Die Frogs Die

I have never met a consultant — not one — who, at some point in their musing about whatever issue they are consulting on, has not used the “if you put a frog in boiling water, it will just sit there until it’s dead” story to try and make a point.

The most recent occurence was yesterday.

This was publicaly debunked nine years ago:

First we spoke with national scientific authorities. According to Dr. George R. Zug, curator of reptiles and amphibians, the National Museum of Natural History, “Well that’s, may I say, bullshit. If a frog had a means of getting out, it certainly would get out. And I cannot imagine that anything dropped in boiling water would not be scalded and die from the injuries.”

As such, I would like to formally propose that this story be officially retired from the consultant canon, and that any consultant who persists in using it be ineligible for ACOA funding.


Charles's picture
Charles on December 23, 2004 - 18:02 Permalink

The actual original “thesis” was that if you put a frog in water, then slowly heat the water so that the frog becomes acclimated to the temperature shift gradually, he’ll stay in there until the water is boiling and hot enough to kill him.

Even still, the sick SOB who came up with this theory deserves a good swift kick in the butt. Leave the nice amphibians alone, and go boil some lobsters.

oliver's picture
oliver on December 23, 2004 - 18:23 Permalink

Zug’s remark sounds like no more than a mix of bluster and pent up resentment: “Frogs and frog science are not to be trifled with,” is all this man is thinking. Not only do I doubt he’s actually done the frog-in-a-pot experiment, I suspect he’s got no more data to go on than from chasing after hopping frogs with his bare hands in the mud (although having done so myself I consider that a pretty solid basis for a hypothesis regarding the matter in question). You see, this is why science journalism is left to specialists and kept away from the business writers.

oliver's picture
oliver on December 23, 2004 - 18:32 Permalink

Note, I do not question Dr. Zug’s credibility on the matter of whether gradual warming is killing frogs globally.

al o'neill's picture
al o'neill on December 23, 2004 - 19:49 Permalink

If you drop a consultant in boiling water he’ll happily sit there and smile as long as he thinks he can bill you for the time afterwards.

Nils's picture
Nils on December 24, 2004 - 01:41 Permalink

If you drop a consultant in boiling water … I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.

Chris Corrigan's picture
Chris Corrigan on December 24, 2004 - 02:17 Permalink

Most good consultants have a knack for getting out before the water gets too hot.

Whether they have had a hand in heating up is altogether irrelevent. It’s usually someone else who boils…

the consultant,
who has never used the frog metaphor, because I know it’s bunk.

(and also has never used the “crack eggs to make an omlet” line because I heard Stalin coined that one.)

O. Meyers's picture
O. Meyers on June 3, 2005 - 20:57 Permalink

NO…..no, no no! the saying is that if you drop a frog in bioling water it WILL jump out BUT if you put it in normal water and SLOWLY turn up the heat it will NOT jump out and sit there until it dies because it does not realize that the water is getting hotter. Now this very well may not be true — the frog could relaize that the water is getting hotter — but get the saying right before you try to prove it wrong!