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What is Boil The Frog?

 , updated on November 18, 2017
Boil the frog is a metaphor based on a story about a frog. If you put the frog directly into hot water it will immediately escape. If you put it in temperate water and slowly heat it to a boil, the frog will not escape. The metaphor is that people may accept negative change that occurs slowly that they would strongly oppose if it occurred suddenly. The following are hypothetical examples.

Pollution

If a city transitioned from fresh air to polluted air overnight, there might be outrage at the cause. When this transition occurs over decades, opposition might potentially be muted.

Quality of Life

If a university system doubled fees overnight, there would likely be opposition. If they gradually double fees over five years, it may be accepted.

Health

Dramatic increases in the prevalence of diseases such as diabetes that occur over decades might be taken more seriously if they occurred instantaneously.

Notes

It is not true that frogs will not escape being slowly boiled. They tend to jump out around 25° Celsius or 77° Fahrenheit. The story may originate with a 1869 experiment by Friedrich Goltz in which a frog didn't jump out of slowly boiled water. The important detail omitted from the story is that the frog in the experiment had its brain removed.
Overview: Boil The Frog
Type
Definition (1)
A metaphor for creeping normality based on a story about a frog who will not jump out of boiling water if it is heated slowly.
Definition (2)
A strategy that involves doing something slowly that would never be accepted if it were done quickly.
Related Concepts

References

Pauly, Philip J. "The political structure of the brain: cerebral localization in Bismarckian Germany.", 2005.

Cognitive Biases

This is the complete list of articles we have written about cognitive biases.
Ambiguity Effect
Anchoring
Backfire Effect
Base Rate
Biased
Biases
Circular Reasoning
Cognitive Bias
Cognitive Dissonance
Complexity Bias
Crab Mentality
Creeping Normality
Curse Of Knowledge
Decoy Effect
Ethnocentrism
Exposure Effect
False Analogy
False Hope
Fear Of Youth
Gambler's Fallacy
Golden Hammer
Halo Effect
Hindsight Bias
Negativity Bias
Optimism Bias
Peak-End Rule
Positive Bias
Sour Grapes
Survivorship Bias
Us vs Them
Victim Mentality
Wishful Thinking
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Cognitive Biases

A list of common cognitive biases explained.

Curse Of Knowledge

Why experts have trouble communicating.

Optimism Bias

An overview of optimism bias, including its surprising benefits.

Decoy Effect

A cognitive bias that is well known in marketing circles.

Biases vs Heuristics

The difference between biases and heuristics.

Information Cascade

A definition of information cascade with examples.

Functional Fixedness

A definition of functional fixedness with examples.

Anecdotal Evidence

The definition of anecdotal evidence with examples.

Scientism

The definition of scientism with examples.

Thought Processes

A list of thinking approaches and types.

Logic

A few logic terms explained.

Abstract Ideas

A few dangers of being too abstract.

Objective vs Subjective

The difference between objective and subjective.

Intellectual Diversity

A definition of intellectual diversity with examples.

Creative Value

The definition of creative value with examples.

Benefit Of Doubt

The definition of benefit of doubt with examples.

Pessimism

The definition of pessimism with examples.
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