Monday 5 November 2012

Pee-nuts, myths and legends

There's a popular urban myth that 'scientists' have analysed bowls of peanuts provided for patrons in pubs and discovered traces of urine or faeces from, variously, ten, a dozen, twenty, or as many as a hundred different people. Such 'facts' are accepted as truths almost without question because they sound vaguely plausible. Well this one is bollocks on so many counts. Firstly, what kinds of 'scientist' would mount such a study and who would pay for it? Secondly, if it had actually been done, why the alarming discrepancy with the numbers? And thirdly, a cursory understanding of bio-chemistry would tell you that nothing conclusive could be revealed by any such study.

This made up inconsequential titbit is probably the brainchild of somebody with a bee in their bonnet about blokes not washing their hands. (As if any such story would really have any effect; there's no limit to the crap blokes will swallow!) It's a fable, not a fact.

If you hit somebody over the head with a cosh, a chair, a piece of lead pipe or a handy rock you may well kill them. If you sock somebody in the jaw you are just as likely to break bones in your hand as their mandibular bits. (It's one of the reasons boxers wear gloves.) The least likely outcome is that you render them harmlessly unconscious just long enough for you to make your escape. But the latter possibility is a regularly used cipher, a handy code used in movies and thriller novels, suspending reality and allowing the plot to progress. Don't try it at home, kids.

We grow up with tales of ghoulies and ghosties and long leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night. We are also calmed by once-upon-a-times and all's well that ends well. But eventually most of us grow up and begin to grasp that the only reality is cause and effect and cold, hard economics. And so to the politics...

The lovely J M Barrie-like stories of the happy ever after welfare state, where everybody is nice and kind and we all care about each other and nobody ever has to suffer indignity or ignominy or hardship or pain or poverty is really a Grimm's tale of trolls and goats and wolves and dark, dark woods. Politicians want to tell you the first without accepting the second; who would vote for pain? (At least in this matter religion, the flimsiest of fictions, pulls no punches with its 'vale of tears'.)

We all learn by our mistakes. We've all made promises we couldn't keep and we learn two strategies to cope with this; either only make promises you know you can fulfill or, far more successfully, don't make unfulfillable promises.

Growing up is hard for everybody. Leaving behind the fantasies and facing the facts is no easy mission, but it's the only honourable way out of childhood and into a life well-lived. While we do have plenty of fully-formed adults among us we still have a far too highly infantilised population; a population who still hide under the bedclothes to avoid facing the monsters. Deliberately, or misguidedly allowing voters to believe in unsustainable fictions has lead us to a world where some people never question where their living comes from and expect the world to provide.

But I sense the tide changing. The budget is straining the seams of the nation's purse. We have no choice but to pay our way. For those who already do, this is a common sense. For those who never have, it's time to lose the jim-jams and get out of bed. As the welfare burdens weighs ever heavier on the shoulders of the nation's wide-awake, grown up tax payers, we have less and less tolerance for those who think we pissed in their peanuts.

(If you want a great example of a fairy tale - read this illuminating story about the best Prime Minister we've had since the war.)

(If you want another one, how about the great EU jobs myth?)

1 comment:

  1. Government cannot re-distribute wealth; it can only redistribute poverty.

    The purpose and effect of collectivism is not to eliminate poverty; it is to eliminate wealth -- and at that it is very effective.

    Why can people not grasp this?