We all know the old canard--a frog sitting in a pot of slowly heating water will remain put it boils to death. The boiling frog is frequently employed as an analogy for society's unwillingness to address terrible things that are quietly happening in its midst. Example: A number of right-wingers view Americans as frogs oblivious to the roiling boil of society's
transformation from capitalism to socialism.
Glenn Beck, Paul Krugman, and (especially) James Fallows have all made the point that boiled-frog analogy is wrong. Beck, the most theatrically inclined of the trio, brought out an actual pot and frogs. Who would have guessed that these voices from across the political spectrum would come together over frogs?
Is America on its way to becoming a boiled frog?
I'm referring, of course, to the proverbial frog that, placed in a pot of cold water that is gradually heated, never realizes the danger it's in and is boiled alive. Real frogs will, in fact, jump out of the pot — but never mind. The hypothetical boiled frog is a useful metaphor for a very real problem: the difficulty of responding to disasters that creep up on you a bit at a time.
James Fallows, who has posted regularly on the matter for three years:
The reason it's so popular in politics is that it's an easy way to warn about the slow erosion of liberties or any other slow threat you want to talk about.
Here's the problem. It just isn't true. If you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will (unfortunately) be hurt pretty badly before it manages to get out -- if it can. And if you put it into a pot of tepid water and then turn on the heat, it will scramble out as soon as it gets uncomfortably warm.How do I know? Let's just say that, as with global warming, the scientific evidence is all on one side of this one.