Talk:Boiling frog

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couple more sources which I made or may not add to the article[edit]

~AFA ʢűčķ¿Ю 13:33, 30 April 2007 (UTC)


Somebody removed it earlier, but I think it's important to mention that the debunkers cited experiments (it's not clear to me if there are multiple refs to one experiment or multiple experiments) in which the frogs were heated much more quickly than the original experimenters did. Until somebody replicates the original experiment and finds a different result, it's not really debunked.Rsheridan6 04:00, 3 June 2007 (UTC)


"a live frog can actually be boiled without a movement if the water is heated slowly enough; in one experiment the temperature was raised at a rate of 0.002º C. per second, and the frog was found dead at the end of 2½ hours without having moved."

2½ hours = 9000 seconds 0.002°C/s * 9000s = 18°C

Is that really correct? Only 18°C Difference? So, if they started at 25°, the frog would already die at 43°C? I don't think the numbers are correct here. --Kloth 07:09, 22 July 2007 (UTC)

That does seem odd, although without knowing more about frogs I wouldn't swear that it's obviously insane. There's an article, cited by the book from which I quoted that in the first place, that may explain it better [3], but I'm not paying $18 to find out. If anybody has access to this article, they might be able to clear this up. Rsheridan6 13:51, 22 July 2007 (UTC)
Here's an article about a frog that dies at 85° F: [4]. I don't think it's implausible that a 18° C difference could kill. Rsheridan6 13:56, 22 July 2007 (UTC)

A search for "frog" on Snopes[5] leads one to comments of Dr Victor Hutchison[6], a zoologist at the University of Oklahoma, who assures one that the "boiled frog" claims are just an urban legend and contrary to fact. A Yahoo search on "victor hutchison" frog finds many more references to his work. But one would still like to see an actual published writeup of an actual experiment. In about fifteen minutes of poking here and there I found no reference to such an experiment. Jm546 (talk) 21:24, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

I removed this sentence from the article "However, in these experiments, the temperature was increased at a rate of 2°F. per minute (or 0.019°C. per second), almost 10 times faster than the rate of temperature increase in the 1882 experiments." It's WP:SYNTH at best or WP:OR at worst. Instead I added the description of the experiment given in the sources. Siawase (talk) 07:55, 13 June 2009 (UTC)
Also truncated this down to a shorter sentence since it doesn't describe the outcome of any experiments: " An article co-written by G. Stanley Hall from 1887 indicates that many experiments were performed on frogs in the 1870s and 1880s for the purposes of determining how reactive their nervous systems were to various types of stimuli, with temperature change being one of these." Siawase (talk) 09:08, 13 June 2009 (UTC)

The source that says that boiling frogs only fail to jump if they have no brains is telling a half-truth. It refers to an article in Nature which is available online[7] (so why quote secondhand statements from a non-scientific magazine?). The Nature article itself was not a research article, but referenced a German book by Goltz written in 1869 in which he boiled frogs, and they would jump if they had brains, as the Atlantic article said. But there was later research that showed that boiling the frog really slowly prevented them from jumping even if they had brains. p. 85 in this review article[8] cites 4 later papers (all in German) that claim to have shown that frogs will not jump if they are boiled slowly enough. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Rsheridan6 (talkcontribs) 05:10, 25 September 2009 (UTC)

I am quite flummoxed how to deal with these very old sources, so I brought it to Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard. Siawase (talk) 05:38, 25 September 2009 (UTC)

Here's another old source which has more detail about the 1872 and 1875 experiments that showed that a frog will not jump if the water is heated slowly enough, and why the 1869 experiment cited in the Atlantic article is different [9]. Here's a passage, in all its bad OCR glory (bolding mine, Heimmann* means Heinzmann, you can follow the links to a pdf if you want):

