May 2008

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« Fossils – Still Bullshit | Main | Atlantis »



I've been a Dilbert fan for many years, and for the last few months, I've become a big fan of your blog as well. I usually don't post comments on blogs or news sites (Slashdot, etc), but I had to share this story with you.

When I was younger, my family went to a local baseball game. It was a nice, sunny day. I was sitting beside my sister watching the game and munching on peanuts, when suddenly a pigeon flew overhead followed by a loud SPLAT. It had shat directly upon my sister's head. I of course began laughing uncontrollably, with my mother trying to clean my sister's head and calm her down - and trying to get me to shut up because I was "making it worse." Little did we know, the worst was yet to come. My mom had the pigeon droppings mostly cleaned up (read: smeared everywhere), when suddenly, SPLAT... right on top of my sister's head again!! I was rolling in the floor at this point, with my sister outright bawling. My mom quickly grabbed me and my sister and took us home. I tormented my sister over that for years, I must say. Never gets old!

So, what are the chances of being shat upon TWO times? ;)


This post is hilarious. I was reading it late at night and laughing really hard, trying not to wake up my husband. FYI, I recently featured your blog in a write-up at my own blog, A Bunch of Wordz (the specific page can be found at


Wow, Craig . . . you sound like really fun guy to hang out with.


Okay this is boring and a little too academic, but I can’t help but chime in.

As counter intuitive it may seem the probability of being pooped on with your hat off is exactly the same as any other point you were outside.

To illustrate this rather than thinking of this as being pooped on think about rolling dice. What is the probability of rolling a 6, well one in 6. Now suppose you sit there all day long rolling the dice, on average you will roll a 6 one out of every 6 rolls or 16.7% of the time. The more you roll the dice the closer you will get to the average (e.g. 10 rolls may have an average of 10% but by the time you get to 100 you will be pretty darn close to 16.7%). Now take your hat off and roll the dice one time. What are the odds of rolling a 6? It may seem that it is less likely that you will roll a 6, but really your odds are exactly the same. It is the number of trials that makes it appear to be less likely to roll a 6 not the probability.

Let’s go back to bird poop. Being pooped on is a highly unlikely event let’s give it a probability of .0001 for every moment you are in a prime pooping location. Every moment you are in a location where being pooped on can occur is a trial. The more trials you are exposed to increase the likelihood that you will encounter the unlikely event, you can expect to be pooped on one time for every 10,000 trials or moments, but the probability remains unchanged for each trial. So while it may in fact seem less likely that the pooping occurred when your hat was off the probability remains unchanged. What you are alluding to is the power to detect the true probability of being pooped on.

There is a rather funny discussion of this in the opening to the Tom Stoppard play “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.” But don’t let this post keep you from watching it.


Wasn't there a story a couple years ago about a guy being arrested for giving bird feed laced with ex-lax to the Trafalgar Square pigeons, causing some... side effects...


Hilarious as always, Dilbert.


Thanks to that bird -- I got a great laugh from its good aim and your response.

it's me

Wasn't there a singer who suffered a direct hit to her open mouth at a concert? I think I saw it on VH-1 or something.



Some bird came once into the room and shat the pc screen... the only open window in the house was at second floor and the computer in the living room.

But i didn´t see the event itself, so the time span when it happened is way longer. :)


I like the word "shat". It's hilariously awesome!


I got shat on by a bird at a train station in london 3.5 years ago. I was sitting waiting for a train and was tired after a flight from this side of the atlantic during which I had slept little. Everyone laughed at me. It was funny. For the bastards who were not me.

Steven McDaniel

"Isn't it odd (or made up) that just the day before, you said, "

First, when I say “the evidence for evolution is bullshit,” I’m NOT saying any of the following:

1. Evolution isn’t a scientific fact.
2. All evidence for evolution is false.
3. God created the earth."

And at the very next opportune time a bird flying, let's see 32 feet per second x 5 seconds = 160 feet up (16 stories more or less) takes into account the wind sweeping off the buildings and SMACK, bullshits right on you!

