Sunday, April 04, 2004

Not exactly PETA-related, but close.

I volunteer a couple days a week at an arts resource center. The center provides the facilities for people to publish their own books, chapbooks, posters, etc., and the clientele are mostly do-it-yourself punk types -- good artists, nice people, but I seldom meet many fellow skeptics there. Much of our membership is vegetarian, with a large percentage of thereof being vegan, and there is a strong tendency toward anthropomorphizing animals.

Yesterday, one of my fellow staff members told this story. It seems that two of her pals claim they can psychically communicate with animals – a claim she happily accepts. Apparently these friends found themselves confronting a large slug that had found its way into their kitchen sink. The two animal psychics furrowed their brows and combined their considerable mystic forces in an effort to establish contact. Nothing! No response at all. They redoubled their efforts. Still, the slug remained aloof. After several minutes, the humans realized that the slug was, in fact, a waterlogged, wedge-cut French fry.

Amid much laughter, one of the audience for this story cried, "See! That’s proof right there!"

I attempted to explain that an inability to communicate psychically with a French fry does not scientifically support the claim that one can psychically communicate with animals. I was told that since I had not read a book on the subject, I clearly didn’t know what I was talking about. While she went on, I silently imagined a double-blind study in which allegedly psychic participants attempt to determine whether they are communicating with a land mollusk or a soggy piece of fried potato. While everybody laughed at the story, I think I got the most humor value out of it.

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