The Universe of Discourse

Fri, 10 Feb 2023

Looking under the lamppost

The aphorism about looking for your lost wallet under the lamppost applies differently in two different kinds of situations:

  • If you know you lost your wallet in the dark alley, looking for it under the lamppost "because the light is better" is a self-deceptive waste of time.

    (That's the sense in which it appears in the original joke.)

  • But if you don't know exactly where you lost your wallet, it's good strategy to look for it first under the lamppost, where the light is better, as long as you are prepared to move on to the dark alley later.

    (People often invoke it in this sense instead.)

[Other articles in category /misc] permanent link