Dear sirs and madams,
We are delighted and honored to present to you the final resolution of more than a decade of extensive research conducted by our committee. The question we were tasked with the pleasant duty of answering – which came first, the chicken or the egg? – was authorized by the senior political echelons of the Party, approved by the Expert Subcommittee on Questions and Birds, and even received modest funding from the State, or rather from the pockets of those citizens who were greatly honored by having to take part in our activities. The conclusions of our study, which involved considerable effort and sometimes even noble self-sacrifice (see Appendix C – Night of the Living Chickens), are presented here to the general public for the first time. A more detailed version was submitted to the National Archive, and is currently being reviewed sympathetically – we hope – by the Department of Internal Security and General Prosperity.
When discussing our subject matter, we first have to clarify the exact nature of both chickens and eggs. It took us a relatively short time to form a strong opinion of the former, but the latter presented us with unexpected difficulties. Fortunately, these very same obstacles proved vital to the solution of our problem, and therefore we shall soon elaborate on the matter.
The Committee’s conclusion in regard to chickens confirms the results of previous research, determining and proving beyond any doubt that a chicken is, and is only, a being which, in body, organs, mind, nature and aspirations, is a chicken. This allows us to distinguish between real chickens and other animals which may pretend to be chickens, such as turkeys, pigeons, ostriches, peacocks and our honorable committee member, comrade N., who, in the seventh year of the research, proclaimed that he was capable of laying eggs(1), and was promptly sent to rest in the relaxation and excruciating labor farm in the north.
The exact definition of an egg, as noted, presents a more complex challenge to researchers, and therefore constituted a major part of our efforts. After much discussion, deliberation and consideration, sometimes involving noticeable personal risk, it became clear that a single definition for the concept of “egg” is a mathematical impossibility. Therefore, we have had to divide it into the following classes:
- A non-chicken egg: in this class, the easiest to define, we can include such items as quail eggs, Tyrannosaurus Rex eggs, caviar, and some of the eggs brought to us by the honorable comrade N., before he was taken from us by the Security Service.
- A chicken egg: unfortunately, even this carefully considered definition is not clear enough, and therefore we had to divide it into two sub-classes:
- An egg from which hatches a chicken: it must be emphasized that the animal which laid this egg does not have, even when applying the most rigid logical perspective, to be a chicken. While it’s possible and even reasonable to assume that the laying animal is mostly a chicken, even to the point of being an almost-chicken, it definitely does not meet the abovementioned requirement of being a one hundred percent chicken, and thus shall be named a proto-chicken.
- An egg laid by a chicken: this egg, according to the logic specified above, will result in a chicken(2).
Having arrived at these definitions in the most quick and cost-effective manner possible (during our deliberations, the head of the committee was replaced merely twice), we were able to organize and combine them into a neat logical inference and thus arrive at a conclusion. Both are brought here in their most basic version, as publishing the whole thirty-eight volumes of mathematical formulae is currently impractical.
In order to simplify matters, and considering the original chicken assumption, i.e. accepting as a chicken only a being that is one hundred percent chicken, we shall divide the population of eggs according to the three abovementioned options, in equal parts: 33.33% non-chicken egg, 33.33% egg from which hatches a chicken, 33.33% egg laid by a chicken. These numbers are not wholly accurate, and there is a serious claim made by Doctor N., member of the Zoo-Political Institute, that the number of non-chicken eggs is considerably larger than that of those which are related to chickens (see his important research, “Hen vs. Tyrannosaurus Rex throughout History, volume III – The Early Years”). However, we were blessed with the guidance of the first political advisor of our committee, who generously convinced us to round the numbers, thus arriving at those which were just presented here.
Let us consider, then, the information we have gathered so far, using the latest scientific knowledge in the innovative field of government statistics:
Of the total amount of eggs in the world, ⅓ are not chicken-related, ⅓ were laid by proto-chickens and ⅓ were laid by chickens. Thus we can immediately reach this committee’s final conclusion. The answer to the question “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” is: two-thirds of an egg.
Sincerely and respectfully,
Sub-Secretary N. (Committee Secretary)
Representing: Comrade General N. (Committee President), Comrade Herr Professor N. (Committee Member), Comrade Commissar N. (Political Advisor for the Committee)
(1) What’s more, he claimed that those were free-range eggs.
(2) Or a fried egg (see The 35th of May, by Erich Kästner)