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9 November 2005

Cows can't be tipped -- drunken youth at a loss


It's a little early for the Friday Funny - but hey -

What did he say?

UBC zoology prof and student disprove urban legend

John Colebourn
CanWest News Service


Wednesday, November 09, 2005



VANCOUVER - Cow-tipping -- the rural "art" of sneaking up on unsuspecting cows and pushing them over -- has been debunked by academics in the zoology department of the University of British Columbia.

While the alleged country pastime has often been thought of as an urban legend, Margo Lillie, a doctor of zoology at Vancouver's UBC and student Tracy Boechler used science to disprove the practice.

According to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, the appeal of the cow-tipping myth "derives from the belief that cows are slow-witted and top-heavy, and the corollary assumption that relatively little force would need to be applied to the top of such apparently precarious ruminants to tip them over."

However, Ms. Lillie says drunken cow-tippers would never succeed.

"When they try it all liquored up, it can't be done," she said.

A city girl, Ms. Lillie said she had never heard of the quirky pastime of tipping over an unsuspecting cow until Ms. Boechler suggested a study on the physics of the unusual phenomenon.

"We were looking at whether it is a myth or reality," said Ms. Lillie.

And after the study Ms. Lillie concludes: "There's nothing reliable to show cow-tipping happens."

With all sorts of Web sites devoted to the time-honored art of cow-tipping, and legions of hungover partiers claiming victory over the cow, Ms. Lillie said the study looked at both the animal and the laws of physics to conclude it would be no easy feat getting a cow to the ground.

"The reality is the cow will respond," Ms. Lillie said of the physics part of the study. "The cow will put out a leg and brace itself."

Ms. Lillie notes that many a tenderfoot wrongly thinks cows sleep standing.

The study also concludes anyone wanting to tip a cow would need about four others to help.

"It all depends on how the cow has its feet," she said.

While the actual origin of the cow-tipping myth is debatable, some indications on the Web are that the idea developed when a bunch of college students got drunk and went to a cow a pasture and toppled over some unsuspecting cows.

Corey Geiger, the Wisconsin-based associate editor of Hoard's Dairyman, a national dairy farm magazine said cow-tipping to those who know cows is ridiculous.

"It's just an urban myth," he said. "It would be very difficult for someone who hasn't dealt with cows to get close to them.

"We hear people talking about it and it's probably no more true than a sighting of the Loch Ness monster."
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