Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Chicken or Clown? Part 1

So what's your irrational fear? I know some people are afraid of chickens - they get creeped right out by those squat, feathery, beady-eyed, lipless egg factories. I know a lot more people who really, really, really hate clowns (and fear them even more).

We have two chickens at the moment, and I had lots of chickens growing up. I'm not afraid of them. Chickens give me eggs and eat scraps that otherwise would go in the bin. They are sociable and sometimes amusing. I like the fact that their ancestry goes back to the dinosaurs - they're like little mini T-rex's (here's the proof). The thing I like least about chickens is that they are poop machines. That begs the obvious question: were T-rex's poop machines?

Unfortunately, that will have to be the topic of a future post. The real question is: are chickens something to be feared?

Incidentally, as a bonus to my loyal readershp, I shall also answer the age-old question of which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Clearly it's the egg.

The chicken had to hatch first, didn't it - so it was inside the egg. The egg therefore came first. At best you could say the chicken and the egg came at the same time, because from its most embryonic stage the chicken and the egg were forming at the same time. But then it's still the egg then isn't it - because it's an egg before it's a chicken.

But what if the egg wasn't a chicken type egg?  What if normally from that particular egg a chicken-like creature usually came out - but this time, through the miracle of evolution/mutation/transmogrification a whole new entity (ie. the chicken) arose. It was a chicken, and then from that point on that chicken began laying chicken-like eggs, from which more chickens came out. Okay, this is getting confusing.

... though I still think the egg came first.

See, in this instance Humpty came after the chicken, but at the dawn of the chicken, I think it was Humpty's ancestors (ie. the eggs) that were first.

What's my point? Anyone ... please.

I heard on the radio the other day a guy talking about how people often fear highly unlikely events more (and equate a greater likelihood of the event occuring), than they do for more likely events. The example he gave was the Western world's fear of terrorism (people fear and percieve the chances of injury from this event far more than the real risk) versus their (lack of) fear from, say, driving whilst sending text messages on their phone (there's a far greater likelihood of injury).

Curious, I had a little surf around the web to see what I could find out. Barring some extreme activities like, perhaps, base-jumping, the riskiest thing you can do in life (ie. leading to premature death) is regularly smoke. It's literally 20 times more dangerous than the next most dangerous activity - being in a motor vehicle. These two risks are classified as "Extra high" and "high" risk respectively.

The next rung down was "elevated risk", and that included things like being a frequent airline passenger, a regular skier, a moderate drinker, or a pedestrian. It went down from there: Moderate (background radiation), Low (cycling), Very low (Saccharin?), Extremely Low (Lightning).

This data was twenty years old, so I'd love to see something more current. For instance, where does eating processed meats, or highly saturated fat food products, sit on the risk scale? My guess would be, fairly high up. However, based on the above data, if you're a smoker who drives a car, enjoys drinking moderately, walks, lives on Earth and (adding my own) likes a nice salami every now and then - then you're in a lot of trouble. That fear of chickens is soon becoming pretty irrelevant.

By the way, maybe the cartoon below with help with those still confused about the whole chicken/egg thing:

Okay, I'm glad we got that sorted. Now stay tuned for Part 2: Should we fear clowns?

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