Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Stop The Boiled Frog Madness

Vigilant media watchdog and journalist James Fallows wants us to pause in our political debate, just for a second, to clear something up:

I'm not talking about the politics of the thing*. I'm talking about the poor frog. Ms. Collins may be off the hook in attributing the frog metaphor to Al Gore -- he used it in An Inconvenient Truth, and he keeps right on using it. But he is flat wrong -- right on Global Warming, wrong on Amphibian Warming -- and so is everybody else who tries to explain things this way.

Summary of the undisputed science on this point: If you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will either die or else be so badly hurt it will wish that it were dead. If you put it in a pot of tepid water and turn on the heat, the frog will climb out -- if it can -- as soon as it gets uncomfortably warm.

And he's having a contest to find a replacement for the overused fallacy/cliche.


  1. Maybe the lesson is that frogs are smart enough to catch on when someone is messing with them, people not so much. We are the ones who always miss the warning signs!

  2. If you gradually increase your dosage of iocane powder, then you will eventually become immune to its effects.

    This is useful when facing a battle of wits with a genius, or don't want to die from iocane poisoning.

    The analogy leads to the opposite conclusion than the boiling frog, but is a useful way to introduce a discussion of the Princess Bride into any conversation.

  3. ...never engage in a battle of wits with a Sicilian, especially when death is on the line!