Are giraffes really real?
October 26, 2010 2:17 PM   Subscribe

Greetings. One of my high school biology students made the statement today that "Giraffes aren't real, it's a government cover-up." When I asked her where on earth she got this idea she stated that "It's a long story". Anyone out there have any idea what she is talking about?
posted by gammer to Science & Nature (33 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Was she joking? 'Cause it sounds like "It's a loooong story" would be a punchline to some sort of joke about giraffes.
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:19 PM on October 26, 2010 [17 favorites]


Sounds like she was messing with you (and the class). High school's boring; this sort of thing happens.
posted by downing street memo at 2:19 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


If it was High School me doing that, it would be because I was messing with you, cause I was That Kid.
posted by The Whelk at 2:21 PM on October 26, 2010


She's telling a joke.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:22 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


My friends and I used to get to biology class early, cut out many paper penises, and tape them to all the taxidermied animals in the room and waited for our teacher to walk in. Among other things.

I think she's messing with you.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:23 PM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


My wife's family (except my wife, but I've picked up the habit) say that moose aren't real because they've been up to Canada and Maine and other places up there enough to where they should have seen a moose. Except they haven't seen a real, live moose yet.

Thus, moose are not real, they're all robots. Not sure where the robots fit in though.
posted by theichibun at 2:24 PM on October 26, 2010


Sounds like an in joke to me.
posted by Dasein at 2:27 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hey, I think you've got yourself a genuine High School Funny Person in your class.

In retrospect, I assume all of my high school teachers were when they claimed to enjoy having me as a student.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 2:28 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's either a pretty lame ha-ha joke, or an inside joke.

My friends and I used to joke that deer can't sit down and that it makes them super angry. Kind of like the Shawn of the Dead joke "dogs can't look up". *chuckle*
posted by two lights above the sea at 2:28 PM on October 26, 2010


Just a silly meme.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:28 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I appreciate the concept that this kid was joking, she wasn't joking. I know her well enough at this point to know that much.
posted by gammer at 2:29 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


i used to argue that time didn't exist to get out of tardies. high school is mind numbingly boring. saying weird shit is hilarious, especially to teenagers.
posted by nadawi at 2:31 PM on October 26, 2010


my father maintained that milk was cow pee. when i disputed this, he asked me if i'd ever seen a cow pee. which i had not and still have not, to this day. he grew up on a farm, so what did i know? my mother backed him up. she grew up on one too. i am okay with this since i hate milk.
posted by elle.jeezy at 2:32 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


This guy back in 2004 thought giraffes aren't real and postulated it may be some sort of government cover-up.
posted by birdherder at 2:32 PM on October 26, 2010


Either she was joking in a way that was hard to detect, or there is something extraordinarily wrong with this person.

If she's not joking then it's possible that someone presented to her the whole idea of giraffes not being real as a prank akin to saying the word "gullible' doesn't appear in the dictionary and she somehow believed it.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 2:32 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, if the kid wasn't joking, someone else told her that joke and she didn't get it, and now she was shopping round for reactions.
[Not a new phenomenon where government cover-ups are involved]
posted by Namlit at 2:33 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Eh.....despite you thinking you know if she's joking, the "long story" punchline screams joke to me.
posted by thewittyname at 2:35 PM on October 26, 2010


If she's not kidding, then she has a lesson coming about the veracity of things you read on the internet. We all have to learn sometime.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 2:37 PM on October 26, 2010


Obviously you're not a teacher at Staten Island Technical High School. They did a documentary about giraffes.

Seriously, I understand that you think you know this kid pretty well but teenagers are weird. Is this really the weirdest thing you've ever heard from a student?
posted by GuyZero at 2:37 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the sheer volume of results you get from Googling giraffes aren't real leads me to suggest that even in the event she was completely serious, it's just a joke, either played on her by friends to the point where she believed it, or played on you, by her.
posted by Gator at 2:41 PM on October 26, 2010


I think it's a great chance to assign her an extra credit essay.
posted by filmgeek at 2:43 PM on October 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


gammer: "I appreciate the concept that this kid was joking, she wasn't joking. I know her well enough at this point to know that much"

Nope, sorry, you don't. The fact that she would never lie doesn't matter. She obviously knows that giraffes are real. She's being a high school, which by definition pretty much makes her a jackass at least 10% of the time. You're part of that time.

