Monday, August 10, 2009

"Dissecting" the Frog Parable....

The Story about the Proper Method of Boiling a FROG is a cautionary tale most of us are familiar with. We're told that if you try to put a frog in water that is Boiling, it jumps right out. But if you put a frog into a pot of Cold Water and SLOWLY turn up the Heat the frog doesn't notice until IT IS TOO LATE! Ta Da! Boiled Frog!

The story is usually told to warn us about being LULLED into Bad Things. I find the story interesting because the "Moral" is a True Phenomenon but the "Story" itself kind of ridiculous. Or, the "casting" is weak but the "plot" dead on!

First, the Story/Casting: It's Cute! I mean just look at those darling frogs in the picture. Or think Kermit the Frog, the adorable Muppet. BUT, as a kid I used to catch REAL frogs at Hebgen Lake in Montana and THOSE frogs were no shrinking violets; they'd jump out of ANY pot irregardless of temperature! That is what frogs do! So it seems the story only works if I picture a Disneyesque Frog versus a Creepy, Mottled, Warts-&-All Living Specimen!

But, the Moral/Plot; Now, here is a "human nature" concept demonstrated by frogs that I find hard to argue with. The Premise that we BARELY NOTICE CHANGE when it comes upon us incrementally! If the heat is too intense we are instantly aware but give us small doses and soon we're toast/scorched/doomed!

While frogs aren't likely candidates for REALLY sitting in that slow warming pot on the stove; I personally have fallen prey to this trick many times.....both in benign and harmful ways! The parable is often invoked as a "Sunday School" type of warning to watch out for complacency, beware of gradual conditioning that leads to our own demise. But, the applications are overarching and even Hillary Clinton used the tale to describe how the Bush administration slowly lulled us into accepting higher gas prices.

Without overanalyzing or overstating (I can ruin things with my propensity to both); and frogs withstanding, the story IS a good reminder and a clever warning about subtle, slow conditioning that creeps in until we're too weakened to react! Hmm....To avoid the "Boiled Frog" Syndrome the phrase "Leap like a Frog" comes to my mind!