A Thought Provoking Fable About the Consequences of Delaying Creative Solutions to Horrible Problems

In a departure from his regular analytical commentary series, CGP Grey brilliantly adapted a thought-provoking fable by Nick Bostrom entitled “The Fable of the Dragon-Tyrant“. Using illustration by Knut J. Håland and animation by P DeVos to tell the story of a kingdom that was held hostage by a gigantic dragon who lived upon a mountain. While there were many attempts to rid the kingdom of this, the dragon held its ground and demanded, in exchange for peace, 10,000 people to be sent to the mountain each day for dinner. While horrifying, the kingdom eventually normalized this demand as a way of life, developing streamlined methods for delivery to the dragon and jobs revolving around the dragon’s existence.

Dragon Jobs

As technology developed in the kingdom, the dragonologists who were once assigned to study the dragon, came up with an idea to get rid of the dragon once and for all – a missile that could pierce dragon scales.

Solution to Dragon

They explained their idea to the whole of the kingdom but was met with fierce objections from those citing such reasons as the harm to dragon-based jobs in the land, how the science has yet to be proven and the merciful nature of the dragon who by gave people a shorter life to live.

Dragon Objections

This argument went on a long time. It was only when a young boy spoke up, that the king finally relented and offered funding for the missile. Twelve years and 120,000 deaths later, the missile was finally launched with great success. While his people rejoiced, a regretful king lamented about his part in delaying this solution even one extra day.

“I am so sorry” The king continued, “had we started but one day earlier your father would not have to die.” Looking at the crowd, thinking of all the losses that they and he, had endured. “This project should have been started years earlier than we did. So many need not have been killed by the dragon, had we but awoken from our acceptance of its horror sooner.”

Fall of the Dragon

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.