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  • Martin Greenaway

The Auditors and the Elephant

Ok, so I came across this little ditty a few years ago when studying the foundations of knowledge and loved it, firstly due to the use of the word 'prate' and secondly due to its relevance to the audit process and the concepts of the audit trail, and process based auditing.

The ISO9001 Auditing Practices Group guidance still appears to have great relevance today to improving the audit process, and I would suggest budding auditors check it out at http://isotc.iso.org/livelink/livelink/fetch/3541460/17530839/APG-AuditTrail2015.pdf?nodeid=17530612&vernum=-2

The Blind Men and the Elephant John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887)

It was six men of Indostan To learning much inclined, Who went to see the Elephant (Though all of them were blind), That each by observation Might satisfy his mind.

The First approached the Elephant, And happening to fall Against his broad and sturdy side, At once began to bawl: "God bless me! but the Elephant Is very like a WALL!"

The Second, feeling of the tusk, Cried, "Ho, what have we here, So very round and smooth and sharp? To me 'tis mighty clear This wonder of an Elephant Is very like a SPEAR!"

The Third approached the animal, And happening to take The squirming trunk within his hands, Thus boldly up and spake: "I see," quoth he, "the Elephant Is very like a SNAKE!"

The Fourth reached out an eager hand, And felt about the knee "What most this wondrous beast is like Is mighty plain," quoth he: "'Tis clear enough the Elephant Is very like a TREE!"

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear, Said: "E'en the blindest man Can tell what this resembles most; Deny the fact who can, This marvel of an Elephant Is very like a FAN!"

The Sixth no sooner had begun About the beast to grope, Than seizing on the swinging tail That fell within his scope, "I see," quoth he, "the Elephant Is very like a ROPE!"

And so these men of Indostan Disputed loud and long, Each in his own opinion Exceeding stiff and strong, Though each was partly in the right, And all were in the wrong!

Moral

So oft in theologic wars,

The disputants, I ween,

Rail on in utter ignorance

Of what each other mean,

And prate about an Elephant

Not one of them has seen

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