Good News, Bad News, Who Knows?

This parable helps keep me from overreacting — negatively or positively — when “big” news happens. Of course, it also applies to news of all sizes.

I shared it on a mailing list six years ago but it keeps coming up in conversation and I hope you agree it’s worth re-sharing!

(I’ve paraphrased it from a few different versions I’ve read.)


Once upon a time, a farmer had a valuable horse run away.

“Bad News!” said the people.

“Good news, bad news, who knows?” replied the farmer.

Later, the horse returned to the farm with many wild horses accompanying it.

“Good News!” said the people.

“Good news, bad news, who knows?” replied the farmer.

Some time after that, the farmer’s son fell and broke his leg while trying to train one of the wild horses.

“Bad News!” said the people.

“Good news, bad news, who knows?” replied the farmer.

Soon after, the army came through town conscripting all able-bodied young men, and the farmer’s son was passed over.

“Good News!” said the people.

“Good news, bad news, who knows?” replied the farmer.


Every version of the story I’ve read stops there with the idea that the cycle could continue forever.

Perhaps the next time you have Good News or Bad News you’ll think “good news, bad news, who knows?”


Earlier Post: How to easily create “in-device” screenshots

Later Post: Two important questions about “Good news, bad news, who knows?”

All Posts