Where There is a Will, There is a Way


One day a thirsty crow was searching for water. It found a pitcher in which there was water but could not drink from it since the water level was very low. So he looked around, found some stones and pebbles and dropped it into the pitcher. This caused the water level to rise and the crow drank the water.

We all know the story of the thirsty crow – one of the most famous of Aesop’s fables. The moral of the story is said to be – Where there is a will, there is a way.

While this story has been in our collective consciousness for so many years, I doubt if many would have listened to it with a critical ear. I really wonder whether the story can really be true in a practical sense, even if the concept is palatable scientifically.

Imagine a round pitcher with a little water. I really doubt that by putting in pebbles and stones the water level will rise so much for the crow to be able to reach it. Beyond a point, the water will stay within the gaps between the stones. Adding more stones will not help at all.

This raises a number of questions which must be answered to justify the story

  • What was the shape of the pitcher?
  • What was the initial water level?
  • What size and weight of pebbles can a crow pick up in its beak?
  • How many pebbles are needed to be put in to raise the water level by one centimeter?

Even if we are able to get some answers to these questions, I am unable to come to terms with the moral of the story. Why is the moral always – where there is a will, there is a way?

I would say the following morals would make more sense

  • Necessity is the mother of invention
  • Think out of the box
  • Never leave a pitcher with water outside, a crow might put stones into it.
  • Jugaad your way to get what you want

I am shocked that we tell our children stories and don’t ask them to think critically on them. We even given them pre-cooked conclusions. Not only that, we also never pause to consider the truth of what we have been told as innocent stories.

By the way, some scientists went ahead and did an experiment with crows and pitchers and found some interesting results.

Research Paper on the Experiment done on Crows
Video of the Study

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