Not so fast, Usain Bolt

Whenever somebody says “Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the world”, I cringe. My sense of logic feels under attack by this sentence – and by similar outrageous statements.

I am not saying that Usain Bolt could not be the fastest man in the world, but I am saying that we can’t know. And I am not even thinking of jet fighter pilots or astronauts falling back to earth. My objection remains valid if I restrict it to people walking or running.

There are 7 billion people in the world, half of them men, and – at a very low estimate – again at least half of them able to run. That’s 1.75 billion people.

Anyone who makes the claim that Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the world would need to know for sure that none of these other 1,750,000,000 people runs faster. How could anybody know?? There could be faster runners who never bothered to compete in races. There could be faster runners who couldn’t afford to compete. There could be faster runners who prefer to keep their talent a secret. If I could run as fast, I still wouldn’t want to come to the Olympics because I don’t like big crowds, for example.

Yes, these are the kind of logical fallacies that irritate me like hell me when listening to the news.

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
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6 Responses to Not so fast, Usain Bolt

  1. That statement isn’t even true in a limited sense, as he was beaten twice in the trials, no? (I don’t pay much attention to sports, so I might’ve misheard the reports.) And at best, he would be the fastest Olympic runner – barring other competitors trouncing him in the next couple days.
    But hey – when did little things like facts get in the way of a good news story? ;)

  2. spa mal ta says:

    and this is his response. reminds me of another big head who writes a blog and lived in malta, london and now in liithunaia

  3. Jan Klassen says:

    It is true the same way any fact is true – to the best of our knowledge. Do we know for sure that Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system? There could be some undiscovered planet that is larger. Do we know for sure that some invisible man in the sky isn’t controlling our lives?

    Of course theoretically some kid in the slums of India could be faster (and if so, he has a lot of incentive to step forward, beat Bolt and earn a lot of $$$) – but statistically it’s very unlikely.

  4. Stefan MD says:

    He’s the fastest show-off

  5. Ditto —–> what stefan MD said!

  6. Pingback: Who Kills all the Old People? | The Happy Hermit

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