In Mark Twain’s book, Life on the Mississippi,3 the author has just been discussing the tendency of the river to shorten its course by cutting off ox bows and flowing directly across the narrow neck instead of the long distance around the full course of the bow.

Though written 70 years ago Mark Twain’s moral point is just as keen as if it were written to-day. The blind following of any given line of reasoning can lead to an end result that is truly ridiculous. Or, to state it more plainly, wholesale returns of conjecture from a trifling...

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