Majority Rule


On a table in the foyer of a small school stood a beautiful decora­tion for the annual open house. It consisted of an elaborate ar­rangement of wax fruit and dried flowers.

One day it was noted that the grapes in the display were disappearing rapidly. A quick check revealed they were providing free after-lunch chewing gum for the students.

The student leaders were assembled and given the project of raising among the 90 students the nine dollars necessary to replace the grapes.

The student body split on the question of who should pay for the grapes. One group thought those who took the grapes ought to confess and pay. The other group wanted everyone to pay, arguing that this would be a good lesson in honesty for everyone, espe­cially those who had seen grapes taken but had done nothing about it. Further, they doubted that the dishonest would confess anyway. After all, if anyone were dishonest enough to take the grapes, he’d probably lie about it rather than confess. Besides, ten cents wouldn’t really hurt anyone.

When this matter came to a vote in one class of 30 students, 16 thought all should pay and 14 thought the grape eaters only should have to pay.

Informal investigation later revealed that those who voted for everyone to pay were themselves grape eaters (or controlled by grape eaters) whereas all others voted that grape eaters only should pay.

Mr. Keith is a school teacher.


March 1961

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