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Randy Cassingham

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bullet  Infinite Monkey Theorem

My geek buddy Leo runs a site where you can ask him computer questions. This set-up is important: geek, computer. Got it?

He gets lots of questions at his "Ask-Leo!" web site, but a few people seem to miss the point. Every year he runs a sampling of what he calls "WTF questions". Example:

"WHY HAS THE DAILY HOROSCOPES PAGE NOT BEEN UPDATED IN OVER A WEEK ?????"

In his yearly compilation, Leo provides his off-the-cuff answers. (In this case, it was: "Remember the rapture? It happened. Astrologers were taken. Who knew?") For this year's full "WTF" list see Who Do They Think I Am?

True is about idiots getting into the news. Leo's annual list is what happens when idiots get hold of a computer keyboard. His main site -- which pretty much only answers the intelligent questions -- is Ask-Leo.com.

Pic of chimp at typewriter - and yeah, I know chimps aren't monkeys.Yeah, I know: the average blog is what happens when idiots get hold of a computer keyboard. Reminds me of the Infinite Monkey Theorem -- that "a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare."

Of course, then there's this: "We've heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the complete works of Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know that is not true." --Robert Wilensky, Professor Emeritus of AI at U.C. Berkeley, 1996

Eh, well, just do what I do: say, over and over, "I love the Internet. I love the Internet...." while banging your head on your keyboard. Who knows, maybe you'll produce some lost Shakespeare. Or, much more likely, just another blog post.

10 Comments on This Entry

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Posted by Lynda Marie, Auburn WA on August 12, 2011:

The "Infinite Monkey" theory, alas, does not hold true for comments on news stories, either.

I like keeping up with the news, not only local, but national and global, and some of the comments make me wonder about the state of not only our educational system, but our mental health facilities. A news story could be one of those heartwarming things, such as the debut of a cute baby animal in a zoo in Russia, and the comments will quickly degrade into inarticulate, racist and completely inaccurate political and or historical babbling.

A friend was complaining about the state of the discussions on IMDB (Internet Movie Database), how everything there was so terrible. I disagreed, saying that I loved it -- if there was a day when I was feeling depressed because I had not seemed to get where I wanted to be in life, all I had to do was check out the discussions on IMDB, and I would leave with a smile on my face, because I would feel intelligent, educated and highly articulate compared to the legions of clueless twits.

Randy, you and your buddy Leo, considering the endless legions of the clueless -- whether you call them idiots, twits, obliviots or whatever -- will never lack for employment OR amusement.

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That's for sure! -rc

Posted by Mike from Dallas on August 12, 2011:

I've subscribed to Ask-Leo for 2-3 years (and gotten a couple of good answers, TOO!) but I did not know about his WTF list. That's a freakin' RIOT! Thanks, Randy (and Leo). Now... for what's REALLY scary? These people reproduce. And VOTE!

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Which pretty much explains Washington, doesn't it? -rc

Posted by Kevin, Kitchener ON on August 12, 2011:

On the million monkeys theory of Shakespeare, from an evolutionary standpoint hasn't that already happened? (With thanks to Doug Savage of Savage Chickens...)

Posted by Pierre Ontario Canada on August 12, 2011:

Interesting. Poor Leo.

I'd say "Poor Randy", but I think that in secret, Randy enjoys these ummm, "unusual questions".

I love your monkey at the typewriter picture. I think he looks just like I would picture my "imaginary friend" Woodsey. I use Woodsey as a foil or parody when I email certain friends. He says the things I can't.

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Huh: I've never noticed you having a problem saying what's on your mind! -rc

Posted by Steve, Uk on August 13, 2011:

The idea is there.

A bunch of simple minded creatures banging away on a keyboard producing nonsensical rubbish.

You might not get the bard, but it could explain Darren Brown.

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We haven't heard much about Derren Brown on this side of the pond. For those who want info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derren_Brown -rc

Posted by John, Sandpoint, Idaho on August 14, 2011:

Corollary to the "infinite monkeys" theory: If an infinite number of rednecks discharge an infinite number of shotgun rounds at an infinite number of highway signs, they will eventually write the complete works of Shakespeare in braille. -Author unknown (perhaps a monkey)

Posted by Dave, Cleveland OH on August 14, 2011:

It apparently did not make the news! The monkey Shakespeare experiment was actually completed successfully in 1988 or 1989. The letters were just in the wrong order.

Posted by Steve, Uk on August 15, 2011:

Note to self:
Do not post when half asleep and zoned out on caffeine.
Meant to type Dan Brown not Darren Brown, though that also applies.

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Now that's funny! -rc

Posted by Pastor Charlie Wisconsin, (USA, just in case) on August 20, 2011:

To be, or not to blxmfzzx... Oh, Well.

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Nice try, Rev. But you may need more monkeys. -rc

Posted by Chris, Melbourne on August 22, 2011:

Never mind about bashing out the works of Shakespeare. With the resources of an infinite number of monkeys and typewriters, all you need is a little protocolling and you can do anything! Fortunately, the protocols for organizing the monkeys and related services have already been planned, and are specified in an internet standards document, RFC 2795.

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It's the perfect number -- "That's right! Just twunnuh-seven-ninny-fivuh!" -rc

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