The hot frogs ask: Et tu, Al?

By James Fallows

I finally took the unwise step of searching Google News for recent uses of the (totally fictitious) boiled-frog cliche.

Sigh. Of the many examples, these two were most dispiriting:

First, from the Wall Street Journal online, last month:

When you pop a frog in a pot of boiling water, it jumps out. When you put it in cold water and gradually turn up the heat, it gets boiled.

Could Romano Prodi's resignation as Italy's prime minister provide the trigger that stops the country from becoming a boiled frog?


Dispiriting because: This was the lead of the article! Not just inaccurate but unimaginative!

Second, from the Expatica blog in Belgium, about an appearance in Europe two weeks ago by Al Gore. How did he explain the political difficulty of mobilizing for action on climate change?

Al borrowed industry's boiling frog analogy - a frog can be boiled alive if the water is heated slowly enough - to highlight people's ignorance towards global warming.


Please, Mr. Vice President. No! This is dispiriting because you are our leading scientist-statesman! The frogs beg you to stop. This may be the only time you and the Wall Street Journal have ever agreed about anything -- unfortunately, you're both wrong. Think globally, act locally, and take this analogy out of your repertoire!

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2007/03/the-hot-frogs-ask-et-tu-al/7560/