No, God of Creation, eh? Isn't that what you said? It seems to me God is humorous too. Wanna revise #3" Edo

Depends on your point of view. Had this been part of the footage of a PBS wildlife documentary, the commentator would invariably have explained, with appropriate intellectual gravitas, "Now the birds of New York have evolved the ability to crap on the heads of pedestrians. They developed this finely tuned skill, honed over the centuries, to be unerring, both for distance and accuracy." As regards yesterday's subject, I am reminded of a poem that reflects what happened to me all the time when studying Biology in public schools and college, as I had so much 'BS' flung in the general direction of my head all the time:

Birdy, birdy, in the sky
Why'd you dirty in my eye
I'm so glad that cows don't fly...

Emily Z

That calculation would be correct if all 22 million spent about 5 hours outside

HCG #781

Let’s hope it wasn’t a “Foo” bird. Native American Legend says that if the supernatural Foo bird shits on a person, they will die if they dare wash the shit off. The moral of this story….”If the Foo shits, wear it.”

Sorry, I can’t resist a pun.


You know, the most amazing thing happened to me tonight. I was coming here, on the way to the lecture, and I came in through the parking lot. And you won't believe what happened. I saw a car with the license plate ARW 357. Can you imagine? Of all the millions of license plates in the state, what was the chance that I would see that particular one tonight? Amazing!

- Richard Feynmann


Really laughed my stomach out... with the line.."Birds giving enough respect".. Lucky animals and birds who are free from the social structure we have made of our lives...

Shachar Shemesh

Trying to answer seriously (god knows why I bother), your statistics is screwed.

First, and I do believe you actually referred to that fact before, but I'm not sure how much you realize the implications, had nothing unusual happened to you, you wouldn't have recalled it.

However, there is a much more fundamental statistical tidbit going on here. The definition of "unusual" is fairly broad. If you have met 10 people you knew, none of which live in NY, while walking down central park, that would have been unusual. If alternatingly, each dog you met would bark at you and befriend you (or your leg), that would be unusual.

So lets look at all of the unusual things that could have happened. Each occurrence would only be called "unusual" if you could actually sit down and work out the odds that it has a less than 1% chance of happening. Now make a list of unusual things that could happen. I'm sure you can come up with at least 100 incidents, each statistically independent of the rest, each less than 1% likely. Do I need to keep talking to show you where this is going?

So what are the chances that Scott Adams will walk through central park for five hours and only get shat on in the 5 seconds he is hatless? Answer - 100%. We know, because it happened. If that had not happened, something else, equally (well, more or less) improbable would.

In fact, it is extremely unlikely for a week in which you go out of the house and expose yourself to coincidences to go by in which nothing unusual happens. As strange as it may seem, unusual things are quite usual.



With odds like that going for you, you should've went right over to the deli and bought a lottery ticket!

Curt F.

And who says you can't train a wild bird?...


Bird 1 (to Bird 2): "look, isn't that Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert?"

Bird 2: "no shit!"

Bird 1(thinking that there was a comma in Bird 2's response): "ok, I will!"

and he did

Andy Watt

At the risk of sounding like the proverbial stuck vinyl disc... this reminds me of the feelings I used to get when I got enthusiastic about a project at the past company I used to work at, a major Japanese electronics manufacturer.... you'd "take your hat off" and leave yourself unprotected for a couple of days (or weeks) and suddenly discover you got shat on as the project either spiralled out of control or got shut down...

Tenuous, but it follows nicely from my last post on the Fossils post :)

Now you know how Nelson feels Mr Adams.


As someone who is from NYC I must say, "Go NYC!" It was one of our lovely pigeons!

Also I hear being shat on by a bird is good luck.


Little bird, flys so high,
Dropped his package from the sky.
Said the farmer, wiping his eye,
"Damn good job cows don't fly!"


It was just the cosmos trying to balance things out. What were the odds you'd be such a successful cartoonist? They're probably the same odds that a New York bird would shit on your briefly uncovered pate.

Kevin Kunreuther

With so many of us echoing in one form or another the comment that you got some kind of universal comeuppance by being shit on by a supposed direct ancestor of the dinosaur, I wonder if in fact these responses were generated by some sub-routine created by your lazy programmer, Hologram-Scott, thus underlining your very argument, again?
I feel like a dancing monkey and it's peanut butter and jelly time ...

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