Every Culture Has A ….

… has a what!?!?I don’t know how many times I’ve heard the phrase “Every culture has a story about a flood…” This is very annoying because a) it is not true (I can think of several cultures that do not) and b) it is very Euro-centric, as are most phrases that start with “Every culture has a…”So, I decided to enter the phrase “Every culture has a” into Google and see how many other stupid ideas I could find.The list is not very long because this exercise, while interestring in principle, can get a bit old. But here is what I found before I tired of it:

  • Every culture has a folk song about the circle of life…
  • Every culture has a creation story, and every culture has a priesthood to interpret the story for them
  • Every culture has its fried dough
  • Every culture has a system for educating their young
  • Every culture has a version of elves
  • Every culture has a jewel that pops out the berries
  • Every culture has some particular form of puppet theater. Not every culture has a form of acting theater
  • Every culture has a word for experiences and understandings shared by people the world
  • Every culture has a “cultural unconscious” that drives the behavior of its members.
  • Every culture has some kind of flatbread that is served frquently with all kinds of meals
  • Every culture has a state religion or two
  • Every culture has a distinct and colorful folkloric tradition
  • Every culture has a holiday (or two) to observe
  • Every culture has a creation story jealously guarded by a priesthood
  • Every culture has drugs
  • Every culture has a food that others would find just horrifying
  • Every culture has a chicken dish
  • Every Culture Has a Pancake
  • Every culture has a catty corner
  • Every culture has a legend about a great flood..

Now, I admit that about in about four of these cases, the word “almost” preceded the word “every.” This, however, does not make the statement more likely to be true. For instance, the last one on the list, about the great flood, is from a recent item in Discover suggesting that a comet caused the great flood, claims that “Almost every culture has a legend about a great flood…” Unless “almost” means “A small number of” then the statement is grossly incorrect.Ah, surely, the world would be such a better place if only it were true that every culture has a pancake….

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11 thoughts on “Every Culture Has A ….

  1. It’s funny, I always thought that bringing up flood myths from other cultures was an argument against the Noah flood being valid. Like, there are flood stories without Noah or god in other cultures so the Noah one is just one of several and not “true” in any real sense of the word. So now the existence of other flood myths (however few or many there may be) is supposed to be support for the Noah thing? Maybe, if you never read any of them I guess.

  2. I tried applying these to various Australian Aboriginal cultures (not that I’m a huge expert, but I’ve read a handful of books relating to the topic).Most of the list fail outright. For almost all of the few that remain, it’s a matter of interpretation (such as just how far you’re willing to twist the concept of “elf” before you give it up).

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