Do we eat spiders while sleeping?
Folklore has it that the average person eats eight of them. This entomologist says the odds of swallowing arachnids is very high, likely even. Most comments say that we do not actually eat spiders per se, but something akin to a smaller variety, who are attracted to the moist, warm, cozy lair of a snoozing mouth.
There are detractors, of course, in fact, the majority of truthsayers on the Internet have deemed this notion of eating spiders a myth. Cracked.com labeled it one of their “6 Most Frequently Quoted Bullsh*t Statistics” on this cool world. Snopes, the Internet’s most trusted mythbuster, have declared eating spiders to be “False.”
Both Snopes and Cracked cite a 1993 article in PC Professional, where a prescient writer named Lisa Holst wrote about how easily myths could spread on the Internet. To prove her point, she set loose a few rumors of her own, one of which being that we eat eight spiders while we sleep.
Ms. Holst did not claim to have made up the myth (as some on the web have stated), she cites a book from 1954 called “Insect Fact and Folklore” as inspiration.
So that’s it? Case closed. We do not eat spiders in our sleep. Off to bed.
There is a third layer to this arachnid bean dip. Some curious folks decided to search Ms. Holst’s original article in the hope of finding her other myths (could they be as juicy?) But as many have shown – searches for Lisa Holst’s “Reading is Believing” article come up empty, as do any attempts to find a magazine called PC Professional. This guy launched a blog called “Eight Spiders,” with the sole intention of getting to the bottom of all this. He called the Library of Congress, and found no record of PC Professional. Others have contacted Snopes to no avail.
We here at Cool Things World found a copy of “Insect Fact and Folklore.” The official Snopes reference points to page 24 – where, there is no mention of eating spiders. Page 24 is interesting though, as (according to the Index) it is the only mention of spiders in the book – and the information on page 24 dutifully notes that spiders are not insects (they are arachnids).
So where does that leave things? While it seems obvious that people will believe anything, it’s simply not true – people don’t believe everything, they believe some things, regardless the merit of those things. This is why most people believe they have a higher chance of being eaten by a shark than getting hit by falling aircraft – sharks resonate with the collective conscience.
The same with spiders and sleeping.
But what if the question were tweaked a bit to something like, “What are the chances, given the ratio of spiders to humans in this world, that a person eats at least one spider in their sleep in their life?” Or further, “What are the chances that at least one person on Earth eats one spider while they sleep?”
Image courtesy of Sankax / Flickr