The Chicken and the Egg

This is something I wrote for the definitely real previous iteration of this page, a long time ago. If I was writing it today, I would do some things differently, but I stand by the overall message. That said, I have made a couple minor edits.

The chicken and the egg

It's a question people have asked for centuries: What came first, the chicken, or the egg? Originally, this was a big deal because people hadn't quite figured out whether or not the world had always existed, and if it did have some creation date, which of the pair would have been around first. Nowadays nobody really cares, because we actually know these things.

The answer is the egg.


Of course, if you Google the question you'll find a lot of answers (and a terrible Wikipedia article) saying the egg came first. The first obvious reason why is that eggs evolved long before chickens did. This is true... but it feels a bit like cheating, doesn't it? It does to me anyway, and this is my website, so you have to agree with me. Clearly the point of the original question is to ask whether the chicken or the chicken egg came first.

But, of course, it's still the egg, because...

...why, exactly? You ever notice how humans have a tendency to assume they're still correct about something, even after recieving new information about the question? This, in my opinion, is the source of a great deal of the team egg propoganda you'll find on the internet. Additionally, you'll find a lot of claims on the internet saying that team egg is the side of "science" - and anybody who suggests otherwise is just not scientifically minded enough. To avoid introducing nuance into the problem, because nuance isn't permitted on the internet, we have to assume the answer to the question is the same either way. But once we define the question to assume a chicken egg, not just any type of egg, it's no longer a simple question of science; it's a question of semantics.

So this raises a new question: What is a "chicken egg"?

Here's my opinion: if we choose to believe that a chicken egg is any egg from which a chicken hatches, then what sort of egg is one laid by a solitary hen? It's not going to hatch into anything. But we know it's still a "chicken egg". So clearly, we must come up with a more broad definition. We can't define it as "an egg, that if fertilised, would hatch into a chicken", because this is impossible to determine from the egg itself.

Thus, the only reasonable definition left is that a chicken egg is an egg that has all the qualities you'd expect a chicken egg to have. Such as its taste. And such an egg can only be laid by a chicken, as only the chicken has the precise DNA required to produce an egg of such qualities.

As a chicken egg must have been laid by a chicken, but a chicken can come out of a different type of egg, it follows that the chicken came first. Q.E.D.

Of course, you may have your own definition for what a chicken egg is. Or you may not want to accept that the original question asks for a chicken egg specifically. That's fine! Words, as it turns out, are very tricky (and perhaps impossible) to define precisely. A lot of arguments start because of this problem. Is water wet? Is a hotdog a sandwich? How many holes does a straw have? Is a tomato a fruit? Is fire alive? The answers to these questions all depend on how you define the concepts they ask about: "wet", "sandwich", "hole", "fruit", and "fire", for these. And they're all popular arguments because these are words we feel like we should know the meaning of, but the question presents us with an edge case. In pursuit of an answer, we often steal a precise definition from somewhere: saying that, for example, a straw has one hole because of its topology, or that a hotdog is a sandwich because it has bread on both sides. But these answers aren't quite fufilling, to me. I think it's important that we remember that there are always edge cases in the world. It's a big, messy place. There are always going to be things you can't put into the categories you know, and that you can't explain with the words you have.

Not everything - and not everyone - can be split into perfect, distinct categories.

And there's nothing wrong with that.

Also, I want to point out, team Chicken won against team Egg in Splatoon 2 Splatfests twice out of the two times the Splatfest has been run, so according to Splatfest law they are legally the correct answer.

And they did the same thing in Eyewire vs. competitions. There's no Eyewire equivalent of Splatfest law, but the evidence here is pretty conclusive.

🖇 gemini://