Actually though, it might be a good idea to have everyone pick an animal and write a paper defending the fact that they're not real. Make them use real biology knowledge. Those should be an interesting read if nothing else.
posted by theichibun at 2:51 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Maybe she has never been on a field trip to the zoo?
posted by nomisxid at 2:52 PM on October 26, 2010


So digging a little deeper into Google, this book review of Reading Zoos: Representations of Animals and Captivity Randy Malamud Macmillan, London, 1998 suggests a possible start to the meme. Although it could also stem from Why Giraffes Are Not Real.

But clearly it's a meme, if only based on the number of "Giraffes do exist" T-shirts brought up by a Google search on that phrase.
posted by straw at 2:55 PM on October 26, 2010


Perhaps she was relaying a joke she had heard but not quite understood? I remember being awkward in junior high and high school and retelling jokes that I knew were SUPPOSED to be funny (everyone laughed at it!) but I didn't understand it and my punchline was either completely wrong or delivered improperly.
posted by rhapsodie at 3:08 PM on October 26, 2010


Is she a member of the Giraffes aren't real facebook group? Because that may explain the mystery. Of course, why anyone created this group is a new one...
posted by bessel functions seem unnecessarily complicated at 3:08 PM on October 26, 2010


Here's more: a YouTube video wherein the narrator denies the existence of giraffes.

Totally sounds like one of these jokes that got passed around her clique, it's a reference that gets made within that group, and you were almost invited into it.
posted by straw at 3:16 PM on October 26, 2010


My guess - she heard about it from someone who repeated the line to her and she liked the line, but she really doesn't know how it originated or what it actually means, so "it's a long story" - probably someone's brother read about it on the internets and then someone made it into a joke because they say it to each other all the time.
posted by mrs. taters at 3:22 PM on October 26, 2010


I think she's just confused. People get strange ideas about animals (as demonstrated here) and they also know they shouldn't believe everything they hear. This could just be a wires-crossed version of that. Granted most people usually figure out that giraffes are real by high school, but that she didn't could just indicate that either she's still figuring out how the world works or hasn't had much exposure to the natural world. I'm also guessing she doesn't watch the nature channel much.

This could be an excellent lecture segue into the biology or evolution of giraffes, complete with videos and pictures, current research, etc.
posted by everyday_naturalist at 4:08 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


[folks, stop the lulz. lulz opportunity is obvious, pls exercise self-control. Thanks.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:36 PM on October 26, 2010


I'm really glad you all had fun with this.

I asked her about it today at the end of class.

The child is really sincere. She's not that good a liar. I'm sure that there are those of you out there that will want to reply back that she's just messing with my head. It's fine if you want to believe that, I don't really need to hear about it.

She has been to a zoo but she thinks they're fake or something. Nothing that weird can be real.

This is what I'm dealing with people but I'm not supposed to leave this child behind.

Wish me luck and thanks for all the input.
posted by gammer at 1:30 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Possibly talk with her other teachers--if she's coming out with similar statements in other classes (the Civil War is fake, etc.), maybe a talk with her parents is in order to see what's going on.
posted by epj at 3:05 PM on October 27, 2010


She has been to a zoo but she thinks they're fake or something. Nothing that weird can be real.

Wow, I don't know what to say. Assuming you're right that she's not joking, maybe you need to draw her attention to some of the other extraordinary creatures in nature - like the new species discovered in the deep sea. Or show her this video of the dissection of a giraffe. Maybe help explain how evolution can incrementally produce changes that lead to very specialized and strange-looking creatures. Dawkins's book might be useful in that regard. I'm tempted to also suggest the huge number of videos online of giraffes in the wild, but if she's actually seen one and doesn't believe it's real, well...I don't know. Some people are, as George Carlin so eloquently put it, really fucking stupid. Or raised in an environment (household/culture) where conspiracy theories stand in for real thought. Maybe she's one of those people.
posted by Dasein at 12:45 PM on October 28, 2010


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