I have heard the Frog in Boiling Water story many times but today I heard a podcast that mentioned the science behind it. The story/metaphor goes like this.
If you put a frog in boiling water it will jump out immediately because it feels the pain and senses the danger. Where as if you put a frog in ambient temperature water and slowly raise the temp to boiling it will sit there until it dies.
It is a good metaphor for a lot of things that go on in life. Of course, just because it is a good metaphor doesn’t mean that it is true and that was what the podcast talked about. You can read the whole thing on the wikipedia page concerning the story. My favorite parts are three things concerning the story:
- One researcher (trying to find a physical location for the soul) determined that a frog with its brain removed would stay in the slowly heated water to its boiling point, while an intact frog would jump out. Makes me laugh just typing it out. Might as well of tacked the frog to the bottom of the pan and then said a tacked down frog doesn’t jump out of the slowly heated water.
- One researcher pointed out the story most be false because frogs never stay still for experiments, or much of life. Therefore, it would`t matter what the temperature of the water was the frog would jump out of the container if it could because that is simply what frogs do.
- Finally one researcher pointed out that if you put a frog in boiling water it won’t be able to jump out because it will be dead.
It is still an excellent metaphor for many things that happen in life. We will put up with a lot, even much that is bad for us, if it only happens incrementally.