Three separate possibilities are provided within this answer, as to how much wood a woodchuck could in fact chuck.
How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
The typical response to this question is ‘A woodchuck would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood’. However, many find this answer to be insufficient and consider it a simple method of avoidance presented as a guise, covering a respondent’s insufficient knowledge surrounding the anatomy and behaviour of woodchucks.
Posed first by the songwriter Robert H. Davis in 1902, the raising of the question as to exactly how much wood can in fact be chucked by said woodchucks has puzzled academics since its inception.
Different answers have been provided by academics, their alterations attributed to the interpretation of the parameters contained within the question, specifically the definition of ‘chuck’.
One such answer adopted the traditional use of the word ‘chuck’ i.e. to throw, toss or discard. Richard Thomas, a reputable wildlife technician, acknowledging that woodchucks do not in fact chuck wood, decided that measuring the average amount of soil chucked by a woodchuck per day would be sufficiently analogous to answer the question. Using research and his expertise in the field, it was determined that a woodchuck could chuck 700 pounds of wood ‘on a good day’.
This answer however, was not sufficient for a number of academics, most notably P.A. Paskevich and T.B. Shea. ‘Chuck’ in this instance was suggested by the academics to mean the opposite of ‘upchucking’ i.e. the process of vomiting. Through the employment of advanced statistical reasoning/analysis, it was determined that a woodchuck can in fact chuck 3.62 cm3 (rounded to 2 decimal places) of wood a day.
All three answers provided above have their relative merits, however, whichever one you choose to believe will ultimately be based on your own subjective opinion.
P.A. Paskevich and T.B. Shea (July–August 1995). “The Ability of Woodchucks to Chuck Cellulose Fibers”. Annals of Improbable Research, p. 4–9.
R.H. Davis (July 11, 1988). “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck?”, Spokane Chronicle, p. A9.