There was once a very influential farmer in an obscure part of China. He had
a problem, for which he sought the counsel of the two wise men in town. So
he summons the two wise men, Hing, who is an scientist, and Ming, who is a
sorcerer, and requests that they find a cure for his chickens who are losing
their feathers and dying.
Hing decides to pay a visit to his mentor at the Agricultural Extension of the
local Community College, under whom he studied many years ago. The mentor
recommends the book "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Diseases of
Chickens, But Were Afraid to Ask". So Hing visits the library, borrows the
book, and finds inside the report of a study that finds that feeding the
chickens with an infusion of gum tree leaves is often a cure for chickens losing
Meanwhile back at the ranch, Ming reads obscure writings of ancient wise men, he
meditates, and he reads tarot cards. He also tries to read the entrails of
a fetal pig. Getting no inspiration he uses his old standby, reading tea leaves. In a
spark of discovery, he decides that an infusion of gum tree leaves is the cure.
On the appointed day, at the appointed time, and at the appointed place, the two
wise men report back to the influential Chinese farmer. Ming reports "As
gum sticks to tables and chairs, so shall an infusion of gum tree leaves make feathers stick to chickens." Hing agrees, saying "Four out
of five ornithologists recommend sugarless infusions of gum tree leaves for
their chickens who lose their feathers." The influential Chinese
farmer is ecstatic, for the two wisest men in town are of a single mind.
He decides to carry out their advice, and it does not succeed. The moral
of this story is "All of Hing's courses and all of Ming's ken couldn't get
gum tea to feather a hen."