Flickr photo of the day: Blind men and elephants

Michael Clemmer

“…Is very like a tree!” So said the fourth blind man of the six who described an elephant by what he, alone, had touched. The fable is rooted in the ancient Indian subcontinent and is told in Jain, Buddhist, Sufi and Hindu lore. The 19th century English poet, John Godfrey Saxe, penned his own version and brought the story of “The Blind Men and The Elephant” to the western world.

Today the story is often used as a metaphor and is often used as an analogy in many fields far from traditional, including wave-particle duality, in physics and immune response in biology.

Then there’s the joke: Six wise, blind elephants were discussing what humans were like. They couldn’t agree so off they went to find one. Using their sense of smell they found a human tending his garden near a village. The first blind elephant, using his foot, felt the human and declared: “Humans are flat.” The other five blind elephants, after also similarly feeling the human, agreed.

Jeremy Villasis photographed the elephant’s foot at the Chiang Mai Zoo, in Thailand.

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