Ernie Meets Descartes' Demon

Bert is sitting in his easy chair trying to enjoy a relaxing radio program about pigeons when Ernie comes in and rushes around the room with a Polaroid camera. Each time Ernie goes up to an object, he presses the trigger and a bright flash goes off followed by the noise of the machine ejecting a photograph. This bothers Bert who finally looses his patience when Ernie points it at him and flashes:

Bert: ER-NIE!
Ernie: Yeah, Bert.
Bert: I'm trying to hear my favorite program, "Praying Oming Pigeons". What are you doing?
Ernie: It's a Reality Checker, Bert. I paid a whole nickel for it.
Bert: A what? Ernie, that's ridiculous.
Ernie: No it's not, Bert. See, now I can know what things are real and what are not. I just press this button and (Flash! Jerrring!) Yup, that's real.
Bert: But Ernie, what's wrong with just seeing and touching things to know if their real.
Ernie: Oh, I can't trust my senses, Bert. I could be dreaming . . .
Bert: But Ernie . . .
Ernie: I could be stoned . . .
Bert: But Ernie . . .
Ernie: In fact, I may not be real at all. (He slowly puts his hand to his forehead) Bert, we may be only someone else's imagination! But now I know, Bert. (BEEP!) Yup, you're real.
Bert: But ER-NIE! How do you know that this machine is real?!
Ernie: Well, I can see it and feel it and . . . I can hear it, Bert. Yup, I can hear it.
Bert: But I thought that you couldn't trust your senses!
Ernie: You mean, then . . . I can't tell if this machine is real then, oh no! I don't know if anything is real!
Bert: That's right, Ernie. I think you better get that nickel back.
Ernie: Oh no, I can't do that, Bert.
Bert: Why not, Ernie?
Ernie: After the man sold it to me, he stopped registering on the machine. Hch-hch-hch-hch!
Bert: O-o-o-o-h!

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