All The More Reason


One bad apple can destroy the lot
July 4, 2007, 5:16 pm
Filed under: Education, Science

The title of this post is the first instance of that phrase on the internet. I know this, because I googled it a minute ago. I was reading my science textbook that I’m preparing with when I came upon the line “There is some truth to the saying ‘One bad apple can destroy the lot'”. I thought to myself “Hang on a second, I’ve never heard that saying before. Have I gone mad?” No, I hadn’t. There are a multitude of hits for “rotten apple spoils the barrel” and “bad apple can spoil the barrel” but none for “bad apple can destroy the lot”.

What would compel someone who’s writing a textbook to make up a saying? The whole point of a saying is that it’s something that has been passed on orally for generations. Furthermore, what would compel someone to make up a saying in this instance? Are ‘rotten’ or ‘spoil’ bad words? Even more laughable, is ‘barrel a bad word?

Maybe I’m missing something here, but changing a common saying, whilst still referring to it as the common saying, and putting it in a textbook reeks of arrogance and misguided self–importance. A rotten apple spoiling the barrel indeed.

J.S.

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