A Treatise On The Psychic Abilities Of The Common House Fly


[This piece originally appeared on my blog in 2009.]

No, I am not kidding. I was however kidding that when I wrote this post that my very first line would have to be “No, I am not kidding”. Well, maybe. LOL. And yes, I am quite sane. At least that’s what the last shrink I saw told me. Hehehe. But then, perhaps I have gone quite wonko and that is just what I wanted him to think?

Now before you dismiss me for a crank or a lunar tick, please hear me out. A few years ago the place where I work was inundated by a plague of flies, coming from the nursery next door which had put a new compost heap close to our side of the boundary. There were literally thousands of flies inside our building for weeks while our managers negotiated with the neighbors to remove the compost heap. In the meantime, sales of bug spray and fly swatters boomed and the silence was punctuated with small regular explosions and occasional swearing.

Productivity dropped while personel turned their attentions to eliminating the invaders and the health department threatened to close us down. I am sure you may know how annoying or irritating just one house fly can be – imagine having up to ten buzzing around your office at any one time, regardless of whether your windows are open or closed. Imagine a building with almost a hundred individual rooms, each with the same problem – and imagine that every time you score a lucky shot and kill one, it is replaced almost immediately. I am sure it is no small coincidence that soon after this problem went away, most offices had to be repainted.

During the first few days of this plague, I practiced everything from wild swinging of the fly swatter (however accurately) to applying everything I knew about aerodynamics, thermonuclear devices and anti-aircraft theory to rid myself of these little winged bastards. Going home to fetch my ninemil was a last resort. What I noticed first and foremost – as I am sure you will have – is that as soon as I started my swing, the target would – well, fly – and get away AGAIN. Over a few hours of this, I noticed that when I was thinking destruction and mayhem – effectively “splat” while swinging – the fly would seem to sense this and get away. While if I wasn’t thinking about it I would nail the little bugger every time. Hmm. Perhaps the fly was actually picking up my intentions?

I thought about it for a moment. Make that two. I decided to experiment. First, I consciously thought “splat” while trying to make fly shaped marks on the walls and furniture. I missed nine times out of ten. Then I tried clearing my mind – the results were far better – I succeeded eight times out of ten. I have subsequently been using this method whenever engaging a fly anywhere else – and I think I actually have something here. Swatting annoying people on the other hand doesn’t have the same effect. No really – try it for yourself first. Then laugh at me. And when you have run away from your annoying friend or colleague, try it on a house fly near you.

While some people have suggested that flies detect sudden movement and this knocks their ‘fight or flight’ response into gear, they cannot explain the physical difference (if any) in the same motions applied in swinging a fly swatter while thinking either “SPLAT” or ” “.

I shared my theory with some of my friends (including my wonderful girlfriend who is, compared to me, a literal genius who eats quantum physics and calculus for breakfast and unscrews the inscrutable before dinner). She even has a t-shirt to prove it (the genius bit). The nicer ones (including her) have called me – well, weird.

But even if they laugh at me, they can’t offer a satisfactory explanation to dispel my theory. After all, I am not asserting that a fly can read your thoughts – or even understand them. I am simply saying that it can pick up a feeling of impending “splat” – and make a b – um, fly line for it.

Hey – what are those big handsome men doing at my front door? And why are they wearing those white coats? Hmm. Now, if only swatting some people was as easy. What am I thinking now? ” “.

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