Monday, September 29, 2008

Boiling Frog Syndrome

Boiling Frog Syndrome


We all go through different kinds of problems in our lives as an individual, as a society, as a country, and even as entire world. We constantly face certain problems and challenges in our lives. However some individuals manage to get out of them successfully whereas others find themselves devastated and broken by the end of it. Of course certain problems are completely out of our control and hit us suddenly without any warnings and which are impossible to guard against. But here I am talking of the kind of problems that we get ourselves into or are driven into and fail to realize the implications until very late. Few people, societies, and countries however do manage to pick up the warning signals pretty early and take preventive steps to avoid the consequences or to minimize the effect or in some cases even come out much stronger than before. These individuals have learnt the art of guarding themselves against the Boiling Frog Syndrome.


Some of the problems that are quite common are –

Ø  Global Warming

Ø  Population Explosion

Ø  Depletion and Scarcity of Natural Resources ( Gas / Oil / Drinking Water)

Ø  Shortage and Reduction in World Food Production

Ø  Economic Downturns

Ø  Corruption

Ø  Quality Control in Projects

Ø  Individual Debt / Financial Crisis

Ø  Breakdown in Relationships

Ø  Career Crisis

Ø  Health Complications

Ø  Addiction



In all of the above problems the warning signs are not clearly there to recognize in the early stages. Most of us fail to recognize them early enough. Sometimes even when we recognize them we fail to take effective action against them due to ignorance of the consequences. When these problems turn hazardous or life threatening then only we truly recognize their potential. By the time we realize it it’s very often too late. This human behavior is very common and is explained nicely through the metaphor known as the Boiling Frog Syndrome.


They say that if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will leap out right away to escape the danger. But, if you put a frog in a kettle that is filled with water that is cool and pleasant, and then you gradually heat the kettle until it starts boiling, the frog happily sits there and will not become aware of the threat until it is too late. The frog will eventually boil to death.


The frog's survival instincts are geared towards detecting sudden changes and so are with humans. This parable is often used to illustrate how humans have to be careful to watch slowly changing trends in their lifestyle, relationships, habits, finances, health, and career in addition to the environment, economy, etc. and not just the sudden changes. It’s a warning to keep us paying attention not just towards obvious threats but to more slowly developing ones.


In all the examples mentioned above the reasons and circumstances leading to trouble are initially very pleasant and have high probability of going unnoticed similar to the Frog enjoying the water in pleasant conditions. It’s only when things suddenly start going wrong and out of control that we often realize the trouble we are in. The changes are very slow and gradual for us to even notice them. But then that’s what we should be careful of and guard against. The reason being once the effects start taking place then its exponential and leaves us with very few options or solutions to fight them with.


One of the classic examples is that of Global Warming. With the whole world basking in the technology advancements and the industrialization we rarely pay attention to the slow but steady increase in the Greenhouse Gases in the atmosphere and the resulting Global Climate change. These kinds of problems require individuals to take proactive and conscious decisions to thwart off the long term disastrous consequences.


Visit Glecosys for more information on Global Warming. 


iron_maiden said...

Dear Sandy,

Your logic is so true! We keep on sitting on our problems untill they become big enough to pose a threat to us. Even a small thing as a cavity in a tooth is ignored untill it starts paining. I completely buy your logic! The way u have coupled individual problems and national concerns and put it so lucidly in your writing that it immediately gets a nod from the reader. This is one blog that I enjoy reading a lot! If it was not for you I would have never come to known of the boiling frog syndrome!

Thanks so much for adding to my knowledge!
Keep up the good work!


Sandy said...

Hey Ket, I am happy you enjoy my articles and they add to your knowledge. I will definitely try and write on more topics. Most of these theories I have come across while reading some very interesting books and articles. Then I try and apply them to different aspects of life that I relate to.
You might be interested in reading a book called "The Tipping Point" and "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell, if you havent already. I am sure you will enjoy them a lot.


Pacifier Returns said...

Hey Man..
This piece of writing is too good.....

Keep writing such stuffs.....

Smiles :)

Sandy said...

Hey man, thanks for the feedback :) Good to know you enjoyed reading it.