The wings are not on fire
(How to turn contraposition upside down)
A Captain and the First Officer are whistling idly in an
aeroplane cockpit. They are obviously very bored.
C: You know what...
(The Captain picks up a microphone.)
C: (over intercom) “Hello, this is
your Captain speaking. There
is absolutely no cause for
That’ll get them thinking.
(The First Officer reaches for the microphone.)
C: No, no, no, no. Not yet, not
yet. Let it sink in. They’ll
be thinking, er, ‘What is there
no cause for alarm about? Are
the wings on fire?’
(over intercom) “The wings are
not on fire.”
Now they’re thinking, er, ’why
should he say that?’ So we
(The Steward enters.)
FO: Oh, how are we doing?
S: (looks down the aisle) They’ve
Looking a bit worried...
So begins a short article about certain forms of “reverse” logic which whilst likely to upset Aristotleans are actually quite well suited to the real world. In vol 1, no. 2 of the free monthly digest of reasoning literature called (not unreasonably) The Reasoner. Possibly this is originally taken from a sketch in John Cleese on How to Irritate People. It is not entirely clear that this is case. But why else would they mention it?