Josh Marshall asks:
Have we been wrong about frogs all along?
Yesterday I did a post with the oft-mentioned story of how a frog will sit still for his cooking when put in water that is slowly brought to a boil.
But TPM Reader EG wrote in yesterday to tell me that about a year ago he ran this story past a respected frogologist (actually, the word is apparently ‘herpetologist’ but that sounded more like a doctor they might have on call at the local Planned Parenthood clinic) and the frogologist said this simply isn’t true.
As the water heats up, the frog starts to wig out. And if he can bail before the boil, he will.
Can anyone confirm this? Is the frog anecdote wrong? And if this story isn’t true, how much more must we be in the dark about?
I sat in on a seminar at Colorado College in 1998 by a frog-ologist doing something along those lines and although I don’t remember her name, the research definitely seems relevant. Her exact work involved finding out whether and how frogs that were repeatedly heated adapt physiologically to surviving really hot water. The answer was that pre-heated frogs survived significantly longer, although I don’t remember the exact physiological reasons why. Regarding the question at hand, frogs definitely freak out no matter how slowly you heat the water. What’s up with the urban legend, then? I have no better idea than anybody else.
If you need a poignant epigram about creeping tyranny the Niemoller poem always works (When the Nazis came for the Communists…) although it has obvious Godwin complications. Any other ideas? Let us know in the comments.