Aware of his Schemes – Doubt

The law of the pendulum is simple and well known: A pendulum can never return to a point higher than the point from which it was released. Because of friction and gravity, when the pendulum returns, it will fall short of its original release point until finally it is at rest. However, knowing a thing is true and believing a thing is true is often two very different things.

A college student was assigned, for a final to presentation, to deliver a persuasive argument. He presented the law of the pendulum and then attached a three-foot string to a child’s top and secured it to the top of the blackboard with a thumbtack. He pulled the top to one side and made a mark and each time it swung back he made a new mark. It took less than a minute for the little pendulum to complete its swinging and come to rest. He then turned to the class and asked how many believed the law of the pendulum was true. All of his classmates raised their hands, as did the teacher. Thinking the presentation was over the instructor started to walk to the front of the room not realizing that the most persuasive part of the presentation was just beginning. Hanging from the ceiling beams was a large, crude but functional pendulum (250 pounds of metal weights tied to four strands of 500-pound-test parachute cord). The presenter then invited the instructor to climb up on a table and sit in a chair with the back of his head against a cement wall. Then he slowly brought the 250 pounds of metal up to his nose he again asked, “Sir, do you believe the law of the pendulum?”

There was a long pause. Huge beads of sweat formed on his upper lip and then he nodded weakly and whispered, “Yes. The pendulum was released. It made a swishing sound as it arced across the room. At the far end of its swing, it paused momentarily before hurling back on its course. You’ve never seen a man move so fast in your life. He literally dove from the table! Have no doubt about it doubt is a powerful motivator.

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