Snowflakes: The Biggest Lie Ever Told To The Public... Except For All Those Other Ones

I hate lying... except when I do it, in which case it's fine and I understand its value.

The difference is when I lie it's usually about small, inconsequential things like telling someone their hat makes them look cool when it doesn't or telling my neighbor that the kid who lives down the street smashed their mailbox with a bat when in reality it was me.

Those are little lies designed to make my life easier, not massive widespread deceptions intended to mislead the public.

That brings us to snowflakes.

If you think back to your earliest school days, one of the first useless facts you ever learned — long before calculus or the preamble to The Constitution — you were told that no two snowflakes are the same. You sat on the floor in wide-eyed wonder at such an incredible piece of information and would go on to regurgitate for years to come.

I remember this piece of information was backed up by the story of Wilson Bentley, who in 1885 at the age of 19 began photographing snowflakes. He did this until he died in 1931 and photographed around 5,000 images of snowflakes and was no doubt a real treat to talk to at parties. Nothing but snowflake talk.

Of those 5,000 images, no two were alike. Alright, but do you have any idea how many fucking snowflakes there are? O'l Wilson Bentley missed a ton of them. This was in an era where taking photos was a tedious process, he would've missed millions of potential photo subjects while he was hiding under one of those blankets trying to snap a pic of one snowflake he managed to catch without accidentally exhaling on it and melting it.

As a kid you believed this stat because any number higher than 10,000 was like dark matter is to you now; you knew it was real but you couldn't wrap your dumb little brain around it. Despite eventually possessing the knowledge that would lead to easily debunking the whole "no two snowflakes are the same" charade, we have all been conditioned into believing that it really is the truth.

Basing that on one guy's collection of 5,000 snowflake photos is such a small sample size that it'd be like popping your head out the window on a clear day and saying "It's not raining right now at this specific location, so I've come to the conclusion that it has never rained and never will."

Do you really believe that somewhere high in the Rocky Mountains there's not a snowflake that looks strikingly similar — if not identical — to one lying atop a fresh layer of snow in Siberia? I don't, nor do I have any proof. I'm simply playing the numbers.

Now let's take into account every single snowflake that ever tumbled its way to the ground in Earth's entire history. That's an astronomical, incomprehensible number. At some point at least once (I'd be more than willing to bet it's happened countless times) a pair of snowflakes somewhere in the world — even if it was thousands of years apart — were exactly the same.

I just feel like we're doing ourselves and our children — think of the children! — a disservice when it comes to this "issue." I'll concede that it's not really an issue, but there's also nothing to be gained from believing. It usually becomes an analogy to tell kids how there's no one like them (except identical twins), which is more or less the truth. But then why not tell them that straight up instead of making up this 150 year-olf lie?

I look forward to people telling me that I'm wrong on this one because it's a stalemate at best. You have no proof, and I have no proof.

So let's waste our time arguing about it. 


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