How many holes does a straw have?
This question surfaced on the internet probably around a month or two ago. When I first saw it, it absolutely put my brain in a pretzel. I thought about it a lot, had a spirited discussion with some college friends, reflected inward on what the fuck I was doing with my life, and finally came to a conclusion. Most recently, it came up on an episode of Pardon My Take and once again, I was plunged into deep, philosophical thought. So now after two iterations of profound reflection, I’m ready to deliver my thesis.
The answer, of course, is one. Now, I do believe that the trickiness of the question comes from our own, fickle English language. We are very used to using the words “hole” and “opening” interchangeably. But in the case of the straw, we need to be able to separate the two. By doing so, we can reasonably see that while a straw has two openings, it is merely one, continuous hole.
Think about it this way: if I poke a hole in a piece of paper, you would say “hey that piece of paper has a hole in it”, right? Okay, what if I doubled the thickness of the paper and did the same thing? Still one hole, right? Imagine now I increased the thickness by 1,000-fold and did the same thing. Should still be one hole, right? My point being that the thickness of the object should not dictate the amount of holes.
Here’s another example. Let’s say I have a 2×4 and I drill just less than halfway through it. Reasonably, the 2×4 now has one hole in it. Next, I go to the other side of the 2×4 and drill just less than halfway again. Reasonably, the 2×4 has two holes now–one in the front and one in the back. But now I go ahead and connect the two by drilling out the little that was left. What now? Surely you wouldn’t look at the 2×4 and say there are two holes in it, right? You’d say “gee, that 2×4 has a hole in it.”
I think what it all comes down to is that holes can have one or more openings to them. If I dig a hole in the ground, it is one hole with one opening. But if I drill all the way through a 2×4, I still have one hole, just two openings. Let’s say I have a boat and the boat springs a leak. In order to stop taking on water, I need to plug THE hole. I don’t need to plug BOTH holes. However, I can choose which opening to do the plugging at (presumably the one inside the boat so I don’t have to go swimming, but that’s another thought experiment for another day).
In conclusion, the English language is confusing and we often times find ourselves interchanging words that actually have different meanings. Even more so, when struggling with the answer, make sure you are asking the right question (that’s some fortune cookie shit right there, damn). When push comes to shove, a straw has one hole with two openings. Don’t @ me.
P.S. A blanket “nice” applies to the entire blog