Every Culture Has A ….

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… has a what!?!?


A rewritten repost for your amusement … see here and here for prior comments.

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 interesting 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 over
  • Every culture has a “cultural unconscious” that drives the behavior of its members.
  • Every culture has some kind of flatbread that is served frequently 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 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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15 thoughts on “Every Culture Has A ….

  1. I’ve heard people advance that argument about dragons, as well. It usually involves redefining dragons to “something scary (or not) that may or may not have scales, claws, wings and/or a tail.”

    Lordshipmayhem, I’m pretty sure I’ve managed to nurture a pretty advanced culture in my coffee mug as well.

  2. I’m almost positive that every culture has some way of inducing an altered state — be it drugs, drumming, chant, meditation. It seems to be part of human nature to seek altered states of mind. (Hell, little kids will spin around in circles until they get dizzy just for the altered state of mind it produces.)

  3. Not knowing much about european mythology, I had to go to Wikipedia. Result: Germanic mythology has no flood (unless we accept the drowning of some giants in the blood of a slain monster as a flood, and even that might be a later christian modification). So, besides being wrong, the phrase doesn’t even work as an eurocentric one.

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