Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Too much skepticism.


Skepticism is somewhat defined as a doubting or questioning attitude or state of mind. Many have adopted the mindset as a means analyzing information; sort of an open inquiry directed towards what life has to offer. However, is it possible to be too skeptical? Presumably, there is a theoretical point where sufficient information is collected to infer that an argument is correct. However, for some that point is set excessively high, José Hidalgo of Spain may be one of the perpetually unconvinced. Apparently, Hidalgo and some associates were debating the merits of a poster that warned against eating poisonous mushrooms. Hidalgo, taking the negative of the argument, began to consume mushrooms of the amanita phalloides variety in an attempt to prove his point. Somewhere between the second bite when he appeared drunk and the bite that turned him yellow and made him vomit, one of his associates called an ambulance. After two days in an intensive care unit, the concern now is to what extent Hidalgo may have suffered permanent liver damage.

Amanita phalloides, also known as the Death Cap mushroom, is similar in appearance to several edible species. Because of that similarity, it has been responsible for most of the deaths that occur when mushroom species are confused. Apparently, it also was responsible for a handful of dead Roman emperors as well, although only their family members, slaves, and taste testers could attest to any confusion. Originating in Europe, the Death Cap mushroom is now widespread throughout the world.


1 comment:

Gareth said...

You have to give him credit, though, for accomplishing something. There is no longer any doubt about the sign's truth. Before he ate the mushroom, there was. No one ever said skeptics had it easy.

But I don't think he was making so much an experimental inquiry as an ass of himself, so maybe there's no credit due...