by Ken Greatorex
You’d probably answer “QUACK!“
And indeed, you’d be right some of the time. Some ducks quack. Most don’t. Because I’m a Skeptic in insufferably pedantic mode, I just thought I’d point that out before proceeding.
If you’d like to hear a range of sounds made by different duck species, (including quacks), go here: https://www.soundboard.com/sb/Duck_Sounds_audio
Skeptics use the word “quack” to define a particular kind of person:
“a fraudulent or ignorant pretender to medical skill” or “a person who pretends, professionally or publicly, to have skill, knowledge, qualification or credentials they do not possess; a charlatan or snake oil salesman” – Dictionary.com
That these people have been with us for a long time is borne out by the origin of this usage of the word “quack”.
It derives from the middle ages. It’s a contraction of the Dutch quacksalver (“a hawker of salve”), the salve being ointment, the “kwaken” part meaning variously to boast, brag, croak or shout.
Unfortunately, quackery is alive and well in 2021, as a subset of the general epidemic of misinformation plaguing the world.
Brisbane-based musician, songwriter and science communicator Nathan Eggins recently drew attention to this sad fact with the release of The Sound a Duck Makes. It’s a biting but tongue-in-cheek exploration of quacks of the medical variety. The song shows both how to recognise a quack and suggests bringing the word back into common usage to call these people out, all wrapped up in a funky blues groove.
Listen to it at Nathan’s Conspiracy of One website https://www.conspiracyofonesolo.com/
Nathan also invited friends and colleagues from around the world to collaborate by recording their voices individually, creating a large crowd that appears throughout the song, including, among others, the voices of Richard Saunders (The Skeptic Zone), Jay Novella (The Skeptics Guide to the Universe), Susan Gerbic (Guerilla Skeptics on Wikipedia), Brian Dunning (Skeptoid) and members of the Australian skeptic community (including this little black duck :) ).
More about Ducks
Did you know that Ducks are worshipped by a tribe in Northern Patagonia?
No, neither did I. In fact, I just made it up. I found virtually nothing by searching Google for “Duck Worship“; nothing to pad this article out, anyway. But, hey, at least I didn’t put it at the end of a piece of click-bait! And even now there are probably people telling each other about the Patagonian Duck Worshippers on social media, because they saw it on Vic Skeptics website.
“DUCK QUACKS DON’T ECHO!”
….. is an example of arrant misinformation that has been masquerading as an “interesting fact” for many years now on social media and at Trivia nights, although debunked at least as early as 1999.
“DONALD DUCK WAS ONCE BANNED IN FINLAND FOR NOT WEARING PANTS”
What is the minimum number of ducks that suits this description?
“Two ducks in front of two other ducks, two ducks behind two other ducks and two ducks beside two other ducks”
Answer: Four ducks
And finally, a nod to Ockham: