Friday, January 10, 2014

Truth From Strangers Is Fiction

The other day I drove through Yamba and they had this sign that said “Yamba – Australia’s Number One Town”1. One of my biggest peeves with today’s society is that people often say things that aren’t true and no one pulls them up on it. It seems to be that if you’ve said something loudly and authoritatively enough (or in this case – written it on a billboard) it is then indisputably true. Other examples of this include Lindsay Lohan talking about her sobriety, anyone who ever tells you that daddy long legs are the most poisonous spiders and people who constantly refer to each other as “husband” and “wife” when they are not married then are offended if you tell them they are not married2. Unfortunately these people are rarely pulled up on this crime against humanity (by humanity, I mean me).

The weirdest example of this happened to me about a year ago. I had been invited to my friends’ house for dinner. One of my friends, for the sake of this story her name will be Cindy, had also invited her boyfriend whom I had never met. Polite small talk was made, drinks were drunk, food was eaten bla bla bla, dinner. And then something odd happened that I have been stewing over ever since. My friend’s boyfriend, let’s call him Trevor, who had not spoken to me all night approached me with a question.

“Marion” he enquired, “did you tell Cindy that moths fly towards light, because lights are warm?”

Firstly, let it be known that I have grown to hate the word random. Not as much as “epic” or “fail” but almost. However, in this circumstance it is the most correct word to describe this question, so I will have to use it. Trevor’s question was entirely RANDOM. You have as much back-story on this incident as I do, I literally have no recollection whatsoever of telling Cindy this, but sure, it sounded like something I would say. I relayed this to Trevor.

“I guess that sounds about right” I told him “moths are ectotherms, so they need an external heat source to warm their bodies, plus they’re nocturnal and don’t see the sun often, so I assume that’s why they love the light.”

There. That sounded good, finally my science degree was being put to use!

“Actually” Trevor sneered, “that’s wrong. Moths think the light is the moon, so they fly to it.”

He sat there with a triumphant look on his face and I shut up, Trevor was obviously not one to be messed with. Not because he was right, but because at some weird point in time he came across a little bit of hearsay that I may or may not have actually said, waited until he met me and then brought it up, hoping to entrap and then slam me. Like the proverbial moth to the flame. Touché, strange dinner guest.

I went home and googled it. According to live science, this moon theory holds no water. Alternate ideas as to why moths fly to lights include that males confuse lights with female moths and that the wavelengths of light assist in moth navigation. Wikipedia on the other hand does suggest that moths use radiation from light to warm themselves.

In the end though, I’m pretty sure that no one really knows why moths like lights because no one really gives that much of a shit about moths. And to be honest, my interest in moths only really extends to those of the Bogong variety (it sounds like bogan hehe). But I just wanted the world to know that Trevor was wrong. And is a dick.

1Yamba actually did win best town in Australia. In 2009. Stop living in the past Yamba!
2Those who, due to the ridiculous laws of this country, are not allowed to enter into said holy matrimony are not included in this pet peeve. But if you are legally allowed to get married and want to use these titles, then just get married and then use them because you are confusing me.

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