""Heimmann* had found that by gradual heating of an entire frog, or even of only one hind leg, the temperature of the animal or of the part might get to be so high as to produce rigor and yet without the least disturbance of its general repose. He, however, puts special stress upon the effects of very gradual heating, and makes the important discovery that even a normal frog may be made to perish in the same way without a struggle, provided only that the increase of heat be gradual enough. This statement involves a direct contradiction of the statements of Goltz, 6 Tarchanow 7 and Foster, 10 who have all agreed that under gradual heating the normal frog becomes violent in his attempts to escape. The contradiction is only partial, however, for any one in half an hour can prove to his satisfaction that the three observers are correct ; while FraUcher u has fully justified Heinzmann. The truth appears to be that if the heating be sufficiently gradual, no reflex movements will be produced even in the normal frog ; if it be more rapid, yet take place at such a rate as to be fairly called " gradual," it will not secure the repose of the normal frog under any circumstances""Rsheridan6 (talk) 06:30, 25 September 2009 (UTC)

Would you be ok with summarizing that long blockquote in the article instead of using the whole paragraph verbatim? Also, right now the text gives the impression that the 1883 blockquote somehow addresses the experiment described in the 1897 source: "One author sought to resolve this contradiction", but it does not - it discusses other experiments. Siawase (talk) 00:39, 26 September 2009 (UTC)
They were referring to the same experiments. The 1897 source cites the 1883 source, which cites Goltz, and they both cite the same two older German sources. I will try make this more clear. Rsheridan6 (talk) 03:41, 26 September 2009 (UTC)
Thank you, I think it was the unclear Sedgwick reference in particular that confused me. If anyone is up for it, I think it might be helpful to create a list of all the 19th century sources we're working with here, the citation details (author(s)/editor(s), year of publication, publisher, and whatever is necessary) as well as which researchers and experiments/papers (with year) they in turn refer to, because right now, it's really not very clear. Siawase (talk) 03:00, 26 September 2009 (UTC)
I changed it to cover the experiments in roughly chronological order, and to make it more clear which experiments are which so they don't get confused with review articles. Rsheridan6 (talk) 05:44, 26 September 2009 (UTC)
Thanks again, it's much clearer now. The contemporary Offerman source you found seems quite valuable, and it would probably be good to rely on it even more. I have some minor WP:OR concerns as the "3.8°C per minute" and "0.2°C per minute" rates that are now in the text does not appear to be in the Offerman source which you cite. The question is basically if the calculation falls under WP:NOR#Routine calculations. Maybe we should ask on WP:OR/N if it's ok, if we can't come to a consensus here. Siawase (talk) 11:49, 26 September 2009 (UTC)
I thought the calculation (showing the rate in degrees per minute) was trivial enough to fall under Routine Calculation. If not, hopefully there's a way to make it clear that the rates differed without violating the policy Rsheridan6 (talk) 20:44, 26 September 2009 (UTC)
Sorry it so long, but I have posted asking at WP:NOR/N#Boiling frog, I hope you're still around. Siawase (talk) 13:55, 3 October 2009 (UTC)
Looking at the passage again, I don't think it's really necessary. It's clear from the previous and following paragraph that the rates differed. I think it makes the page better to give some detail, and I have the original 1872 paper as a pdf in which the rate is given by the author as 1/350 degree per second for one of the experiments (there were several successful experiments with differing rates), but I don't know how useful that would be without context. Rsheridan6 (talk) 14:52, 4 October 2009 (UTC)

After reading Offerman a bit closer, it actually confirms that the 1897 source does reference experiments by Sedgwick, so I re-added that to the ref: "Sedgwick (1882) at Johns Hopkins is the person with an overview of the entire literature on the heating of frogs up until 1882. His intuition was that the variance in the speed of the heating explains the difference in results of Goltz and Foster and the results of Heinzmann and Fratscher. In agreement with his intuition, he reports that he was able to replicate all previous results by varying the speed of the heating process." (Offerman, p.7) Siawase (talk) 17:43, 26 September 2009 (UTC)

