“If you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, he will immediately try to get out. But if you put him in a pot of cold water, the frog will be comfortable. Raise the water’s temperature ever so slowly and eventually the comfortable frog will be boiled to death.”
Ever heard this maxim? It is usually given to argue against complacency in the midst of gradual changes. Don’t be so complacent! After all, we all know what happens to the comfortable, complacent frog! If only the poor guy were capable of seeing the danger he was in. (Why someone would want to boil a live frog in the first place is beyond me, but I digress.)
Well, there’s good gnus and bad gnus. The good news is for all you frog lovers out there. The bad news is for all the would-be philosophers. Here it is: the maxim is entirely, completely, 100% false.
For our source, we turn to that bastion of urban myth debunkery, Snopes.com. Here’s what they have to say:
“According to Dr. Victor Hutchinson, a Research Professor Emeritus from the University of Oklahoma’s Department of Zoology…’The legend is entirely incorrect! The “critical thermal maxima” of many species of frogs have been determined by several investigators. In this procedure, the water in which a frog is submerged is heated gradually at about 2 degrees Fahrenheit per minute. As the temperature of the water is gradually increased, the frog will eventually become more and more active in attempts to escape the heated water. If the container size and opening allow the frog to jump out, it will do so.’”
Now, boiling live frogs certainly makes for a very effective picture and it certainly teaches a good lesson. We should be mindful of our surroundings and not settle for complacency. But let’s not get so carried away with trying to make our point that we either fabric “facts” or perpetuate those fabricated “facts” without checking them out first. After all, if we did so, wouldn’t we be kind of like that poor mythical frog? “I’m just going to accept this maxim as truth without checking it out. La la la la la. [sizzle].”
There you have it. On behalf of Kermit and frogs everywhere, stop trying to boil live frogs.
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