: Cider!
VILLAGER #2: Uh, gra– gravy!
VILLAGER #1: Cherries!
VILLAGER #2: Mud!
VILLAGER #3: Churches! Churches!
VILLAGER #2: Lead! Lead!
ARTHUR: A duck!
CROWD: Oooh.
BEDEVERE: Exactly. So, logically…
VILLAGER #1: If… she… weighs… the same as a duck,… she’s made of wood.
BEDEVERE: And therefore?
VILLAGER #2: A witch!
VILLAGER #1: A witch!
CROWD: A witch! A witch!…
VILLAGER #4: Here is a duck. Use this duck. [quack quack quack]
BEDEVERE: We shall use my largest scales.
CROWD: Ohh! Ohh! Burn the witch! Burn the witch! Burn her! Burn her! Burn her! Burn her! Burn her! Burn her! Burn her! Ahh! Ahh…
BEDEVERE: Right. Remove the supports! [whop] [clunk] [creak]
CROWD: A witch! A witch! A witch!
WITCH: It’s a fair cop.
VILLAGER #3: Burn her!
CROWD: Burn her! Burn her! Burn her! Burn! Burn!…
BEDEVERE: Who are you who are so wise in the ways of science?
ARTHUR: I am Arthur, King of the Britons.
BEDEVERE: My liege!
ARTHUR: Good Sir Knight, will you come with me to Camelot, and join us at the Round Table?
BEDEVERE: My liege! I would be honored.
ARTHUR: What is your name?
BEDEVERE: Bedevere, my liege.
ARTHUR: Then I dub you Sir Bedevere, Knight of the Round Table.

2 thoughts on ““How Do You Tell a Witch?”: Today’s Lesson in Logic from Monty Python

  1. Life of Brian is playing at Wynnsong!

    “Brothers! We must band together against our common enemy!”

    “THE JUDEAN PEOPLE’S FRONT?!”

    “No, no, the Romans!”

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