Scripture (the 1897 source) referenced 3 experiments, but failed to mention which one used that particular procedure. Rsheridan6 (talk) 20:41, 26 September 2009 (UTC)
I can only access bits and pieces from the 1897 source via google books, so it's hard to get a good overview, but if the referencing in the book is so vague that it cannot be determined where that procedure orginated, I think that segment perhaps should be excluded from this article. Siawase (talk) 13:58, 3 October 2009 (UTC)
The entire 1897 source is linked in the reference page. Use, not Google Books. Rsheridan6 (talk) 15:01, 4 October 2009 (UTC)
My mistake, it's not at, but the full text is available at Google Books. The old link was broken so I fixed it. I don't really understand what the problem is. It's still an academic book from an academic publisher written by a professor in a relevant field. If this is not good enough, surely Victor Hutchinson's unpublished experiment, and about 90% of wikipedia in general isn't either. At any rate, if you insist we can refer to Heinzmann's original German-language paper, which is hidden behind a paywall, but that would make the article worse, not better, because it's tougher for the reader to verify. Rsheridan6 (talk) 15:17, 4 October 2009 (UTC)

Siawese, I think you should be happy with my latest edit because the disputed source (Offerman) is no longer used and the disputed "original research" is gone. I don't think Hutchison's webpage is appropriate to include because it contains nothing about the experiment, and Hutchison's identity is stated in the "EcoViews" article that is the source for his experiment. Do you really think the article is trustworthy when it says Hutchison did the experiment, but not trustworthy when it says he's a professor? At best, his webpage is clutter in the references section, and at worst, it looks like we have a real academic source at a .edu when we don't. Rsheridan6 (talk) 21:37, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

From what I can see you edits did not remove the Offerman source, nor anything else besides the Hutchinson reference and one external link.[10] If you look at the Hutchinson reference and the EcoViews article you will see that the reference for his homepage verifies material not found in the EcoViews article so it was inappropriate to remove it. Siawase (talk) 17:52, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
To clarify, I meant that the statements which are cited with Offerman are now cited by other sources so they don't depend on him anymore, but I see I missed one. As for Hutchinson's credentials, the Eco-Views article says "I am sending your question to Dr. Victor Hutchison at the University of Oklahoma to see what he says." which, in my opinion, establishes Hutchinson's credentials nicely. Rsheridan6 (talk) 13:10, 22 January 2011 (UTC)
Both of these edits have the same issue. The references are there to verify the text in the article. When references are changed, the corresponding text should also be changed so that the text of the article reflects what the sources found in the article say. And as the Offerman reference is still in the article I don't see why you keep saying that Offerman is "no longer used" or that the text doesn't "depend on him anymore". You added the Sedgwick reference, but for the article to actually no longer depend on Offerman, the text need to be edited such that it only contains details that can actually be found in Sedgwick and the Offerman reference can be removed completely. Siawase (talk) 13:33, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

Reference desk[edit]

Adding this link here for, well, reference: Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Science/2007 January 13#Frog in boiling water Siawase (talk) 09:43, 24 June 2009 (UTC)

"Contemporary views" section[edit]

A dispute has arisen over whether the article should mention recent commentary on this phenomenon. The disputed section is here: [11]

Most modern commentators, if they have anything to say about the scientific basis of the phenomenon, tend to characterize it as a falsehood. That does not necessarily mean that it is a falsehood -- as is noted in the text being warred over, none of the commentators have repeated the specific "gradual heating" experiments that suggested it was true in the first place.

But given how often it is called a falsehood in the modern literature, I feel these comments must be noted, in the service of due weight -- though it is important to also note the ways in which they clash with earlier experiments. The common assertion that it is false is also referenced within the "Commentary" section ("regardless of the behavior of real frogs" and "Journalist James Fallows has been advocating since 2006 for people to stop retelling the story, describing it as a 'stupid canard' and a 'myth'.") This section is missing important context if we omit the section noting the widespread modern belief that the phenomenon is false.

