In one of those exercises peculiar to Hollywood and to schools of the Valle de los Españoles, a friend and I were assigned the task of tabulating the results of the various contests for “most popular/handsome-beautiful/energetic/bright/athletic and most studious student;” and “most popular/helpful/patient/best and most teacherious teacher.” Under cover, the two of us also invented a somewhat derogatory category we called “most unpopular teacher” and then stuffed the ballot box with the name of the assistant principal (whom we very much liked) and added “votes” for a few others just to cover our tracks.
Fortunately, since both of us were “counting challenged,” we had more ballots than voting students and we were immediately discovered. The interesting thing, though, was that many, if not all, of the teachers in that school system were far above average and rather than give us the punishment we deserved, the object of our prank held a general assembly and used the incident as a teaching moment: a thirty minute lecture on democracy and citizenship and the ethics required for both.
What bothered him was not his “selection” as the “worst teacher ever” but that we, his students, knew so little of the system we had the good fortune to be born into and, by luck alone, were a part of something that others had fought and died to gain and protect. He said that a vote was “sacred” and that it should never be bought or sold or denied or given lightly and only if done responsibly could the decisions of the many favor liberty over tyranny and justice over the unfair distribution of both the benefits and the burdens that our peculiar form of governance—one that we both belong to and own—guarantees.
Similarly, but on a totally different scale, is something called “crowdsourcing” which posits that, on average, a group of people is more knowledgeable than an individual. The procedure has had some successes as when the French sought a way to preserve food, and when the Brits put together the Oxford Dictionary. But it also has had its failures, as in the more recent effort by some to identify the Boston marathon bombers that fingered a pair of teenagers whose only fault was that they dressed like teenagers.
Given all of this, I thought it might be possible to use crowdsourcing as a way to pick out the nine clues—among nearly twenty possibilities—found in Forrest Fenn’s poem. And, in the interest of fairness, which is the ethical part of crowdsourcing, I would share the results with everybody. Plus, given my admitted problems in counting, I left all of the comments to stand so that you can make your own count. Here is mine with the vote totals and in the order they appear in the poem:
1. Begin it where warm waters halt; (5)
2. And take it in the canyon down. (5)
3. Put in below (5)
4. The home of Brown (5)
5. There’ll be no paddle up your creek (5)
6. Just heavy loads (6)
7. Found the blaze (5.5)
8. Tarry scant (6)
9. Marvel gaze (6)
This list may or may not help you. It only confuses me. But that’s because I know that one respondent counted a non-existent number seven and not just a few others preferred to discuss the meanings of “Tarry scant” and “Marvel gaze;” and then almost demanded that they be included as clues. And so I did.
I must say that this result is no more and no less than what I expected. But, from time to time, and as the delinquents come in, I will update so that maybe, just maybe, someday, we can figure it all out. For now, however, it appears that Forrest Fenn has won again.