Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Another boiling frog post

When Al Gore used the parable of the boiling frog to compare our situation with global warming I wondered if the claim could ever be true:

If you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, he’ll jump out. But if you place a frog into a pot of lukewarm water and slowly turn up the heat, it will boil to death.

A lot of blog posts including this one by James Fallows, have debunked this by referring to this article in Fast Company, Next Time, What Say We Boil a Consultant. This parable is popular in business literature as a story of companies which are slow to recognize change, etc. Thanks to Wikipedia which notesthat while the Fast Company article is correct, the original experiments conducted in the late 19th century were at a rate 10 times less than those in the recent experiment. In the original experiment, the the temperature was raised at a rate of 0.002°C while in the Fast Company article, the temperature was raised at 0.019°C.

It's too bad we can't try to replicate the original experiments. PETA would have our hides for doing this. The reference to the original experiment is here in Google Books.

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