Comments?--Father Goose (talk) 06:28, 10 November 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia is not a debunking site. It's not here to determine THE TRUTH and then report only on that. Obviously the modern scientists views should be included here per WP:NPOV. If anything it's the sources from the 1800s that are problematic. In my opinion they should be treated as primary sources because of their age.
The central conflict of this article is that we have two sets of wildly disagreeing sources that don't speak to each other over the ages, but Wikipedia editors should not insert original research or try to synthesize the sources to try to bring coherency. On the side of the 1800s sources is the speed of heating, and wanting to compare this with the one mention of modern experiments on critical thermal maximum. On the other side, the other modern expert has a more behavioral point of view where the temperature doesn't even matter, because a frog don't just sit still for hours waiting for anything, in heated water or not. This is something that the 1800s sources aren't clear on. What method and/or container they used in the first place to get the frogs to stay still enough for the super slow heating to take effect. But to bring up either of these comparisons between the two sets of sources would be WP:SYNTH. Yes, the article right now is "broken" and inconclusive, but that's because the sources are, and Wikipedia follows the sources. Siawase (talk) 08:39, 10 November 2010 (UTC)
I more or less agree. I've added a single sentence to serve as a bridge between the older "confirming" commentary and the newer "debunking" commentary: [12].--Father Goose (talk) 17:42, 11 November 2010 (UTC)
Yeah, I pretty much agree with your comments too, my comment was mostly re: the IP edits, sorry if that wasn't clear. And that little segue sentence looks neutral enough to me. Cheers, Siawase (talk) 14:32, 12 November 2010 (UTC)

Sources on 1800s experiments[edit]

After looking at these sources again I found a few things. First off, the "Offerman" paper is not WP:RS as it has not been peer reviewed. It's just a seminary paper. Also, the Heinzmann experiments does not refer to a submerged frog. Per Sedgwick: "the whole body was heated by allowing the frog to sit upon cork floating in a cylinder of water". Sedgwick also says that "The frog destitute of cerebral hemispheres could be heated easily, the normal frog for obvious reasons with some difficulty, until death ensued" [bolding mine] (Sedgwick p390[13]) These sources need a closer look to be accurately represented in this article. Siawase (talk) 09:54, 10 November 2010 (UTC)

I created an overview of available 1800s sources at Talk:Boiling frog/sources. Siawase (talk) 15:36, 12 November 2010 (UTC)
Offerman is not peer-reviewed, but neither are any of the modern assertions that the boiling frog phenomenon is fake. I like Offerman because it's the most readable and only modern source explaining the 19th century experiments, and I like Melton because he's the main debunker and the debunking is of cultural significance, even if it's incorrect, so I think they should all stay. But if we're going to delete Offerman as an unreliable source, all of the debunkers should be deleted too, as none of them were peer reviewed. Rsheridan6 (talk) 13:50, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
Hi Rsheridan6, I'm glad you're back so we can discuss this. I'm sorry I wasn't clear. The Offerman paper is likely not WP:RS because it was never published in a peer reviewed journal or indeed under any kind of editorial control, but likely falls under self-published sources. The modern sources fall under WP:RS because they are articles published in magazines which are under editorial control. I have brought Offerman to the Reliable sources noticeboard to hopefully get some community input. Siawase (talk) 15:00, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
Newspapers referencing unpublished studies and articles in "Fast Company" magazine are reliable for scientific claims but a seminar paper summarizing published work isn't? Whatever. Go ahead and delete Offerman if you want, we can just link to Sedgwick and some German language stuff that says the same thing in a less readable way. Google books has improved since 2009 so it's easier to source things now. Rsheridan6 (talk) 21:14, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
Fast Company is a business magazine magazine, and a reliable source yes, and it's used to reference the opinions of experts in the relevant field. If you disagree with my assessment of the sources, please do comment at Reliable sources noticeboard, or start a new topic there on the sources you think are questionable. Siawase (talk) 21:57, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

You know, some 15th century scientists demonstrated that the earth was flat. Should we provide that disclaimer in the wikipedia entry on "Earth"? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:51, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

Non-explanatory image[edit]


This image of a submerged frog without evidence that it is being boiled is more for cosmetic purpose than for explaining boiling frog. It should be replaced or deleted. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ancos (talkcontribs) 15:07, 22 December 2010 (UTC)

Per the Images guideline: "Images must be relevant to the article that they appear in and be significantly related to the article's topic." An image of a frog in an article on a story about frogs is well within that definition. Siawase (talk) 04:41, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
A partially submerged frog without evidence that it is being boiled is not significantly related to boiling frog. It is significantly related to frog or amphibian. Ancos (talk) 06:21, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
Well, since we don't already have any free images of a frog with clear visual evidence that it is indeed being boiled alive as the anecdote describes, a Wikipedia editor would need to boil a frog and take pictures of the process in order to create such an image. In my opinion that would be unethical and cruel. I just don't get what you're after. Do you really think that an image where a frog is clearly and visibly being boiled alive would be the only acceptable way to illustrate this article? Siawase (talk) 07:19, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
According to reference #[1] in boiling frog, the frog will not be boiled to death so there is no cruelty to the frog. A Wikipedia editor has no need to set up such experiment. An image of past experiments if any or a hand/computer drawing is enough. Even better if there is no image because readers can imagine what boiling a frog is. Encyclopedic content does not need non-explanatory decorative image. Ancos (talk) 08:46, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
What exacly would be depicted in a hand/computer drawing that is acceptable to you? If, as you say, even a photograph depicting an experiment as described in the story would not actually show a frog being boiled anyway, wouldn't it just show a frog submerged in water, ie exactly what is already used in the article? Siawase (talk) 09:04, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
The normal experiment apparatus (Bunsen burner, thermometer, beaker, tripod with wire mesh) can be depicted in the image. If there is no such image, then it is better not to have image for this article for reason stipulated above. Ancos (talk) 12:51, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
Most of the modern versions of the anecdote include a "pot" and "heat on low" though, not laboratory type equipment. But this is getting really tangential and hypothetical, and I'm getting the sense that you are much more interested in removing the image and making sure the article stays un-illustrated, rather than finding an acceptable alternative image. Am I wrong? Siawase (talk) 15:11, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
The reason why someone already knows what to be depicted but still asks what to be depicted cannot be interpreted. Boiling frog does not need an image as mentioned above. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ancos (talkcontribs) 02:09, 24 December 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Thing is though, existing guidelines and policy don't support your position that it's better to not illustrate and instead leave it to readers' imagination. GA and FA criteria enourage including images. Wikipedia:Manual of Style (captions) and Wikipedia:Alternative text for images make clear that even using images for decorative purposes is perfectly fine. Non-free images have to be "explanatory" to satisfy the fair use criteria, but the frog image is free, so that doesn't apply here. Siawase (talk) 19:06, 26 December 2010 (UTC)

Here are some photos which have the right licensing and may be better: [14] [15] --FormerIP (talk) 01:34, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
Great find! Those look like good possible replacements or additions to the current image. Siawase (talk) 16:48, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
I took those images - and for anyone interested in the ethicalness of the images, I can assure you that I released the frog unharmed back into the wet-lands after it posed for its photos. While I did turn on the burner for one photo [16], that was after I had already taken the frog out of the water. Jronaldlee (talk) 19:06, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
Thank you for making that clear. Since there is no indication in the images that the water is actually heated it doesn't look like the frog is being harmed, but it's good to have confirmation. (Nice pictures by the way, thank you for releasing them under a free license!) Siawase (talk) 19:44, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
Not quite on topic, but I find it slightly odd that culturally we are ok with dissecting a frog for the purpose of studying its anatomy, but are revolted at the idea of boiling a frog for the purpose of studying its nervous system. At the same time, I admit to feeling equally revolted. Mysticete (talk) 14:58, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

SOPA mention?[edit]

i'm new to editing wiki's. thought i might through this out here, in the cultural usage secion, should there be a mention about SOPA and how america is reacting to it? -- (talk) 00:52, 28 December 2011 (UTC)

Not unless it's "notable" according to Wikipedia standards... AnonMoos (talk) 06:42, 28 December 2011 (UTC)